Jy Het My Laat Sing


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at the end of 1991 i decided to go on stage with nothing pre-planned. and play the piano. this was after i reached an existential dead-end. going on stage like this - and making a career from it - was seemingly the only worthwhile thing left for me to do. the refore, to improvise for an hour in such a way that the "happening" makes musical sense to an audience, was born under intensely focused circumstances.

my first concerts of this kind have been difficult. often i would reach a point where there was nothing in myself to go on playing with. it took a lot of daring do to go through with it, leaving me in a deep depression afterwards. in anticipating a performance, i would go through inner turmoil that i would never be able to describe satisfactorily. what held me through was to tell myself: all you are going to do, is to play ONE note. only ONE not. from there, the rest will follow. but you - you always only play that ONE note.

through the years, my language grew, the exercise shaped itself to become more seamless, and my own psyche underwent a lot of healing, reflecting in more reliable, convincing and communicating music.

technique is not a major concern. technique is but part of the eruption of an inner core, a core that includes both mind and body - not to forget instinct as well. playing like this,fingers need to learn to think, the brain needs to learn how to become flesh again and even the sexual organ learns how to divest energy into the spray of sound. knowledge of music becomes a dynamic sub-part of the holistic interplay of elements, rather than a prerequisite for the rest to follow. playing like this represents a true paradigm-rift: traditional mind-patterns deconstruct to become more flowing and accepting of a wider range of conceptualities.

throughout the nineties i gave regular performances similar to this album, culminating in my first recording in 1998: "Ek Praat Klavier." In 2000 my acoustic phase ended when i acquired a computer and became the "HA!Man." Since then, my piano journeys were few and far between. There were a handful of performances - including a recording - in the Beethoven Room in Grahamstown and now, this recording in Pino Guarraci's studio in Belgium (I met Pino during a recording of one of my songs last year, saw the decent piano and the great studio, and decided it was time to play again).

no, i do not practise the piano. i only touch the keys during shows (mostly keyboard) and when i record-create backings and soundtracks. only here and there on my travels i would find myself with a good enough piano to play on and perhaps ten minutes to indulge! you may ask how it is still possible to produce an album like this with so little playing? it is for you to think about! i can add that i have done this since the age of four (so there is deep memory) and that my piano playing is partly developed and fed by all the other forms of expression i am active with. and then there is life itself.

don't write it off as just a gift or special talent. it is first and foremost a trust, a dangerous freedom and a reconnection between body and soul. then a language that you learn by playing, playing, playing. and then.. a love.

be inspired to something similar.. and enjoy!!

francois / HA!Man July 2007

(this recording is dedicated to Laura Kirsten, who joined me on the road in Dec 2005. when the words started to enter, i had her in mind. i hope that it will inspire her on her own epic journey towards self- and creative realization).

track nr Title description Duration
01 dis nog nie dag nie (day has not broken yet) introduction to an hour of a creative piano journey. lingering, anticipating, yet somehow quiet. impressionist harmonies. no set beat nor rhythm. like leaves in the wind. 5:27
02 bars los (break free) starts in the mood of the introduction then gradually acquires a clearer beat, as bass octaves introduce new harmonic directions. ends in a late romantic burst of energy 4:10
03 dink na (think about it) interlude in the vein of the introduction, but more defined 1:50
04 donker draai (turning in the dark) an extended and ominous anticipation of what is to come, with a drone-type bass motive running most of the time. stronger rhythms introduced 5:48
05 skaamgesang (hymn of shyness) a hymn-like contrapunctal piece still holds the darker feel of the previous, this time shyly. it swells for a while and returns to the opening motive that hints of light that might break through 2:56
06 maak al die kaste leeg (empty all wardrobes) after a short interlude, a definite dance-like rhythm sets in for the first time. mouth sounds adds percussive effect as the music opens up into wider regions of expression, ending in a strong, yet playful climax. Purely HA!Man. 5:06
07 en toe kom jy (and then you came) a song starts with the words "you came" (jy het gekom), drawing on all previous motives. simple, melancholic, yet with an underlying spark, as the whistling creates a feel of skipping along a country road. 3:48
08 uit die hemel geval (fell fom heaven) a romantic interlude rounds off the previous song, then abruptly falls into a fast, atonal juggling of changing motives. the piano suddenly reveals surprising dimensions in this run-away tour de force. light breaks through as the song returns in a happier mood. the runaway continues and then flows into a new and soaring song: "where did you come from?" (waar het jy vandaan gekom). with some turns, the song comes to a full-bodied expression of deep joy. ends with the hymn-like motive. 16:20
09 afrikamiddag (an african afternoon) as from nowhere, a sweet african motive is embroidered on. all the heaviness of the previous suddenly disappears as the harmonies become open, cyclical and the rhythms playful, inventive, with a seductive loseness to them. The song decides to join in, providing for some reflectivity. 5:09
10 jy's laf (silly you) again the mood swings into an unexpected arena: a folkish energetic dance! but then broken again by a lingering, whislting thought, as if it wants to return to the original statement, not allowing surprises to compromise its integrity 2:21
11 nou sing ek weer (now i am singing again) the journey rounds up by combining the slowness of the start with the openness of the middle to create a feel of intense restfulness. the african theme is gently referred to, just before a final build into a robust ending full of the freedom felt after accomplishment. the final moments sings the title: "you have made me sing again" (jy het my weer laat sing). Dedicated to Larha! 5:49