Pentatonic Minor Thoughts

It’s snowing as I write this. I almost wrote “snowing outside,” but then realized what a silly thing that was to say. Of course it’s snowing outside. If it was snowing inside, that would be either remarkable or a serious problem, possibly both. What is somewhat notable is that it wasn’t supposed to snow today. Or at least that was the prediction yesterday. But then friends and relations from down south have been posting snow pictures for the last few days, snow from Texas to Georgia. It was snowing in MS back when it wasn’t snowing here, only about eighty miles from the Canadian border. I was starting to feel left out, which is another silly notion. When they have enough snow that the local hardware stores start stocking snow shovels, then we’ll talk.

In addition to the guitar (no segue for you), I’ve added a couple more instruments to my “can’t play this worth a flip” category: pennywhistle and native style flute. By most accounts, the pennywhistle has only been around since the late 18th century. The native flute, by contrast, can be traced back for a few thousand years, and if you throw in the Neolithic bone flutes, a lot longer. Modern examples, whether of the five or six-hole variety, are tuned primarily to the pentatonic minor scale in different keys, though an advanced player can play other scales on the same flute; the older flutes (a few intact examples survive) were apparently tuned to the ear of whoever made it. Rather like how guitars can be relative tuned so that the notes and chords sound fine together until you try to jam with another guitar in standard tuning, where the differences suddenly become relevant. One gets the impression that the original native flute was a solitary instrument unless everyone in the group was playing an example made by or tuned to the same maker.

Yes, I know. But I’m just learning this stuff and now so will you. I’m mostly trying to be clear about my own understanding of a given subject, and I tend to do that by writing it down. As I’m doing here.

One interesting facet of learning the native flute is the order of learning. Once you have a handle on how to sound the notes and play the scale cleanly, the next order of business isn’t learning songs. No, the next order of business is: improvise. As long as you’re in the scale there’s no such thing as a wrong note. Try playing them in different orders, learn trills and (note) slurs and even bending notes. Odds are you’ll have made up your own songs even before you learn anyone else’s. And you’ll be ready to do that, if you want.

I do. I’ve even heard “Stairway to Heaven” on native flute, though it’ll probably be a while before I tackle that. Maybe “Silent Night.” After all, ‘tis the season.

 

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Story Time: Take a Long Step

Have you ever noticed, lying along the road, one sad, discarded shoe? Or maybe a boot? Now and then a cap, or work glove, but most often shoes. Rather, one shoe. I think I have seen an actual pair of shoes, once in my life. Mostly, just the one. There are a lot of theories about why this tends to happen, though we probably don’t need any other than simple human carelessness. We lose things. It’s our nature. For instance, First Reader asked me about this story just a few days ago (Didn’t you write a story about the missing shoe?) and I thought it would make a good Wednesday story. Then I couldn’t find it, and thought I had lost the file, until I remembered that I wasn’t working in MS Weird at the time, and expanded my search to include the extension of the word processor I used back then. Still miss that one, but I digress.

Story Time for this week is “Take a Long Step,” and it first appeared in Realms of Fantasy for April, 1999. This was my attempt to give at least one alternative explanation for the case of the missing shoe. Or the found shoe. It’s all a matter of perspective.

“Take a Long Step” will be available until next Wednesday, November 22nd. Then it’s something else. You know the drill.

Story Time: Beach Bum and the Drowned Girl

Today’s  Story Time is “Beach Bum and the Drowned Girl,” which first appeared in Mike Allen’s Clockwork Phoenix #4 back in 2013. It’s either a meditation on the nature of urban legends or a story about the birth and possible transcendence of a pair of gods. Or something else entirely, which is definitely the nature of stories. Urban legends and gods? I’m still working on that.

While I was going through my files something happened that happens, apparently, to everyone after a while–I found the beginning to a story that I do not remember writing. I know I did it because the style is totally mine, but otherwise?  It’s not unusual for stories to be started and then abandoned. Either they weren’t working, or we weren’t ready to write them, either by not being good enough yet or the story refusing to reveal itself or…well, there are a lot of reasons. Usually when I stumble across a story like that I can tell immediately why I stopped, and congratulate myself on getting out while the getting was good. Not this time. This one made me want to read the next bit to find out what was going on, only I don’t have a clue as to what that is. Probably why I stopped. I hope I can figure this one out, since I really would like to know.

Story Time: A Pinch of Salt

3rd Story Collection“A Pinch of Salt” originally appeared in 2006 in Mythic #2, edited by Mike Allen and later collected in On the Banks of the River of Heaven. It’s about foolish men and mermaids. Sort of. Other than that, I do not have a lot to say about it. The story speaks for itself a lot better than I could, which is pretty much the case for all of them.

Story Time

 

Standard Reminder: “A Pinch of Salt” will only be online until Wednesday, November 8th.

Story Time: Kallisti

Maybe I’m a Discordian* at heart. Also an Animist with a little Buddhism and Southern Baptist thrown in. None of which is a contradiction when we’re talking about chaos/disorder in general, which is probably why, of all the Greek Gods, Eris, Goddess of Discord, has always been a favorite of mine, if one could be so presumptuous as to pick favorites among mythical deities without inviting at least a metaphorical thunderbolt. One shouldn’t take such things lightly, after all. There are all sorts of thunderbolts.

I’ve written two stories featuring Eris. A revisit of Eris’ role in the Judgement of Paris,  “Kallisti” was first published in Realms of Fantasy back in 2002 and later reprinted in the collection Worshipping Small Gods in 2007. With the passing of Realms the second remains in my files until the right market appears. Or until I lose patience and do it myself. Probably even money on which occurs first.

 

Standard Reminder: “Kallisti” will remain online only until next Wednesday, November 1st, 2017.

*Discordianism. If you’re not an old-school fan, Google is your friend.