Pianissimo!

Not a lot of people know that I acquired a second-hand piano when I bought my house in Maynooth. I’ve been having a go on it from time since then. Fortunately it’s a detached house so that doesn’t cause the neighbours to suffer too much. I wish I’d got it tuned before the lockdown though. It’s a little bit flat in the middle range and gets worse as the notes get lower. Still, I’m such a terrible player that doesn’t make too much difference!

I can read music but am used to single note instruments and find piano parts difficult to read especially if there are complicated chords – or even simple ones, for that matter. I find having the notes squashed together like in the bass part here makes it difficult to disentangle them.

Fortunately I have a basic knowledge of harmony and can cope with chord symbols so I generally don’t try to read the bass parts but instead fill in chords according to the symbols. If the chords aren’t written on the music like the above example I add them myself.

Even for an oldie like me it’s quite easy to get used to playing basic chordal accompaninents. Most standard progressions involve only three or four chords. You can start playing block triads like in the example above just to get the idea. Adding, for example, the odd 7th here and there helps to explore the sound produced by different harmonic ingredients. After that you can play left-hand figures based on the chords to make it more interesting.

I know you’re all thinking that I’m way too old to be trying to teach myself how to play the piano. One of these days I think I’ll put up a YouTube video to prove that you are right.

14 Responses to “Pianissimo!”

  1. Anton Garrett Says:

    You can buy a synthesiser that produces accurate tones that enable people to tune their own pianos with a bit of DIY knowledge and a dedicated toolkit.

  2. The physics of tuning keyboard instruments is interesting, always bearing in mind that the enharmonic equivalence of the notes G♯ and A♭, say, is a lie told to children (I’m looking at you JSB).

    As a practical matter, you might support local industries and get a professional tuner in when circumstances allow, particularly if the piano is much below concert pitch. A tuner will also be able to fix the action where it is worn or needs adjusting. There again, might need to weigh up the cost of regular maintenance against the value of the instrument. Pianos don’t improve with age.

    Score-reading like many other things is mainly just a matter of slow practice and trying out lots of different pieces in various styles. IMSLP is your friend.

    • I’m happy to be in the camp of JSB. :-). I understand the arguments but, like the claim that vinyl sounds better than CD, many of them are bogus. Equal temperament allows for modulation and for stringed instruments with fixed frets.

    • telescoper Says:

      There is a highly-recommended local piano tuner who I intend to employ for the purpose, but it doesn’t qualify as essential so he can’t come into my house during Level 5.

  3. Excuse slightly off-topic comment, just thought telescoper and others on this thread might enjoy this video on tuning but not as we know it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KDnByxtTsg
    Summer project by a visiting student!

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