zaterdag 25 februari 2012

Slight Sonata

Back to tonal today, in a very traditional way.  Some playing towards two-voice inventions after exposition, but mostly just a comprehensive simple story in sentences and two movements.

Comma's and periods should be added later, and a few sentences may either derail or just have strange conclusions.  but that's what you get when not writing using pencil and eraser but keys and tape instead.  Oh yes, and by going with a first draft.  But of course, that's the whole point.

Again today I included the initial searching for those first words.  As in my original premise, this one is 'from the first keystroke on, no cuts, no second tries'.  Might be interesting.   And then again it might not be, so if you can't be bothered start at 0:25

vrijdag 24 februari 2012

Serial Cereal

Somewhere along the way in the early twentieth century there was this movement of composers that felt all and every possibility in music had been explored by the hierarchy of classical composers such as Bach, Mozart et al. In a way they paved the highways and byroads with intricate pieces of architectural constructs based on the 7-tone scale, multiplied by the twelve keys of the chromatic scale.

Of course the simple developement at first was to use all those twelve tones, but that always just comes back to the 'tonal implications' of those twelve tones as related to the 7 tone scale. Next step to try loose that 7 tone scale alltogether, but that is just not that easy, for it is more or less a consequence of the physical properties of sound, to be precise the scale of harmonics that is in each and every note played by the musical instruments thusfar developed.

Example of basic Serial Music Theory, from WSU Math(!) website, short treatise on basics.
And therein lies the key to the next developement.  That whole 7- and further 12-tone system allways relates back to the harmonic content of one note.  the keynote, in other words the first, lowest note of the scale, onto wich all other notes are always heard in relation to.  The tonal center.   That center may change from time to time during a musical piece, but it always goes back to and ends on that common ground.  Tension relaxed.

So, how to loose that center, how to get the tonal biased mind to loose all track of fundament and regard all twelve notes equal, without preference.  The answer was: Serial music.  To start the piece with all twelve tones in succession as a basis, and work through the whole piece with all sorts of mathematical principles to give all these tones equal weight and not let that bias of tonality have a chance to get footing.

To do that, and still create meaningful music of course is a major challenge.  I have tried some bashfull steps on that technique, but to tell you the truth I just can't be bothered; it was a phase in musical developement, the way I see it not meant to be a viable way to make music once the experiment was fulfilled.

Now, back to this morning.  I was fed up with past weeks of tonal searchings, and decided to just intuitively play a sequence of twelve different notes, and from there on just play, with, as far as I am able to, no tonal center.

Now, I wonder, if this piece were to be analyzed, how much of it would indeed be within the parameters of those mathematically developed and tried methods of that group of composers way back then?  Considering 'intuitive' tonal music is usually totally analysable in the classical idiom, I'd suspect quite a lot.  I wonder.  And i really would like to know.  But I cxan't be bothered with all that hard work, besides, I do not have that amount of knowledge and experience in the field.  I'd rather just keep on playing.

donderdag 23 februari 2012

However Much I Try

- I cannot be more than one musical instrument at once.  Aside exceptions like guitar/piano & vocals, guitar and mouthharp in a brace of course, but let's just keep that out opf the equation for now. 

This episode is more or less orchestral in nature.  In otjher words, a few times I play two different voices left and right, and wind up having a finger from each hand on the same key...  Each with it's own topuch of that voice at the time.  Impossible of course, especially when those voices end up crossing, ie right goes down and left goes up...  Takes a certain kind of mind to be able to then decide wether to cross hands or switch hands, and I'm not quite sure wether I've managed to get across that bridge in the several cases this morning where that happened...

So let's forget about that whole matter, let alone go into the fact that it's not just those two or contemplate using feet as well to go up to four ;-)
So let me just state that if ever an instrument exists that is somewhat able to approach the possibility to play a symphony-orchestra as just one person it would have to be the piano.  And let's assume I managed this morning to slightly touch that possibillilty.

Mostly this morning's play to me had óne very clear motif coming out, one that, the more it appeared and repeated seemed so familiar.  Many times that happens, and the amazing thing always is, again and again, how clear it appears to be, each time it pops up, some element gets clearer, and each time another element of it pops up it's somehow just self-evident that that certain variation is the way it was meant.  Wether that is because it is something heard before, or something entirely new, and also wether there's a real distinction between those two I cannot tell.  What I can tell though is I have the impression it is a theme from an orchestral work by the Man that taught me composition at the conservatory; Will have to check that out, Wich I will in due time for I have a recording of that piece.   I wonder....

Beethoven's Lament

Beethoven-1814-Louis René Létronne
  I can picture young Ludwig hitting bottom on not being Bach.  However much he may fiddle with those voices,  it just never gets to be that clean selfless counterpoint.  Just always turns out as implied harmonics: no real conversation or discussion between voices, more of a greek choir just all stating the same.

  However, somehow he must have had the key to get up and out of the deep well of depression, else he would not have left us so much music and lived to such a ripe and grumpy old age.   So, after some fruitless tries enough is enough.  And he gets back to good old Rock & Roll power-chords.

It's not that bad a deal being Beethoven, after all.

vrijdag 17 februari 2012


Jacob Philipp Hackert - Grand Waterfall at Tivoli - 1783
Actually the piece doesn't really start until about 1:00.    But I included the first minute anyway because in a way that is the seeds, or, in this case, the first drops and some small insignificant dead-end trickles.   And after all, doesn't every waterfall start out like that?  The original premise of this podcast/blog was: from the first keystroke on, uncut or edited.  Uncut and -edited is still usually the case; the 'from the first keystroke' I sometimes take a slight bit less literal now.  But there's always been a particular -and I believe valid -reason to not cut from the moment on where it gets 'interesting', because one of the things this is about, and fascinates me, is where does the music come from?  Well, that first minute gives us a small insight into the answer to that unanswerable question.

So, if you do not wish to get particularly wet and just can't be bothered, start at 1:00... ;-)  A -not overly inspired or comprehensive- exploration of one simple melodic element, and the harmonies it implies.

woensdag 15 februari 2012

Harmonie Der Spheren

Music of the Spheres.  A Pythagoreian concept describing the way of the Cosmos.  Also a deeper meaning, the idea that all and everything in this Cosmos, including the Earth and its living beings are subject to one larger whole: a harmoy of vibrations.  Each planet, tree, creature fulfilling its one note in the overall harmony of life and being.       (-the Universe and everything=42 ;-P )

<<<--- Pan, the Greek horned God holding his flute (yes; Panpipes...) where each pipe or tone represents the orbit of one of the (then known) 7 Planets... 

 This flute he made from the reeds that resulted from him chasing the Woman he lusted after: Syrinx, transforming herself into those reeds to hide from his persistance. 

Pan played this flute in mourning ever since. 

But that's a whole different story, -as far as I know- not having anything to do with
Harmony of the Spheres.

dinsdag 14 februari 2012


Picture from Wikimedia Commons
Another song dug up from beneath the mists of time.  How many years since I've last played it... 5, 10, 15 maybe?

Quite inapropriate to play it this particular day in fact, considering the last line and an undisputable trueism:

..."Each day is Valentine's day"...


 One of those things you learn first year at the conservatory: the 'Tristan-chord', plus its solution, and the 'Tyl Uylenspiegel-chord' plus ditto.  And the difference between those two.  They're both very tense chords, begging for a solution and release of tension, and both do it in an unexpected and delightful way.

  Now those two are so very much alike that I am not at all sure wether in this case I have explored the one or the other, or perhaps both...   And see if I really care.  Althoug, knowing myself, I reckon somewhere in coming days I will check it out.  Wich will probably either result in an addendum to this little scribble, or a new episode with that story, 

So ths morning I laid my hands on the keys and out came that chord.  Trembling with wild anticipation I followed my instincts and safe from one mis-grip (that wasn't that missed after all considering it probably laid seeds for a further developement later on) I managed to solve the riddle and play the notes that I had learned so long ago should follow.  What an amzing thing the mind and tactile memory is.  If you'd ask me right now to lay down that chord (or write it in notation) plus the solution I honestly would not have a clue.

Anyway, as I've said, this chord/progression opens up a World of strange and tense music that I have somewhat explored this morning.  Still I haven't even barely stirred the surface I'm sure...   All but a short moment of this, very near the end where I lost my nerve I do believe this is one of the nicer ones I've made so far.  At that point I just stopped, and concluded what was left.  Ran out notes. Of course I could have cheated and cut out that little mess-up, but that I do not do here. Not here.  Not in the morning with pyjama's on.  That's how It should be.

vrijdag 10 februari 2012

May Auld Aquaintance Be Forgot

We'll have a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne....

One-Hundred-And-Fifty!  Honderd En Vijftig!

Jubilee, and a whole new setting.

  Sadly the whole former 150 episodes were on a different website, of wich the provider suddenly started acting up and blocking acces.  So far I have not yet been able to recover all those posts with stories, illustrations and comments that go with the recordings of half a year of daily early-morning piano-improvisations.  The recordings I do have on my hard disk and backed up, so these are not lost, thank God.  This 'back catalog' I will in due time put somewhere else to be accessible from this website, and I hope I will be able to recover the rest from that darned stupid company where PyjamaPiano used to live upto now..

So now let's just start fresh at 150 and work up to the next 150 and on.  Should auld aquaintance be forgot?  In this case, sadly, yes.  But brought to mind it will be.  In every key played.  They can't take the piano, my mind, soul and heart, nor my hands....

>>> Komt eraan, opname is klaar, nog even verwerken. <<<
>>> Recording made, will process and post in few hours<<<<

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne* ?

    For auld lang syne, my jo (or my dear),
    for auld lang syne,
    we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
    for auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp !
and surely I’ll be mine !
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.


We twa hae run about the braes,
and pu’d the gowans fine ;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin auld lang syne.


We twa hae paidl’d i' the burn,
frae morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere !
and gie's a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,
for auld lang syne.


Don't Bother

Picture from Wikimedia Commons
..They're here.

 An exploration of 'Send in the Clowns'. Another song I haven't played in years and years. It's always interesting to find what is left in the mind and fingers of a song you once played and knew by heart x years after. One of those things this bl;og is about. Though of course you wish to play the ultimate rendition of it the moment you sit down with a clear aural image of it in mind what comes out is very much a different thing. First of all of course much less perfect, and though the lyrics may be quite clear and somewhat complete once you start playing there's just a small part of it that actually comes out whole. But that snippet is in a way the essence of a song, its heart. The center around wich the whole thing revolves once you've re-programmed the autopilot that gets one to play an entire song whole. And, as I stated before, is what this blog/podcast is about. 

>>> Recording yet to be processed and posted, ETA within a few hours <<<<

This blog/podcast has a little sister: .  A little sister born yet but still in its very young infant/suckling stage.  The idea and purpose being to get these early morning explorations and work on them to produce a grown child in the evening: in this case the song whole and 'proper', with full lyrics and performance.  Ah, well, we'll see...
  Right now I've used this to post the recordings of PyjamaPiano since the original PP-site got blocked, and for now it will be the way to get my recordings on this blog, but that's just an emergency-measure until i get the whole thing sorted out.  WIll keep you posted.

maandag 6 februari 2012

Magnificent Desolation

..."Magnificent Desolation"...  Is what Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin said to refine Neil Armstrong's remark "Magnificent view", after a short contemplatitve pause.  A soundbite that has been multiply beat by Neil's beautiful "small step for man, giant leap for mankind".  Of course the first words on the Moon would be the ones to go down in history as definition of the event.
 However, "Magnificent Desolation" to me is the true term in wich I feel some of the impressiveness of the whole experience and place is condensed.

Neil Armstrong is the official hero, being first to step down, a logical consequence of his rank as commander.  To me Buzz is the one that really got the whole experience engrained in his soul, so much so he spent years and years after the fact to come to terms with the sheer awesomeness of it.

This morning I'd been watching a marvellous 2 hour documentary on NASA-tv about the entire history of American spaceflight.  So when I started playing when the whole Moon-landing-segment had concluded of course there was only that in my mind and heart...

I got into the contrast between the highstrung intense experience and practice of spaceflight on the edge of experience, science and engineering, and the magnificent desolation of space ande the Moon.  And of 3 people entirely cut of from the planet, only linked by umbilical radio...


Selfportrait Rene Sommer Rotterdam june 2011


All and everything, all at the same time.  And there's just nooo stop to it, on and on and on.....

Photograph Rene Sommer Rotterdam 2011