Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I can "play" Limbo

Since Friday, I have probably put in about 8 hours on Limbo. I can now "play" it (more on those quotes later). I put in two clean takes last night, in fact. I'll post a vid this week (assuming Sue doesn't go into labor in the meantime, which is a distinct possibility).

There were two obstacles to overcome. The first was having to play Eb-Bb-Eb on the left hand. Think of the demands here... black keys, left hand, even the requirement to use a thumb. My left thumb, no less. It's like all my piano phobias had a convention or something. Good gravy, I had a hard time with this. The first (and, for me, most difficult) occurrence of this transition is measure 16. It took a very long time to be able to do this without looking. I'm still not fully there yet, in fact, but I can do it now with only a slight hesitation. Getting this progression smooth will be one of the defining milestones to meet before calling this piece "done".

Second obstacle, one which Sawtooth also reported some difficulty with, appears a few measures later. Measures 25 and 26 are the first occurrence of a particularly tricky... arpeggio, is that what I should call it? I had to play this phrase over and over and over and... in fact, on Sunday, I totally had to ChuanChang* these measures. For 20 minutes, all I did was play them over and over again. And I found that after awhile, they got worse! So I shelved them and tried to work on the Eb-Bb-Eb transition I mentioned just a moment ago. Then, yesterday, magically, I had very little trouble with those measures (and their reoccurrences later in measures 29-30, 57-58, 61-62, 89-90, and 93-94...).

* - ChuanChang is a new verb I making up for use in this here blog. It means to quickly and mercilessly hammer a tricky phrase, in a highly repetitive manner. Theory being that there is no sense practicing that 99% of a piece you know really well when there is that 1% giving you fits...

As you know by now, there is a lot of repetition in Limbo. This is a mixed blessing. The good news is that you only need to play maybe two minutes' worth of notes on a five minute piece.* On the other hand, there is great risk that Limbo can sound really boring, mechanical, and repetitive. Playing the notes is one thing. That's where I am right now. Making them into music is an entirely different cup of meat, and that's where I go next. That I can "play" Limbo by no means suggests that I am "done" with it. There are extraneous hesitations to be exorcised. Dynamic markings, oh, mercy, are there ever dynamic markings! Notes to be held, emphasized, just a fraction of a beat longer than others. Grace-notes that you barely hint at, which start the next phrase.

* - Well, in theory, it's a five minute piece. Takes me about six and half right now, but that's just a technicality, right?

This is where the fun starts. This is the sort of thing I was hoping to progress to when I started learning piano back in January. Of course, I am also impetuous, itching to try my hand at the next Einaudi piece. I'm eyeing Fuori Dal Mondo. Give it a listen, tell me what you think.

Fuori dal mondo - Ludovico Einaudi

1 comment:

sawtooth said...

Great news. I've been waiting to hear a "Limbo" progress report. Good to hear the notes are mostly down. I'll hate to admit I'm mainly working on "I due fiumi" rather than polishing up Limbo very well.

I got out my Best of Einaudi book to look over the "Fuori dal mondo" sheets. It's not too long in pages but the measures are spaced fairly tightly (4 pages, 132 measures). Compared to Limbo's 4 pages and 100 measures with lots and lots of repeating. The left hand is obviously the biggest change of all when comparing the two songs. Much much more for the left to do. I'd say the left for Mondo appears much harder than the I due fiumi that I'm working on. IDF repeats a whole large section of the song as well despite it being only 3 pages in length in the Best of Book. The right hand doesn't seem to do too much, but I've not tried the stuff around measure 73.

Maybe you could look for some advice in the Einaudi thread of Pianoworld for songs to play from the book :)