music and thoughts on music                                                                   by Dee Wolfe


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... brought my penny whistle to work this morning but left the uke at home hanging by the door. I find that not only is composition easier via penny whistle, it is more strictly modal, and I can add enhancements when the change is made to the uke.

When if first got my hands on this album It vindicated all I had been doing with penny whistle and later, mandolin: music as a form of meditation and prayer, basking with the angels on the pulsing waves. I so wanted for poetry to do for me what the penny whistle did without affectation but I'm not as language oriented as I ought to be and think in terms of melody sans words, and this has led to the great confusion of my life.

The penny whistle was the taxi I'd been waiting for all my life. From age eleven on it was my chief mode of expression. I did so poorly in school that I found myself driven by the same sort of desperation that results in rebellion and so forth, and would have become a delinquent had the penny whistle not drawn me out to the sage fields and oak brush groves above farmington, the creeks and canyons, pine and aspen trees, shaded trails winding their little way toward Francis Peak. The world about me had already given up on me as a simple dunce, and so I was left alone with my penny whistle. My fancy friends had guitars to confuse themselves with and, besides a three chord pattern of minors, knew nothing of what they were about. I learned far more and far faster the roots of theory, which are the seven modes, by playing a penny whistle, and I learned how to build triads that way; and the sheer act of playing the old ballads and then singing them taught me volumes.

Dee went off to sit by himself and toot away, stumbling over modal theory as he went, learning music because it was the one thing at which he was any good at all. I didn't realize that I was a musician at that time. I didn't think about it at all. I had no idea about things like skill and ability. To me I was simply playing the songs my folks sang -- they were working class ballad collectors, mom and dad and extended family -- lowland Scot, highland English, Irish, confederated ulster Scot, just a lot of poor drab souls whose love of story songs elevated them slightly from the muck of their circumstances.

I did not realize that when I was photographing and developing pictures, I did so as a musician, that when I wrote essays and poems and stories, I did so as a musician, that when I swept floors and washed dishes, I did so as a musician, and that it was in a musical frame of mind I acted in movies.

Never had a bit of ambition to be top of the heap. Frank Sinatra could never talk to God with his music. All I do is to God and for Him, and thereby music has been my saving grace. Ambitious musicians are ambitious because they lack the confidence of knowing that this is what they were meant to do. It's obvious to me that God meant for me to make music ...