Phoresy

I always joked that the real career of a bassist was not playing the thing but transporting it. One needs a sense of humour to maintain an occupation which requires the daily porterage of what may be the largest object a human is expected regularly to carry. In the case of a busy freelancer, you may have the thing in and out of the car six times a day (if you are on public transport the onus is much more onerous). Last week I made a six-hour round trip to rehearse in Cork for three hours. The only bit that was employment was the three – because I am a professional musician not a driver – and this is not unusual. If you have the constitution to treat travel as relaxation then you can consider a freelance musical career.

In the same vein I always wondered if the bass was the one in charge… after all, it gets what it wants, doing what it was made to do. The bass is only involved in the music, being cosseted in transit. I would like to be the bass, carried everywhere with great attention to my comfort and safety. There is a word for this: phoresy is a symbiotic (non-parasitic) relationship in which a more mobile organism transports another of a different species. The bass can’t move so I move it. Furthermore, the bass will outlive me because I take such good care of it. But I get plenty out of this too, it is after all both a livelihood and an artistic pursuit. In the case of a wooden passenger the word could be phorestry? Which would make me a phorester, engaged in the lifelong nurture of a sort of strange, itinerant, composite, hollow tree.

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