daily kaddish: live with roshi


A recording made live at Mira’s house the day we met in person for the first time. This is a “live take” release reminiscent of the track Dylan released where the whole band fell apart laughing.

Mira had some questions about the physicality of playing horn, so I suggested that she try something my horn teacher once had me do: sit behind me, rest her chin on my skull, and rest her hands on my rib cage. The chin-to-skull contact would allow her to hear not just through her ears the usual way but also through bone conduction to her inner ear. The hand-to-rib contact would allow her to feel the effort that goes into breathing and blowing.

First, as I was starting to play, Mira’s long-haired German shepherd, Roshi, started licking my face. I persevered for another measure or two until Roshi’s enthusiasm knocked the mouthpiece off my embouchure, producing a bizarre sound and causing both Mira and me to crack up completely.

I started over again from the beginning. This time, when I got to the stopped horn passage, aka “that THING,” I forgot that I was playing my deskant horn and didn’t have the stopping crook in. My deskant horn is a B-flat/high F double horn by Lawson that has an optional low F extension that can be replaced with an A crook or a stopping crook. At the time, I had the low F extension in, so the only way I’d be able to play the stopped passage properly would have been by substituting a lot of funky fingerings and doing some careful tuning with the position of my right hand in the bell.

I didn’t do any of that. I just tried to play the passage as if I were using my regular horn.

The result was a series of increasing out-of-tune notes, until finally I realized what the problem was, stopped playing, swore, told Mira about the problem, and again cracked up.

I resume from that passage, playing it open, and finally finished the piece.

This was the first time Mira and I had shared the daily kaddish live, in person. At the end, I set my horn in my lap, Mira wrapped her arms around my shoulders, and we sat together like that in silence for a long, long time—two full minutes—before one of us spoke. I preserved that two minutes of silence together in the recording, because I don’t think I’ve ever sat inside a pregnant pause as long as that one before, and I don’t know if I ever will again.

A powerful experience.

About erin

Erin Vang, PMP, BMus, MMus, is Owner and Principal Pragmatist of the consultancy Global Pragmatica LLC®, offering custom JMP scripting, localization program management, and facilitative leadership services. She is also an orchestral horn player who freelances in the San Francisco Bay Area and plays assorted brass for the celebrated dance bands Midnight Smørgåsbord and contraPtion. More about Erin…
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