I improvise abstract piano pieces attempting to capture my mood.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Nerve exploration in minor structure

Number 13 (12:51 8.6Mb)

I have been working on my internals and have had a few adjustments from my Kinesiologist, amongst other things in life, and have returned to this task much more connected.
I had a couple of false starts with recording this one, one technical and one due to a phone call, and in these earlier parts I was able to get some great harmonious and very expressive chord navigational sequences.

Anyway, so by the time I got to this section I was in a place ready for whatever would come and it appeared some way into this piece, with a tonal and structural workout. I felt "complete" at the end of this recording, so I guess I must have explored / expressed this vein of emotion to it's conclusion.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I play the piano, it does not play me

Number 12 (5:55 3.4Mb)

My new attitude towards trying to play what was in my head has started to come to realisation.
The treble notes I played were almost always the ones I was expecting them to be, and for the most part I was driving what would be played - I felt in control to the extent I could have hummed along to the tunes I was playing and been correct.

My fingers are seeming to know the intervals more (my brain doesn't know what the intervals are - I have no idea how many semi-tones are involved or where the octaves are, but I know where to move next) and at one point I deliberately tried to recreate several notes an octave up and got it right.

My barrier is still confidence and having the courage to move my hands like I know where they need to move to, but this has certainly been a big confidence boost. Next I need to tackle chords, but I feel that my mind will get in the way, as I do know a reasonable number of the major and minor chords. Perhaps just playing them will get me over trying to analyse what I am actually playing, although having my eyes closed helps to get my brain out of the way.

The motor skills area is also moving steadily along, but is also an aspect that will only come with time. I do notice i'm more consistent with how hard I hit the keys though.

Overall a very good session!

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Number 11 (6:23 3.6Mb)

A regression functionally, but a progression conceptually.
Although I haven't had any real interest in extreme piano playing ability before I started this project, I have come upon a few instances of people that are ridiculously good at playing, and I was astounded by them. In a video from Blue Note the guy was hitting the keys faster than I could see his hands moving, let alone his fingers, and not only did he hit them reliably and in a controlled and purposeful fashion, I realised part of the way through that he was playing with his glasses off and his eyes closed.
I think that that's given me a taste for the limitless abilities that are available and ready to be taken by people who can grasp them.

I wonder if my tactic of trying to think as fast as i'm playing is the right one, and perhaps a sort of 'baptism by fire' would be better, where I would try and play what I hear in my head at the speed which I hear it.
I suspect the results would be chaotic and haphazard at first, and I wonder what progress that would add. I feel that if the barriers really are psychological, then that may be a good way to force myself past the thinking and into the next level of understanding.

I am attempting to learn to speed read as well as a separate project, and the tactic they recommend is to just run your eyes over the page at such a rapid rate that your brain realises that known techniques aren't adequate and creates new (desired) ones. I haven't made much progress with the reading, although I haven't been very dedicated with that either.

Perhaps the answer lies in just acting beyond the boundaries and immersing myself in the experience and waiting to adapt to that state.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Number 10 (15:46 9.5Mb)

Wonderful, playful, inquisitive, spontaneous, and slightly whimsical.
I think I prepared for that one and was in the right state of mind for being a bit connected.
It's also longer, so I had a bit of time to get into the vibe, which I did feel closer to.

I wasn't quite putting down exactly what I heard, but I wasn't hearing awful or uncharacteristic things, so the playing was un-consciously more connected, even if not consciously. There were less muted notes from not hitting the keys right, and less notes that weren't how loud I wanted them, so that's coming along. I think I varied things a bit more this time, not sticking with just one key for the whole thing, and getting quite different emotions coming through.

Progress it seems.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Starting to get it

Number 9 (10:19 6.0Mb)

This session was wonderful!
I was wondering if I would need to do a session of purposefully ham-fisting the keyboard with every finger hitting multiple notes at once and sounding awful so that I could get over the fear of just hitting the notes and trusting that my fingers would be where they need to be to make nice noises, and while I didn't sit down to do that session, I certainly pushed myself a bit more and tried to open up and just hit the keys and it appeared to work, with a few sections sounding quite confident. I was tending to hit more notes in key than in previous sessions, and it was more fun too - so much fun in fact that I decided to reverse my hands in the later section, which confused the hell out of my brain, as I wasn't expecting to hear the notes that were being played!
But, fun all the same.

I think this is the first real step towards relaxing and letting things happen without me micro-managing the process with internal self-doubt and mind-chatter.
I'm really happy about this session, and looking foward to what more progress can be made :)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Stop and start

Number 8 (5:24 3.3Mb)

I am coming to realise that the state I am trying to attain is similar to meditation, where the conscious mind gets out of the way of the levels deeper, which - in this case - know how to control my fingers to play the music I feel and hear. As such I am thinking that the short format of these sessions is perhaps not the most condusive to getting access to that deeper level of knowledge, and that perhaps I need to play until my mind gets out of the way, which could be considerably longer than a few minutes.

I realise that the longer sessions would probably not be as bite-sized for listeners, however I think that longer sessions may be a key to making real progress.

I feel this session was bolder, with some better exploration of tone. I also played the more complex higher passages a bit more confidently, and thus, more accurately than previous sessions, re-inforcing to me that it's a game of confidence. In my longer sessions I will perhaps muster more courage to hit the keys faster and worry about my fingers finding the notes (and keys) a lot less.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Bitsy but better

Number 7 (9:52 5.8Mb)

That felt quite strange to play.
Some more experimenting, although I don't think I expressed myself on any deep level with this one. I've noticed i'm starting to get a sense of co-ordination between my hands and the timing of hitting notes etc, although I noticed I also appear to want to play everything in Cmajor, which is the only easy scale - but I tried to work on that.

I'm getting better at hitting the notes with the right force, and didn't get as many mute notes as last time.
I am wondering if I should do some scales in-between sessions to give my fingers some mechanical practice at knowing where the notes are and absorb a bit more of the key-note relationship into my subconscious, although I suspect it's there abundantly already.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The 'right' mood

Number 5 (7:03 4.8Mb)
Number 6 (6:29 4.4Mb)

A much better session. I felt prepared and it felt like it was the 'right' time. I felt like I opened up and interacted with what I was playing, but not in a creating sort of sense, but much more in a hit-the-notes-and-see sort of way. It was just interesting to see how the notes I played felt when heard them, and I didn't really get the sense I was in control, more like an observer.
I did feel like I was affected by the process and I had the feeling like my chest was 'full' - perhaps with emotion - so I know that I connected with it.

So I finished the first one and felt like continuing, so I made a second section with a more subdued approach with more ambience. I used the sustain pedal for the first time too, and you might hear it squeeking in the recording. The long sustain sounded like a strange resonant reverb, perhaps I should put the mic inside the top of the piano when doing this kind of playing.

My learning of the mechanics of playing a real piano are continuing and i'm getting an idea of how hard you need to hit the keys to get any sound out - many times I didn't hit a key hard enough and it damped the string instead of making sound! All interesting aspects of the instrument I guess.

People have commented that my 'music' was 'beautiful' and although people's interpretations are their own, I would imagine the second piece at least would be right up there, and it certainly felt the most delicate so far.

I now have a renewed enthusiasm for playing after this session!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Crappy poo bum

That felt horrible.
And not only was recording it awful, it also recorded a bit distorted so I don't think i'll bother uploading it.

I felt rushed, the sounds were almost the opposite of what I was intending, and I was frustrated. Actually, that's not completely true - I got enough stuff right that when I hit and missed it got to me all the more.
Playing with your eyes closed is great if you are in the zone, but I wasn't, so I hit adjacent keys without wanting to, and half hit things making weak tones that sounded hollow, or didn't sound at all.

So I guess that even though I did tend to get more right, the things that weren't right got to me more. A few chord changes worked, and I noticed my left hand has somehow learned to form the right shapes for chords and I didn't teach it that, but it was quite disappointing. I am in a quiet mood so perhaps I have a lot less dischord in me, so when it comes out because i'm not hitting the harmonious chords every time it matters more.

At least i've proven to myself that I would really like to be able to do this. I suppose that's something.

Monday, April 17, 2006

We have met the enemy - and the enemy is fear itself!

Number Three (8:34 5.1Mb)

This one kinda got away from me a bit, so it's kinda long.
I tried more chords and repeating patterns this time, and I found that I was nervous when I was about to change where my hands were, perhaps scared i wouldn't hit the right notes, although I would imagine this is a matter of just relaxing and not judging what happens. My left hand knows a lot less about piano than my right hand, so the bass parts made me more nervous. Disconnecting from the judgement and fear over what happens seems to be the next challenge in this game.
I found that closing my eyes helped - i'm a very visual person and when I look at the keyboard I noticed I was trying to visualise the chords and work out what notes would go with what, so another reason to close them I guess. The second half was with them mostly closed.