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It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!
Hi all, I don't know if anyone has ever asked this question before ....I must be weird,....
well here goes...
I've always mostly played my own pieces, as I'm a composer, so don't tend to play other's compositions much, however when practicing, or even just noodling, I usually finish my session with a final arpeggio or at least a "2 handed chord", and I often have the urge to finish my session in C major, or at least one of the majors, and if I finish in minor, I have this niggling unfinished feeling. Maybe it's just a sense of performance completeness if playing to an audience, (which I do very little of), or my general musical upbringing?
Is this a common feeling amongst piano players, or am I truly unique in this world! I know it's a pretty abstract question, but I just got wondering, and thought here would be an easy place to ask.
This might be the first time I didn't avoid a thing that's in what my work is.
I can't resist, because it's a great question, and one that I'm very interested in.
The thing you're saying is a thing that we could say sounds like it could be that -- but it isn't -- unless it's a problem.
How do you know if it's a problem?
Well, if you don't, who else would?
It sounds to me like it isn't. It sounds to me like just a thing that you really like.
Some ways that such a thing might be a problem:
Main way: That you can't help doing it, and it plagues you.
Also: If it badly limits what you do musically-- like, if knowing that you're going to end like that forces you to do only some particular kinds of things leading up to it.
If you'd said that you need to play the chord over and over and over and that you can hardly bring yourself to stop, that would be a different story....but you're not saying anything like that.
BTW, it reminds me of a thing in an old "Honeymooners" TV episode (the show with Jackie Gleason and Art Carney) -- maybe it's mainly the old-timers here who will know this. There's an episode where Art Carney plays some songs on a piano (in real life he was really a very good piano player), and they have him needing to 'warm up' before every song with a couple measures of Swanee River. That turned out to be more than just a quirk. It had major plot significance in the episode -- to the extent that there can be major plot significance in a TV comedy.
P.S. Here's that TV thing: (it's actually just half the length of the video; for some reason they have some parts of the episode repeated after the first run, as though there were a couple of da capos or something)
Whether it's OCD, whatever that means, I cannot say, not being a psychologist.. But I think generally not because at one time composition taught as a guideline that a work could not end on a minor chord the reasoning being that a minor chord could not give a complete sense of closure, that only the major chord could, and that the start and end should express perfection, embodied in the major triad. You see this in practice from the time..for instance i"m working on the d minor prelude in book 1 of the wtc. Despite being in d minor, the final chord contains a major third rather than the minor.. Of course things have gotten a bit lax since in regards to "rules"... So I'd say you're thinking here is entirely consistent with historical practice, and not particularly ocd, unless one is to call traditional music practice ocd - which many undoubtedly have!
thanks for your thoughtful and detailed reply Mark. I do vaguely remember the Honeymooners! You sound like you study the psychology of music on the human mind? I have to confess I've always had a bit of an interest in how sound and music affects emotions. My life long interest in music is more driven by my emotions than the entertainment value!
Thank you also girflush for your comments, I partly was thinking the same when I mentioned whether my upbringing may have influenced this too. Somewhere in the past I would have been told about the traditional music conventions. Quite ironic really, even though music and piano has been a big part of me for my whole life...over 50 years, I have only had minimal formal training, and pride myself in a unique free style driven by my heart and my own empirical rules, and not by written conventions.
On reflection, I was perhaps too literal in using the term OCD. I was probably thinking it colloquially. You are right Mark, it is not something which rules my behaviour at all. It's just an observation, and wondered how unique I was in this way. If I am interrupted while playing and have to leave the piano, I don't give it a thought. It's more when I'm in that "perfection" mood that I have the urge to finish off major, and feel the incompleteness if I don't. Certainly, if I leave the keys with that niggling feeling, I haven't gone back to put it right. Perhaps that would be truly obsessive?
Perhaps there is another musical analogy in my life, which has been influenced by my life experiences. I have produced a couple of albums in the past. My style is generally music in minor keys, filmscore, emotional style. On both albums, I finish with the last track being in major. The journey has been sombre but it has a happy ending!
You sound like you study the psychology of music on the human mind?
I think he's saying he's a psychiatrist for people like me, with real diagnosed OCD, as opposed to people who are only wondering if they have OCD.
across the stone, deathless piano performances
"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano "Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person "Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
My thought (as a non-expert, non-professional, so you're getting what you paid for) is that it is mostly due to what your musical ear is used to, and you can train yourself out of it. I used to have the same feeling, but as a amateur composer I made a conscious decision never to end on a straight major triad. A plain minor triad is an unsatisfying ending, but try a major 7 #11, or a suspended 3rd. A minor 9th chord with open voicing has a nice restful sound, with a sort of major-minor ambiguity. You can even end on a bluesy dom 7.
There are many other possibilities if you don't insist on ending with a triad. Actually that's true for the harmony throughout the piece.
If Schoenberg can end his greatest work on an exultant C major chord (with no 'added' notes) hyperextended to heavenly length (unless you're one of the singers in the choirs, in which case it's h*llish length), I have no problem finishing all my opuses with a heavenly C major chord.
Except, of course, if my piece happens to be in C# minor, in which case I like to end with an exultant D flat major......
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Bennevis, in a way you made my point. Ending a piece on a heavenly or exultant major chord is great, but it's been done. And done, and done, and done. That said, a composer more skillful than I am, which probably means most of you, can still be creative and original with basic triads.
Simply as a matter of my own taste, I like exploring some of the odd corners of harmony and meter without, if you'll pardon the mixed metaphor, going too far out in the weeds. And to my ears, ending on, for example, a minor 9th doesn't sound at all unresolved.
If you're familiar with Copland's Piano Variations, it ends on gnarly growl down in the dungeon. Carl Ruggle's Sun Treader ends on a hair-raising yowl. But there is nonetheless an unmistakeable finality in both cases.