Music-Learning Notes (Classical Guitar) 14/09/2020

*blinks sleepily at the world*

I should be in bed because I am super, SUPER sleepy but I have a second load of washing still in the washing machine. Should be entering the spin cycle soon, so I might as well update this blog. The irony is that I have been practising so much, I haven’t really had the brain space or energy to kind of think of posting here. There’s also the fact that this week, instead of posting my plan of work here, I sent the whole thing to my poor teacher to see what he might want to look at. I don’t think it is maybe a wise thing to do every fortnight because teachers need respite from pesky students, but once in a while, maybe a good idea to see what areas should be looked at.

A bullet list of things done since my last post.

  • My re-fingering of Dowland Preludium with leonardo da capo (yes, my capo has a name now, obviously we are in a fraught threesome with Raoul, my poor boy) was an utter disaster. My teacher was very kind but it was kind of obvious that he was kind of shocked by what I did? But! Silver lining, I now know how to play the Preludium with leonardo da capo and it sounds so sweet with proper lute tuning. Woot! Also, I can do that stretch! Well, not completely but I can do it! So yay.
  • Guzman’s Dedicatoria. Getting warmer, working on interpretation but I did a live earlier (no one ever goes to my live sessions, thank God since I am utter shite) and all the sour/wrong notes happened because of performance stress. But at least not as bad as the last time.
  • Started working again on Ryan’s Memories of Summer since I’m playing that for class next.
  • Prelude! Finally reached the sweet spot where I’ve actually now memorized mostly the last few problematic bars of Disler’s transcription. Somehow wound up playing it for teacher who had some good suggestions. Was utterly hair-raising because it’s the first time I’ve played the piece in its entirety to another human being (teacher #3 stopped me during the first few bars and okay that was in February and my playing was even more bloody awful then). And it wasn’t great but I got to the finish line. And it’s a point in current teacher’s favour that I actually feel okay playing this for him. Anyway. Now I’m to play the Prelude in smol chunks every week and since I am fairly confident (although my actual playing leaves much to be desired) with the Disler, I decided to “graduate” to the Duarte transcription. Prima facie it doesn’t seem to be very different from the Disler transcription, almost as though Disler was a simplified version of Duarte. I can see some complicated bars. I think I am going to work on 6-8 bars per week until it gets smooth. But since I have been working on the Disler transcription for months (and my teacher seems to think it’s okay), I’m still going to default to it for my full-length playing sessions. But work on the Duarte version for the daily smol chunks. Sounds like a good plan, I think. Even if my gut reaction when it was suggested was of utter distress because playing the whole thing in the morning is like, everything for me right now.
  • Composing: All my compositions from the 90s and during my PhD years have been coming back to me in the form of earworms so this weekend I spent some time re-arranging “Against the Forge”, my Wayland the Smith song (there’s a story in the poem I wrote for this song ages ago but I’ve decided to do a fully instrumental version. I’d call it classical but there’s some flamenco style strumming in it and some rock chords. I can just feel all the purist classical guitar uncles shrinking in horror at the thought. Mwa. Hahahaha.).
  • Reacquainting myself with old mainstays: I seem to have forgotten to play a lot of the ones I used to be very confident about and when I tried to play them “live” earlier, ack! So. I think a chunk of my practice sessions for the coming fortnight should be fixing that. Introduce some randomness and variation. More of that. And I’ll use the “live” sessions to test my repertoire and gain confidence. Even if no one shows up, the stress that someone MIGHT show up adds to the pressure but I kind of need that. I’m preparing myself for exams and that’s the only way, man.
  • I also want to do some strumming of folk/rock tunes. Particularly Joni Mitchell, Wolf Parade and Bonnie Light Horsemen songs.

I also want to post what I articulated on twitter earlier re what the Preludes mean to me:

Thinking about what people call the “ecstatic” tone of the BWV1007 Prelude. I always felt it was deeper than joy. It’s the…joy of someone who has been somewhere very painful and has emerged into a lighted pathway and the sun hits her/his face and they are transformed by it. I think that is why the Prelude brings so much comfort and deep succor for those of us with the compulsion to always play it. The Prelude is medicine. It’s “I’ve been in this dark place and it marked me, it changed me but I am undefeated by it and now I walk in these light-shimmered woods and everything is beautiful, I rejoice, oh how I rejoice, come listen to how I rejoice in life and all that has been returned to me!”

Because there’s a primal struggle of opposites in this piece, that tension between the lilting upper melody and the pedal point and then the thrilling concordance/discordance of melody/harmony towards the last lap, and then the final barre that tells you, “hello, you are here.”

That’s about it. I think my laundry is done. I hang clothes, then I sleep. Gonna be a super stressful and busy week.