Monday, November 26

Music in the Night

Sometimes I wake up at night and can hear music in my head. Not all the time, but sometimes. And sometimes, if I pull myself out of bed to the piano 5 feet away, I record a piece of the melody on my phone so that I'll remember it in the morning.

That's how this piece began. It was a long time ago, shortly after I stopped dating one of the best harpists in the world (not kidding). I couldn't understand how she could spend 8 hours a day playing the harp... so I asked her to teach me to play. I wanted to understand her. She had given me one harp lesson, and, after learning to pick my way through Handel's Concerto for Harp in B flat, I began writing.

Harp music looks almost like piano music... and much of it can be played on the piano. There are major differences, though. Harpists use only four fingers on each hand to play, which means that ten-finger chords aren't possible. And since pedal harps change the tone of strings to match the key, a perfect (harmonic) glissando is possible in every key - not just C. There are plenty of other differences - like playing with overtones, or using the percussive aspects of the soundboard - but I'm not really all that good of a harpist. So my harp piece took shape on the piano. Maybe someday, when it's finished and I've practiced, I'll be good enough to play it on the harp.

This is the first time I've recorded this piece and shared it with others. Knowing the crowd, there are plenty of readers whose piano, recording, video editing, and other media skills far surpass mine.

But that's okay. Because, I guess, being authentic also means being vulnerable. Imperfect. And yet being able to see the beauty in that imperfection. So hopefully you can forgive the fact that the piano is old and out of tune, the phone's microphone is too close to record properly, the pianist (me) makes major mistakes and forgets an entire section, and there's no visual at all.

Someday I'll learn the piece well enough to play it flawlessly and record it on a Lyon & Healy concert harp. But today it's recorded on the upright in my bedroom. Because I think that part of learning to be happy in life is being okay with our imperfections. Working with them. Not letting them paralyze us or keep us from sharing who we are with others.

Finding the majesty in simple things. Being imperfect, vulnerable, and real. Hearing the beauty in the rain.


  1. Wow, you can make incredibly convincing sounds of thunder and rain on your piano. ;)

    1. (Sound effects from iMovie.) I put those in before I started recording, when I had far more grandiose visions of how the music would sound. But it was almost midnight when I got the idea... so I only had time to play through once.

  2. That piece brought joy to my day, thank-you.

  3. That was truly beautiful! I really hope you write more music. You have a gift.

  4. David, I loved it! It would make a terrific film score. That is so cool that you didn't feel like you had to create a perfect studio recording before you shared it.

  5. I would love to hear this as part of a movie soundtrack :) it's beautiful.

    Also, I listen to along with music all the time, or by itself. It's really calming!

  6. Well, your piano's in much better tune than mine was...before I left it behind in another state... :(
    Part of the song made me think of ballet, where it changes style suddenly, like a plot twist. Part of it reminded me of a harpist I used to know growing up. And at one point I wondered if I could manage a violin accompaniment. I've always been musically jealous of people who could play piano by ear; I never could, but sometimes I can play violin by ear (simple stuff, I'm no 1st chair).

    I like your song a lot. :)

  7. Sounds great David! How do we get sheet music for it?

  8. Beautiful :) I've played the piano for 15 years now and I couldn't write something like that if my life depended on it!


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