Thoughts and Updates on Repertoire |
Wednesday, April 10, 2019
I've been working on or refining the K. 281, 284 and 310 pieces, among others but as mains. It's been fun re-learning these and who knows, perhaps I'll be inspired to record / upload one or some of them. For sure, K. 511 piano solo piece is about ready to record / upload - most likely after some Beethoven Sonata movements.
Music is something to be shared by all, not always for competition. It's good to have a competitive spirit, but everyone (one would hope heh) can bring a unique perspective or interpretation to a piece or song (as long as you have a fundamental understanding or mastered the fundamentals / music first - that should be minimal). It can be on a social media platform such as instagram, or a personal site. If you have a career in music, all the more opportunities and avenues to share them.
The melodies to "Promise of the World" from Howl's Music Castle and the Chocobo them from Final Fantasy are also worthwhile and enjoyable.
Sunday, December 16, 2018 |
This year has been mainly about refining or re-polishing some previous repertoire, as well as adding some new ones (Studio Ghibli). I felt accomplished in that sense, but there's still more to learn, grow and to be creative about things. Coming up with, and recording more medleys, for example. It never happened, but that kind of project would take awhile. The idea of becoming the "Classical Medley" guy crossed my mind, but there has not been much development with that - so far, only two brief ones.
For next year, I feel that I'll have to get some Beethoven to record and upload (one movement per video). There's only that medley video on it, and I've been practicing and playing quite a few full Sonatas the past few months. Also, Schubert's four Imprompu's. After refining and getting into the Sonatas, other melodies feel less inspiring. But I'm sure I'll get back into it. A repertoire would never be complete without Schubert.
I'll decide on a few Sonatas, and might mentioned them here. Or just as a surprise. And as usual, finding an inspiring piece or two that would be quick to learn or memorize (if at all). The next uploads for now:
Mendelssohn, Song Without Words Op. 102 No. 3
J. Hisaishi, Merry-Go-Round of Life, Howl's Moving Castle
I feel that I've reached a certain level where I can naturally feel or know the music without trying too hard or overthinking (other than sight-reading - always could do that). Of course, it doesn't end there. It's always a learning and growing experience to become even more refined and find ways to improve even more. A lot of it has to do with finger and hand strengthening, as well as better focus and concentration. And of course, being passionate about it. I didn't have that earlier in my life, and I let my emotions take over - too much of it is never a good thing and can make playing messy and incompehensible. The next step is to figure out how to relax more. I still suffer from anxiety, and relaxation is important to either playing or performing. Nerves can affect everyone, but some can deal with it calmly or it can overwhelm someone.
Saturday, November 10, 2018 |
Now I'm at a crossroads in terms of decisions. I have some Beethoven Sonata movements ready, but they are not entirely memorized if at all. It's about time to record and upload a new one, but if I have to use the sheet music - I'll have to be careful about the page turning so as not to cause a pause or a stop in the music. It always has to be a seamless transition with fluidity and smoothness. I don't want to spend money on a tablet. Perhaps one movement at a time, but for now - there are no plans until I can figure it out.
The "Waldstein" is certainly a challenging Sonata. They all are, but some more so than others.
It's always nice to go back to Studio Ghibli music - there are still two left I'd like to record and upload. "Waltz of Chihiro" from "Spirited Away" - a piano arrangement of the orchestral score and "On a Clear Day" from "Kiki's Delivery Service" which is also Waltz-like.
Saturday, October 20, 2018 |
After some thought, I might record a few Schumann pieces for now. Currently, the repertoire I've been practicing is this:
F. Liszt - "Danse Macabre"
F. Mendelssohn - "Scherzo a Capriccio"
F. Mendelssohn - "Rondo Capricioso"
L.v. Beethoven - Select Piano Sonatas
W.A. Mozart - K.511
And other pieces here and there. In any endeavor, you have to have a passion for it. Eventually, it should become instinctual and you let the music flow naturally from within. You can teach what's written on paper, but you can't teach passion or talent.
I read that Mendelssohn was a meticulous composer, yet he just brushed off the "Songs without Words" pieces as trivial. Although a lot of the melodies or melodic structures have that familiarity with other composers, they are still standalone pieces worthy of playing or performing. In that sense, we should take ownership in that regard nonetheless, and play them as something meaningful.
Friday, September 07, 2018 |
The next recordings planned:
Yuji Nomi - Hilly Town, "Whisper of the Heart" - Studio Ghibli
F. Mendelssohn - Song Without Words Op. 19 No. 3
F. Mendelssohn - Song Without Words Op. 30 No. 1
F. Mendelssohn - Song Without Words Op. 62 No. 6
The program is subject to change, but I'm planning to stick with it for now. I wasn't sure who the composer was for "Whisper of the Heart", but apparently it isn't Hisaishi. I don't know who Yuji Nomi is, but I had to look it up to find out. The music in Studio Ghibli films are melodic anyway - so I thought, perhaps just one more.
Sunday, August 26, 2018 |
I thought about putting together a medley of Hisaishi pieces, but then decided to just record them separate. The next pieces:
"The Tale of Ashitaka" Prncss. Mononoke
"Ashitaka & San" Prncss. Mononoke
Ending theme from "My Neighbor Totoro"
The Bygone Days, "Porco Rosso"
K. 511. I've been working on this, and it's something I do want to record and upload. It's a seldom known piece, and I'm sure a seldom played or performed piece (if at all). Also, one of the more interesting melodies in A minor - who else can create beauty out of dissonance. I could devote time to memorizing this, but most likely I'll use the score - which means, I'll have to be careful with the page-turning. Otherwise, I probably shouldn't record this. Same with Beethoven - I feel I have several movements ready. But they are long pieces - so either memorize it, or figure out another way. Perhaps I should I get a tablet for the sheet music in the future. But rather not spend any money just for that.
Tuesday, July 31, 2018 |
As a warmup, I'll usually do some major and minor scale runs. Not a whole lot, but just enough. And then I'll dive into the pieces. My practice regimen or session consists of varying pieces from several composers. No particular theme, but based on mood and emotional state of being. It's important to really be into it to let the music flow. Let it come to you. My most recent regimen, from start to finish:
1. Pieces from Studio Ghibli / Miyazaki anime - composed by Hisaishi
2. Mendelssohn or Chopin
3. Beethoven - few Piano Sonatas
4. Mozart - solo pieces; some random piano Sonatas (K.310, 311, etc).
I do not recommmend practicing too many pieces, unless you are absolutely into them. For performance or recording purposes, focus just on pieces that are intended for them. For me, I put a bit more attention to pieces that I'm preparing to record - such as the Mendelssohn and Hisaishi pieces for now. And then, work on others as the ending pieces for the session. I like to have that kind of structure.
I'll change the repertoire to another set of composers and pieces (Liszt, Bach, etc). As for the amount of time practicing, it varies from person to person. For me, practicing or playing every now and then (not everyday) keeps things fresh and I feel more energized. That is not to say that I wouldn't enjoying playing it everyday - far from it. Also, being into the music is really important for awareness and being able to pay attention to what's written on the score. Often time, rushing a piece when you are first learning something often leads to overlooking a lot of things such as proper rhythm, accentuations, dynamics, etc. Know what you are passionate about!
I now believe that if you grow up in a family with parents who have no foundation or passion for classical music, the support or enthusiasm obviously is not going to be there. For sure, I did not show much enthusiasm when I was younger. But that is another blog for another day.
Sunday, June 24, 2018 |
It's been awhile since I played some Schubert and Schumann - Impromptus Op. 10 and Kinderszcenen respectively. No. 1. - had to get the rust out and need to re-familiarize with the triplets in the left hand. Triplets can be difficult to play, as there can be a tendency to play them too fast or quick. But you have to go with the actual tempo of the piece, on top of triplets being quick to begin with. No. 2 - an old favorite. No. 3 - old favorite as well No. 4 - I did not play the right hand clearly enough (especially the repeating note), although the melody is in the left.
Some more Studio Ghibli pieces from "Kiki's Delivery Service", "Laputa", and "My Neighbor Totoro". In addition to the other familiar ones. This time, with more expressiveness and at the proper tempo.
Let the music come to you. Once the fundamentals are mastered and the sheet music thoroughly familiar, the interpretation and other expressive elements are the next step. If it comes or flows naturally, then it'll become intuitive. But learning a piece always involves learning the notes and other notations first. Learning fast requires a decent to good sight-reading skillset. Also, patience and discipline. If you are not into a piece or not in the mood, it is certainly not going to work. Listening to or collaborating with other musicians definitely helps or can even develop the skillset even quicker.
Sunday, June 10, 2018 |
Etude Op. 25 No. 2. What makes this Etude difficult are the triplets on both hands as well as the intricate phrases. In the beginning, I had a tough time playing them evenly and together rather than going all over the place. Aiming for precision should always be the goal, but it shouldn't overwhelm nor you should try too hard for it. I believe legato and even playing should be more of importance, as well as the dynamics and adding some unique elements or interpretations to it. Sometimes, strictly adhering to what's on the sheet might not be that necessary but it's there for a reason. Otherwise, it would be called improvisation.
My practices on this weren't exactly perfect, and I don't think I had one perfect session. The recordings are usually tougher, since I need to get the nerves out after a few takes or so. These days, it's becoming less fortunately and it's a good way to continue getting experience / practicing on that. Performing live is always a whole different ball game.
I thought about re-visiting the "Butterfly" and "Revolutionary" - two familiar Etudes from the past. For now, I'm ready to move on to Mendelssohn pieces. I'm still contemplating another Mozart medley (or just another movement), but it'll depend on how much I can invest in it or if I'll find the time for it.
Wednesday, May 16, 2018 |
K. 310 Sonata. I personally think the first movement is more difficult than the third, but then again it's a matter of perspective. I could not finish or play this piece properly before (which I decided to give it a rest for awhile), but I have been working on it recently now that I feel I'm more in the groove of things or into it. In a three-movement Sonata piece or Concerto, the first and third are usually at a fast-paced tempo.
The third is tough because of the large jumps in phrasing for both hands in certain measures (which you would still have to play legato or connected - but thank god for the staccato), which makes it only easier for those that have longer reaches like your pinkie finger. My pinkie isn't that long, which can be troublesome on a lot of pieces. However, we all make do if possible. The first is tough because of the tight arpeggios which makes it hard to navigate accurately at the tempo of Allegro Maestoso. Still, anything is possible and the important thing to always remember is to practice pieces slowly first and then build your way up.
With that said, I've learned to appreciate and enjoy pieces that much more once you take your time and apply certain things. Frustration and impatience is absolutely counter-productive in any endeavors, and you certainly can't allow music to flow naturally.
Sunday, March 25, 2018 |
Etude Op. 25 No. 2 might be the final Etude to record and upload. Who says this is the easiest one? Perhaps, but it isn't easy for sure. The triplets gave me a difficult time in playing at tempo. But it's getting there. Op. 10 No. 3 was a piece that I thought I would never finish or get done. Again, it's about being into the piece and having patience / discipline in learning it (as well as the hand strength and dexterity). Unfortunately, I hit D natural instead of D Sharp on the second set of arpeggios heh. When the chords do not mirror each other exactly on both hands, it's more difficult to play them.
There are always helpful tips to add or improve to our practices and playing.
Sunday, March 18, 2018 |
Two of my favorite Beethoven Sonata's are No. 7 and No. 15. Pianists and listeners might be inclined to enjoy the more recognized pieces that are titled, such as "Moonlight" or "Waldstein". They are definitely grand and majestic. But you'll find hidden gems within the plethora of other Sonatas. A lot of them can be technically difficult, and it's essential to make sure that both hands are flexible and strong enough to maneuver various passages.
I thought about doing another Mozart Medley, including the Concerto K. 467 Mvmt 2 theme. But I've put it off as I needed to focus on another composer. As they say, you should know when you are ready to record, play or perform. There is no absolute adherence or rule to say 'you should practice this much' and such. To each their own.
Mental block and positive reinforcement. If you believe you can learn and play any piece, then you can. For sure, there are quite a few difficult repertoire that is beyond a person's hand or finger range. It wouldn't be advisable to tackle them. But if you are so inclined and if it is doable, then tell yourself that you can learn and conquer the piece. Desire goes with inspiration and motivation.
Desire goes with inspiration and motivation. If a piece is not inspiring enough, the motivation won't be there and it won't work (or the results are going to be messy and uninspiring). Again, know yourself and what types of pieces you enjoy playing or learning.
Sunday, February 25, 2018 |
The Op.10 No.6 Etude is a hauntingly eerie and brooding piece, something I did not really get into prior because of that or its moodiness. However, after a few repetitions going back to the piece, it appears to have all the beauty of a Nocturne as well. There are only a few composers who can create heavenly melodies out of any key (minor, major, etc).
I'm anticipating that this'll be even more of a musical year for me - to keep practicing, playing and sharing - as music is really an emotional therapy and part of life for sure. It's an identity I've settled into nicely. Before, it was unclear and just going with the motions. It is always a learning process, and it never ends. We can always use a helpful tip or two to further progress.
Playing by ear or transcribing is a skillset that only a handful of pianists have. I can only recommend the VGP (Video Game Pianist).
Friday, February 09, 2018 |
The next Etude I'm looking to record and upload is the "Tristesse" Op. 10 No. 3, if practices go well that is. I was dabbing with the "Winter Wind", but it's going to take too much time to really smooth it out - slowly, gradually and then up to tempo speed.
I uploaded a new Etude, what they call the Harp Etude or Aeolian Harp. This can be tiring as far as stamina goes (since it can stretch a pianist's hands to its limits), and I would rank it up there with the "Butterfly". I tried not to sacrifice precision for legato or vice versa, but I'm not sure if that worked. I didn't quite hit all the notes correctly, probably only once during the practices however. For sure, my pedal management needs some work. A complete pianist can think with both their hands and feet.
Sunday, January 21, 2018 |
Today's repertoire for practice - three Chopin Etudes, three Chopin Nocturnes, Chopin Polonaise-Fantasie, Liszt Reminiscence. I came back from Hawaii with renewed energy, and it's as if I never left. Often times, I play or practice better without practicing so often. Sometimes, it is needed - especially when it comes to memorizing or learning difficult phrasing. But other times, it can be counter-productive. Music is internal and if you can feel the music or have it inside of you, you certainly can emote it or let the notes come naturally.
I've heard the Liszt's transcription of verdi's opera. But "Reminiscence" remains my favorite - eventually, I'm smoothing out the difficult three-octave jump phrasing that is in Variation 1 of the epic piece (and other difficult passages).
Wednesday, December 27, 2017 |
Chopin's Etude Op.25 No.7 is the probably the most melodic piece of Opus 25, rivaling pieces from Chopin's other repertoire. The melody is in the left hand, while the right mostly is in an accompaniment. I'm not sure if it this is a 'left-hand' study (as the black key etude is a study in black keys), but a pianist sure has to be adept with their left hand. The "Tristesse" Op.10 No.3 is the other melodic Etude, quite a difficult one to boot but beautiful.
The next Etude I've been working on is the "Aeolian Harp" - a piece which certainly stretches my hand range to its limits. I'm taking a break from Bach for now (although still chipping away at more 'Goldberg Variations'). For now, it's Mendelssohn and the Liszt Reminiscence.
Tuesday, December 19, 2017 |
When it comes to difficult or pieces that are technically challenging, it is important to begin learning them slowly first and then gradually working your way up to tempo speed. I've made that mistake before doing the opposite, attempting pieces quickly as if I were in a hurry. No need. If you have the patience, time and desire, any piece can be learnable - of course, within your hand range of course. Some pieces just stretch my hands to its limit.
With that said, I have to go back to refining some Mendelssohn pieces including the "Scherzo a Cappricio" and "Songs without words". I do not believe I played them up to tempo or precisely yet. I believe that you should strive for precision or perfection, but do not expect it. That can cause a lot of frayed nerves which can result in messiness.
Liszt's "Reminiscence De Don Juan". There is a structure to this epic piece, but this is how I see it:
1. Introductory Theme (Overture)
2. Theme 1 - Duet from "Don Giovanni"
3. Variation 1
4. Variation 2
5. Concluding Theme
Certainly not exact, but something along those lines.
Sunday, December 10, 2017 |
Chopin's Nocturnes can be irresistible sometimes, the melodic beauty and structure of them make them pieces that are likeable to play; and can take you to another realm or reality by its atmosphere and mood. My favorites: Op. 27 No. 2 D-Flat Major and Op. 72 No. 1 E Minor.
Although I've been practicing and focusing on Chopin and Bach these days, I'll have to return to Felix Mendelssohn pieces. In the meantime, I hope to record and upload at least 1 Etude. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find time to do the recordings (and I still have yet to finish the "Aeolian Harp"). But I definitely plan at least 1 Etude before the new years.
Sunday, October 29, 2017 |
The Chopin Preludes are pieces that are not considered to have a formal melodic structure, and they seem to be quick exercises sort of like his Etudes. Still, there are a few pieces that are quite nice and have selected them (although I opted for only two this time instead of four Preludes). I think everyone is familiar with the D-Flat Major "Raindrop", so I decided against it.
The A-Flat Major No. 17. I remember beginning to learn this piece and was preparing it as a possible recital piece back in high school, but never finished it. Of course, I never had the patience nor the interest in finishing it to begin with. And it became one of those pieces that was just abandoned. With other pieces to re-learn and new pieces to explore, it never occurred to me to go back to the Preludes. Op. 28 No. 17 is a Prelude literally all chords, but not as difficult as most pieces that are but just as melodic and beautiful if not more.
It's important to pay attention to not just the notes and phrasing, but also the other nuances - dynamics, tempo, as well as other ornamental markings that add flavor or color to the piece. Of course, adding a little of your own interpretation never hurts after all that. Learning a piece without passion or interest is the worst thing a pianist can do - which was something I went through. And now, I've been trying to reverse that process by approaching pieces properly with renewed vigor and passion.
Sunday, October 01, 2017 |
I'll usually practice once or twice per week - but for three or four hours on a lot of pieces from different composers (mostly pieces I enjoy and have not really finished it). This is the goal at this stage for me. I'll pick up a new piece to learn every now and then, but the priority for me is get the pieces already learned to playable levels. At this point, I should not attempt any piece that I would not be able to finish (although I should at least carry the attitude that all pieces are learnable and can be played with a few new techniques). If I were to completely memorize a piece or two (depending on the length of the piece and difficulty), I would need to practice more often or devote more time for sure.
Some of the older pieces I'm re-focusing on are Chopin's Preludes, Nocturnes and Waltzes. I'll stick with one or two of each and go from there.
I used to be over-anxious about learning pieces quickly, when in fact I should have begun slowly and work my way up from there. It's been a learning experience in a way.
Friday, September 22, 2017 |
As the Halloween season nears, Liszt transcription of "Danse Macabre" is usually an appropriate piece to set the mood. I'm at the stage now where I'm returning to various pieces once more, and to re-polish and smooth out the pieces properly. Epic pieces like these take time, and certainly I do not plan on recording it at all (unless I make sure that it is played correctly). But it is a fun and festive piece.
When most pianists think of J.S. Bach, they think of his Preludes and Fugues. The Sinfonias or Inventions seem to be more like exercises in scales and intricate passages or arpeggios, but they can be melodic pieces in their own right. A lot of Bach's pieces sets the foundation for other complicated pieces, and influenced Mozart somewhat (who took it to the next level - in turn, who influenced Beethoven).
According to what I read, Bach did not leave any tempo indications on the pieces. I practiced what was suggested on each piece, and tried to play it as close to possible (and what was comfortable). I suppose there is a bit of flexibility there. I can tell ya one thing. Fingering is very important in pieces like these.
I'm tempted to finish all the Sinfonia's, but who knows. I plan to upload some Goldberg Variations - I didn't get through all of them as I didn't have the patience.
Saturday, September 02, 2017 |
The next pieces are going to be some Sinfonias (4 or 5) as well as a few Goldberg Variations. I have somewhat of an idea of what they are going to be, but I'll identify the select pieces as I upload them.
Chopin. I need to start a clean slate from hereon, as I might only do one or two pieces each (Waltz, Nocturne, Prelude, etc) if time permits. What I've learned is that it's more important (in my case at least) to stress quality over quantity. Of course, a lot of the top performers or musicians can put out both quality and quantity.
Wednesday, August 09, 2017 |
A slight change in plans (for the moment) in terms of repertoire recordings:
Liszt Consolations (select)
Liszt Nocturne No.3
Rachmaninoff Preludes (select)
J.S. Bach Sinfonias (select)
J.S. Bach Goldberg Variation (select)
W.A. Mozart TBA
Monday, July 24, 2017 |
Chopin's Larghetto movement of his second Piano Concerto in F Minor is certainly one of the most melodic and beautiful themes. Any experienced listener would be able to recognize it right away. Unfortunately for me, I wasn't aware of it until only in recent years. I reckon that it has to be one of the most frequently performed Concertos, or at least in familiarity. It really could be a "Nocturne" piece in its own right, with the a similar style and melody that characterizes Chopin's Nocturnes.
Gotta love the Yellow River Concerto, with its sweeping and majestic sound.
The pinkie finger is certainly important because in some pieces you hear the melody on the notes that it hits. The "Aeolian Harp" Etude comes to mind. You don't want to overdo it (unless the note is accentuated), but strong enough to hear it.
Friday, July 14, 2017 |
It's important to have both technical and interpretative skills in playing or performing a piece, but that's just me. A person's style certainly is a matter of preference but then again, you can look at somebody and think that they are not being expressive or emotive at all. I think we all can learn off of each other. It's a give-and-take relationship - there are advices that we can give as well as receive.
I've been busy or preoccupied (with some recent guests over the holidays), so I wasn't able to play or practice at all much. Fortunately for me, that's the beauty of music - it remains eternal and intact within. It's only a matter of going over a few notes or measures again after a break or respite from the piano. I certainly suggest to practice or play as much as possible (without overdoing it), as I try to.
There's a Variation in the third movement of the K.284 Sonata that stands out to me, and can be a piece by itself in heavenliness and beauty (much like the K.540). I might have to record that as well. I think it stands out as much as the melodies of the Concerto's. For now, I'm planning on the K.467 Andante. Other pieces: Liszt Nocturne No. 3, The Flight Of The Bumblebee, and perhaps Schubert's Impromptu #1 (not sure if I'll time at all). This next step, I'm resolved to re-record some pieces again; either for memory or for better interpretation / precision.
Schubert - Four Imprompus / Wanderer Fantasy
Liszt - Consolation #1-4 Rachmaninoff - Preludes in G-Flat Major / C# Minor....
Friday, June 02, 2017 |
There are various adjectives to describe the music of both Mozart and Beethoven. In three words - Mozart: heavenly, beautiful, fun. Beethoven: majestic, intense, sublime.
I began picking up the Beethoven Sonatas again. I remember playing them out-of-control and unevenly years ago. They are pieces that can only be played well with the proper mindset and emotional state, which is usually the case with almost all pieces actually. I have some few favorites, but it would be nice if I could record a few more movements or re-record an entire Sonata.
I decided to go for a used piano, a smaller grand than the one I've been renting. I liked the softer and warmer sound of it, but I'll see how it'll turn out with the acoustics at home. But for sure - no more rentals.
Sunday, May 14, 2017 |
Roll call: Dvorak, Debussy, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Schubert....leading into Mozart. Honorable Mentions: Beethoven, Schumann, Tan Dun, Hisaishi compositions.
I'm working on memorizing a few pieces. That's probably the next step for me, the ability to memorize multiple pieces. When the music becomes more natural, it becomes easier to take it in. I believe it's like that with different types of performing art forms. The important element is certainly being completely relaxed and focused. Even an ounce of your mind wandering can throw off your concentration in playing or performing, thus affecting it greatly. It's happened to me quite often, as my mind wanders sometimes if I'm not in the mood or not into it. I might have ADD. Nonetheless, I'm usually always into the music because it's become part of me.
Speaking of wandering, I was emotionally worked up the other day and needed to let off steam the other day. Usually, that would negatively affect my practices and would not turn out well (as in uneven and messy practices). Surprisingly, I was able to transform that back to positive energy rather than continuing to reinforce negative ones.
Lesson learned - never overdo practices. Just enough so that you can soak in the music first, and than work on the technical and interpretative aspects of different phrases. A few pieces or composers at a time. I don't practice too much (if I'm getting my money's worth from the piano - maybe I should), but just trying to make it unique.
Sunday, April 30, 2017 |
I probably wouldn't be able to answer who my favorite composer is. But it would seem reasonable or logical to conclude that a person's favorite or favorites would be composers that they play or perform the most. It is important to have a diverse repertoire, and expand or be open to to lesser known composers. Or even better, being able to create your own composition is a difficult task in of itself to come up with a unique and new idea. I would dare say that most music that is heard nowadays has some borrowed elements from the classics. But in a sense, there usually is no way around it. I suppose a person has to consider at least utilizing some Variation techniques in composing.
These days, I play mostly Schubert, Mozart, Chopin and Rachmaninoff. I'm always on the lookout for new or lesser-known composers, but the music itself has to inspire me first (I have to find it worthwhile that is).
Whether the Prelude in G-Flat Major might be ready for upload remains to be seen, as well as Schubert's Op.90 Impromptu #1 and perhaps a few surprises. I'll have to upload some re-records as well (just some select ones).
Friday, April 07, 2017 |
I'm finally compiling a few videos or recordings of which I would be confident and comfortable in uploading to an established public platform. Certainly, it would take a lot of networking and socializing to get them spread and known. And I've been hesitant and unsure about it before. These days, it's about sharing the common interest in what is a universal language in music. When there are barriers and adversity in a deplorable society, music can lift our spirits and enrich or empowers us.
My solo rendition of the Piano Concerto No.20's second movement is taken from the original score, but I removed the orchestral parts and tried to establish a seemless flow in mind from one melodic line to another (rests as breathers in between themes or phrases). I'm not sure if it's at concert tempo, but I'm pretty sure it's close to it.
I might also consider recording and uploading another recognizable melody - Mozart's next Concerto K.467 Andante. In fact, it's probably his most recognizable melody of all his works and it's a theme that can be heard anywhere or everywhere.
I've been working on some Rachmaninoff Preludes, as either as some re-records or a new one - G-Flat Major. Schubert's first Impromptu is also something I've been considering to complete the series in the Opus.
Thursday, March 09, 2017 |
Variation 18 of "Rhapsody On a Theme From Paganini" by Rachmaninoff is a beautiful melody. Most themes or melodies in Concertos and other orchestral pieces can be turned into solo pieces in their own right. There are different arrangements out there. But as long as it's as close to the orchestral score, I don't mind it. Otherwise, I'll just stick to the original score as much as possible. Sometimes, the piano becomes the accompaniment in a Concerto when the melody or theme is repeated or switched off to the orchestra. Other times, there are nice sections for solo piano or main instrument. This is a piece that I might consider preparing to upload and record as well after the Mozart.
I plan to record the Mozart Concerto movement sometime next week, but definitely before the end of the month.
I worked on some Rach Preludes. I'll get them refined, and perhaps upload them as well. I don't exactly have a large reach, and it makes it much more difficult in playing pieces that have large chords and twisting arpeggios with steep distances. Nonetheless, it's always a work in progress to be able to improvise and make due with what you have in order to a perform or play a piece of a certain difficulty or caliber. Otherwise, I would just as well avoid them. That's what I said about the "Fantasy" pieces, and now they're becoming more refined and polished. Never say never I guess.
Sunday, February 19, 2017 |
So the Polonaise-Fantasie and the Wanderer Fantasy has been the focus of my practices recently. They are epic pieces, as well as Fantasy pieces. I don't think one can categorize a piece 'Fantasy' unless it has that in the title of a piece, but certainly there is not enough of it. I suppose Fantasy pieces don't necessarily follow a structure as a Sonata or a Concerto in terms of movements and dynamics, and it can have melodies or themes that evoke different types of emotions, moods and feelings. They can tell a story. On top of interpretation, it's also how a pianist prepares and approaches the piece in getting in the mood. Otherwise, the music would not flow as naturally but more mechanically. I guess to each their own.
Relaxation and preparation is important in order for the music to flow naturally. And it's easier to retain or remember the melody of a piece.
Other than the Concerto No. 20 (which is almost ready), I'll see if I can get another piece or two uploaded soon. But right now, I just don't have schedule for it. Whenever I have time, I'll upload.
Saturday, January 28, 2017 |
Some of my favorite epic pieces: Chopin's Polonaise-Fantasie, Schubert's Wanderer Fantasy, Liszt's Reminiscense of Don Juan, Liszt's Danse Macabre.
How do I define Epic? Pieces that are technically difficult, beautiful and unqiue in sound or melody, few repetitive structures, and are long in duration.
The Mozart Concerto No.20 second movement is coming along. Not sure when I'll have it ready for recording.
Tuesday, December 20, 2016 |
The second movements from Concerto K. 466 and 467 are some of the most recognizable and melodic or heavenly themes among Mozart's repertoire. They can be solo pieces in their own rights, and I'm sure there are revisions and/or transcriptions out there for a solo pianist of all levels. I prefer the original score of orchestra and piano, and follow along. But it makes the reading a bit more difficult with all the bars. With that said, "Romanze" from Concerto No. 20 K. 466 could be a new or next recording as a solo rendition (since the melodic lines come together, sort of A-B-C-A format).
I haven't played or practiced a Chopin Ballade or Scherzo in awhile. In retrospect, I should have built up my stamina and finger strength before even tackling them.
Sunday, November 20, 2016 |
Sometimes, the softer or slower pieces are more difficult to express; but they tend to be melodic and heavenly. Such is the case with a lot of Adagio or Andante pieces and/or movements of Mozart's. The final piece for this year was the K. 540 B Minor, a piano piece composed late in his life. Originally, I wasn't thinking to record or upload, but I enjoyed the piece a lot. Sometimes, I get anxious or excited that I don't realize that I'm ready or relaxed enough. Occasionally, I'll find out more things to be smoothed out during the recording. Anyway, it's experience and practice for me to play in front of the camera. It's always an on-going learning process to practice, play and share.
The K.511 Rondeau. I didn't have time to get this ready, so not this year. I would either need to have memorized this, or need a dedicated page-turner for the difficult phrasing and transitions. Otherise, it would not have come out smooth.
I really enjoy Chopin's Polonaise-Fantasie. It's one of those eclectic pieces, or non-Polonaise like.
Saturday, October 15, 2016 |
I had two feel-good practices in a row, kind of unusual since I only practice maybe once a week at most; or when it's rainy. Yesterday, it was some Chopin Preludes and Polonaises + others. Today, it was Schubert's Impromptus and Wanderer Fantasy + others.
The Chopin Polonaise militaire was a piece I haven't played in awhile, not since my younger days taking lessions and going to recitals. To add to what I wrote previously, I suffered more from anxiety back then, which also hindered the ability to relax and enjoy practicing/playing. I suppose if I never took lessons that my mother signed me up for, I guess I would never have been introduced the piano in the first place. I'm just glad to have re-discovered the passion and interest. Now it's time to just looking towards the future, and continue with my repertoire with other possibilites.
Friday, October 14, 2016 |
My recent video upload of Debussy's Reverie is a piece I haven't played or touched since I was much younger when I was taking lessons. I played several Debussy pieces at recitals, including some "Children's Corner" pieces from that collection. It's been awhile, and it certainly brings back memories. With every phrase or beat, I can still remember my private instructor delicately pointing out proper phrasing which I never really listened to, nor had really that the inspiration to practice for.
I guess it's time to get this off my chest. I can't say for sure had I received more encourgement from my parents (in particular from my mother, since my father did not care for nor had any competency in music anyway), I would have developed the passion and dedication to pursue music in some form. Even so, it would've been unlikely to have a career as a performer since it would have taken a lot of discipline and desire (as well as some luck), which I did not have. But I can say this for sure. Taking piano lessons and practicing when I was young was just an extracurricular activity my mother wanted me to do, not something she thought I would be good at. One of those "do something outside of school just to get out of the house" deals. As a result, practicing became a chore and I did not enjoy it much. I did not receive much enouragement or compliments, just ordering me around to practice. I hated it, and it showed in how I played.
In the end, I proved to be right about some things. I'm happy that I returned to the piano, began my repertoire again. I'm glad that I did not listen to my mother to draw or paint (some other shit in the art world), as that has become commonplace and just something I already knew I did not like. But she is sort of a conformist and a lemming in that sense.
Never play or practice out of anger or other intense emotions. Music cannot be expressed naturally when a person is tense or not relaxed. Right now, I am settling into a nice groove and we should all showcase things proudly; including my ethnicity although it can be a handicap in a discriminating society.
Saturday, May 14, 2016 |
J.S. Bach's Three-Part Inventions or 'Sinfonias'. I went through the fifteen inventions, and they are a bit more intricate than the Two-Part Inventions. But they are good exercises in developing sound techniques on scales and arpeggios. Getting them up to tempo is the next step, after learning and mastering the notes. I should have practiced these kinds of pieces earlier in my life, which would have made refining my repertoire easier. I played a few pieces from the "Well-Tempered Clavier', but it's been awhile. I might have to get that also. The 'Goldberg Variations' could be Bach's most difficult works, as I could only get through ten or so. Or it's also possible that I don't have the patience to go through all of them.
Tan Dun's Eight Memories in Watercolor. Very soothing and definitely a breathe of fresh air since the music is from a different culture. I'm sure there are other composers I'm not aware of, but there aren't a lot of contemporaries unfortunately.
My practice sessions have included all the Mozart Sonatas, which I've been inspired to play recently. Not in any particular order, but a few at a time. As this year is his 260th, it is only fitting and the music never gets tiring. As I've mentioned, the music goes beyond Sonata compositions as there are more solo piano pieces with the 600+ works. I'll reiterate again that music is eternal and inspiring.
Thursday, February 25, 2016 |
It's been awhile since I returned to a Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody. They are intense and dynamic pieces, and I didn't have the stamina nor the focus to play it well. But I think I do now. Not that I'm going to record the No. 6 or the No. 2 again, but who knows. They are comparable or even more difficult than the Chopin Ballades or the Schubert Wanderer Fantasy. It would take awhile to really finish them, so I'll have to wait and see whether I can practice or work in them some more. Intense and difficult pieces have to be prepared more carefully as far as emotional state is concerned, because a pianist can put too much or not enough into the piece; which has been a realization for me. But in any preparation, the focus should be first on learning the notes and phrasing. I value precision, expression and unique interpretation; the latter which should come after the first.
Saturday, January 16, 2016 |
Scheduled pieces to begin the new year:
Mendelssohn, "Songs Without Words"
Op. 19 No. 2 "Regrets"
Op. 30 No. 1 "Contemplation"
Op. 62 No. 6 "Spring Song"
Op. 102 No. 3 "Tarantella"
I have been practicing the Chopin Nocturnes and as mentioned before, they are quite serene, moody and intricate. I'm not sure when I'll get them ready, but I'll have the Mendelssohn pieces uploaded within a few months.
Saturday, January 02, 2016 |
Mendelssohn, "Songs Without Words"
Op. 19 No. 2
Op. 30 No. 1
Op. 62 No. 6
Op. 102 No. 3
Chopin, select Nocturnes
Happy New Years! Although I haven't been able to practice much because of holiday festivities, I was able to get in a few. Anyway, I planned for a few Mendelssohn pieces with his "Songs Without Words" collection. I'm not sure when I'll get to them, but perhaps within a few months. This year, not only do I want to continue to expand my repertoire but also to challenge and overcome certain life difficulties (if I could) that I haven't been able. But more thoughts on my Reflections blog. As for music, it's been swell listening to Christmas music and such. I almost had an inclination to do a holiday medley at some point with a parody. But that wasn't anything serious.
Monday, December 14, 2015 |
I'm not sure who composed the melody to Kaze Ni Naru (or Become the Wind) from Studio Ghibli's anime "Neko no Ongaeshi" or "The Cat Returns" (from director Hiroyuki Morita, not Miyazaki). I'm sure Studio Ghibli anime enthusiasts have heard the music to almost all their films, and they could recognize either the singer or composer. Although I haven't seen the anime, the song is a nice piece that I just happened to think about all of a sudden. And then found a piano arrangement for it with some tweaks of my own. With that said, adding Pachelbel's Canon was not spontaneous but was somewhat improvised by ear. But it's a well-known melody that everyone is familiar with, and could be transposed to any key.
My practice regimen recently has consisted of four Chopin Nocturnes, four Schubert Impromptus, some Beethoven Sonatas and a few other pieces here and there.
How about a video parody to "Carol of the Bells" in a particular variation, but I'd need a paper hat from Burger King for that as well heh.
Tuesday, November 17, 2015 |
Recently, I've been immersed with the Chopin Nocturnes, Etudes and some Beethoven Sonatas. Some of the Nocturnes are certainly favorites for a lot of pianists, and the D flat Major Op.27 No. 2 and E Flat Major No. 2 in particular. I also am enjoying No. 1 B Flat minor and the Posthumous. A lot of the phrases are quite intricate in Nocturnes, but they produce some of the most melodic and beautiful phrases that depict a dream-like state, and also nocturnal as when it comes to mood and feeling. They also have a very serene but melancholy feel to them, which makes them all the more immersive and expressive.
The Etudes in particular are quite intricate in themselves, and some of the most melodic ones are certainly bona fide recital pieces as opposed to a study or exercise.
Sunday, November 15, 2015 |
After playing some Chopin Etudes and Bach yesterday, I thought to myself perhaps I should put together a Bach medley from some of his works also. I've been preparing some Beethoven Sonatas, but I don't plan on uploading them yet. As for the medley, I've considered a few themes from various pieces but ultimately settled only for a few while having to truncate some for transition purposes. When I'm done, I'll compile what the medley consists of.
Mendelssohn has a series of pieces called "Songs Without Words". I sort of view instrumental music that way, the lyrical expressiveness from notes and phrases more than enough to immerse a musician or instrumentalist in the music. With that said, you don't necessarily need lyrics or words to express music in such a way that it can be moving and beautiful. Of course, that in a way also depends on how a piece is composed and structured. This is something that I didn't realize for all these years until I really became focused and immersed in classical music, developing a passion that just wasn't there when I began the piano years ago.
At this point, I probably could go to any piano and begin playing. I haven't had the time to really prepare a concrete recital program in my mind if I had one. But I do have some. For now though, sharing online and finding new repertoire is always continuous.
I recently purchased some Chopin Nocturnes. More thoughts at another time.
Tuesday, October 06, 2015 |
I've been preparing some Beethoven, and a repertoire would not be a repertoire without at least a few pieces from the composer. I played through some Sonatas years ago, but they were really never finished to say the least. I was not as focused or immersed as I am now. But after beginning the recordings again from scratch with a renewed sense of focus and passion, I'm content with the recent uploads on the piano that I am playing on. Now, I have to find a public platform in addition to this site in order to reach out to a broader audience if possible. Interaction is important, but networking is usually the ticket which I don't have right now.
The Beethoven pieces I'm currently working on is Sonata No.1 Presto final movement, Sonata No.7 Largo 2nd movement, a few more sections of other Sonatas such as the "Pathetique" and the ever popular "Fur Elise". I don't plan on preparing or uploading a complete Sonata, since I don't have the time nor energy. But to me, certain sections stand out more so than others so I think it would be just as well.
The Mendelssohn Scherzo. So far, that's been the most difficult solo piece that I've actually finished. Certainly, there are much more difficult pieces out there in particular with the Liszt. I would even consider some of Chopin's Scherzos even more difficult or just as. My initial attempt at the piece was not successful. But after some perserverance, I finally made it through and glad I did. It can be a quite a taxing piece on the hands because of the frenetic pace of a Scherzo. Nevertheless, it was mostly the melody and rhythm that appealed to me for that particular piece.
I plan to finish another Mendelssohn and a Gottschalk at some point. The search for new repertoire and re-visiting or finishing old ones is continuous and on-going. Whether performing, playing or sharing with others, that is the true beauty of music.
Saturday, August 01, 2015 |
The melody of Dvorak's Humoreske all of a sudden inspired me to play this a bit, and now I'm thinking of adding this as part of the video repertoire. It's sort of similar to when I was inspired to record a Mozart medley. The Humoreske is a very familiar piece, and I'm sure a lot are familiar with the melody. I'm definitely thinking about some of Bartok's Mikrocosmos as part of some new pieces, but I probably won't get to that yet.
Friday, July 10, 2015 |
I didn't plan on recording the K. 309 and 494 pieces again, but then decided to because they were some of my favorites that would've sounded nicer on the grand piano. I realize that my new life allows for only so much practice time to commit to new pieces, albeit memorizing some pieces; which would take quite awhile as well. Right now, I'm content with the new recordings on the grand piano and eventually plan to upload to a public platform. That's the next goal, to share it on a different platform outside of my personal web site; mostly because there are other content on it. But this web site is going to continue to be the main platform however.
The K. 309 Piano Sonata. It's a fun, melodic and light-hearted piece, in contrast with the intensity and grandiosity of the K. 310.
I thought about memorizing the Mendelssohn Scherzo at the very least, but not sure if I'll have the practice time to do even that. Regardless, I'm not sure of the schedule right now so it'll be awhile.
Sunday, July 05, 2015 |
W.A. Mozart, K.309 / K.494 (Uploaded)
Felix Mendelssohn, Scherzo a Cappriccio
Robert Schumann, Kinderszenen
Wednesday, May 20, 2015 |
The pieces from Mendelssohn and Schumann are new pieces that I'll upload eventually at least. I'd certainly like to re-record the Hisaishi compositions with perhaps another one, as well as the Bach Inventions and the Beethoven Sonata "Pathetique" if time permits.
I'm intrigued by different and unique vantage points from the camera, but I'll most likely have only one or two. I have to be careful with the lighting. I used a lamp to illuminate the piano, but it was a bit much. But without it, it's not as illuminated as I'd prefer.
Monday, May 11, 2015 |
Mendelssohn's Scherzo is a frenetic and energetic piece which I'm hoping to record on the new piano, but not before a few other pieces that I intend to re-record. If I could have it ready earlier, the upload might happen sooner than thought. Otherwise, it's all about not doing too much at once for me. As much as I'd like to replace the videos presently on the site, there just isn't the time or the energy to do all of that. But I could at least re-record some that I'd much rather have recorded again on this grand, as well as including a new piece every now and then.
The Mozart medley was something I just put together on a whim awhile ago (thought it did require quite a few practices for the transitionings), when I was already thinking about several melodies for awhile. Perhaps I should have had more recognizable melodies in it, but the thought did occur for a brief moment to add a few more themes from the Liszt piece or other. Anyway, I just consider this a new beginning and a prelude to more videos. As always, this personal website of mine is going to continue to be the main hub for all video uploads. I am considering finding a new public platform such as Vimeo or other once I have enough videos on this grand piano.
Sunday, May 03, 2015 |
I put together a medley of pieces and themes from some of Mozart's compositions, so I intend to record that whenever I can as well as some select Piano Sonatas on the grand. I don't intend to re-record all the pieces that's been uploaded already, but at least a few selections including Hisaishi's "The Bygone Days" and "Ashitaka and San". Perhaps even Bach's Two-Part Inventions and the Schubert Impromptus.
Other pieces to consider for possible new recordings in the future:
Felix Mendelssohn, "Scherzo a Cappriccio"
Robert Schumann, "Kinderszenen"
Franz Liszt, "Liebestod"
Franz Schubert, "Ave Maria"
Aside from finding new repertoire, these pieces are going to be enough for quite awhile. Unless of course I find some other piece that I haven't already tackled that I prefer to do in place of them. It'll depend on how often I practice or get on the piano for sure. I never had a specific schedule but whenever I felt inspired. Right now with other things going on in my life, I have to be more conscientious about allocating certain hours and days for practicing. Or else I won't get anywhere with this.
Saturday, March 28, 2015 |
And here it is. I decided on a grand piano, and it's a nice one although not really known in the piano world. Although I had some particular brands in mind, the more important thing for me was the sound and feel of it as opposed to whether the piano is popular or not. I'm not sure whether I'll have this for awhile or eventually purchase it, but it'll depend on certain situations. But the hope is to purchase it. But that's something to figure out for the future. In the meantime, I'm enjoying playing my repertoire on it and eventually recording new and old pieces. I plan on getting a separate recording camera with tripod if possible, instead of utilizing my phone camera which was tolerable from where I was living before and the mini piano that I had.
As to when I'll get to new recordings, that's still to be determined depending on if I can schedule in some time (I'm sure my spouse won't mind). Nonetheless, I'll play a select repertoire now and then. And it's always enjoyable and relaxing to go through repertoire; more so with certain pieces. If I feel that the recordings on this piano turn out well, I'll probably look to upload them on public platforms outside of my website perhaps. That, and performing in front of an audience is a goal to strive for. Or at least it's good to keep that in mind. A few days ago, I played some Bach, Rachmaninoff and Mozart. And on Thursday, it was some Chopin Waltzes. I'll continue to play old repertoire to keep them fresh. As for memorization, I do want to add one more Sonata; either the K. 280 or the K. 332.
More thoughts to come...
Thursday, February 19, 2015 |
There is a vast repertoire of pieces from composers that I'm not familiar with in the Classical Music scene, and they can range from the technically difficult to the very expressive. It's astounding that there are classical pianists can perform and play them. Despite that, producing grand and elegant sounds through expressive phrasing is not easy as it might first appear. It depends on the piece in some sense, but there is certainly more to it than just playing notes mechanically for sure. I learned that the hard way, but it's a one step at a time process for me. It's always a learning experience watching a master class online. With that said, every young pianist should master the fundamentals such as scales and chords. Diving into difficult repertoire right away can help or it might not, that also depends on the individual.
Classical music is something internal, and music is an intangible that can completely be a part of the pianist's life. The challenge for us all is expressing or channeling that expressively or properly. There are interpretations that certainly sound grand and heavenly.
Speaking of beautiful sounds, some of my favorites happen to be Adagio or Andante movements from Mozart Sonatas; K's 310, 332, 533, and 545.
My favorite Schubert piece for the piano is the Wanderer Fantasy, and I did plan on preparing this piece last year. The final section of that piece is quite difficult, and I never did get to return to polish it. The Liszt Reminiscence was another favorite, and both pieces together are grand solo pieces in their own right. Certainly when mastered, they are quite astounding to listen to; in particular maestro Lang Lang's performances.
Most recently, I've been playing and working on all the Schubert Op. 90 Impromptus. I enjoy the No. 2 E-Flat in particular, and that probably is going to be recorded soon. As well as the final Impromptu in A-Flat, I'm not sure but I'm considering recording it as well.