Condensation is the opposite of evaporation.It occurs when the humidity and the temperature conspire to allow liquid water to condense out of the air. It can also happen on the surface of something cold, like an iced drink. The word is not to be confused with condescension, which means to patronize or disdain, to “disrespect” in popular terms. Condensation allows us to make drinking water out of sea water.It is also how we make alcoholic spirits.
What is interesting to me is that the water seems to just materialize out of thin air.The rather abstract and diffuse water vapor just suddenly forms on to every surface.When the temperature drops below the dew point, everything is wet.I relate this to how the music just materializes when I improvise.It exists in my mind in the abstract, but just flows out when I start to play.
I grew up in the Pacific Northwest where, it seemed, the temperature was below dew point for most of the time.Every thing is always sopping wet!You can’t dry your clothes outside, or sit on the ground most of the time.When I moved to Arizona, dew became a treasured phenomenon.Even during the monsoon season, when the dew point rises to 60° or more, in the desert the dew never forms as it never gets cold enough.In the winter, it will sometimes freeze, but the humidity is so low the dew point is close to 0° and you almost never see frost.Since moving to Northern Arizona, however, we again get dew in the morning, water dripping off the roof in August.It is somehow comforting.
Nocturne.Much of the condensation occurs at night.I never actually see it happen, but I know it when it does.Dawn of Tears.At the risk of seeming melancholy, I have often thought of the morning dew as a veil of tears.Still.Condensation makes absolutely no sound.It also makes liquor.I’ve had moonshine only once when my neighbor returned from his old home in Alabama with a milk carton full.It was pretty good.
Deserts. This is a salute to Edgar Varése’s piece of the same name.He uses the desert as a simile for loneliness.It is also unsentimental, no nonsense, and very dry. Quicksand is another place you can find water in the desert.It is a lot more common in the movies than it is in real life, though there is a lot more water underground than there is above ground.I haven’t ever run into any quicksand, which is just fine with me.Evaporation.This is something we have a lot of in Arizona.Where we live, we can get two inches of rain but be able to drive the dirt roads a couple days later.The water is just returning to the air.If condensation is like improvising, then evaporation is like listening.The music is stored and abstracted, and may materialize in a different form at some later date.