Partway through

The stripped-down A theme. It’s challenging in ways I hadn’t anticipated but should be manageable.

Also, I just realized that my next lesson is due to take place on Thanksgiving. 🙂 I should write to my teacher and suggest we do it a week later.



Very nice lesson last night — my teacher likes my arrangements, so I feel very happy since she plays music by real composers. (I almost typed “composters.” I guess some could be called that.)

She encouraged me to prepare a few pieces for a spring recital, which I’m mildly unnerved about but not enough to not do it. It’s easier to play dots for other people when they’re your dots.

The only sticky bit — and my teacher has offered to help me with this — is that I’d have to transport my own harp there since it would go very badly if I practiced on my little Daphne 40 and then tried to play on a full-sized harp for the first time with no preparation.

For the next two weeks, I’ve got to arranged the stripped-down A theme, get that whole piece under my hands, and also get “Zdes’ Khorosho” done, probably with a little bit of tweaking to move it from lever to pedal harp.

At this rate, hopefully I’ll be good enough at some point to play the music that this damned blog is actually known for! Folk music is very fast and metronomic … and because of that, very very very hard.

So pleased with the B theme so far

It’s really worked out, and the typical boring way that I always does: I sit around and hear the music in my head the way it really is with the Baroque orchestra and singer, and then feel how my hands want to move in order to underline the things I think need to be underlined. There’s some pedalwork, but it’s not that bad really — mostly notches and a few flutters, but really it’s nothing that presents a real challenge. There’s only one sticky flutter in it on the F that, if I prepare for it ahead of time and just stick to the program, isn’t that bad.

The next thing I need to do is to just make sure that the tricked-out A theme is well under my hands, and that I’ve got the B theme down well enough to play it for my teacher and ask her opinion on it. (There’s one spot where I think it may be a bit thin.) Then, I need to do the stripped-down A theme, and that will be the whole piece.

I also need to really sit down and think through how I’m sitting at my teacher’s harp since it’s so much larger than mine. If I sit where the pedals feel comfortable, I’m way too close to the body of the harp and the strings are nowhere near where I’m used to the being. If I sit where the strings feel right, the pedals feel like they are a mile away. I need to just force myself to stop moving so close to the harp — keeping the strings where they need to be is more important than not reaching for the pedals. (My teacher is 4’11” on a good day; I have no clue how she manages it.)

Between that and figuring out where the harmonics are on the longer strings, I really need to just sit and orient myself, and make a strict point of doing that every single time I go to my teacher’s house. I need to just earmark the first five to ten minutes to arpeggios and just noodling around on pieces to make sure that I’m feeling somewhat more comfortable.

Così fan tutte

I’m starting to realize that everyone’s third finger collapses when they place 4, but most people are tightly enough strung that it just doesn’t collapse much.

My hands, along with every other joint in my body, are so loosely strung that the collapse is profound and a game-stopper. Everyone else isn’t “doing something” that I’m not. They’re all collapsing their knuckles, too — they’re just strung more tightly, through no fault nor credit of their own.

I’m not worrying about this anymore. I can’t place 3-4 and play 3 for the same reason that I can bend my arms up and around behind my back and touch the back of my head, and why when I was young, I could do that ballet move of lying on your stomach, reaching up and around with your toes, and tucking them under your eyebrows. With no effort, I hasten to add. It was not something I trained to do. It was simply something I did.

For me to think that I should be able to not collapse my third finger when placing 3-4 and playing 3 because others can is identical to me telling someone else that they could touch the back of their head with both hands behind their back if they really tried hard enough because I can … which I would never say because I know they never could. They just aren’t built like that. And if they tried to force it no matter how gently and gradually, they’d damage themselves.

No more angsting over this.

A piano app for my phone

I really need to get one. I am sick of getting musical ideas and not being able to write them down, and forgetting them. I need to get a good keyboard app for my phone (and a scribble app that lets me take stylus notes) so I can get things down when they ambush me in the middle of the day.

Continuing my arrangement

So I’m getting the arrangement of “Dove sei?” under my hands again, and in the meantime, I’m working on a stripped-down version of it since the version I had done was more the flash-and-dazzle version than the plain one.

Blah blah blah Baroque arias:

  1. Plain version of A theme,
  2. B theme,
  3. Tricked-out version of A theme.

Since I was unable to do the B theme on a lever harp, I only arranged the tricked-out version of the A theme; repeating plain/flashy versions without the B theme in the middle wouldn’t have sounded right.

But now that I can do the B theme, I need to do a stripped-down A theme to come first — no rolls, no harmonics, no fancy stuff.

The B theme does have some finicky pedal changes in it, but they should be manageable. It’ll be more work working out the figured bass. There’s always a point where you can’t make out WTF he was trying to do with a given chord; the figured bass is never as good as an actual chord chart, and there’s always a point you reach where you just say eff it and follow your ear.

I still can’t believe how lucky I am that my teacher is willing to work like this with me. I’m still angry at my hands for not letting me do the things a “real harpist” is supposed to do, but … oh, well. They are what they are, and I’m not going to punish them for being something that they aren’t.