NEW (02/06/23): Some recent compositions. (For background information about my music, see below.).
I play piano entirely by ear. I'm sure my fingering is dreadful -- a piano teacher would be rapping my knuckles -- and I don't even think about what key I'm in most of the time. But music is constantly playing in my head (that's how it has always been), and sometimes it's music I haven't heard before. When I was a young evangelical Christian, this generally took the form of religious songs, for which I learned to create accompaniments on one or another available piano in the music building of the school I attended. (I was a pretty decent singer, too, but that's another story.) I just started trying to play the music in my head, and gradually got better at it. It was very exciting -- I was virtually euphoric -- when I stumbled on new chords that enabled a richer sound that more closely approximated what I heard internally.
And then I discovered philosophy, and lost my religious beliefs. This pushed music to the background: most of my creativity was now poured into philosophical explorations. That's how things stayed until very recently, when my wife Regina bought me a lovely Yamaha digital piano for a significant birthday. I began playing much more. And I was led in a new direction. Though some of my pieces are a lot like songs, others are stand-alone piano compositions, which seem to have no desire other than to be played. (I still enjoy creating accompaniments or arrangements for songs, including religious songs -- though now the latter are my gifted sister's, not mine.) Each piece represents an intuitive experience of relatively short duration in which I respond to the sounds in my head or what’s happening on the keyboard, feeling for and guided by the richer combinations that occasionally emerge. Of course once the basic piece is roughed out, refinement begins -- though I haven't the time for as much refinement as each deserves, and my piano holds many unfinished recordings.
I got my digital piano at the beginning of the pandemic , which has been challenging for pretty much everyone, and this amid the usual troubles of life, such as mass shootings and deaths in the family. When I decided to share some of my new music, I thought one aspect of what I was doing might involve an emphasis on the positive -- something like what I saw others doing who spoke of good things that had managed to find their way through even during a difficult time. But music is of course a friend to all the emotions. And another aspect involves a nod to melancholy and sadness. I have had more than one reason to apply the label 'Pandemic Piano.'
Below are the ten pieces I decided to share back then, in March of 2021, after my first year with the new piano. At the top of this page are a few more recent pieces. I don't have the time to work on my music as much as I'd like to. Philosophy is very demanding, and it still gets the lion's share of my creative energy. But every once in a while I may put up something new on this page. I hope that anyone who listens will enjoy what they hear!
Pandemic Piano -- 10 Short Pieces
For Regina (like everything else)