Monday, July 29, 2013

Connecting parts

Well, best laid plans…..
I have learned the past few months that my physical chores must take precedence. So, other activities fell off the calendar when the number of exercises increased. That’s good news. I’ve also learned that time is the most important facet of this rehabilitation. It takes time for tissue to heal, bone to grow, muscles to strengthen, and swelling to decrease. I don’t live on a Star Trek set. There are no Sonic Screwdrivers to point at my foot. And we all know what happens when you pray for patience…….
The good news is that I should be able to make more progress on the Saint Saens. I’ll be shifting my tatting time back to when it is cooler in the morning. So, off to wash my hands, wind some size 80 thread and figure out the circumference needed for the split ring connector pattern.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Section A motif developed

Each of the development sections is repeated. I chose to ignore slight differences in the repeats. I changed my mind about the next section after I finished a trial tat version. It just didn’t represent the repeat section well at all. So, after letting it sit for a bit, I came up with this:

Section A motif
Now, a bit about the melody used in this section. It is similar to themes used in previous movements of the symphony. You may even recognize a bit of Dies Irae. This chant used in services after death fascinated Saint-Saens. Like many of his time and place, what came after death was intriguing. Sound familiar? And we wonder where entertainment gets their ideas???

Because the organ is used in these 2 sections for accent, I limited the use of green beads to the center of the motif. It is an organ concerto after all. And that’s what I always focus on when I listen to this. I am an organist through and through!

Why the pink beads on only 2 of the rings? Well, the strings have the theme for only half of the section. Their part sets up the next few sections nicely; more about the end of the movement later. I’ll be working my way through connecting all these separate parts. Again, I let the music structure drive the design. All I’ll say for now is I felt compelled to use a thinner thread and repetition of the same stitch count.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Section F

Remember the turn? The little 3 note ornament that makes up the fugue theme?

Remember the key? After the delicious melody in the major key, we’re back to c minor.

Remember the rhythm? The 3 notes: da, da, dum?

Well, this all returns in the next section I named Section F.

The sense of urgency returns in this section. It propels us into a repeat of the melody from a previous section with a hint of brass reminding us of the Intro. And you thought this was just a bridge section!

So, how to represent this in DS? Well, again, I ignored the role of the brass. I didn’t work in any indication of the change of key center. But, I did try to work in the use of 3 notes. I did try to work in the dialogue Saint-Saens set up. The best way I could think of was to use the pearl tatting in the chains. I did try to work in the Intro melody and the increase in tension. I decided to use sets of split rings.
 This motif actually took the longest to complete. Maybe it was all those ends I had to hide……

Tomorrow, I look at a the final section in the development.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Maestoso Section C

Before I forget, yes, the foot is continuing to get better. The ankle and leg are getting stronger. I am slowly becoming more independent. I hope soon to finish the painful part of rehab.

Now, on to more lovely things.
Round 2 C

As soon as the organist lifts the hands after finishing the third phrase of the B theme, we hear a lovely melody in the woodwinds. It soars. The strings support it nicely, but don’t have much to say; just a murmur of thirds establishing a wash of key center. I struggled for weeks with whether I should represent this melody in beads or with something else. I decided that the simplicity of the melody should be represented in the simplest motif. So, no beads or fancy thread. Just the DS, Ma’am. 

I’ll confess to using the melody while exercising. It soars so nicely. If I complete the movement while singing it to myself, I go slowly….like I should. If I work through the entire section, I do just the right number of reps and even have the bridge section to change legs… I should. I still lose track of what number I’m on occasionally. Musicians count best to 4. Anything past 4 and we can get lost quickly.

Tomorrow we return a bit to the fugue….sort of.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Saint Saens Maestoso B section

At this point of the movement, Saint-Saens gets down to business. He gives the melody to the organ. Of course some of the orchestra is playing also, but the theme is all organ. We hear the syncopation hinted at in previous movements. There’s a strong sense of going somewhere harmonically as well as rhythmically. And before you know it, we’ve moved on into the next section. Whoosh!

B section motif without border

I had fun stringing beads to use in the rings. I wanted them to look strong and uneven. The first few samples didn’t work for me until I correlated stitch count to rhythm. Again, the visual fell into place as soon as I let the structure of the music drive the design. That brought a smile to my face.

Tomorrow, I will be looking at the pretty melody coming up in the next section.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Looking at the development

For the next round of the pattern, I decided to create motifs for each section. I found the piece easily fell into 8 sections that drew on 4 different ideas. This is very common in symphonies and the ideas or themes seemed to suggest 4 different motifs. As I mulled over this realization for several days, I came to the conclusion that just like nature exhibits complimentary color schemes, music exhibits complimentary rhythm and melody. Who’d a thunk…….

All this made such great sense, except I didn’t have a clue where to attach them all and how to arrange them and…..

So, I made some arbitrary decisions that are just my way of keeping things flowing visually: the 2 beads in the center ring will sit on the “horizon” of the design; the sections will be joined with tatting in a thinner thread that provide a background of sorts; even though the melodic ideas repeat in the sections, I made two of each of the 4 motifs thus making visual duplicates. I’m pleased with creating this little bit of balance. I pray the indulgence of all those musicians and tatters out there. Forcing this little bit of visual order onto the structure of the music and this little bit of chaos onto the structure of the tatting has led to interesting discoveries. Tomorrow begins our romp through the motifs.

Saturday, July 13, 2013


Today, I explain the chains in the First Round. (See picture below for Thursday)

Camille Saint-Saens, being an organist, was well acquainted with the fugue form. For this composition, he chose a simple subject. I chose to focus on how the subject has groups of three notes similar to a turn ornament. That back and forth arrangement of notes suggested a trio of decorative picots and because the strings state the fugue so well, I added a pink bead to the center picot of each group. Simple, but effective and a nice finish to the center motif.

Since this piece is in white thread, I'm only working on it when it's cool and there's little chance of my hands hands sweating. To fill the rest of the time while my foot heals, I've been doing the rehab exercises (30 minutes 3 times a day) and working on a bookmark in Rootbeer thread and the chair canvas. If I can get the camera to behave, I'll share a pic of the canvas soon.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Of feet and knees and melodies

The saga continues with the foot. Now, I’m more concerned about rehab of the knee. I’m learning far more about anatomy and how the human body is supposed to work and how my body has been accustomed to working than I ever wanted to know. I’d prefer to just get from point A to point B without thinking about it all. Sigh. The good news is, I’m making progress at the 3 steps forward, 1 step back rate.

Before I share pictures of the second round of my interpretation of the Saint Saens movement, I wanted to share a bit of how I have been thinking through my design.

There are elements of design that all artists deal with. Sometimes it drives the whole project, other times, things just fall into place. Changing facets of each element change the art. That’s all I’m qualified to say on that. I’ve only scratched the surface learning about all that. I don’t feel it’s necessary to spend a whole lot of time on deciding how I’m going to tat, but I am basing my art on the thought that it is important to spend time looking carefully at the music and assigning visual cues to what we hear.

If that’s clear as mud, don’t feel bad. I’m still striving for a way to express my process.

For this composition, I’ve decided to correlate the color of the beads to what section of the orchestra has the “melody” or whatever we recognize as a theme. Each element of tatting (ring, chain, etc) roughly correlates to phrases or sections. Finally, I’ve decided to use only 1 color thread. And I’ve decided a circular “doily” overall structure suits the composition.

If you glance up at yesterday picture, you see some green thread. That’s a metallic sewing thread added using the “daisy picot” technique to represent the piano part. There are 4 phrases to the melody lifted out for the movie. The strings and pianos play it first, then the organ and brass. I ignored the brass frequently in this version. I felt guilty until I really looked at how he composed the 2nd movement and then made that call for this movement. When I create something representing the 2nd movement, I’ll revisit that decision.

Tomorrow I’ll explain what I saw in the fugue subject.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Saint Saens motifs

What you have all been waiting for:

Pics of the final version of Symphony in C by C. Saint Saens interpretation in tatting:

Center and round 1
Here’s the Central Ring and First Round.

If you have never heard this work, please search out a performance. If you are lucky enough to find a live performance, please support your local artists. Chances are, even if you attend concerts regularly, this will be one of the few times you will hear the organ with orchestra. If you cannot find a live performance, I encourage you to look around for a recording. There are several available on Youtube and even more in your local library or available for purchase in new and used recording retailers. However you listen, please do.

The inspiration for the central ring is the Introduction. The final section of the Symphony begins with a chord on the organ answered by a phrase from the orchestra. Then, the lovely melody highjacked by the folks who gave us the movie Babe. Finally, Saint Saens gave us a fine example of the quintessential compositional form for organ, the fugue.

More on the next few sections of the movement over the next few days.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

200 posts and counting

I can’t believe I’ve had this much to say! Wow! I know I’m probably not as prolific as others, but I had not imagined I would still be writing this blog!

Perhaps a clue is in a blog I read frequently. Jane E posed the question in a recent post: “why can’t I regulate myself? Why do I start a thing and HAVE to finish it?”

I like her answer: “because I’m bonkers!”

Well, I can’t claim to be bonkers in the same way, as I certainly have my share of unfinished projects, but I do feel like I don’t “regulate” myself well. I’ve taken to keeping track of how much time I spend doing what. It helps me to make a better to-do list. I’m more reasonable in how much I can accomplish and better at seeing what is most important. If that’s bonkers, I’ll gladly wear that label.

I’m hoping it will all help me recover from the broken foot. Now off to finish that next part of the pattern.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

back to it

I realize I've not posted in awhile. Things have been...well....not pleasant. I am better now, but to catch you up, I'll just post what I wrote the last few weeks. Check back each day for the next part of the saga:

And just in case I forgot, with crutches (and scooter) I will…..


I’ve started the final tat of the Saint Saens. That should keep me busy! It’s in white thread, so I’ll be keeping my hands off my face and hair, washing them often, and tatting when it’s not really hot.

My second xray has revealed that the bone is not knitting together as well as my shawl. It’s a setback, but not insurmountable. My foot and ankle are really immobile now. Tape, more tape, Ace bandage, a second Ace bandage, and a big honkin’ Air cast. It’s not moving for man nor beast. All this bulk makes it harder to use my knee scooter I’m borrowing. Still preferable to crutches; I have my priorities: I can carry a half full cup of tea across the room with the scooter! Of course, the cats would probably prefer that I move a bit slower. I haven’t run them over…..yet.