You know what it is?

I think I’m just whining. I don’t connect with people over music, mostly because I dislike doing it with others around. I’m not into that whole “Realize The Subtle Shades of Meaning in the Composer’s Creation” thing because I’m too busy with my own dots, and I tend not to care for other composers since so much of today’s composing seems … composed of, okay … making goofy plink-plunk noises and calling it art.

That, plus I’m a curmudgeon.

I think I’m just grumpy at the moment.

Not really a musician

There seems to be a constant sense of creeping dissatisfaction in me about what kind of musician I am. I almost don’t feel like I am one. I’ve said before — and I do believe it — that when it comes to the 88-key keyboard, I’m a novelist and not a typist. (I also use the comparison between writing and calligraphy.)

But what would it be like to be a typist? Is that a more “real” way to be a musician?

I occasionally flirt with other instruments, ones that make one sound at a time and where you have to care more about the quality and color of the sound than anything else. I sort of wish I could get behind that because it’s a bit alien to me, but … I just don’t. I simply don’t care about the exact nature of the sound. That would be like reading a book and, brilliant though it was and transformative as the ideas were, saying, “That was a bad book. One of the pages was smudged, and I didn’t like the font.” Who the fuck cares about the font? What did the book say?

But some part of me wants to care about the font. There seems to be something else there that other people seem to care about obsessively that just has no scent or taste for me. I am a novelist, and I am not a calligrapher. I don’t see why I’m dissatisfied with this, but my behavior seems to indicate that I am for some reason. Maybe it’s just that, in the current culture of classical music, the calligrapher is almost the only kind of musician there is. It’s getting somewhat broader, but … not really. Isn’t a musician the sort of person who can hear grass growing? The sort of person who picks nits over exactly which violin should be used for what piece? I’m not saying crappy intonation doesn’t drive me nuts, but the only thing I’ve ever freaked out over was a squeaky damper pedal.

Doing music the way I do it makes me feel very isolated and alien among what some part of me thinks should be my own tribe. Music is supposed to be about connecting with people and social cohesion, and yet the way I do it marks me as fatally out of step even from the other people who do it.


Still sort of meh this weekend. I’ve got two good aria intros, but nothing’s shaking loose on them. Have messed around a bit, and I’d like to work on “Confusa si miri,” but I can’t get it in gear. It’s in 3/8, and I’d love to move it into 3/4 and then split everything into 16th notes. That’ll give me 12 notes per measure, and then I can play with hemiolas, which are always good fun.

But … it’s not coming. I cannot think in 4-beat notes naturally. My brain insists on feeling triplets when I have to fan a beat out into multiple notes.

Maybe I can put it into 5/4 or something. I haven’t done that yet, an oddball time signature. I don’t know. I’m just in a bit of a turnout at the moment.

I was listening to the G Major prelude from book 1 of the WTC and thought it was a cute thing to play with, but then realized that I’d already done it with “Con raucio mormorio,” the last variation. *sigh* I’ll keep chewing on it.

Practicing on weeknights

You know, I have the hardest time practicing on a new instrument on weeknights. I’m stressed out, tired, and sometimes want a snack. I am happy to sit at the piano and noodle around or practice, because I know how to play that one. Any of the others, the ones that I’m basically no damn good at — the single-note ones where I need to just relax and stop trying so hard — are a total loss on weeknights.

I can play a piano to relax, although even then I still prefer to play it when I’m already in a fairly relaxed mood. I will pick up needles or a hook when I’m nervous or stressed out to just channel the nervous energy into something useful, but the piano is my happy island. I like to keep it that way. It’s not where I go to work off worries.

The other instruments are just much more sensitive to impatience and stress because I’m still at the level of making a decent noise on them. I keep thinking, “Okay, I need to gain ground here,” instead of just relaxing and making a noise. I am at such a low level on them that I have no ground to gain.


Done the transcription of “Confusa si miri.” A fun one. Now, to listen to a bunch of Bach and Buxtehude preludes and see what rattles loose.

Here‘s what I’m working with — not the recitatif, just the intro which starts 27 seconds in. It’s so dramatic and fantastic, and heavy sounding. I’ll probably someday want to go back and do something with it again.

Oooh oooh *jumps up and down*

Ooh, a Buxtehude version of one of the next arias! Oooh oooh oooh …

*bounces up and down in chair while making hand gestures like Wallace when he talks about going to the moon to find cheese*

“I know! I’ll go where there’s Buxtehude!

In other words, here. All those crunchy preludes … This one looks like really fertile ground.

Update: You know what I should do — I should listen to all the preludes in the WTC. I like them better than the fugues anyhow, although that probably verges on heresy coming from a lover of classical music. I think there’s a part of me that never forgave him for putting them in the wrong order, although that might not have been him; I’m not enough of a Bach specialist to know. But if it had been me, I’d have put them in order of key signature, not tonic, and have advanced in order of the circle of fifths. C Major, then A minor, then G Major, then E minor, etc. This C Major, then C minor, followed by the D’s nonsense just drives me nuts.

I have the Zhu Xiao Mei CDs and like them well enough; I really should just reorder the stupid things in iTunes and listen in their proper order, that which is ordained in Nature and cozy for the universe, as opposed to this heathen way that causes the edges of the universe to creak and my eyelid to twitch.