in which the musician responds to all this brilliance with a straightforward attempt to play the damned notes

I was all set to play a nice, meditative Kaddish this afternoon when technology decided to mess with me. It took me an hour of fiddling just to get the program to launch so I could record my dulcet tones for you. After all that, I was in no mood to be prayerful. But here it is, an obligation. The promise of daily, already vexing me. As it’s supposed to.

Damn ritual.

Whose idea was this, anyway?

But here it is, your fourth kaddish. I made no attempt to respond to Caprica and the Tzaddik.

(Someday perhaps you’ll enlighten me on this aleph-bet coding scheme, where Bobo is a tzaddik and you appear to be some kind of vav or lamed or mutant vav, and I’ve lost track of which letter Mrs Tzaddik gets to be, so I’m just going to nominate gimel).

Nope, I’m returning to my own snail-like musical agenda, and today’s goal is getting the notes to be well-behaved.

I’m still working on my plumbing problem: when do I dump the moisture that condenses in the pipes of my not-warm-enough horn? It’s a fall-winter challenge for brass players; when the room I’m playing in is so much cooler than body temperature, the temperature of my air and its moisture, the moisture condenses inside the walls of the horn. It gathers in puddles where the pipes make their U-turns, and I have to move those puddles to the nearest exits and hasten them out the door. If I don’t, my air agitates them, and the water droplets leap about, dancing in my sound column and making obnoxious, arhythmic popping sounds.

When it’s warmer, the temperature difference is smaller, the moisture condenses more slowly, the puddles stay put, and I can finish the page before I need to deal with them. Even the little things have their seasons.

But I think I’ve found the right place to do my plumbing—right before the short stopped horn passage. The pinched, brassy sound is enough of a distraction from the longer pause needed for water management, and getting things taken care of beforehand means I can slip seamlessly back into the open horn and the subsequent phrase echoing the theme’s first statement. Then I wind up for the big crescendo to the end—and, voilá, no popping this time on the high note!

Just some lingering clams. That’s what we call them, we hornists. “Clams.” The notes we miss, the notes we chip, the notes we land on sideways, the notes we hit but then fall back off, the notes we squeeze out with our teeth and then frack, the notes we frack, the spliades, the clinkers, the splats. It’s important to our egos that you recognize these are not wrong notes. They are notes that we reached for with clarity of intention and purity of spirit, but they didn’t respond in kind. They vex us, these clams. Treif beasts. Unfit.