This evening I picked up my guitar to work my challenge piece for the year, La Catedral by Augustín Barrios. I started on the third movement – the allegro – at about a half of normal tempo. It’s technically difficult to get the arpeggios even and not buzz strings as the left hand shifts position. It also just doesn’t sound that great slowed down. A bit frustrated, I back off and stated playing the second movement – the movement actually inspired by hearing Bach organ music from inside a cathedral – which has its own difficulties with phrasing and voicing. It was at that point that I noticed Julia closed the bedroom door between herself and me.
Most of the time Julia and the girls like having my music around the house, but I’m well aware that when I’m actually working on a piece, it can’t sound pleasant to have the same phrase repeated over and over, buzzing strings and all. That’s the difference between practicing and playing – I need to really work out some knots on this piece to make it playable. Unfortunately, this piece has a strongly melancholy feel to it – the first movement is played saudade, a Portuguese word for melancholy with that sense of yearning for lost love (the prelude was originally written in honor of Barrios’s late wife). Overall, a pretty depressing piece – it reminds me of a stormy evening, watching rain trickle down a window pane. Combine gut-wrenching melancholy with the awkwardness of repetitious practice… I can’t really blame her for closing the door.
But art makes a mess sometimes. On the one hand, the photo in my last blog entry shows a precious moment after a child’s inspired art project. It also shows that she left the table a mess the following morning, failing to clean up before leaving for school. If I’m practicing a piece that I have down reasonably well, it sounds musical. If I’m working through a difficult section… time to close the bedroom door. I still wouldn’t have it any other way; I’m grateful Julia and the girls overall enjoy my playing.
Here is what La Catedral should sound like. Someday…