by J J Cohen
Perhaps you heard that a rather large storm passed through the DC area on Sunday? I was at our neighborhood pool with the kids when the thunder came, and I've never seen anything like it: trees snapping, power lines crashing, downpours and relentless wind. Running for the house was like starring in a special-effects heavy disaster film.
We've been without electrical power since the storm blasted through, and have no great hope of restoration before we leave for a family vacation tomorrow (we're flying to London, then taking a big boat from Dover to Barcelona). You'll understand, I hope, why the promised post on the blogger panel has failed to appear.
Meanwhile, I can't say life in a home without electricity has been all bad. The storm front brought a change in the weather, so the humidity and 102 degree temperatures are gone. We sleep with the windows open and awake to birdsong. The moon has been enormous, beautiful, and living by the warm yellow of candles has charm. Yes, we've lost all our refrigerated and frozen food; but we are about to depart for two weeks anyway.
And ... on the first night of the blackout, as the sun set and light was fading from the rooms, I asked Katherine and Alex each to create a song on the piano that might tell the story of the storm. Partly my request was to fill an anxious time with activity: distraction through art. But I've also been inspired by Stephanie's stories about the enthusiasm her son has for musical invention. I realize K & A mostly play songs by the book.
Katherine's spontaneous piece was sweet: little bits of the small songs she knows interrupted by deep clangs of low key thunder. Alex's invention was something I've never heard flow from his fingers before: a soft melody of water and play that broke into sheets of rain, thunderbolts, and downed trees, then calmed into melodies that hung in the air for a long time after he finished. No dissonance, not even the storm, all one long flow. Alex has never really improvised at the piano before. In the song of the storm he found his musical voice.