2023-01-19: three pieces, three stories (cw: sexual assault)

js bach: sonata in eb major, bwv 1031

i started on flute when i was 11; and perhaps sensing i was struggling, my mother signed me up for lessons. the first few years were method books and little etudes. then, moving into real repertoire. bwv 1031. i learned this in stages: first, the sicilienne, embedded into the dna of any flautist who's ever played for a few years; then, gradually, the rest of the piece.

music will never leave you. music will never abandon you. i spent a year in my mid-twenties broke and miserable and alone, living on $30 a week for groceries, questioning every day if this is what i wanted to do. i had a few books i'd brought with me in the move; my computer; and my old flute with its fraying polishing cloth, and cigarette papers to wick moisture from beneath the keys.

during that year i didn't have much. i didn't play much, either, but i still played, including and especially this piece. in the first year of the pandemic, when the world was still trying to figure out how to do things right, before it wholly abandoned that effort, i started playing my flute again, a little bit every day, finding my embouchure, then this sonata, bar by bar, reminding myself by reading the sheet music, rediscovering the fragments of this that have made their home in my muscle memory.

paul taffanel: andante pastoral

fourteen was the hardest year of my life. assaulted, physically and sexually; slut-shamed at school for years. every day difficult. other things, too. it was a long time ago now but i feel it. physical sensations regarding the above. reverberations. my memory's uncertain. my body remembers.

the summer before i turned fifteen everything came to a head. i was wilderness camping with friends, and one had come down with heatstroke, and was starting to hallucinate. we were by a cold creek and stripped him, cooled him down; then set up camp, made him lie down with cold wetted cloths on his forehead.

the stress of this opened something in me, and i began talking non-stop to one of my friends about everything that had happened. she sat and listened there by the creekside. whenever i listen to this piece i think of that day. of her kindness.

cécile chaminade: concertino

the last flute piece i learned in high school; one i started but never finished. a staple of the repertoire, a piece that any serious flautist has to learn.

i started it somewhere in grade twelve, busing across town to my lesson, an hour each way. long waits for the downtown bus. one afternoon, a car slow-rolled me, the passengers laughing: are you a boy or a girllllll.

i never finished the concertino, making time for other things instead. that summer i kissed a girl in the rain under the streetlights; went horseback riding at night on a friend's acreage; fell impossibly hard for someone i'd never see again. i started university. flute became less important. that transitional year is where the concertino sits in my life, the opening D intertwined with the last months of my youth.