Tuesday, December 18, 2007

To stoke the fires of anticipation

This post is but a placeholder - a bit of a way of making sure you're still paying attention (few though I'm sure you are who read this). The one bit of news I have is this: Friday the piano tuner is coming to give my lovely dear her first in-home tuning. Once that is complete, I have not one but TWO(!!!) pieces that I'll be recording and posting, hopefully in a few stolen minutes over the weekend before family gets into town. Hopefully within a week you all will be the proud listeners of two shiny new MP3s! Hooray!

Backing up a bit (and making this entry a bit more substantial than was my original intent): what do you all think about the sexes of musical instruments? I noticed that above I made my lovely piano feminine without thinking about it... but I'm not sure that's quite right. I'll have to consider it. My car is certainly a girl, and my computers are boys one and all... but my piano? I'm just not sure. Maybe when I post some pictures you readers can help the personification process. No, I'm not naming it.


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Solfeggietto and Slackery

I know, I know - I've been a derelict little piano poster. Whereby poster I mean "one who posts," rather than "large, flimsy piece of cardboard with pictures and text on it." Gosh, why do you always have to be so down on my alliterative tendencies?

Right, sorry, staying on topic - this time with less silliness. The piano playings have been going well lately, though with the holidays in sight I've had much less time to devote. I also have been horribly derelict in calling the piano store about coming out to do my first tuning; I really need to get on that, as the tone and keys seem to have reached a steady point of settling where they don't get any better or any worse. Slackery aside, I'm very nearly ready to post a recording of my next piece. Really, I could record it now and call it good, but Solfeggietto really deserved to be performed at Blazingly Fast Speed, and right now I've only got it clean at approximately Nearly Greater Than Just Middlingly Peppy Speed. I am making progress, though, and about three quarters of the time practicing Solfeggietto goes something like this:

1) Sit down and run through a scale, because I'm a good little practicer and I screw up much less often if I do a scale, though I'm loath to admit it.
2) Play through the piece at about half speed. This takes about 3 minutes, and I can pull it off entirely cleanly about 90% of the time.
3) Realize I was entirely negligent of any kind of volume dynamics. Not that Solf. has much other than Forte and Pianissimo, but still.
4) Play through again at half, trying really hard not to get bored and stop paying attention.
5) Start over again, this time a little faster.
6) Wish really hard I had a metronome.
7) Screw up as soon as I hit the measure that breaks out of the standard melody.
8) Start over again at the same speed.
9) Screw up as soon as I hit the measure that breaks out of the standard melody.
10) Stop to play said measure and the notes after over and over and over again until I can get it right many times in a row.
11) Start over again at the same speed.
12) Screw up as soon as I hit the measure that breaks out of the standard melody.

I'll leave it at that, but you get the idea. Still, I'm getting through cleanly at Nearly Greater Than Just Middlingly Peppy Speed more than half the time, which is good.

"But Lisa," you say, "you said that the set of steps elegantly delineated above only constitute 75% of your Solfeggietto practice."

To that, I reply: what is it about red wine that makes me want to futz around on the piano, and how can I ever (even slightly inebriated) think it's a good idea to try and play at Blazingly Fast Speeds (or really, at all) when I'm tipsy? This question is nearly as unfathomable as how I managed to get through Solfeggietto quickly and cleanly far more often when I'm a couple of glasses of wine in. My guess is that red wine is a little known aural filter for weeding out sour notes in musical pieces - this could merit some scientific investigation.

Right, I think I've said quite enough on that topic. In regards to the other pieces I'm working on, the Chopin Prelude is also nearly recording ready - in fact, I likely would have recorded and posted it already, but I don't really want two slow, sad sounding pieces in a row to set a precedent for the musical tone of this journal. (Hint: that's a verbose way of covering up my laziness.) I've mostly put aside The Cuckoo in favor streamlining Solfeggietto, but I fully intend to work on it again soon. I've also already broken my original "get in practice plan" of starting with only old music and working up to the harder things, as I've been dedicating significant time to Sibelius' Romance. This is a piece I worked on for almost all of my senior year, and absolutely the most beautiful thing I've ever played. I should have known I couldn't resist getting it back up to snuff. The bright side is that it's coming along magnificently; if I focus a bit I can certainly have it performable by Christmas.

With that, I think I ought to end this entry - I intended to ramble a bit about playing on a piano that's not mine for the first time in a while, but given the length of this text I think I'll save that for another time.