Friday, November 20, 2009


I probably owe you some thoughts on last week's ABF Recital, but fact o' business is, I haven't listed to any of it yet. This week has been incredibly busy. I hope to soon, because recital discussion at Pianoworld tends to trail off quickly after a week or two, but with next week being Thanksgiving, I am not sure when I'll get to squeeze any listening time in before then.

In addition, I played my first Steinway last week. I owe you some thoughts on that, too. (Teaser: I was surprised.)

But since I've nothing truly useful to say today, I'll do what I usually do in these circumstances, and that is to bring in totally unrelated content. Take a look at these scribbles Jillian put down the other day.

Do you think maybe, perhaps, the kids watch a little too much Spongebob? Consider:

  • The room off of our kitchen, which, ostensibly, is supposed to be "Papa's Office*". In practice, I call it The Spongebob Room. Mind you, I'm the only one who calls it this, but I think it fits, because watching Spongebob us the main purpose for which this room is used.
  • She went two for three in drawing some pretty recognizable characters. Patrick may need a little bit of work, but check out Squidward's face! And dollar signs in place of Mr. Crabs' (Krabs?) pupils! This sort of detail isn't easily acquired. It takes hours and hours to take it in, and reproduce it off the top of your head. She could do illustration work for them now.
  • My children have apparently seen every episode of the show. I don't know whether to feel pride or shame. Perhaps a mixture of the two... I'm sure the Germans have a word for it, but I don't.
* Yes, we built this house last year with the intent that Sue's parents would be joining us in it. And though they do so periodically (weekends, mostly, and when I travel during the week), they still haven't sold their house, and remain in it. Thanks for asking.

- Aw2pp, who lives in a pineapple under the sea.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My Fourth (really?) ABF Recital Piece

Here you go. Since the ABF Recital won't even be published or processed until this weekend*, consider this an advanced screening.

* - Yeah, what's up with that? I hear you. I am always one of the last entries, trying (and often failing) to get a clean recording even up to the 11th hour. Not really that different this time. I am headed to Nashville tomorrow to catch a football game and hang out with old college buddies. So for me, this is the 11th hour.

My recital piece this time around is the Clementi Sonatina Op.36 No.1 (the first part only). Previous recital entries have all been Einaudi pieces... Ombre, I Due Fiumi, and, most recently, I Giorni. Setting aside that I apparently only play music composed by Italian composers, you might say this entry represents a bit of a departure for me.

In some ways, yes, it's very different. This is my first classical piece. It's short. It's bouncy. The LH and RH are pretty much independent of each other, meaning I couldn't count on learning a few repeating patterns, and putting one hand (or both) on auto-pilot.

But still, in important ways, this is also like the other pieces. To whit: it's a stretch piece. Something that I probably shouldn't have tackled for another 6 months or so. Something that I didn't quite "get", and would probably play better with more technique under my belt. But, as with all good stretch goals, I learned a lot, and progressed.

You may recall a couple months ago that I asked PT for an introductory classical piece. She assigned me this, and, to follow, the second and third parts of the sonatina. I since learned that everybody seems to play this at an early part in their classical piano training. I got lots of feedback and suggestions on how to handle it. Truth be told, I needed the help. I did not find this easy at all, even though it is apparently as easy as anything else in the classical repertoire. As my family can attest, I spent a lot of time learning, eventually memorizing, and finally trying to grab a good recording of this piece. No lie, I must have recorded 60 takes. I can't play it at anywhere near tempo... this is about 75% the speed I had aimed for, and about 50% of the speed I hear in professional recordings*. And I've yet to play it error-free, at ANY tempo, although I submit this recording in the hopes that the most egregious errors are subtle enough to escape your notice. But the biggest problem I had, and I don't believe I am alone here, is maintaining a consistent tempo. It's uneven, you'll hear that... but it's better than it was.

* - Still plenty fast for me, boy howdy.

All in all, I am happy with this, happy to submit it, and ready for the 2nd and 3rd pieces of the Sonatina. Depending on how they go, one or both could be my recital entry next time.

Of course, I am also gearing up to attempt Le Onde at June's recital (Live! In Person!). So I've got that going for me. Which is nice.

- Aw2pp, spiritoso!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Jillian's ABF Quarterly Recital Piece

Jillian recently recorded the following, and asked me to submit it to the Pianoworld Adult Beginner's Forum Quarterly Recital. It's called "Morning Prelude", and it is found on page 36 of Jillian's Bastien Piano Basics (Level 1) Book.

I am not entirely certain how to get this submitted, since Pianoworld doesn't allow 7 year-olds to register. But I'm sure we'll get that worked out in due time. Meanwhile, here are her comments on the piece:

I chose my song "Morning Prelude" because it was my first song I got to use the pedal on. I have thought it sounded really pretty, and I hope you do too.

She could give me lessons on being succinct.

- Aw2pp, quick learner.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Extraneous Accents

(Not a music related post. If that's what you came here for today, go ahead and move along. Nothing to see here.)

I speak Spanish and Portuguese. And, arguably, English, but that doesn't help me make my point. Which is, I think I know a thing or two about accents. Written accents, on words.

In Spanish, "Feliz" ("happy") has no accent, because standard pronunciation guidelines tell the speaker to accent the last syllable on (most) words that end with a consonant. And Spanish normally abides by its own rules, whereas Portuguese is less internally consistent. (Neither are nearly as poorly behaved as English, of course.) Some exceptions do apply, and written accents are there to account for these. Therefore, "Lápiz" needs an accent to let everyone know they need to hit that first syllable hard, rather than accent the second syllable like a normal, everyday, consonant-ending-word should.

(See what good stuff you get from me? You're probably telling yourself, "I should visit here more often.")

Portuguese basically plays the same game, but they add additional diacritical marks to account for their numerous eccentricities. For example, in order to tell avô (grandfather) from avó (grandmother), you use a circumflex accent for the former (which produces a closed "oh" sound, rhyming with "low"), versus an acute accent on the latter (which produces an open sound, like the sound you make when the doctor asks you to open up and say "ah"). And there are other fun things, but we'll set those aside for now.

Why all this? Because my minor annoyance of the day is Pokémon. You heard me: Pokémon.

Check out that accent: second syllable. Don't believe me? Visit (if you dare) The Official Pokémon Website.

Say it out loud: "POHK kee Mawn", with a hard accent on the first syllable, and a secondary accent on the last. The least accented syllable is the middle one. You know... the one with an actual accent mark on it. That's perplexing and annoying. If I had to guess why it would be there, I'd say some marketing meeting was held. And someone had the temerity to suggest that "Pokemon" wasn't a sufficiently foreign-sounding (or looking) word. And some intern sitting in the back of the room... somebody who obviously knows NOTHING about accents... suggested they put an accent somewhere in the middle of the word, and that would impress the world's six- and seven-year olds*.

* - And then, so my theory goes, the room fell silent. Until the Bigwig Marketing Exec said, "Here is what I propose: we add an accent to the second syllable. Then everyone will know this is some sort of fancy, foreign thing." Then the rest of the room erupted in agreement**.

** - Of course, this is not my idea. FedEx had a great commercial on this theme years ago. Here, in case you missed it. It's funny because it's true.

Of course, here we are 15 years later, and Pokémon aren't losing any momentum... heck, Jason was a Pokeball (or Pokéball?) for Halloween (pics coming). So who am I to tell these people what to do?

- Aw2pp, linguistic purist