Musicians are storytellers. I don’t mean that in the abstract; musicians have some great stories. Just ask one about their strangest gig, worst hotel room, longest airport layover, or a particularly rough ordeal through customs and security.
They have props for their stories too. My husband is a percussionist which means that kitchen items like mixing bowls, wooden spoons, can openers, and wine glasses often find themselves integrated with studio drums. Sometimes holes are drilled at the bottom of metal bowls to be hung by strings and hit with mallets. It also happens in reverse. Drums often end up seated like dinner guests on our dining room chairs.
Travel can be a challenge when you’re married to a percussionist. Why would anyone transport such a thing in carry-on? A thing like what? Like this, for example:
It’s a bell for a John Cage piece. It sounds like an old fashioned phone. I have no idea what piece of music it comes from. All I know is that I went to eat breakfast one morning and it was on the kitchen table next to the fruit bowl.
I do know that I have seen performances and scores that are written in a whole other language. Not music, not Italian, but something else in the dialect of improvisation. I’m always fascinated by composers who leave instrumentation up to the performer. Is there such a thing in poetry? I’d say yes. Some poets keep editing and editing long after the book is in print. Each time they read their signature poem it’s different. And then there are the musical poets, abstract, experimental poets. Wait — wasn’t John Cage a poet too?
Happy 100th year of your birth, Mr. Cage.
WRITING PROMPT # 41:
- Borrow from the musician’s playbook. Write about your strangest gig (or work experience), worst hotel room, longest airport layover, or ordeals through customs and security. If you’re not big on air travel, tell about the worst bus ride, subway experience or traffic jam.
- Use props. Grab items from your kitchen at random and lay them out on the table. Spend a few minutes studying the bowls, plates, coffee filters, dishtowels, can openers and bongos. (If your not married to a drummer you probably will leave the last item out.) Close your eyes. What story did these items want you to write?
- Listen to some John Cage when you write this week. The guy was born a hundred years ago, but the music is super fresh.
WHEN YOU ARE FINISHED WRITING:
- Come on back and post your story, poem or a small excerpt of what you wrote using these prompts. Or just talk about the process. Encourage us!
- Visit the John Cage Trust’s website for concert and event information: http://www.johncage.org/
- If you like these free prompts, please “like” my new Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/StefanieLipsey.Writer. Stay in touch by email at www.stefanielipsey.com or through Writing Yoga®. I look forward to hearing from you and thank you very much for visiting.
© Stefanie Lipsey 2012