And I’m going to have at the throat of the new chinrest myself, see how it goes. It’s just the chinrest, so I’m not too worried. I kept saying that I needed to bring it to my luthier and that if I only had a dremel, I would just do it myse–
Idiot. Go get one.
I also got some cork pads and will see if I can’t bump up the chinrest a bit since the cork is a bit thin. And I need to rout out the area that goes over the tailpiece as well as the actual chinrest throat, too. Should be interesting. If it goes well, I might also pick up some various grits of sandpaper and see if I can’t file down the top side of the rest and make it a bit more suitable for lefty use.
It’s the only explanation.
Quite happy to see Bryzgalov snapping a stick in half in frustration/anger, too. If he’s pissed, he’ll play better. I’ve suspected that his “it’s just hockey” attitude, as well as being offensive, is a smokescreen. That broken stick means he gives a damn. We’ll see how he does. But just in general, if he misses a soft goal, I want to see him pissed off about it.
I’ve done some work — some stuff on “Dove sei?” and some stuff on the intro to “Se fiera belva ha cinto,” but not very much at all. I have just not been in a musical frame of mind lately. It’s unpleasant and enervating. Have barely touched the viola. And of course the Ebm/F#M thing has been molding in the back of the fridge for forever at this point. Just not in the mood for noise, not in the mood for ideas that I can’t develop. Not in the mood. Why bother if I can’t bring them to fruition but they just rot on the vine?
However, every time I think I’ve got this thing down, it spins off in another direction, so we’ll see how it works out. But I think I have some structure to the gap between The Big 32-Measure Glop of Niceness and The Lead-In I Whipped Up For It now. I’m concerned that it’s going to end up with a very similar structure to a previous piece, and I’m warring between wanting to get used to this structure and my own internal drive to do something different each time.
Then again, most of the really good composers of the past had no problem using the same structures over and over, like a three- or four-movement sonata or symphony, for example. Structures are used over and over because they work, and they give the composer a framework off of which ideas can be suspended. We don’t invent new parts of speech when we talk or new sentence structures. We’ve got one phrase type in English (and in most languages), and it surfaces in multiple ways. However, it’s the same phrase structure underlying the whole thing.
There’s a fine balance to strike between new ways of saying things, and new things to say. There’s no need to come up with new grammatical structures or new parts of speech to say new things. I need to keep reminding myself of that.
Next thing I do, I want a pretty discrete emotional message in it. And, as I’ve stated before, I want off of the damned black keys.
Violin Adventures is back! So is Violins Rule!
*does endzone dance*
For all I’m bitching about that piece of music not cooperating, I know why it’s not. I’m simply not giving it the mental space in my brain that it needs. When I had to get through the Fm, it was pretty much all that I thought about 24/7. I started the process running, and then just left it running 24/7. I haven’t been doing that with this for a variety of reasons, mostly having to do with work eating my life. I haven’t been able to set aside ANY mental space to let the music run on its own. I’ve been getting home, relaxing, sitting at the piano, and expecting to have an idea right then. That’s not how this works.
I know how this works. I said it already below. You have to keep playing, even when you’re nowhere near your equipment. I need to set that process, start it, and let it go. 24/7.
This is going to be what I thought it would be — a three-piece triptych. I’m concluding the introductory bit with the cadence that I wanted to use, and that will be effing it for this stupid thing. And I’m sick to my back teeth of being on the black keys. I’m ending this emeffer.
Put a thicker layer on top of what I was doing last night before ending up in Abm — I think I like it. It’s darkening things a bit and making them heavier, just when I was starting to get sick of the music-box 1-2-3/1-2-3 thing in the left hand, one eighth note at a time, up and down. I’d like to get a bit heavier and more ponderous, borrowing something from the part I’ve already written, maybe somehow foreshadowing the end in Ebm — if indeed I end there. I may well end up either wandering off, or else just making a light coda that puts me back in F#M. (GbM. Jesus Christ, I hate this stupid key.)
But for now, I’m feeling a bit more like a musician. I also want to call my luthier this weekend and ask him about dropping Stevie off to see if I can’t get some weight off of him. I really wouldn’t mind amputating the scroll gracefully, if it’s doable. I don’t play with others, so I don’t have to care if anyone gives my instrument the stinkeye or thinks it looks wrong.
(And look at all that luscious orange. Doesn’t it just do your heart good?)
Well, now that I’m out of the closet as a hockey fan, I can start clearing all this out.
Any athlete and any musician have a large number of things in common, as people who use their bodies to perform in front of others in real-time, and whose performance can be judged by objective and immediate standards of success as well as subjective ones.
There are differences of course — in sports, half of the people “on stage” with you are trying to trip you up, whereas in music, the audience is your biggest enemy (let’s face it, either it seems that way, or it is that way). And in sports, one bad game won’t lose you your job, whereas in music, one bad concert just may. It’s understood and tolerated to a small extent in sports that someone “on stage” will lose. There are allowed to be no losers in music. And it’s no better for soloists; in the NHL, a 1.89 goals-against average will get you into the Hall of Fame. The only GAA allowed in classical music is zero.
The similarities between sports and music have already been treated in many ways, but mostly in the rah-rah-head-butt sort of way where people talk about poorly defined or undefined words like “confidence” and “a winning attitude” and other platitudes that are worthless when you are in the practice room. (And the differences between the two activities is substantial: one does not have to learn to check someone into the boards differently in order to communicate a sense of vulnerability and loss.) What I’d like to do is highlight some of the unglamorous, concrete, nuts-and-bolts ways in which the similarities in the two activities can be exploited for mutual benefit.
More alike than you think
In hockey, the goalie is as close as any position comes to being a featured soloist. The defensemen and the line can and do act as units, with each player helping to compensate for the weaknesses of the other players. With the goalie though, he’s pretty much the only person out there in that role. He is the most circumscribed and yet in many ways at the same time, the most crucial person on the team — and when something goes wrong, there’s only one place to point the finger. Let’s look at how the practice and performance habits of one of the game’s greats can translate to music, particularly as a soloist:
- If it’s not under your control, don’t waste time on it.
- That which is in the past is not under your control, i.e. don’t let a bad period turn into a bad game. This is equivalent to Rachel Barton Pine‘s admonishment in her
sadly vanished resurrected podcast about preparation for competitions and auditions that if something goes wrong as you are practicing performing, just let it go. It’s in the past. The only thing you need to worry about is what’s under your control: what you’re doing right now, and what’s immediately coming up. Don’t let one mistake in the past bleed forward into the future and infect it as well. If you effed up, put a fence around it and move on.
- That which is someone else’s job is not under your control, i.e. cut your angles, and stay square to the shooter. Understand what’s within your purview and focus yourself on that.
- Freak out in practice, chill out on stage.
- Parent was famously intense, stressed, and bad-tempered during practice. He broke sticks in fury, and if any of his teammates scored on him, he’d fire a puck at them:
One day in training camp, as a forward artfully slipped the puck between Bernie’s pads and into the net, the goalie slammed his oversized stick against the goalpost in disgust, snapping it in two with a sharp crackkk.
“Barnyard!” bellowed [then-starting goalie Doug] Favell, doubled over with laughter, “you’re nothing but a damn sorehead!”
During a game, all of that bled away, and he was happy Mr. Hey-I-Just-Stop-The-Puck. A typical story:
In the final minutes of 1974, with the dreams of any hockey lifetime hanging by one goal against Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito, Parent called over Simon Nolet.
“From the bench I see Simon give him an annoyed wave and skate away,” Clarke said. “I asked him ‘what did that crazy bleeper say?’ and Simon told me he was bragging about his new golf clubs.”
- Visualize yourself making saves in every situation, on and off the ice.
- Among musicians, it’s called mental practice. Just because you aren’t near your equipment doesn’t mean you can’t be playing, in your mind.
And because this can often be misunderstood, I want to underline this and explain it a bit. “Visualize” means to see it and more importantly feel it from the inside, not to simply watch yourself from the outside as everyone applauds. This isn’t some healy-feelie rainbows-and-dolphins New Age confidence booster. This is neurological training. If you are currently studying a piece of music that is 6 minutes and 2 seconds long, you want to sit quietly in a chair, or lie down someplace, and look up again 6 minutes and 2 seconds later. You are making your mind do everything it would do, except actually play the instrument. Pay attention to the notes, see them in your head. Think of everything you need to think of — there’s that big chord coming up, okay, there’s that leap, okay, three trills in a row here. Your brain is doing everything it must do during a performance; after all, one plays an instrument with one’s mind. The body just translates what the brain tells it to do, and you want to train your brain to react. That way, you will never be surprised. No matter what direction the puck comes from, you will already have saved it before dozens of times, in your mind.
Being a concert soloist, no matter what your stage may look like, is a 24/7 thing. Even when you aren’t playing, you’re playing.