, Newburyport, MA


March 18, 2013

Slip-Jig for Flute and SUV


A few other passersby stop passing by. What could be more riveting than a low-register spiritual in the open air of this high-tech world?

As I hear it on recordings, the last note blooms like a flower, and so the opening of “Mrs. Cole” jumps in sudden celebration. The bloom reflected in their faces, the jig swaggers with trills in the upper register as I cut and caper away from the music stand.

Get back behind it for the last note, holding it for an up-tempo slip back into Dvorak’s largo. Not so fast and wild as the jig, but jaunty enough that each face blooms again and again.

Wondering what I might do with the last note — up an octave? down a scale? a sudden punch? a flourishing arpeggio? the tease of E-flat? the all-purpose B? — I may be lucky that the traffic light on Mass Ave. makes the decision for me.

For those who know downtown Lexington — and for those who do not — my spot is almost directly opposite the half-intersection of Waltham Street. I like to think that Paul Revere might have stopped right next door, as I always do, for a cup of Peet’s dark roast.

Red lights rarely cause much backup, so I barely notice it. But now there’s an SUV blasting the last measures of my up-tempo “World” with the heavy bass of something impossible to discern throbbing from its open windows.

This, too, I am versed in: Simply repeat and improvise on those measures, maybe hold or trill some notes, until the car moves and the sound dissolves further along Revere’s horse’s hoofprints.

Ditto for my “Reel for Pipe and Siren,” “Hornpipe for Whistle and Barking Dog” and “Air for Recorder and Helicopter.”

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