Friday, January 7, 2005

The World is Opening Up

I wonder, does this feeling ever get old? I swear, each time I learn a new concept in music theory, I become ga-ga over it. I play it over and over again, in different keys. I call my mom and say, "Listen to this! Isn't this cool?"

So last night I reviewed augmented sixths and secondary diminished sevenths. Did a few written exercises, but I mostly just messed with progressions on the piano. I throw my hands at the keyboard and think, "um ... F major." And start improvising in F major so that the sound of the key is established in my short-term memory. "Now ... what will it sound like when I go from here to a vi to a V/ii to a ii to a vii°7/V to a V7 to a I? OK. That sounds good. Now do that again. And again, changing around the inversions. Improvise on it just to see what happens. Oops, missed a note ... but that didn't sound so bad. Augment the sixth this next time around. Ah, nice. Now play something similar in ... C# minor!"

It hurts my brain to switch keys like that, but I do it anyway. I'm trying to develop a knee-jerk sense of playing harmonic progressions without worrying so much about what key I'm in. I'm pretty good at it as long as I stick to the diatonic stuff, but when I start messing with anything chromatic, it gets sticky. All of this is still so new to me.

During one of my few and far-between forays into piano study after college, I would put on jazz CDs, open the New Real Book, and practice improvising with whatever was playing. Now, I had a clavinova at the time and made sure the sound was down, way down. Because it sounded horrible. But there was definitely some improvement. And my Pretend Jazz Band didn't seem to mind my mistakes.

Yes, I am rambling. I'm just very, very excited. I was kind of depressed when I headed to the piano last night (how can one not get depressed after watching even ten minutes of the news?), so I didn't expect a very good "session." But, two hours later, I'd been transformed into my familiar manic, overwhelmedly joyful silly girl of a self. George often has that effect on me. (The link is to a picture of a piano that looks a little bit like George; not George himself.)

There is just this wonderful sense of possibility. Concepts in music theory really are like magic spells for a composer wanna-be like me.

1 comment:

Emrah said...

It sounds like you are just about to dive into a deep deep ocean. :-) Music analysis is great fun. Enjoy!