Saturday, February 18, 2006

Perfect pitch

True note

I' m finding blogging a fascinating business, and a far more profound and searching experience than I had imagined. There are now four or five pieces of prose sitting in my Drafts folder that I've been on the verge of putting up at various times over the past week or so, the most recent one being on loving kindness. But none of them are right. They don't sound the true note, they don't have perfect pitch.

How do I know when the pitch is perfect? I feel it in my gut - literally. It is not a mental decision, it is not necessarily to do with the quality of writing (though that plays a part). It is about truth and self-honesty. Working out what I really need and want to say is the key factor - and this can be a remarkably difficult process. And then putting together the words to say it. Intuition is perhaps what I'm talking about. I just know.

I was thinking about this on the Tube this morning, and the image of the piano tuner who used to visit the house when I was a child to tune the old upright piano flashed into my mind. He would spend a good two hours at the instrument, testing and tuning each key, often coming so close to the true note, but until he had got it exactly right he couldn't leave it and move onto the next.

There are paragraphs, lines, in these drafts that are on pitch, that are what I need and want to say. Some drastic cutting and pasting, perhaps? Just post them as they are? I don't know. Looking back at the archives over the past few months, I think the photos hit the right note more often than the written material, and some of the poetry comes closer than the prose.

I'm not a good conceptual thinker. I am enjoying starting to write poetry. I can report conversations or events reasonably fluently and accurately, but don't put ideas together well, and I'm not very good at writing about emotions (I find the latter really frightening, to be truthful). And this is fine. Part of the blogging process is to learn what I can and can't write, and I am finding the whole adventure both intriguing and rewarding. It is teaching me to listen for and to recognise perfect pitch.


Blogger zhoen said...

I found it to be a process. My very early essays seem very trite and awkward to me now. They are long gone, and not to be revived.

Not to say I am now profound and fluent, but more so than when I first tried. Not perfect pitch, so much as the best I can do right now.

My understanding of piano tuning is that the pitch isn't perfect, but that the notes are adjusted to make good chords. And it's a give and take to make all the chords come out right. I believe this is why I do not really like pianos, but prefer modal insturments.

6:06 pm  
Blogger Mary said...

Hi Zhoen. Yes. I'm sure you're right. To keep the analogy going, I am sure my ear will get increasingly fine-tuned as I go along. As you say, all I can do is to respect where it is now and the messages it gives me, and do the best that I can with that. Yes, it's a process, like so much else.

That's interesting about the piano. Didn't know that ....but it makes sense, because the piano tuner would always finish by playing a series of chords.

6:24 pm  
Blogger LJ said...

I'm looking forward to seeing the unfolding of this process for you, Mary. I like what you've posted - the photos, the poetry and the prose.
When I started Life on Earth - it was to do writing exercise. I'd squeeze out something once a week, teeth clenched. I find as I go on it gets easier. Although I constantly have to recite the mantra: "It's MY blog. I can say what I want."
It's difficult to write about emotion, leave ourselves dangling in the wind feeling exposed and vulnerable. There are times I've written pieces I thought would cause people to flee in droves, though - only to find many identified with those strongly felt pieces. And then of course sometimes there is thundering silence. And that, I think, is more because I haven't listened to the piano long enough. You're right. It isn't perfection in writing - but heart and truth that counts.
I'll continue to check and read, with interest.

8:51 pm  
Blogger Buffy said...

I know exactly what you mean.

9:58 pm  
Anonymous ginkgo said...

I find that the blogs I like find the right balance between self-revelation and not giving it all away. They tell me enough to make me wish I knew someone better, but not so much as to be utterly confessional and self-indulgent. I think you do this admirably. And I know that over several years, I've written plenty of entries where I've felt I tipped past the edge. In the end, it's honesty that makes me want to stick around--but that doesn't mean we can't have boundaries. Sorry I can't find the proper musical analogy here--perhaps the silence between the notes?

2:13 am  
Blogger rdl said...

That was right on - ain't nothing wrong with your pitch honey. :D
A fellow blogger once told me just post, don't draft. I don't do that do, but I don't agonize about getting it perfect either. sometimes I edit alot and other times I just get it out there; and sometimes I even edit after i've posted if i see someting glaring.

1:44 pm  
Blogger herhimnbryn said...

perfect pitch. I'm serching for that too! Blogland is a great place to practice. Your blog is lovely.

2:20 pm  
Blogger MB said...

Mary, I think your approach is slightly different from mine, but then our goals are perhaps different. I'm still trying to break down barriers, so the willingness to post something less than perfect is an intentional part of that. A part of getting to a level of ease that I need to acquire. But I do understand what you mean about that undefinable quality, that moment of intuitive understand... you think of it as perfect pitch, for me, I think of it as when the writing sings! Your posts have been consistently musical, whether prose, poetry or photos.

5:37 pm  
Blogger Jean said...

I always thought I was bad at metaphors and it's delighted me to find that, writing a bit more since I got a blog, these have started to come more easily. They make the narrow broader, the personal universal, the factual allusive and imaginative - one of the writer's most essential tools. And here you have one that is just right, expanding my understanding of something I too struggle with all the time.

10:57 am  
Blogger Mary said...

Interesting comments! Thank you all. I think there is going to be a Perfect Pitch Part II in due course ... :-)

lj: Yes, emotions are the most difficult, and I've had to look quite hard at my motivation for writing on this topic. I may come back to it again in a future post.

Buffy: Thanks for the visit and welcome. I'm glad people understand what I'm struggling to say.

Ginkgo: Thank you. Yes, I think a sense of boundaries is part of what makes perfect pitch. And I think this can vary over time. Again, I may revisit this.

Rdl: *grin*. I edit after posting all the time, and I'm glad to learn I'm not the only one. Often I can only see faults once the piece is up on the blog. I suspect I may drive people on Bloglines mad. .. there's often half a dozen different versions before I'm happy.

Herhimbryn: I agree, blogland is a great practice ground.

MB: I would rather see it that we are travelling parallel paths to the same destination ... :-)

Jean: I love metaphor ....

2:46 pm  
Blogger MB said...

Mary, I'm very happy to see it that way! And very happy for the companionship during the travels.

5:19 pm  
Blogger Gemma Grace said...

Mary ~ I think you play piano beautifully :)

5:34 am  
Blogger Mary said...

MB: Good! :-)
Gemma Grace: :-)

11:15 am  

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