Sunday, November 06, 2011

Music 1, NaNoWriMo 0

Musical things I did this week: 
1. Went to two concerts: one jazz/swing, with Paul Anastasio, an excellent fiddler (he played with Asleep at the Wheel, and for Merle Haggard, among others), and also saw Randal Bays, who is a highly decent Irish fiddler and also a great guitarist, both fingerstyle and rhythm (he was the rhythm guitarist on Martin Hayes' first few albums, for those of you who know who Martin Hayes is...)  Both concerts were at a very small local venue, where you could really see what the musicians were doing.  Lots of fun!

2. Went to the local Irish session for the second time.  It's a somewhat humiliating experience in that I don't know the tunes yet, so everyone assumes I'm a rank beginner and treats me with the sort of condescending kindness reserved for beginning musicians in such situations.  They're all very nice--don't get me wrong--but it can be a blow to the ego.  Not that I'm advanced, but...I know I'm better than I seem to be.  I hate that feeling.  The other frustrating aspect is that the mandolin is *so* much quieter than a whole crowd of fiddles and whistles, so I can't hear myself at all.  Even on the tunes I do know, I have to more or less hope my fingers are going where they're supposed to, and I'm very reluctant to experiment with playing along on tunes I don't know well because I can't hear how wrong or right I am.

We shall see how this develops.  I'm determined to go regularly and really work on learning the music, no matter what, but I'm developing fiddle envy.  The concerts didn't help this.

3. Practiced "some whole bunch," as a younger sibling used to say, including visiting a friend so we could practice Emma's Waltz, which we're going to do as a duet at the open mic portion of a monthly jam we both attend.

And I'm working on chords (memorizing plus executing), a bit of theory (modes and scales, mostly), and trying to learn the Irish session tunes, one or two at a time.  It will be a long while before I've got even a fraction of them down well enough to play at full speed. :\  But you have to start somewhere.  I also foolishly picked up a pennywhistle this week, and have been goofing around with that.  Too fun!

NaNoWriMo stuff I did this week:
OK, so maybe it isn't quite a *zero* score.  I have about thirty letter-sized pages written as of this afternoon, which I'm hoping to transcribe over the next few days.  But even though the story is fun and the narrator interesting, I'm really struggling to stay focussed and motivated.  I had some time off this week due to the wisdom teeth yanking on Monday (which went fine, by the way), and hoped to get ahead of the game, but I figure I'm about a day behind instead (hopefully a bit less by later today).  Here's hoping the time change helps give me a boost over the next few days.  I've learned from past NaNoWriMos that morning writing time is the make-it-or-break-it element for me: I simply cannot just make up for it in the evening.  My mind doesn't work well at night.  At all.

Now, if you'll pardon me, I gotta go play "Cup of Tea" about eleventy billion more times.


Anonymous said...

Glad the dental matters went well.

As much as I enjoy NaNo, I can't fault your determination to improve your music skills. You clearly have a desire to express yourself in music, both publicly and for your own satisfaction. Go with that! The enjoyment you get from the musical skills will last a life time, as we both know. It is a lot of work but that's part of the value/satisfaction.

It's a good thing you only picked up a penny whistle, which is relatively simple. Over the years I've assembled a set of recorders, soprano, alto, and tenor. (I love the sound.) They sit in their cases, daring me to pick them up and learn about them. Looks like I might FINALLY have to learn to read music again, something I haven't had to do since college almost 40 years ago.

Trust me, the music you work on and play now will stay with you for life.

Thanks for mentioning "Emma's Waltz". Thay led me to Neal Hellman and his beautiful albums. Have to pick up a few of them.

Jeff The Bear

Cameron said...

Music and writing are so closely intertwined in my psyche, that it is sometimes difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins!

It sounds like you are pursuing your passion and that somehow, it will help your writing soon.

All best wishes to move forward on your NaNo novel. You've still got plenty of time to "catch up".

Little Flower Petals said...

@Jeff: I do have a soprano recorder, and take it out to goof with once in awhile. Also have a fife: I was briefly a member of what had to have been *the* worst fife and drum corps in history. I mean, we were *scary* bad. I think we existed just long enough to have some truly awesome t-shirts made up (one member was a superb artist) with a sort of heraldic dragon on it, and then the whole group dissolved.

The dangerous thing about pennywhistles is that they're basically diatonic--you can fake a few sharps and flats by half-holing, but it's not completely accurate, and I think most serious whistle players carry around a whole roll of whistles in a variety of keys. Luckily the vast majority of Irish tunes can be played on a D whistle without too much trouble, and most of the rest could be played on a C. And the most basic models are pretty cheap--ten or fifteen dollars at most. We'll see how I get on with the D first. I'm pretty shaky in the second octave at this point, and the ornamentation will take some time and practice.

@Cameron: I do think one creative drive can help fuel another...or at the least, there are some universal lessons to be learned: e.g. if at first you don't succeed, try and try and try and try and try until it sort of more or less comes together. Or something like that.