Monday, February 14, 2005

The Bliss of Ignorance

Woo-hoo! Wee-hee! I'm feeling alive again!

Why do I feel alive again? I'll tell you why.

I ate music for lunch. Skipped lunch and spent my lunch hour at the chapel piano downtown. Sat down to work on those pesky contrary motion scales (which are sounding quite good, by the way), but started making stuff up instead.

I was in F. I don't like F all that much. But things just started in F.

I had a pleasant little motif going, so I did a simple, run-of-the-mill progression of I-IV-ii-V-I. Easy. Simple. Boring. But pretty. Particularly since I had an oboe singing the melody in my head. That oboe sounded really nice.

OK. So then I started playing with some of my concepts I've been working on in theory. Practicing improvisation with all of these new ways of doing things. At first, I played it safe with secondary dominants ... venturing shyly into secondary dominant territory, then resolving pretty quickly back to G minor, so I could lead to a nice, definitive V-I cadence.

Then I started venturing a little further ... into the secondary dominant sevenths. And instead of resolving to the expected triad, I would resolve to a dominant seventh or a major seventh of the expected triad, which gave the music a really jazzy feel. And the oboe in my head sounded so nice.

And before I knew it, I had modulated to another key, then another, then neatly back to F ... but the resolution back to F was unexpected for some reason, so when I resumed the beginning motif in F as the resolution (it kind of dovetailed), it was just so ... magical. Like a measure had been skipped. Like I was expecting the entree but was given a yummy dessert instead. Musically, I knew what I was doing, sort of, but it just took me by surprise when I came back to the original key. It was a little ray of delight. Hee hee, that sounds kind funny, but that's how it felt.

Thing is, this compositional improvisational exploration I'm doing is so very basic, and my learning in theory and composition is so very slow. I'm kind of glad I'm not in music school right now. I don't think I could deal with anyone (other than me) saying, "Oh, those motives, those progressions, that piano style is so ... (boring? New-Agey? Andrew-Lloyd-Webber-sounding? bland? sappy? soporific? see what I'm getting at?)

Because right now I think it's important that I allow myself to play. If a progression truly is mundane and bland, then I'll tire of it soon enough. If it still excites me six months from now, after I've played it a zillion times in a zillion different ways, then I'll know that there just might be something there.

Of course, there are no mundane progressions in music. There are only mundane ... interpretations? attitudes? ???

Yup, I'm acutely aware of my ignorance. As I continue to study theory and composition, my ignorance will lessen. But for now, I'm basking in its bliss.


daisymarie said...

Bliss can be such an enjoyable state to visit!!

Your delight with the music, and the journey it took made me smile.

blessings and grace.

Terry Finley said...

I invite you to visit my blog and to study the Bible with me.

Terry Finley

Kim said...

My 10 year old son is learning his very first contrary motion scale. He insists he cannot do it, but I know he can!

It sounds like you do a lot more complicated stuff than I can do on the piano, but I know how much I enjoy it when my family goes out and I play all my favourite songs. I sing really loud, too, and my dog just sits and watches it.

Here's to solitary bliss!

Waterfall said...

daisymarie, glad you enjoyed the music update. If anything can bring me back to life when I'm going through one of my depressions, it my lifelong journey with music.

terry, I will check out your site when I get a chance.

Kim, I wish I'd been taught contrary motion scales at a younger age! I'm not sure why none of my teachers ever required me to do them (and I've been through a lot of piano teachers!). And you are right, there is nothing like being home alone and being able to play/sing to your heart's content! (I have one cat that loves to hear me play; the other one is pretty indifferent.)

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