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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Missed It By That Much

I wanted to do it. It was so tantalizingly close. I could almost reach out and touch it. But it wasn’t to be. At least not yet.

I really thought I could get a performance of the Mudarra Galliard on video at 100. A nagging cold slowed me down. (Which is why I didn’t post last weekend. Sorry.) But early in the week there were brief moments when my hand felt good at 100. On Thursday I was so optimistic that I set up the video equipment and finished my practice session with the camera rolling. All I got were a lot of botched takes and some creative cursing. Figuring my right hand was camera shy, Friday I tried running audio only takes. Still nothing.

I’ve noticed over time that there’s an iron law of progression I can’t avoid. First, I catch a glimpse of something getting better, but only alone in the practice room and only for a few seconds. Then, slowly, the improvement gets more consistent and reliable, but still only in the practice room. If I try to show it to anyone, it disappears. After much painstaking work, I can then show it to one or two people. But God forbid that I should try to put it on stage in front of an audience. In time, however, even that barrier will fall.

Which leads me to the mantra that sustains me through each flicker of hope:

      If I can do it once, I should be able to do it twice.

      If I can do it twice, I should be able to do it thrice.

      If I can do it thrice, I should be able to do it consistently.

      If I can do it consistently, I should be able to do it in front of an audience.

      If I can do it consistently in front of an audience, I’ve got it.

      And on to the next problem.

You can hear where I am now on this audio sample. The tempo is 100, and you’ll find it’s neither clean nor rhythmically secure. But I sense I’m close to cleaning it up. (No, really I am. Seriously. Why are you looking at me like that?) I’m now very familiar with the physical tension that creeps in whenever I try this piece over 90. There are moments in my practice sessions where I’m able to keep the tension at bay just long enough for one good rep. I just haven’t gotten it on a recording yet. With patience and careful monitoring of the tension, I believe I can clear this hurdle.

So my goal is to get a clean performance of the Mudarra Galliard at 100 on camera by the end of November. Wish me luck.

——[My next update will be November 12, 2012]——

1 comment:

joshua rogers said...

Great blog. Have you tried aiming for 105-110? I know it sounds weird but I think there is some merit in aiming to play it faster than you actually intend to perform it. If you mentally pschye yourself up to play it above 100 when you return to 100 it should be easier