Monday, November 16, 2009

Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk

I think some of the success of Welsh writers and poets like Roald Dahl, Richard Llewellyn and Dylan Thomas is due to the Welsh tradition of storytelling. The rhythms and lyrical phrasing of a good Welsh story have their roots in our rich history of song. Who can listen to the cadences of someone speaking Welsh and not think about music? Have you have ever heard Bryn Terfel sing the Champagne Aria from Don Giovanni? That dog can sing! 

So, I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I can’t sing. I don’t mean that I can’t carry a tune, I mean that, apart from a weak little whimper, I couldn’t make a sound. Image how frustrated this made me. As a Welsh Corgi, I am descended from a rich musical tradition. What was I going to do? I decided that if I couldn’t sing I wanted a drum set, or at least a plastic bucket and some sticks.

For some reason, the alpha pair in my pack weren’t taking my request for drums seriously. However, fate was kind to me, because when we visited Karen and Jack, they presented me with a great gift. To the untrained eye, Max looks like a normal squeaky toy but no, dear reader, Max is a finely tuned musical instrument.

As I explore its potential, I realize that I have an instrument with a broad dynamic range. With a quick paw strike, I can make sharp percussive noises. With a sustained push, Max’s air bladder allows me to make long notes that seem to go on forever. By stretching Max a little, I can vary the pitch. I am learning the meaning of shaping notes. I can even make sounds like a cow bell. (Don’t you just love the cow bell? Maybe its my herding dog heritage, but a cow bell really does something to me.) This is no plastic bucket; I am the proud owner of a whole percussion section.

With a vision of becoming a great musician, I have been practicing my instrument ceaselessly.  I imagine myself in smoky jazz clubs improvising new combinations all night long. I want to play Max until dawn, sleep for a few hours and then start playing again.

I was working to develop my own unique mix of Asian, African and Celtic rhythms when I heard a tentative vocal accompaniment. To my surprise, it was me. My bark needs work, but I am no longer a mute drummer! 

So I’m working to combine my singing with my drum work. I’m trying to develop a sound that has more “bite” to it than Phil Collins, Don Henley or even Debbie Peterson of the Bangles. If you have any suggestions for role models, I’m all ears. (Or, mostly ears. Have you seen photos of me?) 

Oh, and one other thing: You have you seen Max? I seem to have misplaced him recently... 


Laurie Eno said...

Hey there, good lookin'!

I'd love to feature you on my blog The Daily Corgi ( ...

Have a look-see at the site and let me know if you're interested in appearing as Dog Of The Day sometime.

Yours in Corgi,

Laurie Eno
The Daily Corgi

Jan said...

Dear Bronte-

There are many singers you could use as role models. Do you know yet whether you are a soprano or a mezzo? There’s such a wide choice of sopranos. Current selections are Sumi Jo or Diana Damrau, perhaps. Or you could go back farther to Edita Gruberova,or Joan Sutherland, or back farther still, Elizabeth Schwarzkopf. If you are a mezzo, you can’t go wrong with the legendary Marilyn Horne or next generation Frederica Von Stade or the younger Cecilia Bartoli.

Or sample them all and take the best from each. And oh, before I forget, have you heard Dmitri Horostovskiy’s Don Giovanni Unmasked? To die for, dear girl.

Your Kallista kin,


Anonymous said...

Gosh, we never realized this toy would bring such delight to you, Bronte! We are very glad that you enjoy it so much.

Karen & Jack

P.S. I wish we could be as articulate and clever as you are, but alas, we are just typical alpha dogs.