Sunday, June 28, 2009

Waiting in Vain for You're Love

I have long since been fascinated by musical arrangement.

As a small girl taking weekly classical piano lessons, I played classical pieces by Chopin, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Bach and Schumann. I heard alternate arrangements in my head. I didn't know how to attempt their expression.

Occasionally, I would create modern versions of a theme and play for hours, loving the new, what I now understand to be smooth jazz, version of something that began in classical form.

When I was 12 years old my piano instructor announced to my mother, "she has outgrown me". He suggested a more advanced instructor.

Then something happened. We moved to the other side of the country - South Carolina. Perhaps it was the uncertainty, the fact we knew no one and the town was not known for the classical musicians or instructors that inhabited it.

After 3 months with a new instructor (she had me playing a juvenile rendition of Blue a metronome no less) my interest ended. This was, in part, due to the humiliation of it all. I mean, Jesus, I'd been playing rather advanced classical pieces and now this old broad/heathen had me on a Metronome? A METRONOME? Are you fucking kidding me?

I didn't need a metronome. I needed greater, more challenging pieces. My ability to interpret music and take some liberty regarding "timing" was part of the art, love and reverence for the beauty of Ravel or Chopin. Sometimes I would become so enraptured by the astounding gorgeousness of what I was playing...I had to stop. The more talented my playing became the more I had to stop. I wasn't a craftsman, I was an appreciator. I belonged in the audience, even of my own playing.

I'm not saying I was that good. I'm just saying I was that "moved".

Ten's of years later I sat at the piano again. My father had unexpectedly died. I introduced myself to the "Death March". The classical composers did not let me down. They knew exactly how I felt.

By this time my technique was non-existent. I could not get through an entire piece. I could manage the first two pages, at best. I played them over...and over...and over again until the neighbours called the police.

I don't play anymore. Oddly, when I broke my finger the first thought that flooded my mind was, will this impare my ability to play the piano? Huh?

Like a faithful friend, the piano sits and waits for me. I'm getting old, I think I have arthritis in one of my fingers. At this point I can only manage a phrase or two of the music that reminds of important things.

You know when you hear and old song it immediately transports you to elementary school or a particular day in college? It's the same for me. A phrase of Handel sends me back to the day my mother told me when her brother was diagnosed with Cancer. He played Largo over and over for hours.

When I play it, I think of him. What was he thinking, was he scared? If I play it correctly I get overwhelmed. Not by the music per se ,which is profoundly sad and heart wrenching, but by the knowledge he was in the living room as a teenager, playing the same thing. I feel connected to an event I have no connection to. Except for the fact that I love him.

It's like loving someone from whom you are separated by great distance. Maybe you talk on the phone and both gaze into the sky at the same constellation. This mutual thing, just a star in the sky, becomes a symbol, something to share when, in real life, you can't share anything.

Above is some random woman's interpretation of Bob Marley's, Waiting in Vain. I never liked Bob Marley, I could never understand his lyrics. The cool thing is when you strip away the percussion and steel drums, the integrity of the song remains. My point is, a great composition can be re-interpreted. It merely becomes beautiful, in a different way.


Irish Gumbo said...


That was quite possibly the most beautiful thing I have read all month...and that last sentence applies to ourselves, too.

LL said...

The hell you say...

Charmaine said...

Yo - But everyone runs for the hills the minute I become the least bit sincere. arg.

BlueEyedWonder said...

I haven't run yet Charmaine!!
I love your sincerety..that honesty that stings...

Keep it up chick!