Jacob Heringman, lutenist - Diary
Saturday night. Peter of the Dufay Collective is about to arrive for dinner.
Exciting correspondence with Andrew and Peter Sinfield about the developing lute song. Also delighted for Andrew and Sue, this being their 22nd anniversary.
Jane Pickeringe is developing nicely, and hugely enjoyable to be working on. Also preparing now for the Parley of Instruments project which is next week--a concert and a couple of days of recording.
Just spent several hours listening very closely to the stunning first edit of our new Verdelot CD for Linn, and putting down my comments or corrections for the second edit. I had 34 comments, which isnít too bad for full-length CD. The singing, from Catherine King, Charles Daniels, Brian Shelley, and Rob Macdonald, is stunning, and the recorded sound that Philip Hobbs of Linn achieved is glorious. Iíll keep readers posted about the release date--October 2000 I think. Sunday 3rd. September, 2000 1507 A year ago today, at Robert Frippís invitation, I began this Diary. Keeping a diary has been a thoroughly good experience, providing, as it does, the opportunity to re-experience events. Too often I rush through my busy and hectic life thinking mostly about whatís to come--planning future enterprises, worrying about whether Iíll manage to get prepared for this or that in time, thinking "if only such and such could happen, then everything would be wonderful"--and not thinking enough about what Iíve experienced, achieved and felt in the past. Keeping a diary makes you pay attention to the events behind you and the things that you are thinking, feeling and experiencing in the Present Moment. A typical diary entry will describe the events of the day, plans for the future, and thoughts in the moment, thus integrating these elements and helping me to live more in the Present Moment. Many is the time Iíve sat down to write a diary entry with no idea what I was going to write, and the ideas have come to me. I regret that I donít take more time over the diary entries--I could write much much more than I do if I only changed my priorities to allow myself a bit more time to write. Too often I sketch the events of the day, but before there is time to go beyond this point something else beckons. Itís partly because Iím extraordinarily busy doing many things, but itís partly about priorities as well. (And is it also about a fear to look too deeply into the self?) On the subject of the importance of exercise, someone once wrote that if the little voice inside your head is telling you that youíre too busy to exercise, itís lying! The same could be said of the mental exercise of keeping a diary. Exercising, like Diarising, increases oneís efficiency and sharpness for other activities, and one finds that one gets more done, not less, as a result of taking the time to do it. Which leads me to repeat Gailís parable: There's a parable about two guys cutting wood out in the forest. One keeps at it steadily except for a short break at lunch, the other takes a ten-minute break every hour. At the end of the day, the one who didn't take breaks is astonished to see that the other guy's wood pile was larger than his. He says, "How did you cut so much wood when you didn't work as much as I did?" The other replies, "Everytime I stopped, I sharpened my axe." Thank you, Robert, for the invitation.
Whew! What a week! Rehearsals on Sunday and Monday, concert on Tuesday, interview on Wednesday, with live in-the-studio playing, heavy recording sessions on Thursday and Friday, and the concert at the South Bank Centre with Catherine and Charles last night. Today, a day of rest. All this with a pretty bad case of the flu. Iím not sure how I managed to keep going--I was desperately tired and started wondering towards the end of the week whether I was going to make it through. Then, on Thursday, I visited the Chinese doctor who gave me a very powerful cocktail of foul-smelling herbs which I boiled up and drank twice a day along with various equally noxious-smelling water-soluble powders. I could feel it going to work and my energy coming back. It got me through. Iím still pretty tired (after a week like that, even in healthy conditions, this would be normal), but definitely on the mend.
During this time Iíve had to cut out anything non-essential, including the Diary. Iíd like to write more detailed thoughts about the last few days when I feel up to sitting at the computer for more than a few minutes at a time.
Until then, suffice it to say that it was a good week--the interview and in-studio performance got a lot of positive feedback (and we hope itíll sell a few copies of the Josquin); the recording was good (so much fun to record the wonderful Vallet lute quartet with three other good lute players); and last nightís concert was mostly extremely good, I think.
Tomorrow, Iíll spend the first part of the day catching up a bit, and then Iím off to Devon (the place where we got married) to relax and do some intensive Jane Pickeringe practice. Zan is already there.
Recovered from the bug, and getting out from under the accrued backlog. Hard to believe how much paperwork piles up. Itís strange trying to explain to people that Iím a professional musician but that I only spend a small fraction of my time making music! Of course, that music-making time is what makes it all worthwhile!
It was wonderful to spend a couple of days in the country. We spent the mornings practising, the afternoons going for walks, and the evenings eating and drinking and talking. Practically heaven.
Close to the Edge is playing in the background, and I still love it, after all these years!
Preparing to go to Perpignan to do lute songs with one of the great English countertenors, Michael Chance. After that trip, there will be a little time to work on Pickeringe again, and to get Josquin back under the fingers.
Itís all very strange here--everyoneís running out of fuel because of the blockades, and this weekend promises to be one of the quietest in London in living memory. On top of this apocalyptic (but refreshing) vision of city life grinding to a halt due to the shortage of a precious liquid, there is a massive thunderstorm going on at the moment, with torrential rain. Strange atmosphere.
Iíve noted in Robert Frippís Diary that changes are afoot at DGM, most noteably the discussions about the money-losing nature of the business. Iím standing by to discuss this with the powers that be at DGM. Iím very committed to the company and to its success, and would like to do what I can to act in its best interests. Iíll be interested to find out whether they intend to keep on artists like myself who are almost inevitably not commercially viable in strictly marketplace terms. In a way, thatís precisely why a lutenist fits into DGM so well, it seems to me, one of the avowed aims of this extraordinary company being:
"to help music come into the world which would otherwise be unlikely to do so, or under conditions prejudicial to the music and/or musicians"
"A lutenist in the court of the Crimson King"--thatís me. And delighted to be there. My DGM years have been hugely rewarding. Never before have I encountered such a high level of good will and positivity in the recording industry. For that Iíll always be grateful even if it all ends tomorrow.
Robert wrote the following a few months ago:
"So, with Matt & Jacob's work, I continue to look at their careers & listen to their work with interest. Their records don't sell well enough to earn them a living. But don't worry guys! they don't even sell well enough to repay DGM's costs. So this is, at least, equitable. But any work of quality generates repercussions which escape quantitative measure, even though this may take a pile of linear years before we see how. And then, probably, we won't ever be able to discover all the effects of our work. In the narrow moment of the musician (and sympathetic record company), where bills & interest payments have to be paid & made, we persist and endure, and do what we may. And hope. And trust."
These are comforting and encouraging words.
A weird bit of synchronicity: I happen to have three days in Chicago--30 and 31 October and 1 November--set aside to de-jetlag and practise for the US/Canada tour that begins in early November. To my amazement, I read on the Tour Dates page that those are the very three days that KC is playing in Chicago! See you there!
A brief and unfortunately hurried Diary entry before I set off for Perpignan at the crack of dawn to perform lute songs with Michael Chance. I arrived at his house this afternoon to rehearse, tired and frustrated by various things that are going wrong at the moment. But within a few minutes of beginning to make music with him, it had all fallen away, as the joy of music took over, and took me to the place where tiredness and frustration are irrelevant. Such is Michael's singing. These are the moments that keep me going.
Meanwhile I must urgently address the emails from Andrew which pertain to funding for the SKHK project. I've simply not had enough time to do anything, and I know that nothing can happen without funding. I'm sorry that Andrew's been stuck doing the work.
And now, to pack for tomorrow's early departure.
Back now from the French trip, and from a subsequent trip to Leicester to see Zan's parents and to Derbyshire to spend Zan's birthday walking in one of our favourite places: the Peak District.
The French trip was great fun. We landed in Perpignan (dry, warm, sunny, about as far south as you can get in France), and were conveyed to the home of our very kind hosts, Mr. and Mme. Carcanade, who live in a village south of Perpignan in the foothills of the Pyrenees, only a couple of miles or so from the Spanish border. Michael was tired, and felt that he should give his voice a day of rest (he's been incredibly busy with the English National Opera's Poppea, among other things), so we decided not to rehearse that day at all. Instead we hiked to the top of the mountain that the Carcanades' house is built halfway up, which was exhilarating because there's nothing like exercise to counteract the effects of air travel, and also because the views were wonderful from up there. Then I did some lute practice on my own while Michael rested, and in the evening our hosts gave us a lovely meal.
The next day, we were taken to the church where the concert was to take place. This was in another little village not far from Perpignan--the village of St. André. The church was stunningly beautiful--built in the tenth, eleventh and twelvth centuries and consecrated in the year 1131--and a very special space acoustically. It was quite small--I believe the length was the same both ways (the nave and transept were both 20.6 meters, I think)--and unusually high, but also narrow. The result is that when someone sings in front of the altar facing down into the nave, the high narrow walls of the nave carry the sound out to the audience, and every consonant enunciates itself very clearly; but at the same time the transept (and, I suppose, the high ceiling) seemed to pick up the sustaining qualities of the voice, which reverberated endlessly. So you got clarity of enunciation but a very long reverberation at the same time. It's a beautiful sound, and, I imagine, perfect for chant; but it was a bit difficult for something as intimate as the lute song. Still, Michael's intensely expressive and powerfully beautiful singing captivated the audience, and they loved our concert. We had to do some encores. After the show, the villagers put on a late dinner for us (it didn't even begin until 11.20 at night!), with local wine (Cotes du Roussillion, including the lovely Muscat de Rivesaltes) and local produce.
So it's not all bad, being a touring musician. Some of it is bad, some of it is wonderful; rather like life, in fact. Sometimes I feel as if I'm learning and growing the whole time, and sometimes I feel like someone who is traveling in circles. Probably both are true: spirals?
We spent Zan's birthday walking in Dovedale and the Manifold Valley. We stayed in a marvellous farm Bed and Breakfast in Wolfscote Dale, and did a 12- or 14-mile walk, starting in Wolfscote Dale, heading south to Milldale, west (via Hopedale) to Wetton Hill, down to Wetton Mill, north on the Manifold Way to Ecton, and back east to Wolfscote Dale. It is a very beautiful part of the world, and we went some way toward recharging our batteries there. It fact it was a miracle that we were able to have a day of walking, and in perfect weather no less, given that both the day before and they day after it poured! But it was Zan's birthday, so the weather gods were with us.
Skimming through Andrew's Diary with interest. It brings to mind the old saying that the more you know, the more you feel there is to know, and the more you learn, the more ignorant you feel. Also, the description of the hedgehog and the fox: the latter knows lots of things, and the former knows one big thing. Is that the difference between knowledge and wisdom? Or between intellectual knowledge and experiential Knowledge?