Playing With Thunder

A Beam of Light ©2011 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights ReservedIt has been a tough month; almost daily thunderstorms with copious rain have become the norm. My garden is a swamp and many hours have been spent in the basement holding Angel, my lovely standard poodle, in my arms as a comforting shield against the sub-sonic power of a thunderstorm. My third (!) blog post, Anatomy of a Thunderstorm, included a recording of an August storm captured on my Zoom recorder. So?


Rip van WInkle statue

If you haven’t seen me recently visiting your blogs, there is a reason. I am now in my studio, where I have been for weeks, putting the final touches on a large concerto piece for tenor saxophone and orchestra called “Arcadian Tone Poems” (more about that next week!) One of the movements “Playing With Thunder” draws on that recording that I made two years ago. Many myths and stories surround thunder, including Washington Irving’s American tale of Rip Van Winkle with men playing “nine pins” in the sky as well as that of the Greek Elysian Fields, the final resting places of the souls of the heroic and the virtuous, evolved from a designation of a place or person struck by lightening. (see Wikipedia) I prefer to think of thunder as a loud and boisterous conversation between yesterday’s weather hanging around too long and the new front moving in to claim temporary territory . . . or, perhaps a machismo conversation between Thor and Zeus.

So, enough said; I am deep in the completion of “Playing With Thunder” and must return to the task at hand, even though the sound of it seems to be frightening Angel all over again. Here is a link to Anatomy of a Thunderstorm. Be not afraid, it is just an evolving and sometimes raucous conversation event 🙂

33 thoughts on “Playing With Thunder

  1. I love the sound of thunder even though I’m not a fan of storms (it’s the high winds, tornadoes, and sometimes the lightning that I don’t much care for). My father told us God was bowling up there. I’m a month behind in reading and commenting so perhaps you’ve finished by now and are out enjoying your garden and the rest of summer. 🙂

    • I like it all, Robin, even the trees blowing wildly in the storm! Yes, the piece is finished and goes into rehearsal in two weeks. A big relief; I’m on to the next one already, plus a lot more time in the garden 🙂

  2. Thunders are indeed both frightening and fascinating. Of course the sound itself doesn’t possess any danger, but still that’s what our animals (and us) reacts to. How great that you are incorporating thunder in your next concerto piece. Good luck with the work – and I look forward to hearing the peace.

    • Otto, I love thunderstorms, but that is my peculiarity I think. You are right, the dangerous part is the lightening, but what most react to is the thunder, which is just music to my ears. I finished the piece this week and am especially pleased with “Playing With Thunder” – it has become the grand finale of the piece. Thanks for stopping by and commenting 🙂

  3. I can hardly wait to hear the finished product. Thunder, when one is safely tucked in bed and under the covers can be eerily magical and beautiful, but a sudden thunder storm when one is lost in the woods (been there, done that) can suddenly turn into “Night on Bald Mountain” by Modest Mussorgsky and then, for me, the thunderstorm reduces me to the irrational level of your dog! Who can blame Angel’s reaction? 🙂

  4. I returned to living in summer thunder country from Vancouver BC where thunder/lightning is actually quite rare. It makes front page news!

    Thunder to me Nature’s musical power unleashed and brutal.

    Let me know whenever you do a composition on…flood. Our prairie city got washed up with a serious river flood last month. We’re still all recovering it, just hiding our shock, losses.

    • Oh, Jean, I heard about the terrible flooding, so sorry to hear that it is affecting you. We’ve had our share of dramatic floods here in western Pennsylvania over the years, so I have great sympathy with those affected by it. Yes, thunder is nature unleashed, but I love it.

  5. You’re AMAZING! Of course you must listen to Cesar Franck’s organ composition–Pastorale. There’s a thunderstorm in there.

    • Thanks, Nancy! As soon as I finish composing, I will find the Franck piece and give it a listen. I avoid other music when I’m composing; I don’t want to lose my inner musical train of thought 🙂

  6. The ‘thunderous’ weather this year feels to me like a symphony with highs and lows, dark and light, fast and slow. I’m glad you have good inspiration and cannot wait to hear the concerto!

  7. Last week we received 3 inches in 30 minutes … quite rare for us. Love your description of thunder … Perfect! Good luck with the studio work and I look forward to you sharing clips here.

    • Frank, we got the same storm! We had major flooding, road closures and power outages as a result, with an early afternoon evacuation of downtown. The storms continue to flow through the area, though none quite so dramatic. My garden paths squish and squelch underfoot now – fortunately, I’ve been in my studio working for most of this time and trying not to think of the weeds awaiting me once I emerge 🙂
      Hope to catch up on visiting your site in the next few days.

  8. As I write we are waiting for a Puny West Coast T-storm. We’ll take the noise if it means rain! My memory of the tale my mom told me when I shivered like a frightened poodle during a storm was that it was Saint Peter picking patatoes or maybe bowing. Never helped until I learned some science. Oh yes this was in the mid west. I wrote about a Lightening storm last week. Off to batten down the hatches and listen to your storm

  9. I recall our dogs didn’t like thunder much when I was a child – they used to hide under the bed. I love that image – wonderful crepuscular rays. We are set for a noisy thundery day tomorrow assuming the forecasters are correct. About 25 years ago we were within yards of a lightning strike that set our burglar alarm off and it couldn’t be stopped for hours until finally the maintenance company could reach us. We didn’t get much sleep!

    • Wow! As I mentioned to someone else, Angel and I were within yards of a ground strike – didn’t set off our burglar alarm though. That must have been dramatic! Angel remembers the lightening experience but she also reacts to changes in atmospheric pressure and starts getting anxious long before I notice a coming storm. I guess she’s my weather prognosticator 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by, LensScaper!

  10. Many dogs, it seems to me, really hate loud noises. One of my wife’s two collies was de-sensitized to such things as a puppy and is oblivious, but the other hates them–fireworks are particularly despised (so things haven’t been all that good for him lately, unfortunately).

    I look forward to hearing the completed piece, Lynn. Very best of luck in these final stages.

    • Thanks, Kerry. Almost done with the piece, so far so good. Another day or two and it will be complete – hooray!

      Angel was oblivious to thunderstorms until we were outside before a storm and lightening struck the ground about 15′ away. We both yelped and ran for the house, now she is terrified of it, and fireworks bother her too. Sigh. I like all that wild fun, so I feel bad for her and keep her company during the storms, but I miss “enjoying” the tumult and drama.

  11. Understand the challenges this month has brought you; ironic how our orientations towards nature elicit various responses. had I heard your thunderstorm recording last summer, during our drought, I would have wept. Now, it makes me smile. I’m sorry your summer’s weather hasn’t been more balanced, Lynn and hope your garden will be OK…excited to hear anything you’re creating, when you’re ready to share. Gentle peace.

    • Thanks, Kitty; the garden continues to grow with even more rain, but we have been blessed with a few lovely days in between the storms. I’ve been in the studio most of the past week, emerging every once in a while to wander through the garden and remind myself that there is life outside of the music in my head 🙂 Almost done, then it is into the garden to putter for a while. Glad the thunderstorm clip made you smile.

  12. Same weather conditions on this side of Lake Erie. Tornado watches and warnings in one’s township and county are so much fun. Why do they always come for you when its dark -evil overtones?

    I have a love hate relationship with thunderstorms -loved them once, hate them now.

    Arcadian Tone Poems -that got my attention.

    • Hello Hudson, and thanks for stopping by. A week later, we are still having lots of storms. One of them blew out the electrical on my oven – ugh. I mostly have a love relationship with storms, though – I love their drama, both visually and aurally; unfortunately, my dog is terrified of them so I often end up in the basement with her, missing all the fun.

      Arcadia is also a section of Nova Scotia, isn’t it? Or was a larger part of Canada referred to as Arcadia/Acadia at one time? Lots of towns named Arcadia throughout the US; everyone looking for idyllic beauty, I think 🙂

  13. That is an impressive clip – the downpour certainly sounds drenching.
    Interesting to see what you make of it musically. It is not easy to deal with as more than an incident, as I have in one of my movements.
    One of my favourite storms in music is the one from Grofe’s Grand Canyon Suite.

      • Ah, yes, I was expecting, and found, the superb one from the ‘Pastoral’.
        No composer seems to sustain them for long, though, self included. Difficulty in maintaining the drama, I suppose.

      • That’s true, high drama carried on too long just becomes noise. My “thunder” movement is about 3 minutes, with lots of dramatic ups and downs and quite a bit of fun, I hope. I was thinking more of a “one upmanship” game between the thunder gods when I wrote it 🙂

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