Continuing with “Bethena” and poking at “Elite Syncopations”

… which is a real bear of a piece, especially the last theme. Very Liszt-ian with the melody framed with bouncing octaves. Gratified that Joplin wrote on top of it, as he wrote on everything he composed, “Not too fast.”

I’m still eternally amused at his tempo notes on his pieces. 🙂 You can almost chart out which pieces were written first based on how pissy the tempo markings are. “Not fast.” “Not too fast.” “Do not play this piece fast.” “DO NOT PLAY THIS PIECE FAST. It is NEVER right to play ragtime fast.” Seems like people have been cranking on his stuff ever since he wrote it. Makes the current trend of showing off How Good I Am by demolishing a composer’s preferred tempo a lot more obvious. In fact, I’ll have to keep that in mind the next time I hear someone opine about playing a piece of music according to the godlike composer’s intent when they are turbocharging it well past what the original composer would have wanted. It always bugs me when people do that to Vivaldi and other Baroque types. People ruin their music all for the sake of puffing themselves up, and then turn around and make noises about disappearing behind the composer’s intentions. o_O Sort of like patting oneself on the back for one’s awesome humility.

Anyhow, it feels good to be back to s-l-o-w p-r-a-c-t-i-c-e on “Bethena.” It’s sort of a nice recalibration, and it helps realign my technique. And I opted to get started on “Elite” as well, with some trepidation since it’s quite difficult at the end. I’ll be poking at that one only for a while since I’m enjoying myself back at “Bethena,” although I’d also like to chart out his chord changes as well. He does that bounce-between-dims thing a lot, but he also does a couple of very clever things like hopping into the relative minor of the dominant in some fun ways. His modulations are a veritable chocolate box of stack-popping fun.

Didn’t watch the game, didn’t want to. Still don’t want to know — aiming for some quiet mental space for the moment. 🙂

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