Blessed Event

As some may know and some may not, the BaveCase family welcomed a new member this month. Welcome, to the world*, baby harpsichord!

*technically born in 1964 but, y’know.

When I was 16, at Statewide Nerd Camp, an RA or counselor or whatever let us into the basement room at Centre College that had a harpsichord in it and, after I wheedled as only the young can, let me play a few notes on it.

Now I’m a terrible keyboard player and no scholar of the Baroque, but for some reason I ever after wanted a harpsichord in a dreamy way that didn’t ever turn into actually making any plans to have one. But when life throws an affordable harpsichord into your path (at, say, a junk store also known for selling used paper towel tubes and chipped 80s lamps with no cord) there’s really very little you can do about it. There’s no expression about making harpsichord-ade so probably all you can do is fork over the cash and say “I’ll take one harpsichord, please!”

In truth, there is a little more to the process involving friends in town for the summer with a rented SUV, more wheedling, texts to one’s SO saying “by the way, a harpsichord is coming to live with us,” and then solving one of those problems of geometry and staircases and below average physical strength. But then you reach that moment that should come in every life when you pop open a beer, kick back, and admire your new primitive keyboard instrument.

What comes next is a journey of discovery, wherein the main discovery is that rarefied hobbies are giant magnets for poorly socialized nutbags. Possible chapter headings here include

-“Huh, I Did Not Expect that Tuning This Thing Would Lead Me Down a Rabbit Hole Ending at the Philosophy of Lyndon LaRouche”
-“The Kind of Harpsichord I Have Purchased is Apparently Invoked Among Purists Exclusively as a Curse”

I mean suffice it to say, it doesn’t take very long at all to stumble your way into Harpsichord ListServe Drama. You barely even have to look.

Other knowledge that may come to light includes the fact that some cats are harpsiphobic and that you can’t put headphones on instruments invented in the 16th century so as to spare your loved ones your 90th plodding, error-ridden traversal of Louis Couperin’s “Tombeau de M. de Blancrocher.” (As a friend now in state prison once told me, it’s good to have a hobby you’re not very good at. We both lived alone when he told me this, and it is possible neither of us thought it through fully to its practical outcomes.)

Meanwhile, beware of explicit pieces like William Byrd’s Earl of Salisbury Pavane. “Pavane,” for the uninitiated, is a youthful term for an act best not described here, but most often heard in expressions like “party ‘n pavane” or, less frequently, “Netflix & pavane.”

I hope this felicitous voyage of learning and very slowly fulfilled dreams will inspire all of you to seize life by the jackrail (no, seriously, that’s an actual part of the instrument though you may imagine Bave’s response when I said I had found someone on the internet to come over and check out my jackrail) and, next time life offers you a path toward being a bargain basement Wanda Landowska, you will know what to do.

3 responses to “Blessed Event”

  1. swells says:

    Hooray! hooray for the harpsichord and all the attendant learning paths that it has fostered!

    I like to think that it was my response of “If you don’t, I might” when I first saw your photo of it languishing in the paper towel tube store between crates of two-inch burnt-down candle nubs and half-empty tubes of epoxy with the cap glued on that scared you into snapping it up before some other jerk stole your nerdcamp dreams. I look forward to this becoming a hobby you’re really good at, but even if you never do, I’m delighted it’s in your house! I sense a salon in the future.

  2. Mister Smearcase says:

    That is so accurate about he epoxy tubes. That is pretty much the essence of the place. That time they had a dentist’s office’s box of discarded dental moldings with people’s name and info on them was also pretty iconic. Everything I see there I just try and imagine the rest of the Burning Man vehicle it’s going to end up glued onto.

  3. T-mo says:

    Hooray for the harpsichord now residing in your salon! And hooray for the revived Whatsit! I really need to check the string I tied to my toe several years ago to alert me to activity here. Voles must have nibbled it clean through.