jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
[personal profile] jazzfish
I could write about work (garden-variety corporate stupidity coupled with software-industry-specific stupidity) but that would just make me irritated, so I won't.

Besides, I've been meaning to write about some music stuff for a couple of weeks now. That was the first time I've ever done any sort of formal play-by-ear. That is, my teacher picks a key and plays a few notes, and I play them back to her, and repeat.

The first time or two it was fun but exhausting. It works my brain in a way I'm not at all used to. A couple of times I could stop trying to think note-names and just *play* and it worked, which was amazing and inexplicable. And then today... today it was just fun.

And I am apparently pretty good at it, which is a great shock to me as I've always thought my ear wasn't all that hot. I can mostly tell if a note's out of tune, but not always whether it's high or low.

Then it occurred to me that this isn't the first time I've done this. In high school, on cello, I picked out the melody to "Chariots of Fire" and the bass line to "Stand By Me." So, I dunno.

Side note: I seem to have a much harder time hearing notes in voices. I don't know why that would be but it might explain some of my inability to carry a tune in a bucket.



On being a beginning music student, by [livejournal.com profile] siderea. (Who, incidentally, is brilliant, and you should all be reading her stuff, and probably throwing money at her as well.) I was mostly Xena, with a lot of Quentin mixed in.

I started playing cello in third grade. I stuck with it because, I don't know. Because it was Something I Did and I didn't know how to stop doing things, and because I had some friends who I only knew/saw because of cello. I don't think I really aspired to anything musically.

Except that my uncle Jimmy Dale (not to be confused with my uncle Jim) knew that I played cello, and one Christmas he gave me a cassette of Skylife, by the Turtle Island String Quartet. I was... as blown away as it was possible for me to be at the time, which was "kind of." I had no idea you could do that with a string quartet. I wanted to be able to do that. To play like that, popping and sliding and all.

I never said anything about it. Certainly not to my parents, but not to my teacher either. I'd moved on from the early-music violist who taught me at first, to Liz West, a bassist who ... was probably only a year or two older than my current viola teacher, now that I think of it. I suspect Ms West would have been thrilled if I'd ever said that I wanted to play like Turtle Island. But I didn't, because I was in eighth grade and miserable, and I'd been stuck in Fayettehell for five years, and I still stung from the lack of support I'd gotten when I'd said I wanted to be a writer. I'd learned better than to want anything.

And then we moved, and I went from being the second-best cellist in the district to second-worst in the school, and eventually something had to give and it was music.

When I started taking viola lessons last year I thought I was David. To some extent I still am. (With that same mix of Quentin to go with it, of course.) But I put on Skylife for my commute in to work one day last week... and I'm starting to suspect I might be an Emily as well.

Date: 2015-09-22 02:01 pm (UTC)
novel_machinist: (Default)
From: [personal profile] novel_machinist
<3 Stick with it if it's something you love. I, personally, can't wait to get my piano back.

Date: 2015-09-23 04:11 pm (UTC)
novel_machinist: (Default)
From: [personal profile] novel_machinist
I moved from a large townhouse into the city where I was in a 650 sq ft studio. My grandparents were holding my piano till I got a place large enough for it. NOW I have a lovely sun room perfect for playing.

Date: 2015-09-22 06:45 pm (UTC)
thanate: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thanate
Oh, Quentin! *giggle* That's lovely, as a compilation.

I honestly have no idea why I fixated on violin, except that my mother tells me I was running around pretending to play the violin when I was the Megatherium's age, and she wouldn't let me start until it was offered in school because I couldn't carry a tune in a bucket. Turns out after a year or two of fingering on the tape stripes, I learned a sense of pitch. (though I agree that voice is a noticeably different sort of tone to strings, & I have trouble hearing the low strings on guitar to tune them.) I checked out of classical violin post-Paganini, as that kind of virtuoso is neither my thing nor my skill level, and continue to be vaguely frustrated by not having a good group to play music with. (violin or voice or some earlier violin form (gamba, rebbec, not that I have either); standard classical, early european, celtic/celtoid, dance hall... less than half an hour drive to rehearsals at a time that grauwulf is around to babysit. So picky.)

I remain utterly confused by those piano people who can think in multiple notes at a time.

I'm also kind of fascinated by watching the Megatherium, who's taken up reciting things I sing to her without the music, and fusses when I use the wrong words, but not when I change up a tune. But she also produces reasonably melodic noises when we bring out the keyboard for her to bang on. OTOH, everyone she's seen sing in person besides me & her grandma uses that "I can't sing" grown-up drone that's far too low for toddler voices. I have taken to singing a fifth or an octave up at library programs, because argh.

Date: 2015-09-22 02:05 pm (UTC)
reedrover: (Foober)
From: [personal profile] reedrover
I'd learned better than to want anything.

Wow. My mood this morning is such that this hit really hard. I'm so terribly sorry for you.

Date: 2015-09-23 04:02 pm (UTC)
reedrover: (Chuck marathon)
From: [personal profile] reedrover
I understand, I think. An ability to want that is atrophied is a hard thing to contemplate. I picture the hierarchy of needs with the top chopped off. It's a stable plateau, but a really boring one.

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Adventures in Mamboland

"Jazz Fish, a saxophone playing wanderer, finds himself in Mamboland at a critical phase in his life." --Howie Green, on his book Jazz Fish Zen

Yeah. That sounds about right.

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