Concurrently with my other duties of research and my PhD, I have still afforded time to the endeavor of music. And I will continue doing so, regardless.

In regard to tracking progress, I have now achieved the ability to practice for one consecutive hour upon the viola. When I had first began, a good month ago, I could not stand for more than five minutes. Now, I can stand for an hour… and no longer, do my fingers bleed from pizzicato (yes, for the month, I would play ’til they bled).

Just as well, I have begun to develop many calluses on my right hand from practicing pizzicato daily. On all the flats of my fingers in fact–well, except for the pinkie… although, that one is next. I have also taken to assisting the process of hardening these calluses, with the application of rubbing alcohol to them every so often. Also, it is very important not to pick at calluses… nor should one ever pluck when their hands are wet. NEVER! It has been roughly, over a month and I have learnt much.

I have now earned the right to begin bowing, at last!

Admittedly, at this moment my technique is clumsy, and unpleasant to the ear. However, I give myself reassurance in my position as a novice–In good time, I will develop a wonderful quality of sound. Just as well, in my hour of playing, I see that two indentations have begun to form on my skin. One, just above my collar bone… the other just under my jaw. My instructor had dubbed these a ‘viola hickey’. He has one himself, which leads me to believe that he and his viola are very-well acquainted. Violists and violinists alike tend to develop these, after 8-Hrs of daily practice–yes, the professional ones. Such marks do well to demonstrate their diligence!

I too, would one day, love to sport a hickey. To wear thine hickey like that of a medal!

More on the progress of music. Even though I had done my best to avoid pianos. They haunt me. They taunt me. I see them everywhere. “Play me Meryl, play me.” I had made mention to my instructor, that my reason for seeking his tutelage had much to do with my wish of eventually studying musicology, and composition. I should like to compose good pieces, eventually. His advice was that I purchase a digital piano should I wish to be a good composer“. His advice was that the good composer would be expected to be multifaceted in their skill. Just as well, the piano is perfect for composition… with all of its 88 keys, flats & sharps being lined up. One can play, write, and recite from the instrument with ease. Therefore, it is indeed rudimentary. To learn the language of music, not only as how it is written, but how it sounds… just as well, in practice.

So now, I not only learn the viola. I also learn the piano at a basic level.

I could not escape the piano, no-matter how I tried… Even in seeking to learn the viola, I find myself again, staring at its 88-keys. I will yield, dear piano. I will yield…

But this is excellent, no? Therein, I can write sonatas. For viola, with the piano being an accompaniment. One day soon enough! I have taken to ordering a piano, and have arranged my living spaces to properly accommodate it. To be specific a “Korg B2SP Black – 88 Key Digital Piano with Stand and Triple Pedal”. Yes… give me all of the pedals. Yes… give me keys which simulate the acoustic piano. ALL YES! Good bye, digital piano.

I have named my piano “Alexandre”. All of my instruments are named, and those of which I haven’t yet started learning… will also, be named. All have male names, for they are all my lovers. My viola’s name is “Treasure/Gaspar” due to viola being the instrument, I wish to master.

This sonata, was the very first I ever listened to. And this sonata is the very reason, why I had chosen to learn the viola past the violin at first. Although, admittedly, I will also play the violin in the years to come.

My teacher hates this composer.

Much soliloquy was expressed… Now, onto the meat of study and practice!

This week of both practice and theory.


My instructor has said that I will not learn how to tune my viola, ’til I have learnt all notes on the viola. So far, I only know of seven:
A4, G3, G4, C3, D4, E4, and F#4.

I will be, firstly, learning how to play the D-Major scale family on the viola… hence, at this current writing, I am missing a C# on the ‘D’.

All in good time. All in good time.

My instructor revised my drilled notes, and was happy with my progress.

One page, out of three I did that week for drilling the C, G, A, and D major scale collections within my heart. Just as well, I remember the diatonic scale degree off by-heart. Whole, Whole, Half, Whole, Whole, Whole, Half.

Homework for L.VIII:

  • Preliminary Music Craft Exercises, p.9. Questions 1.b.2:

    Arpeggio and chords.
    Both Arpeggios and chords are found within scale families, however their function in how they sound when the instrumentalist plays them are very different. Arpeggios are played in succession, whilst chords are played simultaneously. Hence, through notation they are written as such.

Intervals, and scale degrees are also another facet of scale families. To build a simple C-major chord, one builds through the intervals of the root note (c), to the major third (e) and finally a perfect fifth (g). If one wishes to build a four-note chord, one can go through the method of doubling. One doubles the tonic’s pitch family, by stepping it up an octave, I.E: C4 to C5.

The interval for C5, would be known as a perfect octave (P8). It would be, as written from using the middle-C as the root note:


The leading tone is always the note before the tonic. In the C-major scale, for instance, both Cs are scale degree 1 (The high C, being 1 or 8). Therefore, the ‘B’, would be the leading tone.


I must continue bowing, at this current writing, my coordination is quite terrible. I will, however capitalize on mine strength of compartmentalization, and separate tasks into micro-tasks. My right hand isn’t moving in-time as of yet, for it hasn’t been trained in comparison to the left. I will now spend time ensuring that my bow is moving at the right speed, with the right weight. Firstly on open strings, then I will…

* Say the note names out-loud in beat of the metronome.
* Then say the finger numbers.
* Then bow.

I now move onto playing minims. Playing with minims in-mind, one holds the minim for two beats in accordance to common-time. By advice of my instructor “Remember to be a reflective learner. If you make a mistake, stop and tell yourself. Then start again and ensure that you improve on it.”

There is one major criticism to my technique, as perfunctory as it is. I am not making use of the entire bow. I must use the entire bow. That is the idea of bowing. Just as well, I bow at an angle as all beginners do. My teacher however did quell my anxieties, in that he too bowed in an angular fashion when he first began playing viola. It took him a good year, to finally straighten his bow.

The lane concept is used, only to refer to the placement of the bow on the viola, for ease of semantics. Later down the line, as I advance in playing, placing of the bow will be referred to through the spatial relation of the fingerboard and bridge.

For homework, I dedicate one hour daily to playing all pieces 1-23 with bowing as opposed to pizzicato. I must use the entire bow. Then I will practice lines 29, and 30. First slowly, then quickly.

Composition practice, and composers research:

My teacher also conjured up this fantastic method of keeping track of an excel spreadsheet. Within, we list composers and works, and he gives me questions to answer–so that I may build an appreciation, and web of understanding for composers, from movement to movement. This will help me greatly, in my intention of composing seriously in the future. This week, I focus on that nutter Louis-Hector Berlioz. Man was a genius. This man constantly needed to be in-love in-order to write. If one looks through his history. He pursued love affairs with just about anyone until his death. One wife dies, he gets another. And I will also be looking at another Frenchman, by the name of Claude Debussy (Ah, yes, I know you). I will be exploring what impressionistic music is; Who are some impressionistic composers; and how can one define an impressionistic piece of music? And mostly… What are its defining characteristics?

(From last week’s Chopin post. Rubato means, to be ‘robbed of time’. Therefore, Chopin’s method of rubato does not adhere to the tempo exactly… however, his musical compositions still retain a beat. I think that’s obvious. Chopin was a finicky hottie.)

Then, I have also been instructed to study what the genre ‘Programmatic music’ is. Namely, that of Prokofiev’s romeo and Juliet suite no 1. Also, just as well, I think my teacher knows implicitly that I love scores within film… I was given the advice to expand outside of orchestral forms, and genres in regard to composition. As a composer, I will need to write music from many forms. And just as well, I will need to learn how to write for vocals eventually. However, I will save that for the future.

Therefore, this little foray into programmatic music is warranted. The more I can expose my ears to, the better.

Prokofiev’s my jam. His ballet compositions are to die for…

I have also, throughout the week, been instructed to write variations of compositions, for homework just as well. Below, you will find my very first sketches. That is, to the proceeding ones I will be making in the years to come. This is my life now.

Composition Sketches:

I am still at kindergarten level, I did just begin this journey over a month ago… I now begin composing sketches, on Musecore. My teacher however suggests, that when I do become more experienced, I ought to purchase Sibelius for my eventual composition work. ‘Deed I will.

Here are my first attempts into writing music. Admittedly, I am influenced by Nobuo Uematsu, of Final Fantasy fame. His compositions, were some of the first I heard during my seminal years. I believe, his work is what truly set my tastes. Especially Final Fantasy VIII. These pieces are therefore, composed from my mind, as per his influence.

Just as well. These are my very first compositions, so go easy on me…

The first composition I ever wrote. Composed in the ‘C Major’ key. It is called “Maybe”, set to a Lento/Largo tempo. This is a soloist piece, intended for piano. It’s written with the grand staff in-mind, and it is set to a simple duple meter. The treble staves have a bunch of tremolos, to spice things up. We have many chords peppered throughout, just as well.

I also did an arrangement , which is really just a variation of “Chiyoko’s theme” from Susumu Hirasawa. The theme–or the central notes are still retained.

A variation done, from Chiyoko’s theme from Hirasawa. There are no music sheets online, for which I could reference… therefore I did this one by ear. I am a huge admirer, and fan of Hirasawa’s… therefore, I may be doing more variations on his work, yet.

And here is another composition I wrote. It’s quite rough around the edges. It is called “Mirror’s Edge.” in the C Major key. Most triumphant!

Set to C Major, for ‘C Major’ is for your triumphant pieces. This is a bit of a celebration. I wanted to give the violas more attention, this time around. And the timpanis! YES THE TIMPANIS!

The score for “Gaspar” Suite. No. 1 Op. 1 First variation. This isn’t the original score for the theme, which only has three violas.

Then… a sketch of a piece I’ve composed for viola, mainly. I dub this sketch, “Gaspar” Suite no. 1. Op 1. Set to simple triple time, it’s a bit of a waltz. The composition is named after my viola.

The theme was composed for three violas.

By instruction of my teacher, I am encouraged to create more variations. I will, eventually, with the “Gaspar” suite. This will, additionally do me well, to practice all of the theory which is being taught.

Gaspar theme 1.

The theme of the “Gaspar” suite. Set in ‘E flat Major‘, is the key often used as a declaration of love, perhaps to god themselves? To me, it sounds rather like a conversation, where one ponders. As if in a study, or a library. The whimsical barrage of books lining the shelves. Each containing a world of their own. A sense of urgency, is always present to explore those capsules of time. But patience, says the musty smell… that of which, could only be best described as aged paper and fading ink.

Gaspar Suite. Variation 1.

Variation 1. of the theme of the “Gaspar” suite. Other instruments, are included this time around. This variation is set to an Andante tempo. The ‘C Minor’ is the key often used, for a lamentation of unhappy love. Its aesthetic implication, is much different to the original theme. A sadness, is in this piece… however, a listless melancholy which leads one to thrash as opposed to softly lament. The ending sounds as if one is weeping out aloud.

Gaspar Suite. Variation 2.

Variation 2. This variation is set to largo. As for the key, we have an A Major for this variation. Funny thing about this key–it is actually my favorite. This variation, is inspired from Uematsu’s “Roses and Wine” from Final-fantasy VIII. Definitely, more chaotic in comparison with my loud beginnings. It’s a cacophony really. I will fix that, with future variations.

Sidenote: My instructor was wondering how I wrote the theme in six flats… I honestly don’t know how I did it…

I will take to uploading more “Gaspar” variations, soon enough. I intend to write a good one-hundred variations to the original theme. They will all be experiments, akin to some rather juvenile sketches found in a sketch book. These are my sketches, in-which I’ve made during my musical journey.

Music is a language, and I speak the language in a broken manner indeed. Patience, as my instructor says… I always do wish to learn rather quickly.

Back to PhD drawing, for the rest of the week. ‘Til next Sunday.


  1. Well, I don’t know anything about music, but if I had to have a sound track your music would be a good choice. I like it! Sadly, I have had to give up listening to music because somehow all this meditation has induced a quirk where music I hear loops endlessly in my mind, which is highly distracting. Anyway, I send whatever magic, love, and positive intentions and support for your life project that is within my power to do!


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