Tea and music seem to go together like the proverbial bread and jam. Tea stimulates your senses of taste and smell while music stimulates your sense of hearing and your heart. When the music is coming from a grand piano and you’re sitting nearby sipping from your teacup, your sense of feeling is stimulated, too, by the vibrations of the piano.
Such is the case when I have my teatime in hubby’s music room. I carefully balance two equally carefully prepared cups of tea on a tray and slip quietly into the room as hubby plays. One teacup is set on the piano within his reach. The other accompanies me to a nearby chair. I am on my best behavior — no slurping, not pinky pointing. Hubby pauses his piano playing long enough to take a good mouthful, savor it for a few seconds, and then swallow. He carefully places the teacup back in the saucer and returns to playing.
Just as black tea blends well with milk into a smooth-tasting drink, hubby’s fingers blend the sounds from the black keys and the white keys into a beautiful melody with stirring harmony. He’s particularly fond of an Irish composer named Turlough O’Carolan who was a contemporary and admirer of Antonio Vivaldi in Italy.
O’Carolan became blind at the age of 18 from smallpox and so turned to a common profession for the blind at that time: playing the harp. He had some basic training for about a year, was “assigned” a traveling companion by his benefactress, and set off on horseback through Ireland, going from the home of one patron to another, composing as he rode. Many of his tunes are called “Planxty Such-and-Such” (“planxty” means “dedicated to” or “in honor of”). Usually, the “such-and-such” was the patron’s name (a bit of flattery never hurts in these circumstances).
Translating harp music to the piano isn’t too much of a stretch. Pianos are basically big harps, and the early compositions of O’Carolan were pretty simplistic. They got more complex over the years as he tried to emulate Vivaldi (but without sufficient training to do so very well). Hubby adds in his own chord structures and sometimes transposes the melodies to different keys. (Don’t ask me what all that means. It’s pretty much Greek to me.)
On one particular day, he played “Planxty Moore,” one of his own compositions that is patterned after O’Carolan but is most definitely in his own style. I was cozily ensconced in the chair near the piano and situated so as to be able to watch his long and musical fingers seeking out the right keys and applying just the right pressure to make the piano strings sing. The tea was a hearty CTC Assam steeped to just the right strength and having just the right amount of milk and sweetener. I sipped as hubby played. He paused a couple of times during play to take in a gulp or two (but not swallowing so fast as to miss that signature malty flavor that CTC Assams have).
As the song drew to an end and my tea in the teacup was down to the last few drops, my sixth sense was stimulated. I foresaw my hubby fixing me another cuppa tea. Lo and behold, he got up from the piano bench when done playing and gently took the teacup from my hand, heading with it and his cup into the kitchen. He soon returned with two fresh cupfuls.
Too bad that sixth sense doesn’t work on the stock market.
Make sure to stop by A.C.’s blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill!