Isolating the major themes of “Mormorio”

As well as I know the intro at this point, it was still very helpful to go through the score with a set of highlighters. Lots of echoing back and forth, and not just between the voice and the wind instruments in the B theme — the whole thing is like a game of ping-pong, which may be a large part of why I like it so much. I love music that does that.

Now, I have to isolate the major vocal themes.

And after that, I need to figure out what the hell I want to make. Okay, I’ve got my ingredients straight. Now, what’s on the menu?

So anyway, still ruminating. It’s fun, though. :-) And still playing through the stuff I’ve done so far, just getting it happier under my hands.

Have printed out the three pages of “Mormorio”

And am planning to highlight the hell out of them in an attempt to isolate the major themes and where/how often they show up.

I didn’t print out the transition part that Eduige sings (Em – EM – AM – AM7) to get back to the DM.

I also want to put down the chords — and in DM, not in f*cking stupid EbM. Actually, I should probably put them down in Roman numerals.

It’s a good thing I like this piece so much, because this is rapidly turning into real work.

“Fast and loud” = lack of confidence

I remember a Simpsons episode where the town was due to be flattened by a comet, leading many people to attempt to abandon it. Problem was, the bridge was out.

This didn’t stop people from trying to leave via the bridge. They just gunned the engine and tried to “jump” the gap, falling to their deaths in a display of what the newscaster character Kent Brockman called “the never-give-up never-think-things-through spirit that made this country great.”

Gravity won’t let you jump a horizontal gap. Gunning it won’t change that.

And that’s sort of what you’re doing when you hit the accelerator and try to power your way through a tricky part of the music, just hoping that your forward momentum will carry you over the potholes with as small a bump as possible. And just as with real potholes, it never works. In fact, the faster you try to go, the more of a spine-compressing jolt will be delivered and the more impressive the resulting crack-up will be.

You cannot paper over your problems with speed and volume. This is a symptom of lack of confidence (and in my case, desperation through not knowing what the hell one should do to deal with these problems).

I’ve just been thinking more and more of how instinctive it was as a kid to just go fast and loud in order to camouflage errors, how my own dynamic range tends to run from mf to fff, and how much better I’ve gotten on certain problem spots in the Etude version of “Mormorio” since practicing slowly and as quietly as possible.

  1. Slow.
  2. Quiet.
  3. Flexible rhythms.
  4. Stress the off-beats.

Managing themes

Going to write down the main themes in a given piece, and them start working up wandering developments for them to see what I have to work with. Can’t make something big without first checking to see what ingredients you have to work with.

Rehoming the Rodgers

Unfortunately, I had to come to terms with the fact that, every time I want to write music, I’m at the piano. And while I’m prepared to consider sharing my brain with something other than a piano, it shouldn’t require more money than I care to part with and, as Cameron Carpenter says, a debate-ridden crew of experts to schlep it around.

A very large playground

Happy in a new home

I didn’t have the time to do justice to the Rodgers, so it’s been rehomed at this nice place where I fervently hope that some fascinated kid pushes down a few keys and feels the same sudden jolt to the insides that I got when I first set eyes on a piano and realized what possibilities lay in it.

I won’t lie, though — part of my discomfort with it was the knowledge that I had a beast in my apartment that, although it fit fine, was still well in excess of 600lbs and had caused two experienced piano movers to quail in fear and almost herniate themselves getting it in. (One of them dubbed it the “hardest move I’ve ever done.”) I’m the sort of person who prefers an unencumbered life, to put it bluntly, and the thing made me feel claustrophobic. I detest owning enormous objects, and the largest and heaviest single home item I own currently is my couch.

I owned a dining room table once. It was awful.

I’ve spent the last few weeks agonizing over how the hell I was going to get it out of my life; the sort of people who can play a Rodgers 820 Alexandria are generally the sort of people who are currently drooling over VPOs and are not interested in a late 70s/early 80s electronic organ that weighs over a quarter ton. And it was too large for your typical municipal “bulky item” pickup service by far. (Not only that, but I disliked the idea of chucking something that still worked in the dump.)

That service did however put me in touch with the folks mentioned above, who have installed the thing in their shop where it is currently beguiling people, making them very happy by its presence and me very happy by its absence.

No more behemoths in my space. I’m the kind of person who imagines retiring to one of these things with a welcome mat in front of the door and shotgun propped up behind it.

If I can’t lift it, I don’t want it.

BTW, this isn’t an April Fool’s post. I feel like a dick for having “jilted” one of the noblest devices on Earth: a musical instrument. It’s really gone.

Useful for any instrument

There’s a harpist dude on YouTube named Josh Layne who posts lots of fairly in-depth harp-centered lessons and dives into various pieces, and a lot of what he says goes for any instrument. I’m curious about harps (chordal, multi-line, mostly portable where “portable” is defined as “not requiring you to herniate yourself or worry about putting dents in the door to move it around”), and his videos are great watching.

Anyhow, a few tips he gives for getting things right on the jumbo gilded cheese slicer that is the harp are extremely useful for the piano (and anything else) as well:

  1. Practice playing things super-slowly. Going fast lets you hide problems.
  2. Practice playing things quietly. Loud also lets you hide problems.
  3. Practice in multiple rhythms, dotted in all directions. This builds flexibility and a real awareness of the rhythm.
  4. Practice stressing the notes that fall on the upbeat, the “ands” of a phrase. Do this in the right hand, and your left hand will stumble.

Seriously, just do this. Over and over. And combine them in many ways. I can’t tell you how much it helps.

Solving problems, part one million

It’s always interesting to discover, over and over again, how problems at the piano can be rendered tractable with slow, patient effort and paying mind to what works. And that these solutions either do not automate, or else are unable to automate without more time than I can devote to them, although they do get done if I focus.

The only way to do it right, whatever “it” is, is to pay attention to doing it right.