Excursion through music and coffee

Every instrument i ever played i learned to play with the help of sheet music.The black- and white-ness of music sheets and controlling the correct beat with tools like a metronome fits great with the logic, slightly robotic German understanding of the world.

I had been playing piano for multiple years of my life until i quit when i started traveling more. Years later, one late night at the Asian Open after the karaoke room had gotten closed, I found myself sitting on the beautiful grand piano in the lobby of the hotel, hearing pieces in my head that i had played a million times when i was around 14 , but I wasn´t able to let my hands play anything – with no sheets. It was a desperate feeling, i knew all the music was in my head and i really wanted to let it out, take advantage of the amazing piano, nicer than anything i had ever played, but nothing came out. I couldnt do it. I sat there on the fancy piano, feeling caged and restricted without creating a sound, and made the plan to come back to this piano someday and be able to play everything my heart wants to play.

I got back into playing piano, with sheets, finding pianos around the world in hotels and churches while traveling, daring to just play no matter if there were people around or not. Last summer in New Zealand once i arrived at my hotel piano, i saw someone else play it the first and only time. Her name was Melody (really!) and she was playing without sheets. She said she never learned how to read music. I was impressed. That day she opened my eyes to playing without sheets. She said you just have to let it happen. I did. It was one of the most amazing moments in my musical life.

I wonder where the music comes from when you just improvise, play without sheets, without a direction or navigation system through the world of sound. Sure it must be based on what you´ve played before, that is all somewhere stored in your subconsciousness, but then there´s also that magic when you play like that – it feels like the picture from the mirror of your soul just falls into your hands and manifests itself in music. Sometimes I close my eyes while playing without sheets and it feels like the emotions go on a direct flight from heart to hands, without a stop-over created by the sense of vision.

Sometimes such beautiful melodies happen that you´re torn apart between keeping the flow of playing and letting the pretty butterfly consciously pass by, admiring and feeling its existance, and wanting to catch it, to keep it, to make it your pet.

Today I went pet hunting, decided to write down the music i make up. It´s tough.

Improvising is like a muddy coffee. The black energyzing coffee is the part in music that comes straight from your heart and soul, your intuition, your subconsciousness, it is what makes the music come alive, whereas the white milk is the logic, the mathmatic, the rhythm, it´s the part you can write down on sheets.

The moment you create sound you mix milk and coffee in one cup. Depending on your style of playing you either get a more white or black coffee, but once it´s sound, it´s mixed. Pure black coffee is just energy whereas pure milk is just a music sheet. It was hard to crystalize the milk out of the coffee, felt like i had to kill the butterfly to keep it.

After some killing and synthetically trying to seperate the coffee molecules i ended up with some milky essence of music on paper. It didn´t sound or look very good when I played it exactly as i had written it down. But with some notes between the notes, some sponteanous accentuation and emotions, the entire thing came alive.

For the future i probably won´t try to capture the butterfly anymore. Just let it fly and live. Appreciate the moment and don´t try to stop time.

I admire composers that have managed to write down music that sounds like it has a soul even if you play it perfectly straight from the sheet. But any music will come more alive if you allow your own feelings shine through. Personally it also lets me find a better inner balance and connection to the world. Sounds crazy but playing piano before snowboarding makes me land more solid. Seriously.

In a few days I leave to Mt.Hood for the peepshow session and some pre-NZ riding. There´s a sweet hidden piano in the Timberline lodge, right next to the first lift you take going up the mountain. After that, in NZ, I don´t even really know yet where to sleep, but i know the piano in the hotel lobby where I met Melody. My wish would be to meet her again and play together. 4 handed without sheets.

Posted on by Silvia Posted in Diary

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