Sunday, December 4, 2005

First Improvisation


I've decided to do something unusual for today's posting. As some of you know, I love to play the piano. I can't say that I'm very good at it, but there are few things I enjoy more. In particular, one of my favorite activities is just to sit at the piano for a few hours and improvise. It's just something I've done for years now, and I find it a very useful way for me to relax after a long day. It's rare that anyone actually gets to hear these improvisations, and most people probably don't even know I have this habit, since I usually end up improvising when I happen to find myself alone in a room with a piano.

But, recently a couple of new developments have occurred. For one thing, thanks to my friend Patrick, I now have an electric piano in my apartment. I've always wanted a keyboard in my apartment, and a while back I was seriously investigating buying a clavichord, since I figured that it would be small enough to fit in my apartment, and perhaps quiet enough for me to play without disturbing the neighbors too much. But an electric piano is even better. Now I can play at 3 AM with headphones on, and my neighbors don't hear a thing. This is a particular boon since I really do like playing late at night, and it has been very rare that I've been able to do so, since the baby grand piano in the apartment I grew up in was far too loud to play even after 8 PM. Further, though, now with a midi connector I can actually hook the electric piano up to my computer and record things using the Garageband software. And then it is really easy to convert the file into something that could be played in itunes. This has been a very interesting development, because my improvisations are usually one-off things, and no two improvisations are even remotely the same, so I never get to hear what I've done afterwards, and if there are good moments, they disappear almost instantly. I'm hoping now that I can hear the compositions multiple times, I'll be able to improve their quality. Right now, they are just sort of experiments with harmony, dissonance and rhythm, but I'd like to eventually be able to produce things that sound really good. I mean, the things I play now have moments of clarity, but it is still rare that I'll sit down and play an entire piece that sounds like something worth recording. Nonetheless, I think that my improvisations do express the moods I'm in rather accurately, and hence they are a good way of recording the way that I feel.

So, in an effort to enhance my blog, I've decided to occasionally post improvisations here in AAC format. They are reasonably sizeable files (5 MB or so for a five minute file), but since I have a limited amount of space on, I probably won't post more than a few at a time. So this is what I'm going to do. Anyway, just to reiterate, I don't claim that these are particularly good. I'm still quite an amateur, and I realize I need to diversify my harmonies, and produce more interesting rhythmic features, and the developments can be greatly improved. They are really experiments, and nothing more. But if you happen to be interested in listening to an experiment every now and then, you'll find some here. Perhaps you'll even find a few moments that you like. The other night I was in a C minor sort of mood, so here is an Improvisation in C minor. (If for some reason you can't play the preceding link, as some have mentioned, here is an MP3 Version of the Improvisation in C minor. (I may stick to MP3 in the future.)

P.S. The little photo in the corner is a stylized version of a photo I took at one of my favorite lakes in Vermont when I was in a particularly C minor sort of mood a couple of years ago.