20 September, 2009

What a difference an upgrade can make. One of the problems I've always run into with music is that my piano skills really kind of suck. I can blame all kinds of factors for that if I like. I can also go on at length about why this has an adverse affect on my composing. But, there really isn't much point. And, it all starts to sound just a little bit like externalizing blame, which I am just not into. But, there is something important to notice, and it has nothing to do with pointing at things and exclaiming how it is all those things fault.

While working on the five piano sonatinas, I really noticed how I would shy away from things that sounded dissonant as I attempted to pluck them out on the piano. These were things, by the way, that sounded just fine to my ear if played by my computer at tempo. So, there was a bit of a war between what sounded good but boring as I attempted to pluck it out on the piano at my petrifyingly slow and prodigious pace and what actually sounded good if only I could hear it.

The key being that this was something to be aware of while composing and go for the gusto as opposed to just laying blame and screaming. Still don't think it worked out that well with the five sonatinas, but there you are. Awareness of the problem rather than blame.

The other thing I tried not very successfully to remain aware of was that my accompanying line tended to the really monotonous and boring. Again, I point at my lack of piano chops for the timidity in finding interesting ways to fill out the accompaniment and harmony.

All of which is a rather roundabout way of saying that my computer was a better piano player than myself, and I needed to return to the computer and listen before throwing out anything and everything I did as crap. With one great exception.

It turned out that I was a much better pianist when it came to the second movement of the last piece I was working on. The second movement requires a lot of softness if not nuance in the accompaniment, which the computer just did not comprehend. Oh, sure, I loved how the opening sounded as I would pluck it out. Take it to the computer. Horribly ham-fisted and strident. Just drowned the melody right out.

I couldn't stand it. Drove me nuts. And, left me really rather kind of bummed. Because, I knew I couldn't play the whole movement myself, and I really didn't have a way to record it even if I could get through the more complex and sprightly sections.

So, there I was. Not really knowing what to do. Figuring I would go ahead and post the recording when I was ready and just hope that people understood that this was one instance where the computer was just too stupid to know how to interpret what I wanted. Oh, sure, there are many things the computer cannot interpret well but this was a big one. This was really, really noticeable and would make me mad when I would listen to it.

This doesn't have much to do with why I haven't gotten anywhere with the final movement. No, there are other things and limitations on my time and energy that are getting in the way there. However, it was having a major drag on any thoughts I was starting to entertain about posting the parts of this new piece I had finished.

Then, Sibelius 6 was released, and I actually thought long and hard about whether or not I would upgrade. The interest in upgrading won out, and I started listening to some of my music with the new and improved piano sound.

Which brings us back around to the middle movement of my latest creation. Sounded like crap on Sibelius 5. Sounds just awesome on Sibelius 6. Really, I heard the new playback for the first time, and I wanted to jump for joy. While it still isn't perfect, this new playback is just so much more like what the piece is supposed to sound like.

It's not going to speed up the composing of the final movement, but at least, it has made me feel better about my own music than I have felt in some time.

Now, just to go off at right angels, I am working on a new project. Not really interested in talking about it yet. Don't want to say this and this and that just to have everything blow up in my face and wind-up sounding really rather sheepish about why I didn't come through. So, things are in the works. Things that I can fit into my day between work and the recovery there from. Most of this year was just terribly, horribly busy at work for not much reward, and I am very slowly starting to recover.

So, I am hoping to get more things going simultaneously. I'm just putting more thought into not overexerting myself than getting lots of shit done at once.

And, hopefully, I will finally feel ready to point to my new project in about six weeks. Give or take. Depends on how things progress as I try not to kill myself through exhaustion between work and not work.

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