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.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Did I really think it was easy?

Mistakes. During home practice errors are legion. I don't have perfect pitch and picking the right note (especially if it's highish) after a pause can be a lottery, despite fifty repeats.

I sing whole words as whole words instead of splitting them up and glueing them to other word parts; eg, "stepped away" where I should have sung "ste... -e- (sustained note rises here)... pta-way".

I don't breathe in regularly or enough; passages fade like dying whales.

I sing symmetrically varying phrases backwards-way round; thus "...for (down) your (up) lack (back down)..." becomes "...for (up) your (down) lack (back up)..."

Rewards. I told V journalism had taught me to mistrust compliments; her compliments now make a direct appeal. Exhausted by rehearsing the Irish country song I was told I could finish off with the Mozart aria - something of a treat. When I'd sung it V said I sounded "apologetic": the perfect rebuke based on an unexpected epithet. I sang it again, asserting myself, and V said: "Just four weeks, and you own the song!" Ahhh.

But you must love failure too. It is the measure of tiny triumphs.

PS: V's skill is to make me try harder; the last session I came within a squeaker of two octaves. But do I seriously intend to become a castrato? Not in all senses

Hardline Hope, a novel (12,220 words)
Initially she’d been satisfied to escape Stanley’s scrutiny. Selling and all it entailed seemed entirely theoretical, remote, even exotic. And then, convulsively, she reviewed her daily round, recognised its dullness, its repetitions, its lack of skills, the phone calls that lacked status, the meaningless paper, the endless to-ing and fro-ing between other offices with her heels clacking futilely on the floor tiles. Quicker still she remembered Gayle, the very embodiment of self-dependency: “You should be doing better kid.”


  1. I think it's "relative pitch" you are struggling with (unless the "pauses" you refer to are many seconds long). "Perfect" or "absolute pitch" does not rely on a recently perceived tonal center, i.e. if I met you at the pub and asked you to sing me a C, you would be able to do so (within a semitone or two) with no reference point. Good news is that relative pitch is improved with training. Meanwhile I'm trying to make sense of "clefs", having learned that the notes assigned to spaces and lines of the stave are different in Bass, Treble and a half dozen less used clefs. I'm currently pondering whether left hand piano parts written in Bass clef actually require an alteration of the seemingly perfectly redundant key pattern on the piano. Unbelievably complex. I'll have to whistle and hum all day to put this out of mind.

  2. MikeM: As I understand it, perfect pitch is being able to sing any given note - independently of any sequential tonal support - typically in response to a verbal command (or a self command). Being able to identify a single note played on an instrument by someone unseen may be a variant of perfect pitch, I'm not sure.

    I'm not sure about my ability to get within a semitone of your instruction to sing C, although a pub would be a good place to try this out. I think I may have one or two default scales I resort to but I can't be sure what these scales are. In short I could do you an octave of scales (just about) and they may (with luck) end up harmonically related but what key signatures they carried I wouldn't have a clue

    You're quite right; in my post I was suffering from defective relative pitch. And you're right too that this is curable since I am improving. But I still have problems when a reasonably lengthy rest is followed by a new passage which starts with a small interval up or down relative to the final previous note. And this is exacerbated if the interval occurs at the top end.

    I was aware of the clef nightmare but presently I'm limiting myself to grinding out notation I actually need. My ambitions don't run to accompanying myself; one simple line, mainly of crotchets, is enough at the moment. I salute your willingness to go much further into the jungle.

  3. Are you singing along with recorded accompaniment? I think you must be in order to have any idea where to begin. Karaoke of a sort? I think I have a handle on the idea of differing clefs, but my trumpet player brain would never accept what a pianist must: a different clef in each hand.

  4. MikeM: When I played the trumpet I used to envy pianists; the notes were all there, simply waiting to be struck; no bother about embouchure or the demands of triple-tonguing. Now when I look at a vocal score and see the horribly blobby piano accompaniment on the line below (all those fingers!) I am so glad that what I must reproduce can be expressed and executed so simply.

    Karaoke? Yes, but only in the initial phases where I need confirmation of the score's general shape. It was a great help with the Mozart (especially Martti Talvela on Youtube) but it became confusing with the Irish country song, She Moved Thro' The Fair, since the singers were all of the folk persuasion and their interpretations differed widely. As V pointed out my secondary task, after singing the piece, was to refine what I sang by reference to the score. Initially I reduced the score to my own form of notation but I have junked that; it's a time-waster. Better to augment the score with pencil and then force myself to follow everything - a capella - and be honest with myself when I miss some point or other.

    Gradually, after many many repetitions (crude but it's the price I must pay) what I sing and the score (as I understand it) get closer and closer together. To the point where I am totally lost without the score; negative though that may sound it is a significant development

    Musical reference points. My electronic keyboard helps here; when I'm desperate I laboriously use it and the score to solve mini-problems. Also to create musical starting points that I can imitate.

    Fitting in the novel is getting hairier but I tell myself it's not a bad thing to be mentally occupied during the day and I've managed over 12,000 words - about one-eighth of the proposed initial draft.