Letting Eurydice go — and letting her come back

The piano doesn’t hurt to play. I think that’s what it comes down to. Yes, I’ve been doing it since I was very wee and as a result, I’m semi-fluent on it and can do a lot of things without thinking, although I do have technical limitations that will probably keep me at an ABRSM 7-ish for most of my life. I’m plain unwilling to do the nasty woodshedding necessary to get the technical chops needed to go beyond that.

But at any rate, that psychological pain of not being able to manipulate the thing is at least one flavor of “pain” that I don’t have to worry about. And yes, I’m comparing the ergonomically friendly piano to the one instrument in the orchestra that is the most optimized to wreak havoc on the human body (viola).

By the way, note the spelling of “wreak.” One wreaks havoc. One does not reek or gawferbid reak havoc, whatever that means. Wreak havoc. Oh, and it’s “definitely lose weight,” not “definately loose weight.” Okay? Glad we’ve got that settled. Back to the music stuff.

Anyhow, there really are few things more fun that just sitting at the piano and piffling around to see what comes out. At times, I need to not do it, since ideas come cheaply, but execution does not. But sometimes it just helps to clear the cobwebs, just to sit down and talk something out without the bother of words.

I also want to try and relax about not always writing things down, although I will record and write down a particularly good bit. But I don’t want the stress of feeling like I have to “save” everything, or that bad things will happen if I forget something I’ve done. Montero has a lovely attitude about it in that her spontaneous music-making is “something that is just born and dies.” That’s the nature of music. That’s why Eurydice died the minute she was born back into the world; had her husband saved her life by a more permanent means like sculpture or writing, that story would have turned out differently. As it was, she met the same fate as the means used to save her: born into the world, and dying as soon as she was born. I need to trust that my idea font won’t run dry if I don’t save all the stuff that pours out of it. (While of course, still writing down the better things that pour out.)

I mean, I’m glad that many of Montero’s improvs have been recorded; I wish the same could be said of the Mozarts or Joplin, or any of the great pianists like Liszt who were also known for theirs. She is the first of the great masters of the future to have her improvs saved for posterity. But I have no doubt she sits down at a piano and splashes paint around lots of other times, and those pieces are all born, and then die. She doesn’t feel a pressure to record them; they come and go.

I want to do that, to take that attitude and see what happens. Again, I’ll write down the better things. But I don’t want to sit down and assume that I am trying to generate something that will be written down and developed into a full piece, every time. That’s too much pressure, and it keeps me from splashing paint around when I feel that I can’t do it because I’ll come up with too many ideas, all of which need to be written down and developed, and my free time is booked already. I don’t want this to be a burden. I don’t think I even can become very good at it if I don’t start thinking of it in a new way. Let Eurydice go — she can come back whenever she wants. She’s orthogonal to the typical boundaries of life and death.