my heart spans many, many miles
[Picture: Background: six-piece pie style, alternating white, tan, and black. Foreground, in middle: grimacing ostrich head. Top text: “OUR LOVE” Bottom text: “IS LIKE A MELODIC MINOR SCALE ON FIRE”]
25 Songs, 25 Days: Day 01 - A Song From Your Childhood
“The Banjo” by Louis Moreau Gottschalk
As a kid, I was raised strictly on good and wholesome classical music. Classical music is beautiful and necessary, but as a 4-year-old there’s something very redundant about a Chopin etude or Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier. My piano teacher gave me a VHS tape cartoon movie called Sparky’s Magic Piano. Most of the songs in the movie bored me (please, Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” is really overrated and not even that superb) but there was one song that sounded very different from the others. I only knew it as the movie narrator described it: “a very difficult piece called “The Banjo”, but hearing this song at age 5 changed my perspective on classical music and playing piano. Something about it is different - bright, alive, teasing, and gorgeously slutty, unlike any other piece I’ve heard in my entire life. Even more astounding is that it has stayed that way after 13 years of grueling piano lessons. Now I’m finally advanced enough to play this piece, and I’ve been learning it this summer - I have two-thirds of it down. It’s still glorious even after practicing it for two hours a day, and that’s a very special and rare thing. If there’s a piece that defines me, it would be this one because if I hadn’t heard it when I was so young, I would be a completely different person - musicless, bored, and far lonelier. I guess you could say that this song and I are soulmates of an odd sort, no?
I don’t like this recording so much. Youtube quality is always rather poor, but what bothers me about this recording is that the high notes, that higher-octave melody that’s played twice in the song, are played rather heavily. It’s mimicking a banjo, so it should be light and quick, almost erratically so. In fact, the entire song should be very bright - amber and autumn colors flecked with bright white and pale yellow lights, underlined by an intense (but not overwhelming!) warm orange. Parts of the song even have flutters of soft, dark forest green. It should all be rustic but never, never heavy. Many recordings do not do the song justice, and I’m hoping that I can portray all the colors of the piece correctly when I finish learning and perform “The Banjo”.
Sorry, I’m a synesthete. Not something I like to tell people but almost necessary to be noted in this specific context.