A&S Journey

A&S Journey: Clear or cloudy, part 3: progress update

I’ve spent more time than I had expected working heavily on Dowland’s “Clear or cloudy” since the recent post on it, and the piece has as a result progressed further than I had planned. So this week, I think it’s ready for an intermediate demo. There is still quite a ways to go, but…enough expectations management. Here it is.

As mentioned earlier, the techniques that have helped move this piece forward to a reasonably solid place have been setting intermediate goals, and deliberate practice. Disciplined use of the metronome has been critical: starting much slower than I want to play it, playing with precision, then moving the metronome up one speed increment at a time. This gradually teaches the hands to anticipate the changes and positions until much of the work is increasingly automatic.

For this piece, precision drilling and repetition have also been important. Once the basic fingerings had been memorized (and I worked out some of the challenges of the vocals and the time signature), it was critical to identify what passages in the song (arrangement here) are the most challenging to play at any given speed. The killer section is measures 6-8. The chord under the “all” in “like mild May all flow’ring” is new to me, and a fast transition from the chord before it. Ultimately, hitting that with all four fingers has proven a royal pain, and I decided to simplify it, dropping out the 3rd note from the top. (I do the same thing with D chords, like the one under the word “notes” in measure 9.) The acrobatics that follow in measure 7 aren’t all that difficult to play (most of it is one or two notes at a time), it’s just about speeding through the 16th notes. Playing this passage through was key, just sheer robotic repetition, and using the metronome and gradually speeding it up. Then back to working through the whole song with the passage included.

The piece definitely is feeling like it is going to be in workable performance shape four months from now, for Queen’s and Crown’s Bardic Champions. But we shall see.

(Note: I promise we will be resuming Campion pieces, soon. For various reasons, including the recent tragedy in our kingdom, my focus has not been aligning with my plans. I am going to continue blogging, including these entries, but they are likely to become a bit less frequent over the next few months. Since this was where my focus went, it seemed like it warranted a share. If your muse finds certain activities more comfortable under stress or because your interests are shifting, my advice is, generally, to follow your muse.)

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