Friday, January 23, 2009

The Spin Cycle: You know what I haven't done in a long time?

I was going to write this anyway. But it fits, so I'm totally using it as this week's submission for The Spin Cycle.

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I haven't written a song in a really long time. Looking for coping mechanisms yesterday, I was reminded by my friend Liz that there are many possible outlets. I'm just not using them. Not surprisingly, my usual coping mechanism has always been music, but I'd temporarily benched it. Not sure why. And so my piano has sat in my living room for some time, untouched and gathering dust. This just won't do.


There's my baby. Isn't she pretty? She's a refinished early 20th century Heintzman, with original ivory keys and a nice rich sound.

She is not the piano I learned on, which was a family heirloom piece from the late 19th century that had belonged to my grandfather. A beautiful instrument in its day, Grandpa's piano was much worse for wear by the end of its life. It lived in my parents' basement. Originally purchased at a fire sale, Grandpa's piano had survived the fire, excessive moisture, childhood vandalism, and many DIY refinishing attempts. The ivories had burnt off and been replaced with plastic keys. Many original parts were missing. Pieces no longer fit together. The soundboard had been replaced with mahogany plywood, which was warping. The veneering was peeling off. Finally, when the sewers backed up in the basement and flood waters warped her beyond reason, she was pronounced unplayable. The expense to restore her would have been vast, and her inner workings were deemed unworthy. So she needed to be replaced. And that's how I came to have my Heintzman. Newer than Grandpa's piano and lacking the curved sides, she is nonetheless more playable. I'm pretty happy with her, though I miss the sentimentality of my old girl.

I'd be happier, though, if I could ever find time to play.

Between school, hubby, and the kids, days get pretty full pretty fast. The basement isn't finished yet, though that is in the works; until it's done, though, TV and piano are in the same room, which isn't conducive to music making. And N is a light sleeper, so I can't play unless he's awake; don't wake the baby, or he'll scream like pure evil. Have you ever tried sitting down for a musical interlude and/or to get some work done when the baby's awake? You see my dilemma, then!

But yesterday, I finally got some time in. I dusted her off, pulled J's toys out from under the bench (sigh), and sat down to play. Nothing got written down, but I managed to work out a general chord progression, basic melody, pounded out a few riffs, and just generally noodled around a lot. Form and structure are not in place yet. But I'm liking where it's going thus far. Seems I've developed a taste for resolved dissonance, where I used to lean toward mundanely melodic. Now, I like switching up timing, key, and tossing in avoid notes to spice things up; whatever I can get away with. Improvising around my instrument and getting all of my emotions out through my hands onto the keys was a really good feeling. I've missed it too much.

Still more work to do. But in time, I think a new song will likely be formed from the basic progression of yesterday's work. I wish I knew what it would be about. Lyrics are always a surprise for me; music comes first, and then the words follow when the time is right.

Today, I resolve to spend more time with my piano. She deserves to be played. And I deserve to play her. If I don't play, I get burnt out, and then I'm no good for anything. Bad musician!

10 comments:

Michelle said...

I hope you post the finished composition... she's a beautiful piano. I'm glad she's being used. I can't wait to hear the results!

bernthis said...

My dream has always been to play the piano. I have one. I took lessons for 5 years then the ex took all my cash in the divorce and the lessons had to go. I would love to hear what you end up writing. Really, I would.

Sprite's Keeper said...

The piano is gorgeous! I've always wanted to learn how to play, but my fingers and my brain can't seem to stay in sync. John has an ear and can play songs in minutes without a score. I'm very jealous of that. I hope you finish it and I would love to hear that! You're linked! (And I love the way you Spin this one!)

♥georgie♥ said...

OMGosh that piano is beautiful....i so wish i was musically inclined

Captain Dumbass said...

She's beautiful, MT, get to it.

Anonymous said...

I wrote a lot of music in high school. I miss it! Someday soon I'll have time again....

Wyrd's Little sister said...

Beautiful piano!

I always wished I could play piano, but one never fitted in our house and I played woodwind instead.

Music can be a great way of dealing with things. And surely so much more constructive than other ways may turn out!

Twenty Four At Heart said...

What a beautiful piano!!

Krystal said...

now lady, it is time you sit down and get to it - you know you will love it afterwards!

Shangrila said...

So impressed that you not only play, but compose as well! I second the request to hear your music when it comes together. It's so important to hold onto the things you love, even when you're crazy busy, and I think the hardest thing to do, isn't it? I hope you continue to make time for yourself and your music. :)