Today felt like a bit of a musically-oriented day, so I ran with it. I hadn't had time to sit down and practice much this past week, I saw Emilie Autumn play on Thursday, and the mood was just striking me.
Emilie Autumn, live or recorded, is a wonderful thing, by the way. The performance was mostly Emilie and her Bloody Crumpets singing atop pre-recorded backing tracks. Except for some lovely harpsichord parts and violin playing. But you hear her baring her soul in an astonishingly personal and intimate fashion in the recorded music... and then hearing her play it live was even more intense.
If you've ever seen [title of show], there's a song about being nine people's favorite thing instead of a hundred people's ninth favorite thing. And Emilie Autumn has had a lot of success being nine people's favorite thing, who tell nine people so she's eighteen people's favorite thing... and so on. I'm a fan because my friend Emily mentioned it offhandedly and I got curious and listened to a track.
I think, when I'm a bit more back into the land of musical proficiency, I'd consider it a success if I am able to effectively bare one tenth or one thousandth the soul that she does. Just once.
First item of focused practice: Jazz Improvisation by David Baker. I'd found it based on the amazon reviews and decided it was reasonably priced. And rock-guitar-centric thinking paired with too many years of sheet-music-centric piano lessons bugs me, whereas playing fairly jazzy keyboards does appeal to me, so I figured I'd start there.
I'd been vaguely thinking that it was piano-oriented, but it's actually a general multi-instrument text, but there's enough piano content in there that I don't want to toss it.
I'm in Chapter II: Foundation Exercises for the Jazz Player. On the first page. Where it tells you to play scales and chord patterns moving around the key circle in perfect forths. And after two sessions where I'd figure out where the sharps and flats are, play the scales up and down a few times, and then noodle a bit, I'm starting to make sense out of that. It's forcing me to learn the patterns of the keyboard as you add flats one-by-one and then taking them away. This is basic keyboard-oriented musical notation handling and is something I'd never been forced to do.
I've also been working on learning the Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata (Op. 27, No. 2), because it's one of the classic piano tunes in the repertoire... and for good reasons. My thinking is that I need to learn hand usage and be forced to use my fingers in ways that I wouldn't do if I'm just jamming and noodling around. I'll work for a bit on it, try to get a little farther than before, and then do something else. I started switching to where I play one hand at a time in lieu of trying to play it slowly. Because, allegedly, (based on a fast skimming of Fundamentals Of Piano Practice) it's better to play one-handed at speed instead of trying to play both hands slowly.
But that part is going slowly.
I've been putting off dedicated guitar practice because I need to re-string the guitar. I love the sound of fresh happy new strings. I hate the sound of dead strings. It's been at least six months since I changed them. I can afford new strings on a regular basis. It's just that it takes a while to re-string the beast because it's got a locking Floyd Rose.
For my bass guitar practice, I've been working on translating the Bach's Suite No. 1 in G major (BWV 1007) Prelude to the bass guitar. And, just to go to show how much more of a guitarist I am than a keyboardist, I've only spent a few hours on it and most of the time was spent figuring out GNU LilyPond and how I was going to finger the notes and I'm already farther on that than I am on the Moonlight Sonata.
*sigh*. I used to be really good at playing sheet music on the piano. Like, there's a giant chunk of muscle memory that came from playing a lot of piano when I was in early grade school. So my fingers and hands and arms move the way I want them to and my pinky is not afraid to reach up an octave or more to grab a note. But there's a bit of connectedness where I don't always remember what notes are where and stuff.
On the other hand, Suite No. 1 Prelude is an amazing bass guitar workout. Especially when you consider how uninspired a lot of rock guitar bass parts end up being. I've transposed it downwards to B major to fit better within the range of the instrument. And it sounds absolutely amazing on the electric bass in the sort of way that's completely unlike how it sounds on the cello.