I haven’t been posting as much as I’d like before I’ve been totally I buried between the two sides of a pair of headphones. At last I have a final mix for one of the pieces on my CD/iTunes/Spotify/etc project. I think I’m going to post the whole thing on Youtube with videos but, we’ll see.
Meanwhile, here is There is something.
It has a companion piece called There is nothing. I’ll be posting a final mix of that soon.
As regards, There is something: it’ll sound best through headphones or speakers, for sure. But, one of the ways I know I’ve gotten it to final-mix status is when I play it my iPad speakers, well, there is something.
And what’s in There is something? That question has to do what I’m trying to figure out as a name for the the whole collection of pieces. All might end up under the umbrella of New Works for Electric Things, iPads, and Pianos. Or maybe this is the time for more whimsy: Gizmos and gadgets.
Meanwhile, I’m returning soon enough to America. As a rule, I avoid politics on this blog, so I can’t say, really, that it’s a question of leaving the confusion of Brexit for the madness of King Trump. Not to mention that not there are many who support or or the other or both. It’s just the way it is.
It turns out that shipping a piano from the UK to Maine—my piano, that is—is straightforward if one is familiar with the process. So learning about that process and how’ll work for me is something that’s also been occupying my time. One of the things I’ve learned is there are only two remaining elephant species, which are Indian and the African elephants.
That might seem like it has nothing to do with anything except the tops of the keys on my piano have mammoth ivory, which in contrast to Indian and African elephant ivory, is legal to import and export to most places in the world. Somehow, New Jersey and New York are two of the four places where mammoth ivory can’t be legally imported. I don’t yet know if that’ll have any bearing on getting my piano back to the US.
Teaching and piano lessons
The interesting part of continuing to teach—and I love working with with my students, although I prefer to say learners rather than students—is we’ll all mostly be able to continue to work together. Because most of my teaching is over Skype, That said, I’ve found a new video platform called Zoom. It looks promising.
Fun and a C major scale
Let’s say you want to learn how to improvise at the piano. One exercise I’ve found, which doesn’t have to be an exercise, and, in fact, it can be whatever we transform it into to, is simply using the first five notes of a C major scale to make melodies. Depending on your point of view, that’s either ridiculously easy, impossible, or unhelpful.
But, take those first five notes— C, D, E, F, G—take the liberty of surrounding them with B (below the C and A above the G) and there it is: An entire C major scale. Now, how do we make melodies from that?
That is the question and there are a lot of answers. I’ve found that most of them, the answers, reveal themselves when we sit at the piano and see what happens when we use those notes. It’s a break-on-through-to-the-other-side, kind of thing.
A slightly different way of saying that is it’s not easy to make a melody rather than a string of notes. But we have all the melodies in the world for which we can draw inspiration—everything from Leonard Cohen to Leonard Bernstein and a million other sources. If nothing else, the lyrics for Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah are a manual in how to use a scale to make a melody.
Comments welcome and where to find help.
If you have anything to say about There is something I’d love to hear it. Leave a comment or send an email. If you want to know more about making melodies from C major scales, just ask.
Or look at the first few measures in any piece by Bach. As long as there are no extra accidentals in whatever it is you’re looking at then there’s a hint and some knowledge right there.