Simple Melody, M. Moyse
Happy New Year from Urban Flute! It was an incredibly snowy January 1st here in Toronto, and walking in the laneway behind where I live, I was taken by this ‘snow-shadow’ where a dense pine tree overhangs a neighbour’s fence. I immediately thought: Shakuhachi! However, instead of a traditional Japanese approach, and as the snow kept falling that morning, another musical idea came to mind to compliment this arresting scene.
I have always loved this distinctive and expressive composition by Marcel Moyse, which I first discovered as a student in his classic 24 Little Melodies. (Moyse, incidentally, together with his son Louis, traveled to Japan numerous times.)
As I played there was movement in the snow-laden pine bough, and a friendly Chickadee was suddenly before me, flitting about, almost within reach.* A plane droned lazily overhead as the phrases flowed along: who was travelling on this first day of 2008? As if this thought were simply a breeze, the pine tree stirred slightly with a gentle gust of wind. Perhaps the bird was attracted by the sound of the flute, for it not only lingered, but moved from branch to branch, and then alighted on the fence just beside me and started moving vertically…down, and then back up: this was no Chickadee, but was in fact another one of my favorite birds, the amiable and solitary Nuthatch.
For a ‘non-acoustic’ setting, as this laneway would appear to provide, there certainly ended up being a lot going on. Later the same day, I had a chance to play this wonderful melody in a completely different space…I’ll cobble that story together for you so that you might compare the resulting acoustics.
* Akin to the butterfly suddenly appearing and ‘dancing’ to the movement of the notes when I played my North American Flute in the Superstition Mountains last Spring.