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Results from practicing, March 2012

So... a little over a month ago, I was at a friend's place, and was vaguely asked to play a song for people. And I vaguely responded with a line about being at a weird transitory period of my playing and being without a song to play for people.

Allegedly, you need to practice every day. Which I don't totally have time for. So I make accommodations. And I've been consistently playing my instruments again... although mostly piano because that's the instrument I feel most unable to play at the moment.

I'm pretty sure that the first step to learning the scales on the piano must necessarily be doing them, starting from the white keys and going through the circle of fifths in either direction. If you go backwards -- up by fourths -- what happens is that you have to add one flat with each fourth you go up, until you run out of flats to add and start to take flats away. If you go in the other direction, you add sharps until you run out of sharps to add and start to take the sharps away.

I was worried that this would take forever to get right... but thankfully, it looks like once you start to understand where the keys are with respect to each other, it gets easier. Because I'm pretty good at doing the scales up by fourths, so I went up the scales chromatically and it wasn't that bad at all.

Honestly, I'm actually frustrated about every single piano teacher I've ever had for not making me do this.

Thing is, once I've 'found' where the scale is, everything pretty much falls into place, either driven by knowing chord theory and thus how to construct chords, or derived from my existing guitar skills in terms of being able to construct potential melody lines from the notes of the scale. Well, the guitar part works until I realize that I can't bend notes on a piano the way I can on the guitar.

This does present a new multifacted problem, which is what makes Moonlight Sonata a challenge. Hand coordination. See, a distorted guitar makes it extremely hard to play more than two notes. Because you otherwise end up with the overtones that distortion generates adding clashy notes and turning your C major into a C13th chord.. and not even one that's nicely inverted so as to not sound weird. Thus, guitar-centric rock music tends to rely solely on lockstep coordination between the left and right hands. Whereas piano music tends to play lead and rythm both at the same time. Which tends to mean that I focus on one hand and not the other. I also experience this while playing drums.

On the other hand, I know I was able to do it once, so I figure it's just a matter of practice now. I'm getting a bit better, but I'm still finding it hard to play where both hands are playing at a different rhythm.

I figured I'd ought to record how my playing sounds in a relatively un-polished form. So I recorded this:

3x12 bar blues practice by wirehead

I also ended up somewhat accidentally writing this:

Countryside ride jam by wirehead