The (Ongoing) Noodle Incident

I get to noodle tonight! While I was walking at work, I realized that since “Moon of Memory” was pretty much out of my system for the moment (although not into Lilypond), and I had decided to stick the C#m into some tupperware and put it into the back of the freezer, I was free to do what I had brought up before: wander aimlessly on the piano and not worry about developing things for the moment, just to see what happens. “Just keep playing no matter what” is what I’m aiming for here. Trying to get a feel for extemporizing and being able to follow what’s going on in my head without having the noise of the piano itself drown it out.

That’s a hard thing even for trained musicians (possibly the training interferes with it) — to hear what’s going on in your head and also what’s coming out of the instrument. We can all hum to ourselves and even come up with nice tunes in our head, or I assume “we” all can. Maybe we can’t.

But I’ve found that when I try to make the same noise on the piano, that the noise that does come out is so overpowering that it drowns out the inner voice, and I lose the thread. “Stop talking, I can’t hear myself think.” That sort of thing. And I know people who are like that verbally, but I’m not one of them. I tend to be the sort who talks and thinks at the same time; I need to think out loud. I need to talk to think. But I know people who stop, think quietly, and then talk. If you ask them another question, they stop again, you see them thinking behind their eyes, and then they talk again.

Being able to do what I do with words is what I’m after with music — knowing the instrument well is a huge part of that, getting to the point where it’s not a barrier between me and what I want to say. But I don’t feel the need to be quiet in order to think, in fact exactly the opposite. I can hear what’s going on in my head better when I talk out loud — a characteristic that got the word “chiacchierone” tossed at me frequently when I was a kid, from the Italian word “chiacchierare,” meaning “to chatter.” Chiacchierone = chatterbox.

Anyhow, I want to see if I can’t approach music the same way. It’s just hard because while we all have a mouth and generally can use it fairly automatically, the manipulation of a musical instrument is an unnatural act. (This is where I contradict what I said above and insist that training facilitates automatic expression. Walt and I both contain multitudes.) I’ll keep pushing and see what happens, see if I can’t aimlessly noodle with the ultimate aim of being able to translate what’s going on in my head better, and even facilitate coming up with ideas. I guess that’s not aimless, then. It will probably take a long time as well — a month is no time at all. Well, we’ll see where it heads. If a month isn’t long enough, then I’ll just keep going.