Friday, January 6, 2012

Moonlight Sonata

When my mother was here for Christmas she told me a story about her father. Now, I never knew either of my grandfathers, but my father's father lived enough in hilarious anecdotes and offhand remarks that I thought of him as the man I would have called "grandaddy," if I'd known him. He had something of a posthumous personality. But my mother's father remained a stranger. I've always thought of him only as "my mother's father." Frankly, I never thought much about him at all until well into adulthood. He just never came up. I don't think he was much of a father to my mother.

But, my mother told me when she was up here that he played piano. And that when she was lying in bed as a girl, he'd be sitting at the piano trying again and again to get one piece of music right. Over and over he'd play the same run, the same few measures, and she would lie in bed and pray that he'd just get through it. I imagine the repetition was maddening for her.

As it probably is for Laney.

I've been working my way through Moonlight Sonata for a few months now. And we have a small house. So I imagine that Laney lies in bed and prays I could just get that one run with the double f sharp right (aside: why not just call it a G, Ludwig, I mean, Jesus Christ, a double f sharp is a G. For fuck's sake. Makes me crazy, even if there's probably a good goddamn reason why it's called a double f sharp and if I'd boned up on my music theory a little I'd know what that was. But I didn't and it's a goddamn G). Anyway, I'll hit that part and miss it a bit and move back a few measures and try it again. And again. And again.

Must be maddening for Laney. She's cool, though. She hasn't come downstairs yet and slammed the lid down on my fingers. Although I suspect the thought has crossed her mind a time or two.

It's not really the notes, though. I mean, you can miss a few notes and still get it right. But even if I got all the notes right (which I never do) I still wouldn't have it right. I might as well just get adjusted to the fact that I can't do it. I just can't get the feeling of it right. I just don't have whatever it is that you need to have to play Beethoven right.

I wonder if my mother's father did. I think it's sad that I probably won't ever really know.

Ah, well. I still love my piano. I love my clumsy attempts at Beethoven. I plan on taking on Pathetique soon (poor Laney). And I can do a standard pretty good. I should give the whole house a break and just work my way through the Cole Porter songbook. I can do those tunes.

But I wish I could play Beethoven for reals. I wish I could play like the lady below. It must be so wonderful.