Friday, July 11, 2014

Musical Notes

So today at breakfast, the spouse was discussing my somewhat unique family history in regard to music. All of us siblings played a musical instrument and we all took piano lessons, a true financial feat for our parents to accomplish considering that we were not a well-off farm family.  We didn't go hungry but we didn't have money for extras - however, in my parents' viewpoint, a musical education wasn't an "extra".  It was required, thus, my siblings and I are all musicians with varying degrees of skill and talent.

I am so thankful for this musical heritage.  It instilled in me a love of all kinds of music, from classical to jazz to rock, and, we attempted to pass this love and appreciation of all things musical to our children.

For myself, I enjoy playing the piano at church, but also, at home, I practice on my full-sized keyboard. One of the most favorite things I do for relaxation is play through a book of moderately skilled arrangements of Chopin's short works - preludes, mazurkas, and waltzes.  I'm also working on a piece called "Solace" by Scott Joplin - a slow-time rag featured in many movies - if you heard it, you'd know it.  I hope to play a couple of the short one page Chopin compositions for the talent night at the upcoming family reunion.  To play for my accomplished musical siblings is a big deal for me - they will know every misplaced note and every flub.  BUT, it's not about the mistakes for me.  It's about sharing something I think is beautiful with people I love, whether I play it perfectly or not.  More about that in the next blog post.

I told my spouse today that even at 61, I would almost give my left foot (because I pedal with my right) to be able to transpose as quickly and easily as musicians do.  It's a math skill - and I definitely am not math brained - whereas people like my youngest son can almost visualize the transposed notes before him on a staff and know instinctively what chord structures are needed.  If I transpose even the simplest of melodies at church, I write down chords because I cannot do it successfully without written text.  You know, my better half always has a way of bringing me to reality.  He said, at least you can HEAR the music you are creating.  Beethoven did not have that luxury, yet his genius allowed him to compose masterpieces which we appreciate today.

He's right.  I thought about Beethoven today - about the extraordinary genius which allowed him to hear full orchestral scores in his head and write those notes for instruments and chorus.  Imagine the 9th Symphony - perhaps the greatest piece ever composed, and the soaring melody of Ode to Joy, sung by choir and accompanied by orchestra - imagine that he never heard one note of this masterpiece.  Here on earth.  But I like to think that when he walked through heaven's gates, this music played by the heavenly orchestra and sung by the choir swirled around him and greeted him - in its most pure and perfect form, and for the first time, he heard it through perfect ears!  For him, it was truly an Ode to Joy!

1 comment:

bluggier said...

Transposition is an art form as well as incorporation of math and a "musical ear." It gets better with practice, to a point.
I never had formal musical training, and have learned rudimentary transposition on my own (That is, I have my own methods).
I have always wondered where I'd be if I had gone into the musical training that our parents wanted me to do.