Or used to be.
Now I'm more of a person who plays the piano well enough to be considered talented.
When I was in high school, my piano teacher had me purchase the book of Bach's Two-Part Inventions. I had the technical skills to play those inventions. I had the dedicated practice time. I had the desire. But I could not play them. I tried. I practiced. I practiced again. I practiced hands alone until my fingers knew the notes, the melody, the rhythm, everything to be successful. And then I'd attempt hands together. I couldn't get my fingers to put the lines of music together to make something pleasing in sound. And it frustrated me.
I could pick up Chopin or Beethoven or Haydn or other Bach compositions and practice them into something wonderful. But those dang Two-Part Inventions just never did become something I enjoyed.
Over the past few days, I've been drawn back to the idea of the Two-Part Inventions. So much that I actually dug through my piano books and found my old book. I sat down this morning, opened it, and attempted to play. I sat at the piano with tears of frustration streaming down my cheeks. Still can't do it.
It's a mind block. I'm sure of that.
What is a Two-Part Invention? Here's the best definition I could find:These are short pieces in which two different melodies are played simultaneously. Usually, the right hand plays the higher voice, and the left hand plays the lower one. In each Bach invention, there is a motive (a short musical idea) that is repeated in various forms - each time slightly different, and is developed through the whole piece.
What are Bach Inventions in three different voices (Sinfonias)?
These are similar to the two voice Bach Inventions, but with an additional voice, so the music becomes richer with the harmony, the counterpoint and the whole sound. We said before that in the two part Bach Inventions the right hand takes the upper voice and the left one takes the lower voice. How do we play the third voice?
The third voice moves between the hands. Sometimes it is played by the right hand, and sometimes by the left. (Complicated? well, it is not easy at all but it can be done).
I think back to when Luke and I were first married - each of us coming in with our own separate melodies, and working to combine them into something that made sense.
We'd just about figured that out, and were playing our new melody, when Kenton came along, adding his own melody. We shifted, changed keys, adjusted, and incorporated this new sweet melody into ours until we once again had a near seamless melody. With the addition of McKayslin, there was another shift, another key change, as her melody added on to ours. We spent the next few years transposing, practicing, and developing a beautiful melody that was our family song.
It was a beautiful song built on tradition, love, challenges, acceptance, understanding, and faith.
And then, suddenly, without warning, our life changed keys and we were thrown into a minor key full of dissonance, pain, fear, and uncertainty. As that new melody clashed with our beautiful family melody, we found ways to incorporate this new development and come out with a melody that was stronger and richer than before.
Our family song became beautiful again.
January came, and once again we were introduced to a new melody. This one deep, dark, dissonant. One that threw our beautiful family melody against the rocks, shattering it into tiny little fragments, flitting about trying to find hold in this new melody.
As each day passes, our melody finds place, one note, one measure, one phrase at a time. The melody is introduced, refined, practiced, taking in those beautiful fragments of our original composition and melding them with the deep dark dissonance of our new reality. This melody is taking much longer to come together. It requires much more practice, much more attention to individual notes and phrases, much more attention to timing. But eventually, we'll be able to take these two melodies and combine them into a new melody, that while haunting and dissonant, will be a beautiful reminder of our strength, our faith, our love.
Starting today I am determined to master at least one of those two-part inventions. If for no other reason but to prove that I can. Because if we can find beauty in this new melody, we can do just about anything.