Thursday, April 22, 2010

I'm years ahead of this guy

After all, he picked up piano at age 48, I started when I was 39.

Cincinnati Bengals Line Coach takes up piano

What's interesting about this is that he took up the instrument to get inside the mind of a performer. Money quote:

Because, over the course of a night, if (a concert pianist) plays 20,000 notes, and he misses a couple, he's had a bad night. And that's kind of the business I'm in - teaching people how to perform, particularly under pressure.

Never quite thought about it that way, although, with public recital #2 coming up in about 5 weeks, I should. I knew piano would teach me about music and preparation It has re-affirmed a lot of what I already knew, mainly having to do with HOW we learn things. But it never occurred to me to think of approaching piano from the perspective of a performer.

I'm going to have to think about this a little while more, but wanted to share it with you anyway.

- Aw2pp, recalcitrant perfectionist

Friday, April 16, 2010

Le Rough Drafte

Here is a rough draft of where I am on Le Onde. It has about a half-dozen fatal errors, each of which would be egregious enough for me to toss the recording away if I were submitting this for an ABF recital (two weeks to go!). Fortunately, I am not. link of a rough recording of Le Onde

First of, Denis, I am no help to you. Your question about making the dotted half notes sing... I am not sure that I do this, nor am I certain how I would go about doing it. I try to make a soft accent... something akin to the horizontal lines you see over notes in pieces like I Due Fiumi (see the very first note, for example). That subtle accent, combined with a very dull attack on the left hand, gets me closest to what I think you are describing. In this recording, the best example of this is about 36 seconds into the piece (measure 18).

There is an important caveat here: this sounds very different on PT's piano (a 4'6" Emerson grand, for those of you just joining us*). My hunch is that the singing quality you are looking to derive on those notes would be achieved differently on different pianos. I'll take your thoughts on that.

* - Where have you been, anyway?

Other observations.

Tempo - I am delighted that this checked in around 5 minutes in length. My template for this piece is Ludovico's studio recording on the Le Onde CD. It turns out that recording is just a few seconds shorter than mine, so, for the first time in my piano-playing life, I seem to be playing something at tempo. That despite a somewhat plodding and hesitant first page or so (not sure what is up with that, but it can be fixed).

Dynamics - They're getting there. A lot of work to go there, but it's an improvement over what I was doing just a week or two ago.

Errors - Obviously, these need to be ironed out. Some are more irksome than others. For instance, I have decided the climax of the piece begins in measure 147, and ends on the first note of measure 149. It's inexcusable not to have that part (and it's cousin in the first half) down pat.

The Wave - I am trying to invoke the wavelike sensation by building on LH arpeggios, getting softer on the RH arpeggios. Need lots of improvement here.

But mostly, I grabbed the recording to listen to the flow, and follow the music as I listen so that I know where I am missing dynamic and tempo markings. With two weeks left before ABF recital, and 6 weeks before we go Live! In Person!, I am pleased with where I am.

- Aw2pp, who always wanted to play Le Onde.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cognitive Dissonance

Webster's defines Cognitive Dissonance as:

anxiety that results from simultaneously holding contradictory or otherwise incompatible attitudes, beliefs, or the like, as when one likes a person but disapproves strongly of one of his or her habits.

I define it as Lady Gaga playing Ragtime. And playing it very, very well.

- Aw2pp, who will now go crawl in a hole somewhere.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Thank you, Captain Obvious

This sign is in the parking lot where Rowan takes dance class. One of the moms told me, with a straight face, that it has drastically reduced the number of vehicle-pole collisions in said parking lot.

- Aw2pp, who will probably ignore warnings and hit the pole some day.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Le Update, Part Deux

Pardon my French, of course.

If it were a normal recital, I'd be going for recordings now. And failing, mostly, because that is what I do with recital recordings. I record and record and record, right up to the deadline, throwing away 99% of my takes because they have Fatal Errors. Eventually, I come across one that has errors, but non-lethal ones, save that recording off the Ap-200, and courageously try to improve on that recording. But I don't, and near the deadline, I upload that recording to the ABF Recital Server.

That's usually how it goes. But this time is different. ABF Recital time is a month away still. And though I have yet to play Le Onde error free, I am playing it to my usual recital standards, such as they are. In theory*, this gives me three weeks to improve on my usual standards, and yet another month to clean it up before playing live before a studio audience.

* - Of course, as Homer Simpson once said, in theory, communism** works. In theory.

** - Did you know that the term "Communist Government" is an oxymoron? No, I am not making a joke here. I recently read that Communism is really a final stage in a process, by which the people own and manage everything the State previously ran, only, there is no State, no Government. Only "The People". An evolutionary step in the process is Socialism, where there actually is a government in charge of heading in this direction. In practice, it turns out even Comrades like power, so they tend not to give it up. Ever. So they remain in a Socialist (and usually totalitarian) condition. Which means there has never been, nor will there ever be, a Communist nation, at least insofar as Marx defined it. See what you get from coming here? I should post more often.

Headed down to Indianapolis to visit two prospective customers this week. I checked... the Fairfield Inn does not have a piano, so progress will have to hold a few days.

One other observation, totally unrelated to the price of tea in Liverpool or anything else... I recently discovered, much to my astonishment, that I am unable to play our piano unless the desk lamp is on. Even though all I have been playing for a couple weeks now is Le Onde, which, by now, I've memorized. But even in broad daylight, I absolutely cannot play unless the desk lamp is on.

- Aw2pp, who wonders if, after 15 years sitting in front of computers, it is finally time to visit the eye doctor.