Piano experiments: “The nearness of you” (take 1)

February 3, 2010 – 2:35 pm

A few of the things I’m working on involve (1) being less nervous while I’m being recorded, and (2) playing around with music. In order to kill multiple birds with one stone, I’m recording practice sessions without worrying about whether something’s ”good” or not, and if it sounds recognizably like the song I’m trying to play and I can tolerate listening to it, up it goes.

This is sort of a “release early relase often” thing – this way I can actually get a better snapshot of how I play on a “normal” basis (not for any special event or without particular practice) and improve that. (I no longer want to play for competitions – I did that all the way through my childhood, stopped cold in 8th grade, and have no desire to have that sort of “LET’S ALL FREAK OUT ABOUT BEING PERFECT NOW!” experience again.)

So. You’ve seen a bit of guitar stuff from my “it is late and I am bored” time on the road in Raleigh last week. This afternoon, I felt like noodling around with this particular piece, “The Nearness Of You” (I’d been listening to the Norah Jones version and going “yeah, I could do that” – then found the sheet music in my aunt’s house). I simply sat down and started playing, using the music as a rough fakebook and improvising slightly from there. No practice, no warmup, just sightreading and throwing in some stuff on the fly.

I have a few false starts here – the reasonable all-the-way-through take starts at about 27 seconds in.

My analysis:

  • This is a typical Mel habit: take a nice, gentle ballad with some flowing passages, sit down, and go AHAHA! I will play it VERY FAST! It might be better if I consciously tried to slow down throughout the piece, take more care with thinking ahead of what I’m going to play instead of splaying my fingers out where they will, haphazard.
  • I don’t have the chords memorized, but it wouldn’t be difficult to do so – this is a very simple harmonic structure. That might free me up to do interesting things that aren’t page turns.
  • One thing I wouldn’t have been able to do a year ago is get past mistakes and keep going while staying on beat. It’s an old bad habit from classical piano I’ve been pushing myself past – instead of stopping cold and refingering it until the notes are exactly right, I move on with life. This means I’ve started making a lot more mistakes, yes (in the two-steps-forward-one-step-back vein) but it also means I’m better at coping with them. The sections at approximately 2:15, 2:25, and 2:37 are reasonable examples of this.
  • As is the entire ending. Which sucks (it’s a “uh… CHORDS GO HERE and um um um OCTAVE AT THE BOTTOM DONE!” sort of thing). And which I’d probably work on if I were going to work on this piece more.
  • Mechanics: I’m not unhappy with the way my hands are moving (the fingers seem reasonably economical in their articulation to me, especially since I was deliberately not paying attention to their sloppiness), but good grief my torso movement is ridiculous.
  • I don’t handle the inline page turns too badly – sightreading for the win!
  • …but really, I shouldn’t rush this much. I have this chronic inability to slow down in just about any area of my life, so… more slow ballads, more metronome. And MORE COWBELL! (just kidding.)
Know someone who'd appreciate this post?
  • Print
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Identi.ca

What do you think?