Decrescendo

Decrescendo: (n) a gradual reduction in force or loudness.

“Don’t just play it—feel it. And after you feel it, control it.”

I heard these words in my head decades ago during a writing session, when I was constructing a song list for a new album.

I had reached a certain level of aptitude, where it was understood that I would write, perform and a proficiency would follow.

But somewhere along the way I lost sight of the dynamics of music and how my passion could turn an average song into a masterpiece of musical ecstasy.

It’s true.

Sometimes I forget.

I start believing that if I hit the marks—play fast, loud, soft or determined—then the music will do the rest.

We give too much credit to music and not enough honor to arranging the alluring passages into a magnet for human emotions.

Sometimes you just need to slow down.

Often times, you get softer–to make a point.

It’s true in music.

And it certainly is true that life, itself, requires the occasional decrescendo.

 

Dave

Dave: (n) a male given name.

 Realization: it is the goal of life.

To come to some sort of conclusion that fits both the circumstances and the purity of truth.

Sometimes a realization is a couple of steps away; sometimes so it sits on top of you.

But there are times that a realization seems so uncertain that it may take many years for the brain, the soul and the heart to have a decent meeting and come to common ground.

I knew a fellow named Dave.

Dave was four years older than me.

Dave loved music.

Dave loved gospel music.

He was one of those classically attractive men of bygone days—with long, dark, straight hair, which he wore in bangs coming down to his eyebrows, making him appear much younger than he actually was.

Even though Dave had graduated from high school, was married and had a baby, he wanted to sing so much that he lobbied to join our group of high school friends.

What helped us make the decision was that Dave had a van and went out and bought a bunch of sound equipment, causing his entrance into our organization to be much more likely.

I didn’t like Dave.

Dave didn’t like me.

I was a precocious young man, who my enemies would have called “arrogant.”

It was my group. It sure wasn’t Dave’s.

As I look back on it now, I realize that Dave was unpopular with people his own age. Dave felt trapped in a marriage and was completely uncertain of fatherhood.

Dave wanted to be a professional gospel singer, traveling around the country wearing fancy suits and new patent-leather shoes.

Well, that didn’t fit in with our group—but he was so desperate to stay in the cattle call that he just decided to be one of our steers.

I probably didn’t like him because he was good-looking.

But Dave was one of those guys who had enough insecurity that attractive women were a bit put off by his tentative nature.

So even though he didn’t want to hang around a bunch of high school punks, he needed us to have a band. We needed him to have a van and a sound system.

It was all very nasty.

But recently, as I’ve thought back on this arrangement, I’ve realized that Dave was the greater loser from interacting with us. Well, especially with me.

I had lots of friends, I talked a good game and I was fortunate enough to have plenty of musical talent.

I undercut Dave, I made him angry and was so unsure of myself that I nearly gave him a nervous breakdown.

And even after I graduated from high school and he still wanted to work with me, I treated him like my neighbor’s dog’s poop.

Eventually, at the end of a singing engagement one night, he went his way and I went mine.

I never saw Dave again.

I’ve tried to locate him but had little success.

Or maybe I know that if Dave wanted to get in contact with me, he probably would have done so by now.

Here’s the thing about realizations:

Be prepared.

Because they’re pretty damn real.

Curtain

Curtain: (n) a hanging piece of fabric

I can’t think of an occasion when the word “addicted” can be used in a positive way.

Yet I will tell you, there are certain things to which I am addicted.

One of those revolves around a curtain.

I couldn’t have been more than twelve years old the first time I stood backstage at a theater, right next to the beautiful velvet curtain that swept its way across the stage to close the production or open up to new story possibilities, encouraging the audience to use its imagination.

No matter where you are, there’s always that small space where the dressing rooms and the gathering areas empty out onto holy ground, where the actors, singers and musicians stand and wait to enter the stage and share their best.

I remember at age twelve, putting together a song with three other guys to sing at the school talent show. We had searched all over Columbus, Ohio for just the right ties. We all went to the same barber shop to get our hair cut two days earlier. My singing buddies had come to my house to dress and prepare for the evening. We had rehearsed our song over and over again, trying to fine-tune the musical excellence to the greatest extent of our pre-adolescent acuity.

There we were.

The small-town audience sat waiting, as we stood nervously backstage.

I remember being so close to that beautiful red velvet curtain that I laid my head over, resting it on the soft fabric. It was comforting.

Yes, it was at that point I knew I was addicted.

I wanted to spend the rest of my life backstage somewhere, waiting for the curtain to open so I could come and share the better parts of myself, hoping that the audience could find the better parts of their hearts.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Bell

Bell: (n) a hollow object, typically made of metal, that sounds a clear musical note when struck by means of a clapper inside.

Dictionary B

I was sitting in my car on a hot, summer’s day, becoming more frustrated with each moment of sizzling waiting. I can’t recall what was keeping me from progress, but I was totally disgusted.

All of a sudden, there were bells.

Apparently a church in the middle of town had a ritual of ringing bells at noonday from its belfry.

I was suddenly translated to a simpler mindset.

I had the feeling that I was in the middle of a Normal Rockwell painting, sucking in a bit of Americana through my nostrils and allowing my eyeballs to be transformed to see something other than my aggravation.

The bells did it.

They harkened to a better part of me which remembered, from somewhere in my youth, such clanging–to stimulate a sense of celebration or an inkling of hope.

I don’t know who came up with the idea of putting bells in a church and what committee decided to ring them to inform the community of the presence of a house of worship, but damn…it works.

There’s no doubt about it.

A religious system that is beleaguered by too much tradition and obtuse theology is actually much better represented by the chiming of the bells … than the rhetoric of its ding-dongs.

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Thank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) —  J.R. Practix 

 

Alibi

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Alibi: (n) a claim or a piece of evidence that someone was elsewhere when a criminal act is alleged to have taken place.

I think I have only talked to a policeman about four or five different times in my life. Isn’t that weird?

I have avoided these encounters because quite bluntly, I don’t like them. It’s not personal, or a disrespect for the profession. It’s more the realization that putting oneself in jeopardy of being questioned or challenged is a great way to eventually fall off the cliff, onto the rocks of stupidity.

On those few occasions when I have been stopped by a policeman for a traffic violation, or to ask me if I’ve seen something on the road as I’ve traveled, my profile is always simple: don’t talk too much. Limit answers to less than eight words and make the policeman draw out the information instead of fumbling around, trying to come up with an alibi to display how it would be impossible for me to have been a participant in anything gone awry.

Here’s the truth: the more we speak, the guiltier we become.

You see this watching any cop show or movie. If a suspect is glib, full of unrequired information, you pretty well assume he’s the culprit.

So even though I have never hurt or killed anyone, if I was questioned on the subject, I would not be in any hurry to establish my alibi or explain my whereabouts, nor seem surprised that the inquiry was being made in the frist place.

I remember the first time I heard the spiritual sung, “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?”

After the musical question was posed for the first time, I simply stopped singing and said … “No.”

Aglow

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter AAglow: (adj.) glowing: e.g. his bald head was aglow under the lights.

I can’t hear the word “aglow” without thinking about the Women’s Aglow, an organization that sprouted up in the 1970’s, for ladies to come together to celebrate their lives and faith.

I was most fortunate to take my fledgling musical group to perform at many of their functions.

There is nothing quite as righteous as an excited woman–and I mean that in all aspects. In like manner, there is nothing quite as devastating to view as a despondent one.

So to walk into a room with two hundred and fifty females of all ages who are emotionally vulnerable, spiritually charged, mentally alert and physically well-endowed was a little piece of heaven for this young man’s entire being.

I will tell you–I like women. But it’s not merely because I happen to be attracted to them from a physical point of view. No, I like them because they are quite capable of achieving “aglow.”

Even though some of my male counterparts would insist that the “she” part of the human race is “naggy” or bitchy, I have found that they have gained the freedom to express their hearts more readily instead of burying it underneath their gall bladder, inviting an early coronary.

What does it mean to be aglow?

  1. I am willing to share my emotions, whether they are right or wrong.
  2. I am eager to believe that I was created instead of hatched or cast down from the tree by a surprised, disgruntled monkey family.
  3. I like to think, I want to think, I will think.
  4. I am proud of who I am physically–or willing to do what’s necessary to make it better.

Without women being aglow in our society, we would just have men being “agrowl.”

Now if we can just teach some fellows to light up something other than their cigars …

Abattuta

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter AAbattuta: (adv.) a musical term meaning to return to strict tempo.

Sometimes I think life should be more musical–not in the sense of bursting into song while you’re waiting for your meatball sandwich at Subway, but musical in the sense of flourishes in timing, with exciting melodies and enhancing harmonies. Music grants you the ability to suddenly play very fast. And then … you can abattuta! Return back to your strict timeframe.

Life is not that way. It takes sixty seconds to make a minute, an equal number of minutes to make an hour, and twenty-four of them eventually make a day. Wouldn’t it be great if you had some sort of control–like a conductor’s baton–to make certain portions of your daily composition go quicker?

In other words, when you go to the dentist and he’s drilling on your teeth, you could increase the tempo–get out of the chair with a flourish. And then, as you were allowing the Novocaine to wear off and you stop at that Steak and Shake to reward yourself with a delicious chocolate-marshmallow milkshake, you could slow the tempo w-a-a-y down, allowing the ooey-gooey to eek its way down your throat.

You could speed up church services and slow down romance.

You could accelerate the interchanges you have with your children to confirm that you’re a good parent, and slow down the ending of the game, which finally, for a change, is actually close and interesting.

Maybe that’s the whole problem–life is too abattuta. Because when we try to relish moments, the clock frowns at us and continues its steady pursuit of strict formality.

Yes, clocks are like that. Still, I will search for a way to freeze moments so I can enjoy them even more as they thaw out. And I will hum songs and think happy thoughts to speed through those activities that are truly grueling and boring. Yet I know there will always be the abattuta to taunt me back to the mature notion of remaining in strict time.

I guess I never saw God as the conductor of an orchestra. To me, He’s more like the guy who plays the triangle. He lets the symphony ensue, but every once in a while, inserts his two-note passage that seems to make all the difference in the world.