Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The last week

I've been so busy (and when not busy tired) that I've sadly neglected to post for the last week. It's been wonderfully eventful though!

On Thursday I went out to Baltimore for Sacred Harp, as usual. In the first half it was quite a large group with many visitors. The second half pared down a little and I sang tenor for the first time. It was an interesting experience, and I fared much better on the unfamiliar songs because I didn't already have a part stuck in my head. I think it's a little too high for me to sing comfortably, but it was fun to really hear the melody for a change. I think I'll still keep on tenor now and again for the practice singings.

On Friday J and I went for games night at the O'Malley's. It was a small gathering of us, but it was fun. I chatted with Matthew about career stuff, and he had a lot of good insight on what sorts of jobs I might look for. He and Margaux are very similar to me in interests and it was good to hear their web design stories. Then we played Carcassonne... I love that game! I think 4 is the perfect number though, it goes a little too slow for me with 5 people. I lost, but it was still great fun.

On Saturday and Sunday I went to the Potomac River Sacred Harp Convention. It was small (no more than 120 people at any time I'd say) but powerful. There were so many good singers and good leaders and the energy was consistently high. I skipped the social on Saturday night and came home and made soup and relaxed on the front porch. I got to lead 4 songs over the weekend, and I think I led well on all of them (although when I led 335 I turned the beat around on the last repeat, but everyone went with me so it wasn't so bad. That's what I get for leading from memory. I made up for it with an awesome "three-peat" on 76 on the bottom). I've realised that I really like to lead fast songs, and this group of singers likes to sing fast. Most of the tempos were above what I'm used to, except for a handful of exceptionally slow and long songs (not my taste so much. Anything slower than walking speed is too slow for me to get into).

On Sunday night J and I started watching the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice again, and watched more last night. I was so wiped after the weekend that I just didn't have the energy for anything else, except for grocery shopping. I *love* Whole Foods and will miss it so much when I go home!

Yesterday at lunch I went to a lecture-demonstration at the Library of Congress with the other interns. It was on Jewish women's songs from Kerala. I'd had no idea that there was a Jewish community there, but I learned that the oldest standing synagogue, called palli in Malayalam, was built in 1553. However, there are only a couple dozen jews still living in Kerala because most of the community moved to Israel in the 1970s. The people who put on the demonstration are from a small group who are working to preserve the traditional Malayalam songs, and have produced a few CDs and books on the subject--including a book that has the transliteration of the songs in Hebrew for the young people living in Israel. It was a very interesting demonstration, and I wish I could have seen the accompanying concert!

Today I have more fiddle practice planned. I've started gathering a compilation of Folkways fiddle recordings for myself so that I can learn after I go home. I've decided that I most want to learn old-timey fiddling, and Matthew introduced me to an old-timey fiddler at the farmer's market last weekend. They are planning on holding a house party when she returns from Guatemala in a couple of weeks, and hopefully my skills will be good enough by then to play a few songs!

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