Shit day, shit at the harp, shitty mood, just shit everything. Not a good day, and not for any well-defined reason — just a total shit day.
I’m at a work conference at the moment, listening to a speaker from a multi billion dollar company talking about the Internet of Things, and his speech was introduced by a hype video using a techno EDM mix of Haendel’s Zadok the Priest. I love that sort of thing. 🙂 Since it started out as hype music, it makes sense.
I love Baroque music.
So I think my teacher was pleased with what I was able to do with the Arabesque last night, and I have more to do — the second page. There are more places where my inability to work downwards with my left hand from 3 to 4 while 4 is placed are bothering me, but they are bothering me more psychologically than musically since I’m fairly sure I can make things work musically, It just really bothers me that my hands are somehow defective for this instrument. I was able to get my right hand to manage though, so maybe there is a way to make my left hand behave itself. It still feels like trying to play a piano standing up, so I don’t know if it will ever really feel right even though I’m left-handed. I think that left-handed or right, the left hand is always at a disadvantage on the harp and most right-handers don’t realize it because they just assume their left hand stinks inherently.
I’ve probably said this before, but I think a lot of the challenge classical musicians have when we try to lock into a metronome is that we constantly put it on the front of the beat, and not the back.
If you count a 4/4 measure like “1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and,” the classical musician will make the metronome click on the numbers. The problem is, we’re all soaked from the day we’re born in dance music that puts the click on the ands. (That’s when the drummer hits the hi-hat, and it’s what gives dance music its energy.) And when a pop or rock musician practices with a metronome, that’s where they will put the click — and it’s a ton easier to lock in like that.
Now, it doesn’t work with all music, and certainly not all classical music. This piece I’m working on now has a lot of 3-against-2 in it, and there’s no clearly defined backbeat as a result. But for a lot of music, especially Baroque, classical musicians should try putting the metronome an eighth note off and locking into a backbeat. We’re so surrounded by that kind of music from the day we’re born that I think locking in on the front of the beat is a kind of foreign language to us. No wonder we have such a tough time of it.
I can see this turning into a real source of interest for me. This would probably be easier on the piano, but I’d love to somehow manage it on the harp.
I think the Haendel arrangements I’ve done for piano will be very helpful to me if I do decide to go this route. I’m a little leery of being sucked into this at the moment though, since I’m currently in technique-gathering mode on the harp and can’t really afford to spend time at the piano or even writing and arranging at the harp. I can’t do that as well as I would like until I gather sufficient technique.
Between 60 and 64 beats per quarter note, that’s where I want to end up on this thing. Right now, I’m hovering around low 50s and will probably need to sit there for a little longer. But my target is low 60s.
Every now and then when you’re playing Debussy over and over (and liking it), doing the Leopold Mozart trick with yourself to inch up the metronome, you need to cleanse your palate:
It’s like the Italian trick of eating a slice of orange with a titch of olive oil and black pepper sprinkled over it between courses. It just refreshes.
And you know, I continue to be shocked at the effectiveness of the Mozart trick. I use two little ceramic dishes (which I bought in a San Diego antique store as “personal ashtrays for dinner guests,” which tells you about when they were made) and ten pennies instead of dried peas, but the way this whole trick forces me to focus is always a revelation for me.
I should just always do it, instead of doing it, having an epiphany about how great it is, stopping doing it, and then being re-shocked every few years when I haul out the ashtrays and pennies again to work over a sticky spot. Just keep doing it, woman. Hopefully, the fact that I am taking lessons and have an esteemed someone for whom I am expected to improve will help the “peas+metronome” epiphany stick for good this time.