Revenant

So yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything on this blog, hasn’t it? Of course, it doesn’t mean I haven’t been practicing all this time. I have — profoundly, frenetically, exhaustingly, desperately, stubbornly, angrily, revealingly, understandingly, finally, productively…

I’ve been going through things, as you can see. Stages of that dumb process we all know under a benign name of “getting stuck”. I knew it was happening when I realised that I’m trying to extend my breakfast while involuntarily trying to postpone the beginning of the practice session — because I was facing the fear of not knowing what to begin with, also known as “hitting the wall” and — even more bitter-sounding “reaching plateau”.

I recognised that deserted, lifeless Martian valley the moment I arrived there. When I found myself sitting at the keyboard and playing the intricate left hand figure, repeating in all keys around the cycle of 4ths while trying to control the feeling of hopelessness the whole exercise was causing in me — I knew that was it. I got stuck. I hit the wall. I reached plateau. And today I am finally writing this post I’ve been planning for months while crawling across the desert, passing by the burned skeletons of the musicians who gave up, I was dragging my weak body like the main character of Jack London’s “Love of Life”, forcefully feeding myself with dissonant exotic scales and finger-twisting I. Philipp’s exercises that have zero music to them. I was advancing at the speed of one inch per hour towards the faraway hills behind which, I hoped, lay the ocean, and, feeble and exhausted, I finally got there. I emerged on the other end.

Luckily, during my desperate journey I kept a little diary, writing down things that helped me stay alive, and in the next series of posts I am going to share them with you. I cannot guarantee that they will save you from the Great Torpor when it arrives, but I’m hopeful they will help alleviate the pain and help you make your way through that desert plateau. I might probably also have used the trendy phrase “flatten the curve”, but it just doesn’t work in the context of plateau.

Expect some new material soon! And in the meantime — feel free to listen to my new album that I released about a month ago. It’s on my SoundCloud and like, everywhere. Now, practice! 👉🏻

Back from vacation!

Alright fellas, it’s been a long vacation — not exactly as productive as I planned it, quite procrastination-filled, I would say rather (although I did practice as normal) — so, now it’s time to go back to theory! Got some exciting stuff prepared, more details soon! I’ll be updating the practice log as well, so make sure to use your time machines and read posts from the past 😄 Till later!

Theory day (2h)

Organising my left hand patterns and exercises. Got a nice table done.

LH

RH

Example

Comments

Cycling broken tenths

1-5-10 — (5/IV) — 1-5-10

Shells

C-G-E-C’-F-C’-A’’-F’—

Cycling 10ths & 6ths (m)

1-5-b10-1’-b3’-5’-b6’

Shells

C-G-Eb-C’-Eb’-G’-Ab’

Cross fingers on 5’-6’

1-5-10-1-5-6

Cycling 9ths, 6ths, 4ths & 10ths

1-5-9-10-1’-5’-6’-4

Shells

C-G-D-E-C’-G’-A’-F’

Move the whole hand back down to lower octave after figure is finished

Cycling 6ths & 10ths (m)

1-5-9-b10-1’-b3’-b6’-5’

Shells

C-G-D-Eb-C’-Eb’-Ab’-G’

Broken tenths over ii — V7 — I

1-5-10-(5)-1-5-10

ii — V — I – IV + iiø — V7b9

Move left hand octave below as soon as there’s an overlap

Inversions & arpeggios over ii — V7 — I

Block / 7th arpeggio / root + 1st inversion / doubled roots

ii — V — I – IV + iiø — V7b9

Cycling 5ths & 6ths (m / M)

1-5-3-6

Shells

C-G-E-A

Triad-based

1-5-1-3-5

1-5-1’-3’-5’-7’-1’

4ths

1-4-5

1st or 2nd inversions

C-F-G-C

Connecting ii — V with passing tone

1-5-10ii — 5/V — 1-5-10V — 1I — chromatically down to parallel minor

ii — V — I – IV + iiø — V7b9

D-(A-F’)x3-D’-G-(D’-B’)x3-C-B — A-E-C—

Phrygian descent in 10ths

5-1-5-10-1’-3’-5’I — desc. arp.II

i — II — III7 — iv

C#-F#-A-F#’-A’-C#’-D’-B’-G-F#’-D-B-G

Combined 10ths and inverted 3rds

5-1-5-10-1’-3’-5’II — 3-5-3V — 1st invI — 3bbI

Shells

G-C-Eb-C’-Eb’-G’-Ab’-F’-Ab’-[Bbmaj]-Db

Blues scale accompaniment

Block — 1-3-48va — 7b-1-2-38vb

Minor blues scale

Combined 10ths and 6ths

1-5-10ii — (5/V) — 1-5-6V — 1-5-10I

ii — V — I – IV + iiø — V7b9

Piano day (1h)

  • Improvisation
    • Chromatic progressions (“Jazz Improvisation for Keyboard Players” by Dan Haerle)
      • Mixolydian scales over dominant 7th chords in shells in all keys
      • Dorian scales over minor 7th chords in shells in all keys
    • Melodies (reading a couple of examples from book II of “Jazz Improvisation”)
      • Repetition
      • Transposition
      • Exercise 1: dominant run around the cycle of 4ths
      • Exercise 2: Dorian run around the cycle of 4ths
      • Motive inversion
    • Recap Lydian pentatonic & minor blues scale in all keys