Regarding the Ideal Home Music Library, Vol. 2; Part 1

Hello again. I'm supposed to be working on new songs for the next Ideal Home Music Library: Volume 2 (for those of you who don't know what that is, go to the website and have a look.) I don't think it undermines the verisimilitude of the story behind the albums to admit that I'm the author of the songs. Anyway, Volume 2 is going to consist of parlor songs, i.e., songs that were published in the late 19th/ early 20th centuries by sheet music publishers to be played in people's living rooms on the piano. So I have a mind to create a whole album of songs for just piano and voice. That is proving to be very challenging. It's one thing to write just the chords and vocal melody to a song and present that to other people to put on parts, like you do in a band, but when it's up to you to come up with the bass line, fill in the inner voices, voice the chords, etc., and all in the context of what two hands can do on a keyboard: whoah!

So I figured one way to get insight into what the piano can do is to listen to and play more piano music. I know that's no great revelation. Bear with me. In my CD collection I have the Gosford Park soundtrack, which features some songs written by Ivor Novello for piano and voice. I also have the Dichterliebe and Liederkiessby Robert Schumann. I have the scores for the Schumann music, so I can study the scores and get some ideas as well. I also have lots of sheet music collections which I can look at to get ideas. The main point is to surround myself with the music, so that I can absorb its gestures and then start to use those gestures to make the songs. So when am I going to start doing that? Listening to piano music is no problem. In fact it's quite easy to do. It's the playing part that I struggle with. But I'm working on that too. Every day this summer I've been practicing for two hours a day. I've been doing all of the major and melodic minor modes, chords, and major and minor arpeggios in one key a week. Then I play the blues and Rhythm Changes in that key. Then, I work on some pieces. The pieces I'm studying right now are Bill Evans' Waltz For Debby from one of his intermediate solo books, and also a Bach prelude and Fugue, I think it's number 20. These are the two pieces I tanked during my juries last term. The fact that I tanked them has me all in a tizzy to get them sounding really good. I made it my goal to at least finish the fugue by the end of the summer. Anyway, then, if I have time, I move on to playing random things on the piano. Now I have to add to that studying scores for the purpose of creating these songs. You can see why I'm feeling a little dizzy.