Friday, October 28, 2016

Sick Dolls, Good Times

  As promised (threatened?), this one will be a more music oriented blog post. One of the first things when arriving here was to find a new piano teacher as I feel that this is the only way for me to achieve my maximum potential as a "pianist" (I use that word quite loosely in the current state of affairs). I want to be able to play at least some of the songs I find more impressive and relate to in their melancholic desolation.
  I feel like I am learning a lot about music during these lessons and this is a huge source of inspiration for me. I do not mean simply in the means of technique for the piano but getting a grasp of some of the ideas behind the sheet of music, such as multiple melodic lines emerging from something played with only one hand, accented notes (and how to play them or at least some ideas to it), articulation, phrases and so forth. I know I am just scratching the surface here, but having read about some theory before now gets practical context and the "ohh, that's what it means!" is a very common and rewarding feeling during these lessons. It also helps that my teacher appears to be classically aligned, so there are a lot of insights to be gained for me.
  Whilst rehearsing scales, chords and arpeggios can be tedious at times, I have also been putting work into Tchaikovsky's "The Sick Doll" from the Album for the Young (totally makes me feel younger as well!). The greatest thing about this piece, besides it being a composition of one of the greats of the late Romantic Era, is the fact that despite its relatively simple notation, it can teach a lot about depth in how you choose to play it. My first rendition of it did not sound so bad back then (also it will never be published), but having recorded it and listened to it a few weeks later, the difference is staggering and indeed I was butchering the piece beyond all measurements. With the hopes of one day being able to play something by Rachmaninoff (yet that is a topic for another post, as is my obsession with his work), being able to play something by the more considerate romantic composers is a great way to maintain motivation. By "more considerate" I am referring to composers such as Schumann and Tchaikovsky who were kind enough to compose pieces that can be played with less than 8 years of vigorous piano study and practice.
  The Sick Doll (Op. 39 No. 7) is a sad yet beautiful piece. I would argue that it is too sad for dolls, being children's toys, are supposed to get better. My impression is that this one does not though, since the next piece on the same album is called The Doll's Funeral (No. 8) which has some remarkable resemblance to the funeral march we all know too well. This is also the first piece I publish that I played myself as I am not tremendously ashamed of how this particular recording turned out. It was also the first recording with my new recording hardware so it makes it somewhat more special in a very minor way.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Almost Estonian

Arriving here for the first time knowing that there was now apartment to go back to in Finland did cause me some anxiety and being sleep deprived, I felt almost scared for a while here - inside the apartment. This was a really weird experience for me. To follow this up, the following morning I, for the first time ever, experienced sleep paralysis. It is a dreamlike state in which one is awake, but unable to move, often accompanied with some form of scary feeling, or even hallucinations. For me, it was this feeling of someone malevolent being in the same room, but with no sensory hallucinations to affirm this feeling. As far as I know, sleep deprivation and stress can cause this, but having had both of them in large dozes before, you would think this would have happened before but it had not. I would prefer for it to not happen again either.
  Since then, things have been running smoother and smoother. Having become familiar with my new apartment, I no longer feel such anxiety. With most of the bureaucrazy done, I have gotten rid of a lot of the related stress and this is starting to feel like the place I want and should be in. To an extent, this is advancing faster than I thought that it perhaps would be. I no longer feel like I'm just visiting here.
   Yet, there is still much to do before one can actually just sit down and relax without a worry in the world. It remains to be seen whether this tranquility can actually be found here, or elsewhere as I can only recall one such moment from my adult life, but I know I am progressively working towards it now. Today, for the first time since I came here, I felt like I am closer to "winning".
   Since I came here, I have set up a company (which despite low amount of bureaucracy in Estonia has been a bit of a hassle), found a piano teacher and got a residence permit, ID card and a maid. And that's on the side of Estonia. It is immensely liberating to let go of one's old place and realize that you are not going back to that place. The effect is obviously somewhat grander when it is also a different country.

Autumn cometh

A photo posted by Sami Anttila (@muhwu) on

I will probably write another post this week (as I already started) and it will be about music. Not sure whether that constitutes a hype or a warning, but I will let anyone judge by themselves.

Economy of Motion

My previous post concentrated on some basic recurring issues I tend to have but I noticed that despite writing these out, some of them keep ...