Daniel Dockery

animî nostrî dêbent interdum âlûcinâri

Home of published musician, recording artist, mathematician, programmer, translator, artist, classicist, and general polymath.

A Waltz in Winter

December 27th, 2010

A small Christmas gift, which may be heard below or on the Facebook page.

[This piece is not currently available online.]

This track may also be heard and voted on at thesixtyone.com and listened to on Last.FM.


December 24th, 2010

nec tamen, ut lauder, uigilo curamque futuri
nominis, utilius quod latuisset, ago.
detineo studiis animum falloque dolores,
experior curis et dare uerba meis.
quid potius facam desertis solus in urbe,
quamue malis aliam quærere coner opem?

Ovid, Tristia, V. vii. 39–40.

It’s not for praise I stay awake and toil for the future of a name best forgotten. I busy my mind with studies, sidetracking sorrows, trying to give voice to my concerns. What else can I do alone in this forsaken town, what other help to this should I seek?

I wish I had some such study tonight to drive myself to like distraction, that I would not now be sitting here brooding as I am, under full sway of this sad, sorrowful season’s selection of spectres. This flu business hardly helps.

Last night, I lost myself in music, or my fumbling attempts thereat. As they did not turn out well—they seldom do—I do not wish to pursue the same fruitless path tonight. The goal, as with Ovid, is to forget my frustrations, not encourage them. Yet running through my options now, I’m coming to a dreary conclusion: everything I know how to do is an equal frustration.

Writing, art, music, any of it, all of it—equally flawed, equally disappointing. I’m tired of this; I need a new outlet.

Fazer uma obra e reconhecê-la má depois de feita é uma das tragédias da alma. Sobretudo é grande quando se reconhece que essa obra é a melhor que se podia fazer. Mas ao ir escrever uma obra, saber de antemão que ela tem de ser imperfeita e falhada; ao está-la escrevendo estar vendo que ela é imperfeita e falhada—isto é o máximo da tortura e da humilhação do espírito. Não se os versos que escrevo sinto que me não satisfazem, mas sei que os versos que estou para escrever me não satisfarão, também.

Por que escrevo então? […] Tenho de escrever como cumprindo um castigo. E o maior castigo é o de saber que o que escrevo resulta inteiramente fútil, falhado e incerto.

Pessoa, Livro do desassossego, 231

To write something and recognize afterward that it’s bad is one of the tragedies of the soul. It’s especially terrible when we recognize that the work is the best we could do. But when we write something knowing beforehand that it has to be imperfect and flawed, seeing as we write it that it’s imperfect and flawed—that is the spirit’s maximum torture and humiliation. Not only do I feel that the verses I write do not satisfy me, I know that neither will the verses I’m about to write.

So why do I write? I must write—it’s like carrying out a punishment. And the greatest punishment is knowing that what I write will be entirely futile, flawed and uncertain.

As it’s said that “the truth is established” by “two witnesses”, these two botcheries of last night’s effort will be mine.

[This piece is not currently available online.]

The basic study of the intended melody, meant to be a throw-away piece, though it’s perhaps the better of the two in the end.

Black Keys

A more elaborate work on the same melodic material, passing through a number of modulations into other tonal areas than the basic F# minor of the original, though beginning and ending with it.

Further work and revision has—perhaps, or hopefully—improved this latter work, so I have removed the earlier recording; the new incarnation has been premiered on the Facebook “fan” page, under the title “A Waltz in Winter“.

He cometido el peor de los pecados
que un hombre puede cometer. No he sido
feliz. […] Mi mente
se aplicó a las simétricas porfías
del arte, que entreteje naderías.
No me abandona. Siempre está a mi lado
la sombra de haber sido un desdichado.

Borges, “El remordimiento”

I have committed the worst sin a man can commit: I have not been happy. I gave my mind to the symmetric stubbornness of art and all its webs of pettiness. It never leaves me. It is always at my side, the shadow of having been a brooding man.


December 17th, 2010

Missing someone tonight, I wrote a small new piece for piano, which you may hear on Facebook or here:

[This piece is not currently available on this site, though it may still be heard at thesixtyone.com and heard on her album on Last.FM.


February 27th, 2010

Εἰ δ᾽ ἄγε νῦν, Ἐρατώ, παρά θ᾽ ἵστασο, καί μοι ἔνισπε…

Long already a muse and inspiration to me, as I have mentioned here before, I have written and released this newest piece to acknowledge that she has also inspired me in ways and directions I’d no longer thought open to me.

It’s but a little thing, I know, but we work with what gifts we have and this is mine. Thank you, my dear, for everything: my life is better with you in it.

With all my love, then, I present for you, Gabriela, your track “Ἐρατώ”—the Greek’s muse of love for the muse of my own:

This track may also be listened to or voted on at thesixtyone.com and heard on Last.FM.

segadora de mi canción de atardecer

October 24th, 2009

In 1924, Neruda published the volume Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada (Twenty love poems and a song of despair). Among the pieces, number sixteen stood out to me tonight,

En mi cielo a crepúsculo eres como una nube
y tu color y forma son como yo los quiero.
Eres mía, eres mía, mujer de labios dulces
y viven en tu vida mis infinitos sueños.

La lámpara de mi alma te sonrosa los pies,
el agrio vino mío es más dulce en tus labios:
oh segadora de mi canción de atardecer,
cómo te sienten mía mis sueños solitarios!

Eres mía, eres mía, voy gritando en la brisa
de la tarde, y el viento arrastra mi voz viuda.
Cazadora del fondo de mis ojos, tu robo
estanca como el agua tu mirada nocturna.

En la red de mi música estás presa, amor mío,
y mis redes de música son anchas como el cielo.
Mi alma nace a la orilla de tus ojos de luto.
En tus ojos de luto comienza el país del sueño.

I’ve tried my hand at it, with middling results:

You’re like a cloud in my twilight sky
and your color and form are how I love them.
Oh, sweet-lipped woman, you are mine, mine,
and in your life live my endless dreams.

Your feet are rosy before the lamp of my soul,
my sour wine is sweet on your lips:
oh, harvester of my evening song,
how my lonely dreams feel you are mine!

You’re mine, I go shouting in the evening breeze—
mine!—and the wind sweeps my words away.
You hunt through the depths of my eyes, what you find
holds back your nocturnal glance like water.

You are caught in the net of my music, my love,
and my musical nets are as wide as the sky.
My soul is born on the shore of your sad eyes.
In your sorrowful eyes, the land of dreams begins.


As Neruda indicates the poem is a paraphrase of a poem in Rabindranath Tagore‘s 1913 collection The Gardener, I will present that here for contrast:

You are the evening cloud floating in the sky of my dreams.
I paint you and fashion you ever with my love longings.
You are my own, my own, Dweller in my endless dreams!

Your feet are rosy-red with the glow of my heart’s desire, Gleaner of my sunset songs!
Your lips are bitter-sweet with the taste of my wine of pain.
You are my own, my own, Dweller in my lonesome dreams!

With the shadow of my passion have I darkened your eyes, Haunter of the depth of my gaze!
I have caught you and wrapt you, my love, in the net of my music.
You are my own, my own, Dweller in my deathless dreams!

no. 30

That same Muse evoked this small work, and so I cast my net again and hope for a catch like Tagore and Neruda’s.

This track may also be heard at Last.FM.

Dark nights, bright inspirations

October 22nd, 2009

Si te ves herido, no temas llamarme. No, llámame desde donde te halles, aunque sea el lecho de la vergüenza. Y yo iré, yo iré aun cuando estén erizados de espinos los llanos hasta tu puerta.

No quiero que ninguno, ni Dios, te enjugue en las sienes el sudor ni te acomode la almohada bajo la cabeza.

¡No! Estoy guardando mi cuerpo para resguardar de la lluvia y las nieves tu huesa, cuando ya duermas. Mi mano quedará sobre tus ojos, para que no miren la noche tremenda.

Gabriela Mistral, “Poemas del éxtasis”, VIII

This track may also be listened to or voted on at thesixtyone.com and heard at Last.FM.

φοιβιδα μοι παντων τε θεων παντων τ’ ανθρωπων υμνει, Μουσα

April 20th, 2009

Last fall I found myself lamenting my lack of a Muse, fumbling around with this or that, doing arrangements or covers—just to keep in practice—of some other artist’s work for want of my own inspiration. Those of you who’ve followed my pre-release blogs may recall the grumbling. Yet with the previous post, I had thought—had hoped—perhaps that phase had passed, as new work began once more to trickle out.

I should have been more wary of optimism, perhaps, but so it goes.

And yet, as fate’s mysterious ways are wont to unfurl, it turns out that further inspiration was even then making itself known, entering life from unexpected quarters. In the months since, this Muse has proved inspiring in myriad ways, but most significantly for this blog, she has brought me round again to music, having so far inspired several new works.

In gratitude, I here dedicate this latest to her, with all my thanks and all my love, which she has also re-awakened.

You may hear it at Last.FM, the Facebook page or preview it here:

[This piece is not currently available here, but may still be heard at thesixtyone.com.]

A melody for Gabriela

March 3rd, 2009

In the hope of cheering up a friend a bit, I played a while tonight, exploring forms and melodies. As I have sometimes done in the past, I used a piece of text to build a melody—the text being, in this case, my friend’s name. Exploring two forms of her name, I drafted two melodies, and played the one transitioning into the other and back again. In the exploration, I retained the same melody in the right hand but set it against two different harmonizations and playing styles in the left, resulting in one of the preliminary offerings on display here:

[This piece is not currently available online.]

Update: this melody was later elaborated into the work Su melodía oculta (A Song for Gabriela) which is described in this blog post, the title “her secret melody” referring to the song hidden in her name.

Calculi Albi Atrique

November 4th, 2008

The title comes from the reported ancient practice of setting aside a stone for every day of life: white, if a good or fortunate day; black, if not. At the close of day, or of life, the stones are counted, and the day, or the life, considered fortunate or not depending on which color predominates. (See here, for example.) As moods and experiences fluctuate through my own life, I am not certain which color so far describes my course; nor, perhaps, am I even sure which is predominant in my music, as I slip from major to minor modes and round again. The title is inspired by that consideration. And the tabulation of counting stones? What more fitting day for such a name than today, the Election.

If you’ve listened to much solo piano work, you may recognize one of the right hand variations as a quotation from Sergei Bortkiewicz‘ (Сергій Борткевич, 1877-1952) second work from his six “Pensées lyriques” (Op. 11, no. 2). The Ukrainian pianist has cropped up in a number of places lately in my reading, and given Oct. 25 as the anniversary of his death, I decided to quote him here. Hopefully his ghost won’t take too much offense.

You may hear the track on Last.FM, the Facebook page or here.

This track may also be listened to or voted on at thesixtyone.com.

A new work for solo piano: per Nemora

October 27th, 2008
Photo by Ekaterina
per Nemora

Encountering this picture recently by chance, inspired a particular mood in me, which emerged as a small piano piece, presented here.

For those of you who have followed my work, you may have noticed that for a while now the bulk of my releases have consisted of arrangements—Bach, Mozart, Salieri, Beethoven or here), Grieg, et al. That changes with this post, as here, at last, is a return to original work. The credit, inspiration, and ultimately, the dedication for this goes to Ekaterina, to whom, all my thanks.

This work may be heard on Last.FM as well.

Daniel Dockery

animî nostrî dêbent interdum âlûcinâri

Home of published musician, recording artist, mathematician, programmer, translator, artist, classicist, and general polymath.

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