The Wave Goodbye

So close your eyes for that’s a lovely way to be
Aware of things your heart alone was meant to see ~Antonio Carlos Jobim

Bill and Jim at the Backstage Bar  Photo by Doug Harper ©2012

Bill and Jim at the Backstage Bar, one of their last gigs together. Photo by Doug Harper ©2012

Last Saturday, amidst a dozen other things claiming our attention, we attended the wake of a good friend and fellow musician. I must admit that I wasn’t looking forward to it, as he died the night before his 53rd birthday, much too young. But what I had feared as a sad evening mourning his death was instead a joyful celebration of his life, overflowing with laughter and stories.  His girlfriend Marsha had filled a table with photos of Jimmy, many of them including my husband Bill, as they often performed together, two musicians in love with the guitar.  Bill had put together a slide show of photos and videos of Jimmy teaching and performing – it was a joy to hear his voice and his guitar. The place was filled with musicians (many of them on their way to a gig) as well as various artists, radio personalities, friends, and family. I came home thoughtful and smiling.

Flamenco_Gold

Flamenco Gold by Sibthorp, used by permission GFDL via Wikimedia Common

A few nights later, I had a powerful dream.  I was asked to sing a bossa nova song for a stage show, one that I recognized but had never sung, and I was being coached by three Brazilians, two women and a man. The women showed me how to move and dance to the music as I was singing – they considered this an essential element to performing the song properly. As I struggled to get everything just right, I saw a procession move forward from the back of the stage, solemnly moving as if in a slow dance step. Instead of two by two, it was a block of Brazilian men and women dressed in simple black clothes, nine across, nine deep.  In the center of the procession was Jimmy, tall and blond, with a serious expression on his face broken by a small smile. As they proceeded to the front of the stage, I realized that I had been coached to sing this song as a farewell to my friend, as a tribute to him for using his musical gifts well.  This was his ceremony to pass from one world to another, with an honor guard all around him. I awoke with the melody of the song ringing in my head;  I realized that it was Wave by Antonio Carlos Jobim.

Have you ever had a dream that was not about you, not about processing your own psyche, but something bigger, higher, truer than your personal issues, more real than waking life? This was that kind of dream. And I can’t get the melody of Wave out of my head, I’ve been singing and humming it for days now. My friend Kenia, Brazilian vocalist extraordinaire, has offered to coach me on this song, making part of this dream come true.

Here is a concert rendition of Wave beautifully sung in Portuguese by Gal Costa. (Please be patient with the short “ads” – it means that YouTube has monetized the video and the copyright holder gets paid for each view.) 

Here are the English lyrics to Wave written by Jobim.  Here is an English translation of the original Portuguese lyrics to Wave (the English song lyrics were also written by Jobim.)

Here is a recording of Jimmy playing another bossa nova, My Little Boat

Jimmy, may you dance and strum your way into the next life with a smile on your face and escorted by music. Peace.

The Four Elements: Light

What is to give light must endure burning. ~ Victor Frankl

Light in CloudsAt last, I have finally completed the music and video of “Light,” the second piece of The Four Elements. As I did with “Breath” I am offering a free mp3 download of “Light” for the first week of release, which you can find on my Facebook Music Page or at CD Baby.  (After midnight EST, Sunday, August 26, it will revert back to a $.99 download.)

Since I’ve previously written about the creation of this piece in Fire and Light: When the Idea is Too Big and At the Speed of Light, today I simply present the video, the lyrics, and a few acknowledgements. Enjoy!

A special thanks goes as always to my creative partner and husband, Bill Purse, who not only engineered and produced the audio recording, but also played bass and sang. Another thanks to two of my former students, Mike Elliott and Rob Balotsky, who played electronic percussion for the piece, no mean feat considering the odd time signatures and shifting rhythms. A final thanks to the Hubble Space Telescope Program and NASA video sources for such inspiring images of our world and our universe.

Lyrics to “Light”   ©2011 Lynn Emberg Purse

Light, Light
Solar plexus, solar flare
Fire burning through the air becomes
Light through the leaves, Light through the clouds

The edge of dawn, the hem of night
chasing shadows in the race to light.
Light, Light.

Gathered on the waters, reflected by the moon.
Even once removed, its power streams into the night, light.
Light, Light.

Lux aeterna, Lux aeterna, Lux, Lux

Calling All Guitarists!

Bill and science camp kids in front of the big guitar

If you play guitar, like guitar music, or just want a different kind of museum experience, visit the traveling National Guitar Museum exhibit “Guitar: The Instrument that Rocked the World.” Their subtitle for the show is “The history, the science, and cultural impact of the most popular instrument. Ever.” They are not exaggerating.

The Carnegie Science Centerin Pittsburgh is hosting the exhibit until the end of September and it is spectacular. This past week, my husband Bill played guitar for the kids at science camp at the museum, directly in front of the largest playable guitar in the world. After the concert, we had a chance to explore the exhibit, Bill got to play the “big guitar” and I caught a few of the highlights on camera.

The Interactive Guitar Gallery

Everything is unique; road cases house guitars and support amps that are equipped with video displays of historical performances. All styles are represented, and our friend and guitar luthier Bob Benedetto shipped a copy of his luthier workshop to join the exhibit. Bill took the opportunity to climb into the exhibit and don Bob’s work apron, much to the amusement of Bob and his wife Cindy. You can see a few of the shots on their Benedetto Guitars website.

The exciting thing about the exhibit is its marriage of science, history and culture into interactive displays – this is a hands on experience and a treat for all the senses.  Here is a little video I made of our day at the museum, to a soundtrack of “Counting By Eight”, one of Bill’s pieces from his CD Sonic Art – enjoy!

All photos and video ©2012 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved

Want to hear the sound of the big guitar?

Let the Music Begin

Music in the soul can be heard by the universe. ~ Lao Tzu

image of GyroscopeFinally, I have emerged from the studio with the completed audio and video of “Breath” which will be the premiere piece for my online music store. I have already written about “Breath” in Breathe Out, Breathe In  and The Space Between, so this time I will let the music and video speak for itself.

In celebration of this new project, you can download an mp3 of the music for free this week only at CD Baby or my new Facebook Music Page (after Sunday, May 27, 11 P.M., it will return to $.99)  If you like the music, please feel free to share the link with others. I particularly want to thank all of you who took the time to give me feedback about your digital music use in Your Opinion, Please.  The overwhelming winning response was for downloading single mp3’s, followed by a wide variety of other approaches for acquiring and listening to music.  I learned so much from all of you and I appreciate your help.

A special thanks goes to my musical partner and husband Bill Purse for doing such a great job as recording engineer and producer, as well as singing and playing bass and percussion.  Thanks to friend and fellow composer David Borden for lending his breath to this project and to my friend Linda for teaching me how to breathe. Enjoy the music!

Lyrics to “Breath” by Lynn Emberg Purse  ©2012 All Rights Reserved

Insubstantial, hard to hold
Never seen, with power unfolds
to drive the clouds and gyre the sea,
Breathe

Breathe out, breathe in, balanced in the space between
Silence, stillness, until the breath moves through again

Prana, Spiritus, Ruach, Chi
Breath of life, breath of energy
Breathe out, breathe in, carried on the wind

Insubstantial, many names
Cold as frost and hot as flame
Breath on the air, breath on the wind, Breathe

Breathe out, breathe in, balanced in the space between
Silence, stillness
SIlence, stillness, stillness
Breathe

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Kennywood’s Open!

Ah, words that have a magic ring!  Kennywood Park is our local historical (but very up to date) amusement park. School children in Western Pennsylvania love the phrase “Kennywood’s open!” – it signifies that it is spring, school is almost over, and a great day at the amusement park is in order! But there is a second less obvious meaning that every kid and former kid knows, a local colloquialism that means “your zipper’s open!”

I may be rushing the season a bit, as the park does’t open until May, but I wanted to feature a piece written by my husband and musical partner, BIll Purse. When he was commissioned to compose a symphonic band piece for the local North Hills High School, he chose Kennywood as his inspiration and the famous phrase as the title of the piece. Bill has a history of writing pieces inspired by favorite places; Kennywood’s Open featured six vignettes based on his favorite park rides. In the name of research, we made several trips to the park to record the sound of the rides as well as photograph and videotape footage for what eventually became a combination of music and actual sounds from the park and plenty of resources for multimedia presentations.

Since its premiere, Bill has rearranged it for orchestra for a performance by the Washington Symphony Orchestra on the very day that the park opened for the season. The concert hall featured an enormous screen and high resolution projector, so I was able to create moving graphics of the park rides while the orchestra performed the piece.

When creating his solo CD Sonic Art, Bill  adapted the “Merry Go Round” section as a jazz piece featuring Duquesne University’s Catch 22 and jazz trumpeter Sean Jones. This video features the CD recording of The Merry Go Round combined with the Kennywood footage and some stills of Sean taken by friend and photographer Doug Harper. The video features the Dentzel Carousel installed in the park in 1927 and the 1915 Wurlitzer Band Organ whose actual sound begins and ends the piece.

Enjoy the ride!