I’ve lost count of how many times recently that I’ve stumbled back into my apartment past 2 am, dazed, tired, hungry, and with sore hands after a three- or five-hour session at the piano. For the last six months I’ve been playing nothing but Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit, which makes it, by far, the biggest musical project of my life. Now, I can play it front-to-back from memory, but still I’m so vexed and worn down by this damned piece that frequently I think to myself: “I wish I had a different hobby.”
In its 22-minute expanse, I have an interminable list of details to refine: the smoothness of the cascading double-stops in Ondine, the constancy of the bell in Le gibet, the snappiness of chord pairs in Scarbo, so on. I’m resigned to the fact that I will never play Gaspard precisely no matter how much I practice — it’s just that hard — but now I start to wonder: with these diminishing returns, when should I stop? Continue reading Illusory Standards
2017 was strange mix of freedom, commitment, and uncertainty. Never in med school have I had so much unscheduled time, during which I committed to and hacked away at several big projects. Meanwhile, I also made enormous binding decisions, the result of which still floats in a cloud of vague possible futures…
Continue reading 2017 in Retrospect
Gaspard de la Nuit: Ravel’s complex, atmospheric, dark piano masterpiece. I’m learning all 22 minutes of it right now, and the music is consuming me unlike any other piece has before.
Continue reading Temptation, Dread, and Terror on Piano
It’s a moment I’ll remember forever.
I’m sitting in a stadium full of 60,000 Coldplay fans, the chilly and dark atmosphere tense with anticipation. In fades the ambient intro to “A Head Full of Dreams,” and sea of wristbands awaken unexpectedly and bathe the crowd in a warm red glow. Cheers echo across as Will Champion’s beats and Guy Berryman’s bass line begin, and Jonny Buckland’s guitar riff enters. The spotlight illuminates Coldplay onstage, rainbow fireworks explode, and Chris Martin dances forward spinning merrily and crooning “oh, I think I’ve landed / in a world I hadn’t seen!”
I’ve liked Coldplay for a while now, but I rarely attend (non-classical) concerts, so when one of my best friends scored Coldplay tickets for Saturday, we fulfilled a longtime dream: Coldplay, live.
Continue reading The Coldplay Spectacle
For three weeks, Sing For Hope has scattered 60 pianos painted by local artists all around the five boroughs of New York City. After today, they will be transported to their final homes: NYC public schools.
I don’t know why I decided to challenge myself to visit as many of them as possible — especially during a pretty busy stretch in med school — but that’s what I did! Continue reading Finding the SFH Pianos
I’m working on three solo piano pieces composed by Ravel right now, and they’re all kind of obnoxiously difficult. What are they? And why oh why?
Continue reading #Ravel
Here I wrote 52 posts plus a few bonus ones, and here they are all lined up in categories. Continue reading 2016: Year of Writing (links)
A hospital floor is so noisy. Despite posting signs reading “Quiet is Healing” in the halls, it’s mostly an iatrogenic cacophony.
Some of it is necessary distraction, like IV Pump alarms, telemetry alarms, bed alarms, telephone rings, beeper beeps (lol, yes still a thing). Sadly, they’re all dissonant tones! Phones are B-E trills, heart monitors are a high B-ish, beepers are mostly F#. Why couldn’t they be harmonic in the same key so that when they inevitably pile up it’d be a pleasant chiming instead of this din of ding-dings we have to yell over? Continue reading Music Against Medicine