Lìjiāng Studio, week 5 – 纳 玛

So it’s Sunday afternoon, the last day of week 5. The piglets are 4 days old. Miranda and I have both been sick this week, in tandem (hence I didn’t put photos up yesterday). As Anǎi said to us when Miranda’s leg went crazy, it’s good there’s 2 of us here, to look after each other. Mind you, Xuě Méi and Anǎi are wonderful looker-afterers!

I like Miranda’s story of riding to the corner shop to get me some “throat lozenges” (mint and liquorice lollies that were the closest we could think of – and they work quite well!). She asked if they had anything for coughs – “nǐ yǒu *mimes coughing* ma?” The woman at the shop got a bottle of medicine, and Miranda then asked “méi yǒu ròu ma?” – Does it have meat in it? Of course the woman was quite confused, and Miranda kept asking if the cough liquid had meat in it, and the woman kept being confused. Eventually Miranda looked up how to say animal, and asked if the medicine contained animal products. Suddenly everything became clear! And I got some delicious cough medicine.

But my main story this week is that I’ve finished drafts of all 6 Hé family aural portraits. And Miranda’s bass is coming today (along with my keyboard) so she can play them for me and I can hear them and edit etc. It’s quite exciting! So, happily, the habitual composing has continued. And I have work to show for it. It’s pretty pleasing. The idea of the aural portraits came to both Miranda’s and my minds separately. Here at Lìjiāng Studio, there have been so many visual artists-in-residence. And many of them have created beautiful portraits of the Hé family. On the fourth wall of the Hé courtyard, there are 3 paintings that I love. They are all by Hú Jiā Mín. In the portraits, he has split the family in to generations.

 

I love how he has captured every family member with such honesty and integrity. I look at the picture and I know who they are. They’re very true representations. And I love how he has changed the painting style with each generation, and has made the 3 work together as a whole, keeping the same fundamental elements in every painting.

Lāshìhǎi is the centre of this beautiful valley, and most people’s lives who live here. Jíxiáng village is just south of Lāshìhǎi and other villages are dotted all around its edges. It’s like we’re living in a Mandala: Lāshìhǎi is the centre, surrounded by the villages, surrounded by the fields and farmlands, and then all of us in the embrace of the pine-forested mountains that surround us on all sides.

And Dūdū, in her hilarious gambolling, pat-craving, loyal, content, and fiercely protective way, is also a fundamental for the Hé household.

 

So, I have written a small work, maybe more of a study, of each person. I have tried in their company to take mental notes of what they’re “like”, what defines them, in descriptive terms and also in musical terms – tempo, what type of key or mode (major/minor/Lydian), regularity, speech patterns, moods. I haven’t used Hú Jiā Mín‘s method of traditional–>modern for old–>young generations. I’ve just tried to write a piece of each of them that listeners could hear them in. I don’t know if I’ve succeeded. Some I think maybe, some I have no idea, some I think most likely not. And of course the more I like and respect someone, the harder it is to compose “of them”. It’s a pressure, doing portraits when the person they’re of will see/hear/etc the finished work! I have a new admiration for all portrait-makers. IMG_0286I’m really keen to hear how they sound. I haven’t been using the harmonium. I’ve just been using my flute and my head. I’ve never really used my flute to compose before. It’s certainly helped to improve my bass clef reading on a treble C instrument! I do always use my head (!), but usually I back it up with piano or keyboard. Not this time though, so, we’ll see.

 

Miranda and I playing with my new second hand camera.

Miranda and I playing with my new second hand camera.

Sunset over the apple trees and fields out the front of our place.

Sunset over the apple trees and fields out the front of our place.

A swallow flying past my photo of another bird.

A swallow flying past my photo of another bird.

Tiny peaches!

Tiny peaches!

I watched this horse whinny and buck and gallop through the sunrise fields in a heady ten minutes of freedom, before this woman came to take it home.

I watched this horse whinny and buck and gallop through the sunrise fields in a heady ten minutes of freedom, before this woman came to take it home.

Flies that sleep on my ceiling. Can anyone explain to me how they manage to poo on the ceiling? Their abdomens aren't touching the ceiling, just their legs. And they poo UP!

Flies that sleep on my ceiling. Can anyone explain to me how they manage to poo on the ceiling? Their abdomens aren’t touching the ceiling, just their legs. And they poo UP!

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