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.
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:
- Plain version of A theme,
- B theme,
- 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.
So, she’s really nice about it, and we’ll move forward with my Haendel arrangement, which has a lot of sticky bits in it that can be combed out. So that’ll be nice to finally have that dealt with.
And in the meantime I can also listen to the B theme and see if I can’t start to arrange that. On the lever harp, that was out of the question, and it’s going to be a challenge on the pedal.
It still really bothers me that I had to back off from that Glinka. I feel illegitimate, like I can’t do what I need to be able to do and am slinking around cheating, and have gall to suggest that if I can’t play the harp like a real harpist, who the hell am I to ask my teacher to let me play my own dots?
I won’t be able to do the B theme, but the main theme isn’t so bad. Seems to have only one lever flip in it, and (maybe) one lever that’s set from the start.
I cannot get away from Haendel. He’s like diabetes. All you can do is live with him and manage him, but once you’ve got him, you’ve got him for good.