Him and his diminished chords

That guy couldn’t go ten seconds without popping in a series of diminished chords. I always call that the Joplin trick, but Chopin loved it, too. The chord progression on the B theme is:

Ab7 – Eb7 – dim – dim – Bbm – Ebm/Bbm – Ebm/Enat – FM/Ab7

That’s steeplechase territory. I’ve never had to work out pedaling like that before. I’ve barely had to work out pedaling at all. I could only do this on a lever harp by ignoring the second dim and pre-setting a lever or two. I can’t imagine how this is going to work out on a pedal harp.

I’ll give it more time, but …

… I really have a decision to make. Once again, I’m doing that little Chopin thing I arranged, and my hands don’t hurt, even a little bit.

I try to do the “conditioning” exercises, and not only can I not do them without my third finger completely collapsing, but my hands hurt after like ten repetitions. Over the back of my hand, down my arm, and in my palm. This is bullshit.

Why am I doing this to myself? Why am I measuring my ability level by a bunch of things done by people who have had their hands cut up and sewn back together because of injuries, all of whom have personal neurologists, tendon specialists, chiropractors, and surgeons because of the damaging crap they’ve done to their hands? Why am I trying to get some kind of approval or something from a world where the “right” way to operate this device plainly destroys people’s hands, and they seem okay with this?

I wasn’t hurting when I did it myself, by myself, my own way. I mean, if I play my own music, arranged by me and written by me for me to play, my hands don’t hurt. They never did. Why the fuck am I trying to force other people’s dots on myself in a way that obviously damages the hands of the people who play them for a living? Why the hell am I not sticking with my own goddamned way? I don’t play OPD on the piano. What possessed me to fall right back into them on the harp?

You know …

My hands weren’t hurting like this until I started taking lessons and getting exercises assigned to me that were supposed to do … something … I don’t know. Make my hands operate like everyone else’s. Like the hands of all of these professional harpists, most of which have been cut apart and sewn back together multiple times.

When I was arranging and playing things on my own, I had fun, learned things, and my hands didn’t hurt. They started hurting when “conditioning” exercises started being a thing for me.

I’m really angry about this. I wanted to take these lessons and not only learn how to do things in a structured way but just get the hell out of my apartment, where I mostly stay like a hermit, and maybe meet other musicians and socialize even just a tiny bit. And I like my teacher. I look forward to seeing her. She’s a really nice person — chatty, experienced, intelligent. But goddamn it, my hands hurt now. They never hurt when it was just me arranging things and learning to play them myself.

Is there a way for me to get out and meet other (amateur) musicians and socialize with them that doesn’t involve lessons, is what I’m wondering. Can I get the hell out of my own head without damaging my hands? I mean, these professional harpists all have tendonitis, nerve damage, rotator cuff damage, back pain … and yet their way is the right way? I mean, my hands never hurt like this when I was playing piano, and still don’t. Never.

There probably isn’t a way for me to do this, not that doesn’t involve folk music, which I’m forced to admit I don’t like and have no ear for. 😦 Even when I bought my “Irish” flute, I just started blowing opera out of the damned thing, and now I’m doing 12th century plainchant.

I’m a weird little freak alone in her own little world again, just like the past 51 years. I should just admit it’s a permanent state and stop trying to connect with other human beings finally.

So, that was the wrong thing to do.

I have been given a mind-numbing exercise to do, and a piece of music that is nothing but glissandi, with no melody line at all, and which is simultaneously creepy-sounding, shapeless, and ugly as hell.

I’m probably going to spend the next two weeks failing to stick with that creepy piece and instead work on my old version of the theme from Chopin’s second piano sonata in the right key or “Vaga Luna,” or something with a goddamned melody at least.

Defending myself

I’m having a little bit of worry about my next lesson, and I know why. I know it’s because I’ve found a somewhat unorthodox way (or unexpected way, or not the way I was supposed to do it) to play this part of this piece, and I feel that I’ll have to defend it. And the best way to defend it is to play it flawlessly, and I’m not good enough yet to do that.

I’m not saying that my teacher is the sort of person I have to defend myself against, but I do feel that I need to present this part of the piece in a somewhat watertight way precisely because it has a very slight whiff of the unorthodox about it.

Thumb slide extravaganza!

I must say, I’m seriously stepping up my Callus Game on this piece of music the way I’m playing it. My right thumb is going to look like a bass player’s thumb in short order, but not only is this way of playing more comfortable/less painful tendon-wise, it also sounds way better because there are fewer stopped strings due to finger placement.

And my Callus Game could use a little up-steppage anyway. My fingertips will get over their snit. If my tendons get in a snit, they could ruin my life.

I feel illegitimate, yet oddly victorious.

I’ve just worked out how to play a really challenging part of a piece of music specifically meant to work out my fourth finger — when “working out my fourth finger” translates to “feel it popping out of joint while unable to play the piece, and wake up at 3am with my middle finger throbbing like an electrified kielbasa” — without using my fourth finger at all. I greatly value thumb slides and my ability to play 1-2-3 with no triplet rhythm whatsoever, along with my inhumanly long middle finger that allows me to make over-an-octave reaches between that and my thumb.

I know I’ll never be a real harpist this way, but if a real harpist is someone who wakes up in the middle of the night with throbbing hands, then I’ll be that cheating slob who jerry-rigs her away around things.

I mean, I know every musician hates their fourth finger, but I really do have a strong suspicion that between this, the inherent weakness of the thing on the piano, and my utter misery while using the Eb key on my flute, I do have something about that tendon that’s just not going to go away or be manageable in the typical fashion. (And yes, this makes me angry.)