A couple of years ago I got a case of pneumonia. NOT the rockin’ pneumonia. Just the too-tired-to-get-outta-bed-and-my-lungs-hurt pneumonia. A shot of rhythm and blues did not, alas, cure it.
But as I slowly began to recover, I spent some time at the piano. Just 10 minutes at a time, then back to bed. I still didn’t have the energy to confront emails or serious business, but I did have the energy to languidly noodle at the piano for short stretches. It was midwinter, I was really sick, and I enjoyed writing pieces that expressed the mood. I recorded these pieces on my little voice recorder, and later transcribed the ones worth keeping.
I added them to a folio of instrumental pieces that I’d been intending to record someday, a kind of follow-up to Spinning World: 13 Ways of Looking at a Waltz.
The folio sat on the shelf for a couple years while I busied myself with yet further education in “how to be a father”. The folio continued ripening on the shelf, while my first major creative act since the birth of my son turned out to be recording and releasing of “I’m Growing” (in 07-08).
Only now, this fall, has that folio of material tugged at me for attention. I opened it up, and liked many of the pieces there. It got me in a mood, and I wrote a bunch more pieces. The idea of recording a follow up to Spinning World: 13 Ways of Looking at a Waltz had seemed daunting – It’s a lot of work to score all that music for an ensemble, and it costs money to hire the musicians and rent the studio. But, I suddenly reasoned, why not just do a solo piano recording? It’s cheap – Free, even, if I record it at home on the 1927 Knabe I inherited from my grandmother.
So, I set up some mics, and settled into practicing and then recording some of the waltzes. I’m very excited, the music is, if I do say so myself, and, heck, who else is going to say so since no one else has heard it, beautiful. Was that a sentence? Never mind. I really like what I’ve written, and I like the way I play them.
My piano is a decent, solid piano. Not a gorgeous piano, but a nice, upstanding kind of piano citizen. Hearing it in a recording, as a solo instrument, I have my doubts about whether it will be good enough. I want to hear a better piano. But I’ve got an emotional attachment to it. My grandmother’s father bought it for her back in 1927, and letters from my Grandfather at the time were full of warm appreciation for his wife’s constant playing of it. At the time of my grandmother’s death, in the mid 80’s, the piano had spent 25 years in the enclosed patio in her back yard. It was a mess. I had it totally restored and refinished. All the instrumentals I’ve composed were composed on this piano. It’s a rare thing to hear music performed on the exact instrument that it was composed on. The limitations of the piano itself inspire me to play in certain registers and use certain voicings. A different instrument would inspire other music, other keys.
I may end up finding a better piano to record on. My inner jury is still out on that. But I’m really enjoying practicing and burnishing these pieces, many of which were still unfinished, and finding the structure that they call for.
I’m hoping to be able to post some of them in the coming weeks, to get feedback from my friends around the world as to which pieces move you, and why. It’ll be fun to share the music while it’s being made. A CD will come, hopefully in Spring of 09.