György Ligeti, Three Wedding Dances
I fixate. Obsess, even. I’ll listen to the same song or piece on repeat. Occasionally it’s even smaller, one specific section of a larger work or song. This can go on for weeks if it’s something I really enjoy. I’ve driven friends crazy by listening to the same Vulfpeck song for nearly an entire evening. When it comes to authors, I’ll read their entire output. For bands or composers, I’ll listen to everything I can get my hands on, keeping notes of what I want to return to later for fixation purposes.
Recently I’ve realized how unhealthy this behavior is in many areas of life, but there are occasional advantages when it comes to music. Mainly, if there’s a piece I love listening to, I can learn it rather quickly. One small plus within a larger eccentricity.
Some of my recent recording projects have involved pop music, Pentatonix and The Beatles, not groups typically associated with marimba playing. So when I wanted to switch gears recently, I listened to a lot of twentieth century classical music for inspiration.
During a György Ligeti phase, I found his early keyboard works to be vastly different from the majority of his output. Thick, dense textures and free use of dissonance are nowhere to be found. On the contrary, this piece, Három lakodalmo tánc (Three Wedding Dances) for piano four-hands is quite light and playful. The third movement, Csángó forgós (Circling Dance) is less than a minute long and fit the scope of what I was looking for.
Everyone knows the age-old question “When recording, can I play perfectly together with myself?” For me, the answer is a resounding “not really.” But thankfully this is the preamble to a larger project I’m dreaming up. A practice run for a more elaborate recording of me playing along with…myself. It’s fun, cheesy, and short, everything I could ever ask for. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
The Beatles and Toru Takemitsu, Michelle
I’d love to start by saying that my mental health has improved dramatically since my last marimba arrangement post. But that would be a lie. My hair is the only real difference. I don’t know if making another video and posting it here will help, but I’m going to give it a try. If nothing else, it will occupy my mind for a few hours.
First things first, Michelle is more difficult than Can’t Help Falling in Love. More notes, more independent lines. So it took longer to prepare, and at times, more energy than I had to give.
But here we are. So…
I love The Beatles. I also love this song, and Toru Takemitsu’s beautiful arrangement of it. But sometimes music is work, especially if you’re in a dark place. Case in point: preparing to record this has been really difficult, in spite of my love for the music itself.
Musicians are often told to push through the hard times. “You’re having difficulty practicing?” Just remind yourself of why you love playing. “Trouble with the career aspect?” Remember why music is so important to you personally. Simple.
But what if it’s not that easy? What if enjoyment is almost non-existent? Can I push through that as a performer? Won’t everyone watching see the lack of emotion, or how I’m running on autopilot?Of the 6 people who will watch this, how many will see right through me?
Short answer, I don’t know. But at the moment, I do know that something is better than nothing, even if that’s all I can say with certainty.
And now moving away from the darkness…
Michelle is a beautiful love song (I love you x3 or I need you x3) from the 1965 album Rubber Soul, which is often referred to as a transition for The Beatles. The “midway” point of their journey, if you will. At the moment, this idea is resonating with me perhaps more than the music. I’ve recently felt like I’m in flux, moving from one thing to the next. To quote from a favorite show of mine, “Whatever happens next…happens next.”
In the meantime, here’s another video with only my iPhone, one mic, and an empty room.
Can't Help Falling in Love
All of these posts will be by me, Mark. But if you're here, you likely knew that already!