I’m going to try to be a bit more disciplined about what I’m practicing. Each week, I’ll try to focus on a few specific goals and keep track of how much I progress in those areas.
For general technique, here’s what’s at the forefront of my focus:
- better tone overall
- more evenness and strength of left hand
Specifically, I’m working on the following pieces:
- Chopin prelude Op. 28 No. 22, g minor
- Chopin etude Op. 25 No. 7, c# minor
- Bach 2 part invention #14 in B flat
- Bach 2 part invention #5 in E flat
- Daft punk!
Of course I’m still improvising vignettes here and there, but in addition to posting those, I’ll also post some recordings of my progress in the pieces.
It’s doing remarkably great things for my posture. :-D
While adamantly avoiding my thesis at 5am in the morning, I decided to divert myself with some transcription.
I wrote out the score for 4 different versions of the main theme of Professor Longhair’s Tipitina, going from simple to complex. The last one is most similar to the original, with most of the embellishments included.
Only in passing.
Maybe I will consider it seriously when I become really good.
Originally- my grandmother started me on lessons before I had a choice.
Recently- Learning music is kind of like a giant puzzle for my mind.
This is the theme from the museum scene from La Jetée (1962), a short science fiction film by Chris Marker that explores the concepts of time travel, memories, and dreams.
A fragment of this theme popped into my head while I was at a concert last week listening to Jazz pianist Fred Hersch play a selection from his new work My Coma Dreams, a set of pieces based on dreams and nightmares from his 2-month coma in 2008.
(This is my first time transcribing more than a few bars. I can probably optimize the chords labels even more, but these sound good enough for now. As the original takes much liberty with rubato, the notated rhythm is my best approximation.)
While I was practicing modal improvisation over the Autumn Leaves progression, I realized that Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance* works over the same harmonies. As it turns out, many, many songs use some variant of the Autumn Leaves progression since it uses the classic ii V I over the circle of fifths. Another example can be heard in Astor Piazzolla’s Milonga Para Tres (listen for it at 5:15 in the video)
Another example of a progression shared by many tunes is that of Gershwin’s I Got Rhythm, known as “Rhythm Changes”. Rhythm Changes is used by many jazz standards such as Charlie Parker’s Anthropology, Duke Ellington’s Cotton Tail, and Thelonious Monk’s Rhythm-a-Ning.
What I especially like about Autumn Leaves, Bad Romance, and Milonga Para Tres is that they go across what are usually considered to be different genres. While Piazzolla (and even Lady Gaga, for that matter) was definitely influenced by jazz, these three melodies probably aren’t normally heard together.
I think it would be cool to find a bunch of familiar tunes with the same progression across several different genres and make a piece that starts with one melody and gradually morphs into the others one by one. To play on this idea, I played this Unfortunate Autumn Romance.
* A bit of trivia: The Bad Romance video begins with the B minor fugue from Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier Book I
The video from the previous post was an excerpt from the film The Universal Mind of Bill Evans- the Creative Process and Self Teaching, where Bills Evans explains the meaning of jazz through discussions with his brother Harry and live demonstrations on the piano. I haven’t been able to find the entire thing on Youtube but managed to track it down at the library.
Some more quotes:
“The person that succeeds in anything has the realistic viewpoint in the beginning, knowing the problem is large and you have to take it a step at a time and you have to enjoy the step by step learning procedure.”
“The whole process of learning the facility of being able to play jazz is to take these problems from the outer level in, one by one, and to say with it at a very intense conscious concentration level until that process becomes secondary and subconscious. Now, when that process begins subconscious, then you can begin concentrating on the next problem, which will allow you to do a little bit more. And so on and so on…”
“Most people just don’t realize the immensity of the problem and either, because they can’t conquer it immediately, think they don’t have the ability, or they’re so impatient to conquer it that they never do see it through. If you do understand the problem, you can enjoy your whole trip through.”
While in New York City last weekend, I spent a good portion of my Saturday evening at the Winter Jazz Festival in the Village. I mostly stayed at the Zinc Bar and caught the sets of a few different groups. Hearing different groups back to back really highlighted the contrasts in style. Of course each group of musicians has a distinct sound, a distinct presence. But because of the juxtaposition, I found myself paying more attention to how each group differed and as a result, paying more attention to details of the sound that I might otherwise have taken for granted.
I think I’m going to use this blog to keep track of various versions of pieces I’m listening to or working on. Today, I decided to look up Autumn Leaves.