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Henry and Jani: A Namepiece in progress

May 1, 2016

Presently, I am composing “Henry and Jani”, which is to be a gift for my freshman roomate’s wedding in May; the melody is set in a minor mode reminiscent of hebrew music. I love the melody and its rhythm; but I am fearful of mucking up that melody; of losing what it is. So I avoided working on the accompaniment to the melody, hesitant that by adding to it, I would detract from it. And, I need to imbed the melody in my head and ears; to take time to get to know it, and be able to play with it.


Get the melody simply out there; with a simple, simple accompaniment of fifths or octaves; with no harmonic games; so easy to get sidetracked when I play /hear something that I am afraid I will forget, so must try to quickly commit it to paper, and then my ear tends to forget exactly what I played, and I struggle to find what was intriguing, to remember what I liked, but every note that isn’t what I am seeking distracts my ear and brain and me, and each of these attempts takes me farther from the mark; and now I am  pulling away from the dock; and then in the midst of this fumbling, I come across another harmony that intrigues, and I start all over trying to repeat what I just heard and played, and try to get the notes on paper with the right notation that I will be able to read, and with the correct rhythm.  So many times I come back to my notation, which seemed clear at the time, but which I now cannot decipher; and I flail around trying to recapture what I thought was worth remembering.
Last week I tried using the Ipad to get some of my ideas saved, and that worked very well for me. I knew about recording your musical fragments of ideas, for saving  and remembering, but it always seemed such an effort to record, and then more time to listen. And that’s what I usually did: record and not listen. But this time, it worked for me. 

I have an Old World, luddite , old fashioned, the old way is the good way, attitude. I don’t like all the technical interface. I’d prefer to avoid the added layers of keeping the ipad charged or connected by electric extension; having the ipad propped close at hand, reaching the distance to push the record button and push the stop record (it gets me out of playing position); discarding trash (the bad takes/un-desirable ideas). It all seems like small efforts, but each one, is something that might interfere  and prevent me from just digging in and getting my hands dirty. Why do I need this artificial crutch. And isn’t the experience of notation without an ipad, the pure aesthetic effort; isn’t the notepad ( by notepad, I mean a pad of manuscript paper) the purer challenge , that will train my ear and memory, and be nobler?
Now I read this, what a lot of rot; all the above is bombast, and self-deception ; I don’t compose on manuscript paper; I use Finale; and that is hard enough to use without adding more layers of complexity and technology. I am writing on my  2007 laptop (much better than that ipad); I am suggesting that there is a point that I don’t want to keep adding to the electronic/technical wizardry in my life; yet I am not writing this on my lined paper notepad. And its not as if I have been practicing music notation on paper; again,  using Finale, a computer program, to enter the notes. And a midi piano also is at hand. I suppose I am trying to draw some line in the sand. Enough with the technical computerized interface.
But I will try to use that ipad to remember and capture snippets, if its not too much trouble. I expect that I should be able to get it without the extra equiptment; didn't the  Great Masters?

Just heard my husband whisting the Henry and Jani tune; that is my secret measure of the tune; it stuck with him. Some satisfaction in that small honesty.



Steph 5/31/2016 01:21:44 pm

I hope you publish "Henry and Jani" to the harp community. It's a very nice melody. Reply


Alexandra Coursen     Steph: thank you for your encouragement and support; I am planning to make it available as a PDF download.

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