March 28th, 2007

Egrets Reading

Musing the Musette

Bruce Teter plays the French Musette at the home of Rick and Kathy Wilson
Pasadena, CA -- March 22, 2007

kathleenwilson and her husband Rick have taken to throwing Thursday night dinner/poetry/music parties at her home. Basically, a group of poets gather together at the Wilson place with a new poem in progress, bringing ten extra copies for other poets to mark up. Kathy (who also has a poem for the occasion) feeds us incredible, incredible food and then after the poetry discussion is over, we are entertained and inspired by one of Kathy and Rick’s incredibly talented musician friends, or by Rick himself, on one of his collection of 150 historical flutes.

Last Thursday, Bruce Teter played the musette – an instrument I had never even heard of before this. Bruce is apparently one of three musicians in the United States who can even play this historical instrument. It predates the French Revolution and was popular during the period where the French aristocracy enjoyed strolling in pastoral gardens and listening to “peasant instruments.”

The musette is one of these “peasant instruments.” It’s a bagpipe type instrument, essentially two small oboes, with the reeds within the bag. The fingering is apparently tricky, because the thumbs control sharps and flats. The player’s right arm is kept busy with the bellows for the bag. It looks hopelessly complicated to play but Bruce seemed to make it look easy. His wife, Marishka Hopcroft, accompanied him on the harpsichord (Yes! An actual harpsichord - the Wilsons have one “one loan” in their living room until their own can be built). They played Muzette – Naivement by Francois Couperin, a piece composed in 1714.

Needless to say, these are always very pleasant and inspiring evenings and I’m looking forward to my next poetry and music party at the Wilsons. Kathy maintains a blog to chronicle our Thursday musical and poetic adventures and if you look closely, you might find some photos of me there.

white chocolate soufflé --
music of period instruments