Friday, October 15, 2004

Good Morning, World

I slept in this morning. Translation: I got up at 5:30 a.m. instead of 5:00. Just couldn't wake up. I'm finding a connection between wine and waking up. Dan and I usually have a glass of merlot with dinner, on the nights that we're both home and have a real dinner ... that's about three nights a week. The mornings after I have that glass of wine, I simply cannot wake up. If I have no wine the night before, then I have no problem waking up the next morning. So, it looks like wine-with-dinner is going to have to become a weekend thing only. I need my quiet time in the mornings, and I need to be alert for them!

This morning I wrote "Morning Pages" and did music theory homework. Music theory is both frustrating and exhilirating. I love it, but it makes me want to beat my head against the wall, in hopes that random brilliant solutions to knotty harmony problems will magically trickle out of my ear. I am still very much a beginner in this world of music theory and composition, and part of the difficulty is that I, a life-long piano player who has dabbled quite a bit in jazz theory, am still in the beginning stages of learning and writing functional harmony. It's kind of like wanting to write a grown-up novel using using only a first-grade vocabulary. It leaves you feeling limited when you get ideas that require more complex words for expression. I'll be working on the harmony progressions on the piano and come up with some great sounds, but the exercises I'm doing require that I don't use seventh chords or non-chord tones (NCTs) yet. I want to learn to write well in this elementary phase. If I can do that, then I think I'll have a good foundation on which to build when I move on to the sevenths, NCTs, and beyond.

Now, I learned a lot of this stuff when I took Music Theory in college 14 years ago. But I struggled and fought my whole way through the course. I wasn't interested in music theory. I just wanted to play pretty music. Music theory was like math. It hurt my brain. Things have changed now.

Oh, it still hurts my brain, but it hurts it in the same way that weight-lifting or aerobic exercise "hurts." It might make you sore or tired. It might push you to your current limits, which isn't always comfortable. But it also strengthens you and makes you more capable of reaching greater heights in your endeavors. And that, my friends, is when real satisfaction comes. So I'm enduring the brain cramps that come about when trying to figure out if I should move to a IV chord or a ii chord in the first inversion--or if I should just bang out I-V-I-V-I-ii-V-I because I'm feeling lazy. Once I've learned to implement these basic concepts, they'll start to come more naturally to me. And I can move on.

I'm so glad I'm grown up. When I was younger, I would get frustrated if I couldn't be "good at" something within the first few minutes of trying it. So I'd quit and move on to something else. I am in such a better place now. Glad I'm still young and healthy enough to enjoy it.

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