The Grey Light of San Francisco: More Music for a Friday Afternoon (Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside)

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Good Evening:

Can you think of any logical reason why a balding, potbellied, late middle aged white boy who’s never visited Africa could have possible developed such an interest in the Kora? And what does this have to do with the interior design of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s headquarters and the typical all-morning-long fog of my city’s summers?

Rear of Fourth Floor Break Room, San Francisco PUC Headquarters

Rear of Fourth Floor Break Room, San Francisco PUC Headquarters

I’ve worked at developing/increasing my collection of Music for a Friday Afternoon. Specifically, the 15-minute afternoon break on Friday, when the pressures of the week start to dissipate gently like our fog, and thoughts turn to the weekend’s chores and pleasures. To preserve the battery like of my iPhone 4 (which I used for all of these pictures), I’ve chosen the limited free subscription to Rdio for my music explorations. Frankly, Rdio does not wildly thrill me and I will probably dump it for iRadio when iOS 7 emerges into the real world. But Rdio has had its uses.

"The Escher Staircase" (my nickname) at SFPUC HQ, 3rd Floor

“The Escher Staircase” (my nickname) at SFPUC HQ, 3rd Floor

I have found some excellent additions to the Friday Afternoon playlist, starting with the curious choice of Andres Segovia. Segovia himself hardly represents a curious choice; but I have grown fonder of the solo works from The American Decca Recordings Vol. 1, not so much the concertos and sonatas with orchestras from other albums. Something about just the man with just his guitar feels just so right on a Friday afternoon.

Corner of Break Room, 12th Floor, SFPUC HQ

Corner of Break Room, 12th Floor, SFPUC HQ

Meanwhile, the Kora, a West African instrument associated with Mali, Senegal and other nations. That instrument produces atmospheric sounds of calm and delicacy, and yet manages to feel a little mysterious at the same time. Today I discovered an older collaboration between Toumani Diabate and Ballake Sissoko entitled New Ancient Strings. You can stream the CD for free on Rdio and hear for yourself why I will purchase it this weekend.

Who was here and what did they discuss? Judging from the chairs, I would say one was a foot taller than the other, and they sat close to each other and practically whispered. I suspect the conversation was both quiet and intense.

Who was here and what did they discuss? Judging from the chairs, I would say one was a foot taller than the other, and they sat close to each other and practically whispered. I suspect the conversation was both quiet and intense.

This morning treated San Franciscans to a typical example of what I call “the grey light.” When the morning’s fog doesn’t let up until sometime past noon, the overcast turns into an translucent filter that softens and diffuses sunlight. In the film industry, we have sheets of translucent paper called “opals” that have the same effect on Fresnels and other lights. This grey light (incidentally, no one else in San Francisco uses this term) illuminated all of these shots today. The interior design palette features heavy use of light green, olive, grey, cornflower blue, mustard and burnt orange, colors that lend themselves to softly lit environments.

Silk Flowers, 3rd Floor, SFPUC HQ

Silk Flowers, 3rd Floor, SFPUC HQ

Perhaps that explains the tendency toward quieter music on my Friday afternoons.

Vonn Scott Bair

PS–“Satellite” by the Dave Matthews Band also found its way into my collection.

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4 responses »

  1. “Can you think of any logical reason why a balding, potbellied, late middle aged white boy who’s never visited Africa could have possible developed such an interest in the Kora?”

    Because your love of music is part of your being, and the Kora is a unique, beautiful-sounding instrument (i sampled the piece on the Wikipedia article page).

    So says the white-haired, unemployed, late middle aged white boy who’s never visited Africa, whose love of music is part of his being (even when it brings him emotional pain).

  2. I love your blog: the writing and the photos! The grey light you describe is fantastic. Music has always been a source of inspiration and solace for me. It can bring back memories in an instant. I’m always looking for more music inspirations. I’m going to go learn a bit more about the Kora. Thanks!

    • amandarenee0224: I appreciate the kind words very, very much. Toumani Diabate has not only released his own collections of music, he has collaborated with other musicians, so he would make a good starting point. Vonn Scott Bair

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