Life According to Piano

Hunewill & the Magic Piano

My dream: that simply because I enter the room, everyone in it experiences beautiful transcendent music!

My reality: usually I have to play the piano. For that, I need to practice and I need a piano, too. Sometimes I also need some magic.

Several summers ago I went to a guest ranch in the eastern Sierra with my husband. He really rides; I tagged along and did a teensy bit of ... well, nobody would really call what I do riding. Thursday night was guest talent show & Hunewill actually had a piano. So I figured I’d play for people, give them a way to see me other than as that weird lady who can’t ride.

Just one little challenge to overcome: the 1850s-era square Steinway lives at the ranch year-round — including the winter, when the family & cattle all move to lower elevations. The house is closed up, and cold. The piano suffers through the winter & seems to be minimally maintained otherwise.

So: the piano was out-of-tune, but even worse, its action was ... astonishingly uneven. No sense to it at all: a C, say, would require significant force to play while the D next to it sounded with the merest touch. When I was practicing on it, trying to voice (“bring out the melody”) was beyond frustrating. I considered skipping talent night entirely, since I couldn’t make music with the instrument.

And then I say

You could say that 7+ octaves on a piano just aren’t sufficient for music that wants to soar.

You could say I’d finally learned to play what I’d composed already, so it didn’t feel “hard enough” any more.

You could say this is the moment the trumpets should come in, and I’m stubbornly trying to make it work on a mere piano.

I say, “These are the notes that must be here for the lyrics Glory to God! we will shout ever more — and learn to play them I will. Whatever it takes. No extra notes, but these specific notes.”

I also say, ”Obviously, piano is trying to teach me balance,” because these notes cover 6 of the 7+ octaves. In 10 seconds. Jumping down & up & down & up & down & up & then really truly down. Unidirectional it’s not.

I also say, “Why do I do this to myself?”

I also say, “Whatever it takes for Homeward Bound.” Which I have previously blogged about here.

Updated to add:

Homeward Bound excerpt
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