Wednesday, April 20, 2011


I've been meaning for a while to write about a set of organ variations by Marcel Dupré: Variations sur un noël op. 20 (1922). I've been meaning to write about how I've been dragging my feet studying them this past year, and how I finally decided to buckle down and really learn them because I ran out of Schumann and my organ teacher thinks the variations are a necessary evil good for me at this point in my musical development, and how I agree with him in theory but nonetheless find a bazillion creative ways to avoid practicing them. The variations are like diminutive exercises in learning to pat your head, rub your tummy, and chew gum all at the same time while standing on your head with your arms superglued together. You'd think blogging about avoiding them would be a good avoidance strategy, yet every time I sat down to blog, I'd think, "no, no, instead of writing about them, go practice them."*

Thus it is that today I introduce my latest pottery geek experiment: wheel-thrown and altered Borromean Rings. They're made from three tori stretched and nudged into ellipses. It's a little disappointing that there's no way to get inside any of the tori, the way there is with a Klein Bottle or a Moebius diatom box. Why throw and alter hollow tori when you can roll out some coils much more easily? Clearly, further experimentation is necessary.

*Despite all my kicking and screaming, I'm going to conquer this beast. I've dutifully started a practice log, in order to generate evidence that I've actually been practicing (or not) and to focus on how I practice. I've started memorizing individual variations, which makes it a smidge easier squeeze some musicality from these mechanical pieces. A light is finally emerging at the end of the tunnel.

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