Jun 07

i’ve got a PIANO and i’m goin to use it!

FT3 comments • 758 views


ok my mum’s dad’s lovely blond schiedmaier boudoir grand arrived in my flat a little over six months ago, and my new year’s resolution was to PRACTICE RIGOROUSLY EVERY DAY and — apart from pressweeks and pre-deadline panic days — i have certainly PLAYED it every day i’ve actually been able to…

but even tho i have a rigorous practice programme DRAWN UP i have been a bit haphazard followin it — instead spending most playin time labouredly reading through the fairly large amount of piano sheetmusic i inherited from mum’s family (she was an only child with several piano-playing forebears): so six months into this thing i decided to MAKE THE PROCESS PUBLIC and institute 1xFT diary of my progress and my thoughts
abt it — THAT WILL BE FUN WON’T IT (pity my downstairs neighbour eh tho she has not complained yet)

so here in order of difficulty (IMO) are the pieces i am currently working (and here is a more detailed list of what they entail) (it’s a lot i know but i am a flibbertigibbet WOT OF IT?) and when i start i will also lay out the structure of the full practice regimen AS I IMAGINE IT (it is absurdly elaborate of course) for comment and awe derision :

i. satie gnossienne no.1
ii. bach rondeau from orchestral suite no.2 arr. e. markham lee
iii. chopin prelude in d flat
iv. the CAN CAN by jacques offenbach
v. debussy clair de lune
vi. magnetic rag by scott joplin
vii. berceuse from dolly op.56 by fauré
viii. schubert klaviersonate op42 a moll
ix. bach fugue no.1 in c
x. chopin minute waltz
xi. o polichinelo from prole do bêbê by heitor villa-lobos
xii. webern klavierstuck op.post
xiii. berg klaviersonate op 1


  1. 1

    haha anti-swank reality check — the minute waltz currently takes me EIGHT MINUTES (without “stopping” and with MANY typos)

  2. 2

    TODAY’S PRACTICE: poodled around on iv, vi, vii, ix and x

    dull repeat-many-times-over on hand-moves i just can’t get right without slowing or pausing — what’s always super-frustratin about these is that you never show improvement at the time, you do it lots then leave it and forget abt it and when you come back to two weeks later yr fingers know what to do (except when they don’t)

    in x the little trick i learnt at EMP (of all places!) for playing four-against-three is paying off — this will takes loads of work to get up to speed but i love how even quite hard chopin just falls under yr fingers so well (charles rosen once wrote that ultra-hard chopin works brilliantly partly bcz the stuff which is hardest, the ring-and-pinkie notes, are expressive precisely bcz of the slight strain and wobble of the way they get played!) (i have no idea if this is true and doubt i will ever know but it is an awesome idea, just the kind of technicalia i like; and rosen is an actual-real plays-in-public virtuso as well as a historian and critic)

  3. 3

    frank asked me a question on lj abt this prelude — viz which it is (ans = the one sometimes called the “raindrop” prelude) — which made me think a bit more abt chopin

    i. i learnt several other preludes at school besides D flat (G, Emin, Bmin, A, C min, G min) (haha also known as the EASY ONES tho the last sounds harder than it is); i didn’t thini much abt (or of) chopin then — he is often referred to a bit disdainfully as a “salon composer” (=minor romantic), and i wz studying music history and absorbed its silly prejudices

    ii. what now fascinates me about him is his fascination with WHAT THE HANDS CAN DO — he was a virtuoso pianist, and lots of his preludes are really compact little practical essays in how a particular hand-shape and movement can be expanded and focused into a piece; a lot of the handshapes in question being particular to him (ie the ideas — as physical possiiblities to be explored — didn’t seem to enter the composer bloodstream): there are two other preludes i’d like to get the trick of, which exactly fit this bill (C and D)

    iii. i guess i wd say there is something anti-romantic, art-and-crafts-as-proto-modernist abt his mode of address — the MATERIAL as drive (where material includes the idea of WHAT HANDS CAN DO); it’s incredibly tactile, and shaped to be tactile (cf under the fingers), and hence anti-idealist (hence why he fell out frontline 19th-century appeal i guess)

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