Tuesday, May 03, 2011

“The Clock Had All His Attention”

What can you tell me about the Jesuits and the Dominicans?

Well, they were both founded by Spaniards, St. Ignatius of Loyola for the Jesuits and St. Dominic for the Dominicans.

Why were they created?

They were also both founded to combat heresy, the Jesuits to fight the Protestants, and the Dominicans to fight the Albigensians.

They’re both Catholic orders, of course, but are there notable differences between the Jesuits and the Dominicans?

Well, have you met any Albigensians lately?

Compositions change with the instrument you are writing with. No pianist, for example, could ever have written “I Feel Fine.” That opening riff, which is the cornerstone of the song, is a guitar lick if ever you heard one. It is pretty obvious that John, who was a guitarist and not really much of anything else, fooled around for hours until he stumbled upon this little phrase, which he thought was great. Generally, by listening to a song, you can work out whether it was written by a guitarist or a pianist—or any other type of ‘ist.’ “Fixing a Hole” is very recognizably a keyboard song. You can see the three-finger piano chords underpinning its structure. Those basic triads are the platform on which the lead voice, Paul’s voice, and the bass guitar, were overlaid.

Have I met any Albigensians lately?
Are they the people who use all of their fingers
when they play keyboards, and listen to the singer’s
phrasing, the pauses, the silences that stately

put shape around a melody, not as greatly
as the melody’s pitch and time structure-clingers
latch on to, but as a narrow gate that lingers
as if waiting, as if wanting you sedately?

Last night at my keyboard I practiced seventh chords
with a metronome keeping time by candlelight.
I was playing five-seven-one-three chord voicings

and although I was alert to hearing discords
from the middle half-step, the chords rang at midnight
pure to my ears, bent to what a witch’s choice brings.

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