Moonlight (Midnight) Suitors
The courtship aspects of the flute tradition have always fascinated me. The flute was the 'high-tech' of it's time. It was the cell phone or computer connection between the couple. It was not as easy as texting although you got to use your fingers and not just your thumbs. To begin with the young man had to make his own flute and then learn to play. Finally he had to make up his own song that was intended for his beloved. He would play and she would come out when she heard his song. One can imagine the night filled with the different songs emanating from the different young men. Here is a quote on courtship and the flute from David Lavender's book on Bent's Fort which has a central place in Colorado history. 'Courtship? An Indian boy wooed by plucking at the robe of his inamorata, to get her attention as she went for wood or water. With other suitors he hung around the lodge entry, hoping for a word or smile. Lovelorn, he wandered at night outside the circle of lodges, playing plaintive songs on a flute he had made by hollowing out an eighteen-inch cylinder of juniper wood and burning six finger holes into it with a hot iron. If his suit was progressing, the girl would recognize his tune and slip outside, to stand for a moment with his robe wrapped around her shoulders as they whispered whatever it is lovers have always whispered. If the girl did not come, a medicine man might be entreated to lay a spell on the flute; or the aphrodisiac of a deer's white tail might be worn on the lover's shoulder where the girl could get a whiff of it's magic.' Bent's Fort by David Lavender Pages 186-187 Copyright 1954 Published by Bison Books So here I am imagining a warm summer night under the moonlight with flutes sounding love songs intermittently each with it's own seductive call to a certain young woman who at this moment is making her way out to cuddle beneath the robe and whisper 'whatever it is lovers have always whispered.' Thus, this CD, 'Moonlight (Midnight) Suitors'. Tracks 1. Wolfdog Laments - Wolfdog opens this CD with a bark and some howls to the accompaniment of birds, drum and flute. The birds seem to respond to his lonely song. 2. 10. And 16. Shooting Stars to the North, East and West - these three little pieces are meant to be transition pieces between the piece before and the piece after each one. Each one is different. They are brief, bright and faint in the sky. High-pitched they are played on a pocket flute. Like several flutes on the CD they are quiet. Don't turn up the volume as the dynamic contrast is intended. 3. Turtle Makes His Way - slowly as a bass flute but danced to as you can hear the feet hit the ground with ankle bells jingling. 4. Sky Dancing - this dancing is in the sky. Two flutes dance like the Aurora Borealis. It is an aural Northern Lights. 5. Sighs - the opening series of notes and it's passionate ending give this drone flute piece it's name. 6. Bull Elk Goes Courting - Every year we visit the mountains during the annual Elk rut. This year we were there late into the evening with very few other people around. This simulates our experience there as this bull elk bugles as prettily as a loon sings. 7. Rain Prayer - it has been dry for a month and neither rain nor snow is in the forecast. We cannot live without water. For this we pray. 8. On Raven's Wing - in playing this I imagined being the raven, soaring overhead, sitting in the trees and having endless conversations with the others. You would not believe the variety of sounds they can make. But there are no other birds in this piece but me. 9. Campfire Valor - we all have sat and listened to the old timers tell of their adventures. This is for them. 11. Bristlecone Thoughts - What, indeed, are the thoughts of the bristlecone pine as it stands day after day for thousands of years? It's scrawny and twisted shape belies it's true age. You know it's old but that old? This chromatic piece reflects it's thoughts. 12. Bird Lullabye - in the early evening the crickets start and the birds sing along with the flute. 13. At Canyon Edge - we stare down into the canyon while quietly in the background a small drum taps away in rhythm with our thoughts. 14. Cloud Gazing - who hasn't spread out on the grass and watched the clouds change shape with the wind? 15. She Who Brings The Sun (With Her Smile) - She is the one who smiles, parts the clouds and makes living worthwhile. Listen for when she smiles and the sun comes out! 17. Moonlight Suitors - here we are at the end but are we? It is midnight, the moon is bright overhead, the young men are out and about with their flutes playing in turn so that their intended lovers can clearly hear who is there. Sometimes they overlap. Flutes are heard far away. Others are close. In the village drums are heard in the distance. Perhaps it is a dance. At the end a clap of thunder ends the night.