I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

The thrill of DIY music - part one

Faced with a seat someone else has paid for to see Berg’s Wozzeck at the Paris Opera (as I once was) or the suddenly-arrived ability to complete a rackety, but two-handed, account of There is a Green Hill Far Away on the piano, which would you choose? The latter every time.

Sure, a great professional performance can blow you away. But putting the notes in the right order of any tune, however simple, however banal, has a strange effect on those with no instrumental training. For one thing there’s this giddy sensation of I shouldn’t really be here. Not me. Somehow I got in via the back door..

Even more exciting is the knowledge that you’ve just played one note and the next one is over there, three notes to the east. And… yes… you… were right!

Such experiences are, alas, quite rare. If you come upon an unused piano chances are the owner is close by. You tentatively try the first three notes: There – is – a -, and the owner is suddenly by your side. If he/she is a kindly person you’ll be gently discouraged by a rattled-off performance of Green Hill followed by a much faster variation in Z-flat. A more protective owner may simply close and lock the keyboard.

Far too late in life I bought an electronic keyboard which can sound like a piano – sort of. Sometimes I pick out Love Divine All Loves Excelling all on the white notes (scale of C-major). Sometimes I start off on a different note to make things more difficult. And I frown like Emil Gilels.

ONE FROM MY SHELVES Heard by Mrs LdB on Ian Burneside’s much lamented Voices programme; acquired and recorded by me. Vigorous account of a sex maniac’s childhood


  1. It is said that learning something new, like an instrument, in our elder years is one way of keeping our brains young and contributing to longevity! But we do it for pleasure. I should be going back to the piano which I've neglected for so long because of my busy life. I feel like I have to start over from almost the beginning - maybe you will inspire me to do so.

  2. My first intro to piano, at the tender age of nine years, was a very old pump piano, made of mahogony with embossed leather straps on the pedals.

    I picked out the tune to "Jingle Bells" and in my enthusiam for playing it, I hit the pedals a little too hard and broke one of the straps.

    Understandably, I was traumatized and haven't touched any sort of piano since then.

  3. PS: according to your time signature at the end of our comments, it appears you have moved to Arizona. Visiting Jana?

  4. M-L: Nah, you've learned the piano; time to start on the trumpet

    The Crow: Look, I don't want any more dumb tales about childhood disasters. Everybody associated with Tone Deaf is an aspirant pro. OK? Say your tonic sol-fa a thousand times.

    Arizona. It's strange; I almost think I could. But what would we talk about? And would she be watching me to see whether I was looking at her left cheek?

  5. What did you think of Wozzeck?

    In school we'd sit under the grand pianos of our friends while they practiced to feel the full force of the notes. Better than practicing alone, not as much fun as playing in a group. I regret not being able to hang out by the basses when we go to symphony concerts.

  6. We should be doing this blog in tandem.

    Wozzeck was bloody marvellous (and Lulu, seen later on TV, in some respects even better): thank God I didn't do it the wrong way round - ie, by buying the CD.

    It is nonsense to talk about difficult music; in the end, as The-rest-is- noise man, whose name temporarily escapes me, says there is only good and bad music. And if the notes grab you by the short hairs on the back of your neck (an experience sadly denied you) then one has a prima facie case for saying it's good.

    As to feeling music, oh to have had a musical upbringing.

  7. I'm learning, I'm learning, M. Lorenzo da Ponte! Interesting character indeed, whose name was unknown to me until now. Hmm, if I were to learn a new instrument, it would be the Kantele... if I had one.

  8. Shoot, I've just posted a whole long comment here and lost it, but the comment procedure has just changed, and there's a silly anonymous comment ... were you messing about with the formatting or something? Now all my golden words will have to be consigned to oblivion or recycled elsewhere.

    Anyway, nice to meet you Lorenzo, I have been here before, last night, but realised I needed more time to think about the subject, which can't be a bad thing.

  9. Same here, Lucy. Beautifully crafted prose cast into outer darkness. But welcome, Signor da Ponte. Will someone soon pick up the cue provided by your name and set all this including the raison 'etre of Tone Deaf on the subject of blogging!

  10. The Rest is Noise - Alex Ross. I finally bought his book after reading over people's shoulders many times, and am saving it for the holidays.

  11. Plutarch, I'd thought about the similarities between LdP and BB (both wing men), but now that you mention it, perhaps we can look forward to libretto style blog posts in the future!

  12. I am glad that you suggest a libretto. I thought I had outlined the theme of an opera on the perils and merits of blogging but it must have gone off field as with so much else.

  13. Lucy/Plutarch: My heart bleeds for you both and for me for not getting your messages. The problem may lie in the fact that I am running two blogs from one email address and might be solved by deleting Works Well which - much as I've taken against that crass fellow BB - I'm unwilling to do at the moment. By running back and forwards between my atelier and Mrs LdP's I have managed to send unfettered comments from her computer to mine. Whether it works from yours remains to be seen.