Sunday, 25 October 2015

What is this blog for?

People in my local café often say ‘Hey, Simon, if you did this, or that, more people would look at your blog.’ They take it for granted that getting more people to look at these pages must be some great ambition of mine. Actually their main function — indeed I’d say their main purpose as far as I’m concerned — is to give me an opportunity to vent my spleen; to rant about the general stupidity and ignorance of the human race; then I feel relieved, and can get on with more important things, such as learning to play Chopin’s Mazurka No. 49, Opus 67 No. 4 in A minor. (Ashkenazy does it well, so did Rubenstein, and some of those little Japanese girls one finds all over YouTube do OK, though I suspect they have reduced the huge chord in the left hand at bar 4 to a more manageable size. Most of the others suffer from Glenn Gould syndrome; the notion that the composer is a mere vehicle for their own self-expression.)

I admit I’m quite pleased — but also mystified, because I can never work out quite why it’s happened — when the readership suddenly jumps from a gentle ten or twenty people (or perhaps the same person ten or twenty times?) a day to 200, only to fall back the next day. But I won’t go out of my way to attract readers, indeed some might say I seem to go out of my way to repel them. People may look at it or not, as they please: I don’t give a nun’s wimple.


This rather macabre picture is in fact a photograph of casts of Chopin’s hands. Large hands aren’t always an advantage in piano playing: they help you play chords that involve a stretch of more than an octave, and Rachmaninov, who had very large hands with very long fingers, seems, judging from some of his scores, to have taken a mischievous pleasure in writing chords no-one but himself could manage. But big hands and long fingers can sometimes get in the way. (I’m talking about piano playing.) My own hands are large, and the fingers are quite long, and I can stretch my left hand a long way because of years of playing classical guitar. But my fingers are also too fat, so that they often get stuck between two black notes, so that instead of playing the white note between them, I play it and the notes a semitone above and below, with somewhat unmusical results.
PS Only now do I notice that Chopin seems to have had two left hands.
This could explain a lot.

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