I woke up this morning in a musical but frenzied mood; so, as soon as the rest of the household emerged, I sat down at the piano to play (and, in places, sing) through a Billy Joel collection that I bought yesterday. I’d been full of energy this week, so next I decided to work some of that off by playing some Rock Band drums; after I’d gone through an hour or so of drums, I switched over to vocals, and Liesl and I went through ten or so songs in vocal harmonies mode. And, of course, I need to put in my pro guitar practice, so I worked on that for a couple of hours this afternoon.

Playing those different instruments in short succession brought home something that I hadn’t quite realized: my taste in music changes quite a bit depending on the instrument I’m playing. And it changes in a specific way: my Rock Band vocal avatar is gay (as will be no surprise to anybody who has heard me sing in game, I suspect), while my Rock Band guitar avatar is straight.

(Which, rereading the above, adds another interesting twist to my singing vocal harmonies with my wife this morning. I won’t dig into that here other than to be quietly amused, but I will also note that our most common Rock Band pairing is me on guitar, her on bass.)

My drummer, I’m not as sure about. It seems like he’s straight, but drums are an instrument that I’m not particularly comfortable with, and I wouldn’t be shocked if something unexpected unfolded as he became more confident.

And then there’s keyboards. The situation with keyboards is rather more complicated, mirroring the fact that my keyboard self is a significantly better musician than any of my other avatars. The strongest part of my keyboard self is rather more of a monk, and doesn’t actually get very much nourishment from playing Rock Band. But Rock Band helps bring out another part of my keyboard self, and that part is a gay man, albeit a gay man with more complex tastes than my vocal avatar.

At which point, a joke suggests itself: a monk with a double life as a gay man? I’m shocked, shocked to hear that. Which is a cheap joke, and an unkind one; and its implication in this context is if anything backwards. As an introvert, it wouldn’t be unreasonable for me to present a gay male face as a more socially acceptable mask for my monkish self, rather than vice-versa; and, indeed, that analogy works musically as well. (Don’t worry, Kirk, I know you’re kidding! Or at least you’d better be…)

But, in fact, neither of those two parts of my keyboard self is a mask for the other. Yes, I love fugues, but I love show tunes as well. The former love perhaps gets more to my core, or at least to more private parts of myself, but they are both part of who I am. One could make a case that there’s tension between the two; but if we’re talking about sex here, tension is what makes flirting fun. And, ultimately, both parts are comfortable with whom they are and their preferences, which is a healthy attitude towards sex as well.

I’ve been somewhat manic this last week; its been a fascinating experience, and hope I’ll eventually figure out more of what’s been going on there. In the meantime, though: the most interesting aspect is how theatrical I’ve been feeling. Aspects of me have been coming to the fore that are normally more hidden, and I’ve enjoyed displaying them. And, as with my twin keyboard selves, or indeed with all of my Rock Band avatars, these aren’t masks that my true self is lurking behind: they’re parts of me, just not parts of me that I’m as used to showing.

I’m glad to know those emerging parts of me a little better, and to be a little more fluent at using them as part of my outward face. But, of course, they’re not the only part of me, they’re not any more my true self than the part of me that’s a strong introvert, that needs to go off to think, to recharge. (To write blog posts!)

I am large, I contain multitudes. Fortunately, those multitudes turn out to be pleasant for me to spend time with.

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