So I've gone off the beaten path and I'm now on the road of Bach's 5th Suite in the scordatura tuning. After trying and failing to play the piece well in traditional tuning, I re-tuned my A string down to G and tried it. OMG! The resonance! The ease of playing the chord and double-stops! It was like removing every technical difficulty there was with this piece by simply de-tuning one string. My viola starting singing to itself like it never did before on this piece. I could feel the sympathetic vibrations under my chin.
Bach was a genious!
It has been an emotional roller-coaster lately, and I'm really looking forward to regaining some aspect of "normalcy" over the next week or so. I haven't had a lesson in weeks due to personal and professional conflicts. My bow arm technique has slipped a bit, but my dynamics and vibrato took a huge leap forwards. I'm ready to work the technical again.
As I posted awhile back, my grandfather passed away and went singing (literally). As a fellow muscian, this was the best way I can think of for someone to pass on, and my family is grateful that he went on in the way that he did rather than suffer. He wished that I play in his memorial service which I did.
I had originally planned on playing Greensleeves, but when the time came it did not seem right. The piece simply did not reflect what I was feeling at the time nor how I remembered my grandfather. Instead, I played Elegie by Vieuxtemps with a piano accompianment. I had only played the first page for a few days and never with a piano before that day, but felt that it was the right thing to do. This piece reflected more of what I felt about my grandfather and his passing than anything else I had played before.
So I played. I played with the pianist for in the 30 minutes in an empty chapel. I was there by myself when my grandfather's casket was brought into the chapel after the pianist left and before anyone else had arrived. I played for him alone in an empty room, just my grandfather me, noone else to listen in to what I said to him nor what I played for him. I played Bach's Suite 2 Prelude from my heart as I could not see the music through my tears. I played Elegie with an aching heart for him and all of my family and his friends, not caring how well or how poorly I played, but I played for him alone to honor his life and his love for music and beauty. I shook from head to toe with an emotion that I could not hold back no matter how hard I tried to control myself and I did not care.
For the first time I knew how to express my emotion through music for I had plenty of it that was fighting to come out into the open no matter how hard I tried to keep it contained. The opening measures were filled with sadness, a hole that my grandfather had filled just weeks before, a minor key staying in the lower registers on the G and C resonating my deepest sadness with an barely heard melody. Then anger for how unfair it is to have him taken away so soon, moving from the lower C to the upper C in a fast and furious crescendo. And finally a grudging acceptance that he is no longer with us in body but always in soul, wishing that I had just a few more minutes to share with him before he made the decision to leave us - a hopeful ascent to the upper C for a longing moment and then slowly moving back down to the lower F in acceptance of his passing. The pianist finished expressing what I could no longer do on my own on the fermata while I cried.
Days later, I had wished that I could have honored him better by being in more control of my emotions and played better than I did. He was a Marine afterall, "pain is only a weakness of the body". I regretted having my emotions and pain exposed where everyone could see. Later I came to accept that my musical eulogy was no better nor worse than any others given that day by my father, my uncles and aunt. I was the only grandchild that "spoke" of his passing and what he meant to us all, and for that I am grateful.
Grandpa, I play this piece for you. I hope you like it.
Love you always,
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