I wish I could say that one morning I woke up and decided, gee I’ve never written a sonata before, let’s go and write one… In reality, my need to brush up on my harmony theory in order to help out a student is what got the creative juices flowing.
Today I was feeling kinda down so I thought I’d pour my feelings into some composition. I wrote this little lament. It turned out to be a little study in counterpoint. Although I’m getting more confident in my harmony skills, counterpoint is another ballgame, one which I plan on addressing after I’m finished working through all the RCM books. Nonetheless, it was fun to use this opportunity to try writing another piece. It’s written in four voices and I keep repeating the 8 measure ditty layering one voice at a time.
My experiments in the realm of harmony continue. Currently I’m about half way through the RCM 10 Harmony book at we’ve just finished the passage on V9s and 13s. To me these chords immediately make me recall Chopin, as if they were his musical fingerprint. I thought I’d take another stab at composing something simple. My tendency is often to begin with simple intentions but end up with a piece 10 pages long and hard for anyone to play. This time I restricted myself to 16 measures. I thought I’d try to write another minuet, this time in the minor mode but by the time I tried it out at the keyboard I realized it was much more like a waltz. I almost achieved my first goal as it ended up being 21 measures. It turned out a tad more difficult than I wanted it to be but oh well. I’d say it’s more like grade 3 or probably 4 RCM. Still, I’m happy with the result. It reminds me a bit of Chopin combined with some Danny Elfman. What does it remind you of?
I’ve been working my way through the RCM Harmony books. Much of the information is review but some of it is also new; I never had this amount of time to study theory in depth when I was a busy undergrad many years ago. After all this theory I thought why not try and apply it? So I sketched up this little minuet and was pleased with myself for composing something that at least resembles one of the many minuets I’ve heard or played throughout my life written by those old dead white guys.
Who hasn’t been impressed by someone who can sit down, open up a book of music at any spot, and start playing as if they’d been practising it for weeks?
Sight reading is the ability to read music at first sight. That’s right, music you’ve never seen or heard before.
Practicing piano doesn’t always mean sitting down and playing the piano.
Image: Mon Shop Vintage
Musicians don’t always come from musical families. My uncle Leif, on my mother’s side, was a trained baritone, guitarist, and music teacher, so I knew the music gene was in there somewhere. But my parents were not trained musicians, though they liked listening to Elvis, John Denver, and the 3 Tenors, and my mother did enjoy singing and playing the autoharp.
This fact didn’t hinder my dad, when they met with a new piano teacher who wanted to know more about the parents.
Something that I don’t mention in my personal bio is my experience with my first piano teacher.
When I was 5 my parents enrolled me in a local music school which they had thought was an extension of the Royal Conservatory of Music. Though the name was similar it was everything but, as we discovered over the next couple of years.