I'm feeling a lot better about my MAP presentation. I revised "Ephemerally Yours" and practiced it a lot and went through it with my bassist and sax player last night, and it sounds good now that I actually know how to play it, so now with "Floaters" and "Overheard", that's three pieces that are almost ready to go. I'm soloing on "Overheard", which is going to be a challenge. It's not that I can't think of what to play, it's that I don't have the skill to play what I can think of. So I'm sort of cheating by planning what I'm going to do for the beginning and end of the solo, and hopefully the middle will come together.
And then there's the new one. "Exit Smiling". Today I showed it to Gabriel, who's my piano teacher and, for all intents and purposes, my project adviser. Not only did he think it was salvageable, he thought it was actually good, and he helped me fill in the gaps. He had lots of suggestions, and one of them is totally going to work. See, this is the difference between Gabriel and my actual project adviser. When I play these things for Jorge, who's my actual project adviser, and ask him what he thinks, he starts talking about how I have some sort of mental blockage, and that I could come up with lots of amazing stuff, if only I could stop being so hard on myself. I ask him what he thinks the piece needs, and he just says unhelpful things like, "Well, if it's done, then you need to decide that it's done." He thinks that I'm not "allowing myself" to compose, and he even suggested that I see a shrink who specializes in helping musicians. What the fuck?
What I could use instead is an appointment every week for the rest of my life with Gabriel. When I bring music to him, the first thing he has me do is play it. He doesn't want to hear me talk about it, and he doesn't ask me if he should look at the score or not. He doesn't want to know why I chose the title I did, and he doesn't care if it took me ten hours or ten minutes to write. He just wants me to play it. And then he wants me to play it again. And then parts of it again. If I'm freaking out, he goes to the other side of the room and listens. If I'm on, he taps out some kind of Latin-sounding rhythm on the piano lid as I play. Then we go to where I had trouble, and we find a smooth path from chord to chord. If I had trouble coming up with a chord, he helps me find a path and we see which chord it takes us to. If the melody is lackluster, he finds the one note that needs to be different. He makes it seem so simple.
Yeah, so, this piece. It's different from all the others, because it starts with just a sax line that's followed with an arranged piano part. Then the rest of the band comes in, and we play for a while, and then it goes back to just piano, then sax and piano, and finally it ends with everyone together, although quietly. It's the only piece I've done for this project that has a completely arranged piano part. It needs to be, because it's all over the place tonally and meter-wise. The first four measures of the melody are almost a twelve-tone row. (I checked. Heh.) And if you think that part is weird, wait for the reharmonization! No solos on this one, Gabriel and I decided. None of us are good enough to do it right. Besides, we only have three more rehearsals to get it ready.
I'm glad I decided to do something different for this one. I could have written another A-B-A piece, but it wouldn't have had any soul. This one is more creative, and it's going to be a better example for the paper I have yet to write, since it's quite clearly an outgrowth of things I was studying in my jazz voicings book. And it has a single, well-placed seven-flat-nine-flat-five. Yum.
We got the poster and invitations designed and printed, so I'm not in logistical purgatory anymore. There are still the programs to worry about, but they're going to be very simple. Same cover as the poster, titles of the four pieces, names of the musicians, maybe a brief bio, and an ever-longer list of people to thank...