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Wednesday, March 06, 2002

It's the Music that Matters

(caution: this entry is completely irony-free)

I buy sheet music compulsively. I have at least five feet of music on the shelves in my apartment. My piano is stacked with stuff I am playing or playing around with. I have much more music than my abilities and time left on this earth will afford me to play. I keep buying more because I like the way music looks. I like having the possiblities contained in these books at my beck and call.

I especially like the Schirmer’s Library of Musical Classics books. These are yellow with green garlanded trim. They are incredibly inexpensive which further fuels my fetish. The first one I purchased was titled First Lessons In Bach. I remember walking up to the cash register and feeling like an imposter. I thought the sales clerk might challenge me, make me play a few measures, but I just needed to fork over the $3.95 (I told you they were cheap).

Another great series of music books for the beginning to intermediate pianist are the Alfred Masterwork Editions. These aren’t much more expensive than the Schirmer books. They have great looking reproductions of paintings that reflect their content. On the introduction book to Beethoven’s piano works there is a detail from Joseph Mähler’s oil portrait of Beethoven doing his best Gary Oldman impersonation.

Samuel Scott’s Entrance to the Fleet River is on the cover of Clementi’s six sonatinas. The thumbnail sketch on the back cover explains this choice. “This beautiful oil painting was chosen for this cover because, not only does it represent the London that Clementi knew as a young boy, but like his sonatinas, this colorful, bright and refreshingly airy composition is a joyous celebration of the times.” I love the painting at least as much as the sonatinas, but I love that description more. I would love for something that I create to be so described.

A little later in the day, I passed by a middle school orchestra performing on the stage of the Seattle Center. I missed out on the whole band thing as a kid because where I grew up music training was seen as superfluous, or at least highly optional. I look upon young musicians with equal parts awe and envy. A person who learns a language as an adult is almost never fully able to conquer the accent, similarly, it is nearly impossible to master an instrument if you start late in life as I did. Better late, as they say.

I took a seat and listened to the concert. They band concluded with a medley of songs from Annie. Their teacher and conductor was really working them through this piece and the kids rose to the occasion. They looked like they were having a blast up there. As a spectator it would have been impossible not to be moved by the performance, even if you aren’t a big show tune whore like I am. They finished up the medley and the concert with Tomorrow and I couldn’t help thinking to myself that if these kids playing Annie isn't a joyous celebration of the times, a colorful, bright and airy composition, I don’t know what is.

I will probably get beat up for this but I'll leave you with this song which you'll be singing the rest of the day:

TOMORROW

The sun'll come out tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow
there'll be sun.
Jus' thinking about tomorrow clears away the cobwebs and the sorrow
till there's none.
When I'm stuck with a day that's gray and lonely, I just stick out my chin and grin and say:
Oh, the sun'll come out tomorrow, so you got to hang on till tomorrow
come what may!
Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow, you're only a day away.

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