Dead Birds, Dead Birds
by Mayana
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


[Mayana Slobodian is a writer from Montreal. Her writing is somehow like winter; quiet but with great power. We are honoured to have her as a guest contributor this week. - Dan]

Super Eagles - "Love's A Real Thing"

I saw him lean over the bar and I followed his eyes to the young girl. Her hip was leaned against the cash register as she tucked a stray strand of hair into a messy ponytail. The white of her neck met a black cotton t-shirt pulled tight across her shoulders, and he followed the line down to the white-meeting-white of her breasts.

"Ew," I thought, turning back to my drink. "What a creep."

With a quick snap he drank back the dregs of his glass. He tipped his head back and raised his eyebrows towards her. She stepped across the bar and leaned one ear towards him. He didn't say anything, and she leaned closer. He could smell the baby powder scent of her deodorant.

"Another." He murmured, feeling the tickle of her hair against his cheeks. She shook her head and leaned in again. The hockey game blasting at the other end of the bar was loud, but not that loud. He wondered if she might be pretending, like she heard him but she wanted to be closer. Maybe she'd seen him come in, seen as he wearily shrugged off his denim jacket and bent his sore neck to his shoulder. Now she was beside him, inviting him to imagine the white that continued down under her shirt, the pink of her nipples, the curve of her belly.

I watched him lift his hands off the lacquered bar and gently feel her hair with his fingertips. He let a finger slip to the thin cotton at the base of her throat.

Shoulders first, she leapt back and his hand fell to the bar. She pulled open a glass-windowed cooler, yanked a bottle out and with a snap opened it and dropped it in front of him. He looked at it for a moment, then fumbled for a folded bill in his front jeans pocket. She dropped the bill in the cash register and slammed it shut, pulling out the elastic in her hair with the same movement. Her back straight and her eyes on the big TV screen showing the game, she swept her hair up and retied her ponytail.

I saw him wrap his hand around the bottle and feel the dripping neck with his thumb. He brought his hands together on the bar and looked down at their gentle wrinkles.



Anni Rossi - "Machine"

Paul Hindemith was just a child when he left home to study music. He left behind him Hanau, a small town known for its goldsmiths and for being the birthplace of the Germany Gymnastic League. It would later be mostly destroyed by World War II bombs. It was 1914 when Hindemith joined the Frankfurt Opera Orchestra as a violinist. Three years later, at 21, he became the leader. Hindemith spent two years fighting for Prussia in the Great War, then he traded in his violin and became a violist.

The viola is often mistaken for the violin. It is like a violin, but bigger. The notes are further apart, the strings thicker and less responsive, and it requires a heavier bow. It is rarely used as a solo instrument, and attempts are continually made to adjust and improve its cumbersome dimensions. The sound is deeper and richer -- closer to the range of the human voice.

Four years younger than Hindemith, Vadim Borisovsky was too young to for the army. He spent the war years studying violin at the Moscow Conservatory. He was 18 when he first picked up a viola. By 27, he was the sole professor of viola studies at the conservatory. In 1927, Hindemith and Borisovsky formed the Violists' World Union. It was the first attempt to unite lovers of the viola, to band together and embrace the much-maligned younger sister to the violin. Borisovsky was the chairman. It was a failure.

Borisovsky then returned to Moscow, where he spent fifty years with the Beethoven State Quartet. Collaborating extensively with Dmitri Shostakovitch, he enjoyed relative freedom in the USSR, performing, recording, and touring extensively under the state's watchful eye. In Germany, Hindemith became increasingly drawn to avant-garde composers like Arnold Schoenberg. In 1934, Minister of Propoganda Joseph Goebbels referred to Hindemith as an "atonal noisemaker." Though he moved to Switzerland with his Jewish wife in 1938, and despite Goebbels' disapproval, Hindemith continued to conduct Nazi state concerts and hold a position on the Reich Music Chamber. He soon immigrated to the US and spent the rest of his life teaching music.

Hindemith died in Frankfurt, at 68. Three years later, The International Viola Society was founded. It publishes journals, holds conferences, and sponsors the Primrose International Viola Competition. The event, created to counter the stigma towards the viola as a solo instrument, takes place every other year at a different American university. For twenty years, it has been dominated by female violists.

Borisovsky died in Moscow, at age 72. Shostakovitch dedicated his thirteenth string quartet in B-flat minor to him. It features the viola.

[Buy Rockwell]

Posted by Mayana at January 5, 2010 4:44 AM
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Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.

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Mitz Takahashi is originally from Osaka, Japan who now lives and works as a furniture designer/maker in Montreal. English is not his first language so please forgive his glamour grammar mistakes. He is trying. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Reach him by email here.

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Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

Jordan Himelfarb wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
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