Relativity is a peculiar thing. A year is oft considered a long span of time, yet it can pass by faster than reasonably imaginable. This is certainly no new phenomenon; after all, Einstein blubbered about it for decades to some small height of acclaim --
Ignoring for today how very little I know about that whole 'physics' idea, it is still very much a fact that the first year of my program at the National Music Museum has come to a resolute close. Everything ended well, but I can't help but feel as if it occurred somehow outside the conscripts of reality. Where did the time go? Halfway done, it's all downhill from here (hopefully not quality wise), yet it feels as if a million and one things linger unexplored on the horizon of my ongoing organological education. The thesis of course, weighs heavy on the year to come, but the world of musical instruments is one of such vast richness that it is difficult to stay attuned to any one particular discourse.
Completing a degree is only a drop in the bucket in the unraveling of our world. So much remains unsaid about the instruments themselves, but also about the field as a whole. Where is organology going and how is it going to get there? What part in that future am I gearing up to play? What is going to remain when the time comes to pass the torch on again to those who carry on that future into successive generations? If all goes well, the trombone will obviously play a very large part in that future, but for now the future begins with soaking in the present.
This past week—mixed in between the trials and tribulations of moving into a new abode in downtown Vermillion, and preparing to flee the city for one long summer's duration—the NMM hosted the annual meeting of the American Musical Instrument Society. It was my first AMIS meeting, and though I spent numerous hours throughout the day running around at the command of my venerable superiors, it was unique and fascinating experience. For four days Vermillion was rife with inhabitants from all regions of the organological spectrum. Professionals and amateurs, young and old, mixed, mingled, and shared their passions and quirks with the rest of the instrument-loving lot. All in all, it was equal parts informative, eye opening, overwhelming, and exhausting.
Much to my disappointment, there was not an overwhelming majority of trombone-centric discussion. In fact, there was very little. Even so, I learned a great many things about the field that forms the basis of my long-term academic and professional future. The numerous avenues of research, interpretation, and transmission of historical and technical knowledge shared at the meeting illustrated perspectives I had not previously considered. They shed light on approaches beyond those encountered in my relatively limited experience, and spawned reflective retrospection on the broader necessities of attempting to preserve this particular sort of historical or cultural heritage. They also illustrated some pitfalls that I can actively avoid throughout such an adventure. More practically, they provided real-time benchmarks of how I can better my own pursuits through all aspects of the interplay between organology, culture, and society as a whole.
Perhaps more important than all the new tidbits of historical information now weaving their way through my cerebrum was the chance to finally meet and interact with the multitude of individuals whom I previously only knew vicariously through reputation and reading. Individuals who will undoubtedly play key roles in the years still to come. Some of the encounters were brief at best, and only began to plant the seeds of invaluable connections, but like any sapling they will grow deep and take strong hold with proper attention and the passing of time. Which brings us back, full circle, to Einstein and his blatherings. That time, I can only imagine, is going to pass in the blink of an eye. Soon enough it will be May 2017, and another AMIS meeting will be right around the corner, one year closer to the great beyond that is "real life." For better or worse, this also means that the clock is now ticking away towards formulating and synthesizing a work that will find its way into the the ranks of the 2017 program.
For now, I find myself sitting in my native Houston, enjoying a brief exit from the hectic life. In a few days time I will be once again boarding a big old jet airliner to carry me far away to Washington D.C. From there, only one weekend remains until I begin my three-month residence at the Library of Congress, exploring yet another new (to me) facet of that which we affectionately call history. Expect more to come on that matter in due time. Also, expect some extensive content additions to the site as a whole, since homework and research papers no longer have a stranglehold on the 5—9 portion of my life.
It is looking very much to be the beginning of one trombonetastic summer, however quickly it may (relatively) fly by. Until we meet again, NMM.