Once upon a time, in the year 2009, I decided to mail Xmas Cards. Then I thought about it some more and I decided to send Music CDs instead. My initial impulse was to provide the same piano accompaniment for groups of one or more that I am accustomed to provide for my family in our living room some evening just before each Xmas.
Then I thought about it some more and I decided that Xmas Carol music CDs are a dime a dozen, and I could instead send out music CDs of my personal improvisations, the best sounding ones of the year.
I scrupled at doing this because responses to my music have often included the phrase ‘that’s not music’. On the other hand, some folks have embraced its calming, even soporific qualities and have kindly added it to their listening library as a genre unto itself, a sort of silliness that can’t be found among either the studious virtuosi or the o-so-serious performers of pop music.
Its main strength is in not fully being there. I myself have trouble listening to my music without being distracted—by virtually anything else, internal dialogues included. It is, simply, non-silence of a nonintrusive nature. Some people want that as a part of their choice-menu of listen-ables—and some people are repulsed by my obstinacy in claiming it is different music, instead of sub-standard music unworthy of anyone’s time spent listening. And they have logic on their side, I regret to admit.
But it is a matter of taste—lots of different genres include aspects of questionable musicality, or even entertainment-value—and if I am not the King Of The Hill, I can still be in the pile.
So I don’t much worry about my shortcomings—they are unavoidable, after all, and I have to fashion a life from both my good and bad attributes, like it or not. The only regret I have is this compulsion to explain my analysis of my own motivations—I’m sure most of you couldn’t care less why ‘Chris Dunn is reluctant to publicly present himself as an eccentric musician’.
So, moving on, having decided to send, as pseudo-Xmas cards, music CDs of my best-sounding improvs, I began to choose the tracks. This is the hardest part. As I mentioned, it’s hard to really listen to this stuff—yet there are some that are better than others, and only careful listening will reveal the grains amongst the chaff. I’ve been recording myself for a decade or more, prior to 2009, and I had kept the better ones straight in my head because those preferable were quite few and far between. That year I felt confident that I had enough ‘listenable’ music for three CDs. That year I mailed out Opus One, Opus Two, and Opus Three—I had eleven people on my Xmas Card List.
The next year, I managed to match that, producing and mailing Opus Four, Opus Five, and Opus Six—I had twenty people on my Xmas Card List. And last year I was indisposed and only came up with Opus Lucky Seven—which I mailed to thirty-two people on my List.
This year I’m hoping to manage another three CDs—I feel that my music has progressed slightly, and has become more listenable than last year’s CDs. While I am nervous about creating a huge project with less than a month to go, I would like for people who haven’t heard my recordings to send me their mailing addresses. (My days of ‘direct marketing’ are long ago over, so don’t worry, I’m not going to sell my Xmas Card List to advertisers—plus, it’s not big enough to matter, anyway).
Send your name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will add you to the list.
If you can, send me a stamped, self-addressed CD-Bubble-Pak-Mailer at:
PO Box 343
Croton Falls, 10519
(It’s a lot easier if I only have to burn the CDs and stick’em into your mailer envelope.)
Anyone who has gotten my past CDs will get the new one(s) also—no need to email or anything.
My plans for this year aren’t complete, but I’m leaning towards Opus Eight being a series of improvisations recorded during the recent Hurricane Sandy storm and power outage. I was able to video piano-improvisations from the “the Calm Before” the storm, to “Hurricane Winds”, then “Black-Out”, “Dying Camcorder Battery” (which ends abruptly on the third day of power outage) and “Power Restored”, at last. There are seven pieces in all, the better part of a CD’s storage—and I am conveniently left with two more CDs, at most.
Opus Nine should include “Noblest of Daughters” (A recording I made as a birthday gift for Jessy) which may be the best thing I recorded in this last year. There is also a “Cathedral” series that I was proud of, including “Cathedral Arch”, “Cathedral Dome”, “Cathedral Pews”, “Cathedral Glass”, etc.
So CD Opus Nine will be the yearly ‘best-of’s CD. I may need Opus Ten for overflow—but I might also want that last CD to present improvs that show some of my more experimental efforts. Either way, if I don’t get to Ten this year, it will only be due to lack of time. I’ve been very busy at my piano bench this year.
I ordered supplies from Staples on Wednesday, and the Staples truck dropped off the wrong stuff and I asked the driver “Isn’t there supposed to be a case of paper?”, but he came back later and said, “You’re right.” And dropped off my real order and took away the wrong stuff.
This is what a CD Xmas Card project requires:
- A list of people’s addresses
- A bunch of recordings
- A CD burner
- A 100-pak of blank CD-Rs
- A ream of ‘Presentation’ paper (fancy finish, BOTH sides)
- A pack of Sharpies (to write on the CD with)
- Seven 12-packs of ‘Bubble-Pak’ CD Mailers
- A box of Self-Adhesive Labels (ink-jet printer compatible)
- An “Album Cover” graphic for the front side of the jewelcase insert
- A Playlist (with track#s, Titles, durations, and dates recorded) graphic for the back side of the jewelcase insert
- Replacement Printer Cartridges
- Lots of free time
So, if you want to join the few, the proud, the ones I mail CDs to—get to steppin, ‘cause I’m already started working on it and Christmas is a-coming….