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Of Ice and Algae

As you all may recall it was just a few short weeks ago that we were having one of the coldest cold spells on record for this part of Kansas.

A friend of mine asked if my koi would be alright? She said, “Your koi pond is surely frozen over by now. How can your fish survive? You cannot feed them, and they cannot get any oxygen.”

So, I explained to her how it works. I said, “First of all, we have an aerator which keeps the surface of the water in motion and thereby ensuring that the entire surface of the pond does not freeze over. It is however possible that even with the aerator it can indeed freeze over”. But I told her, “Do not worry about the fish. They're fine. When the water temperature gets extremely cold the fish hibernate as fish have done since the dawn of time. They do not require food and indeed they cannot digest the food. Their respiration slows down to be almost imperceptible and they remain in a state of suspended animation until such time as the water temperatures increase.”

In fact, during that cold spell our Koi pond did freeze over entirely. I measured that the ice covering the surface was actually about 3 inches thick. Had I been stupid enough to try it, it would have supported my weight to walk on it.

By and by the temperatures increased and I was able to peer into the depths of the pond. I could see all of the koi gently floating about a foot from the bottom of the pond. They were relatively motionless but every single one of them was definitely alive!

Not only that, but the ice layer on the surface had acted like a greenhouse and a particular species of algae had begun to bloom and flourish. Amid the ice and the algae, the fish were still there. I was not surprised at that.

This conversation does not have much to do with music. I will grant you that. But it does remind me that there is a rhythm to nature.In fact , nature and all creation has its own music, its own rhythm, its own rhyme.

I think where we get into areas of confusion or difficulty are times when we have tried to force the rhythm and rhyme of nature and creation into our own expectations.

You know this to be true. Specifically, as it applies to music as well. Every song that you play, has its own characteristic notes. It is the specific arrangement of notes and spaces of a song that makes each song unique.

However, as we all also know, every song that we play can have many different forms or arrangement. We hear songs written in several different keys. We even hear the same song written and performed in different time signatures! When we hear it, we recognize it as being the same song. It just sounds different. That is what happens when someone takes a particular tune and makes it their own by changing the arrangement.

This is OK and we call it “artistic license”. It is the wonderful thing about music.

Music is static but it does not necessarily remain so. Even in the very process of our simply playing a song, it is inevitably changed, no matter how it is written.

I know that such words are anathema to some. “One must play the piece as it is written!” They would say!

Good luck with that.

In your efforts to master a piece, let it master you.

Keep on pickin’


President GPDA


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