Raw, adjective: 6. ignorant, inexperienced, or untrained: a raw recruit.

Ohmigod. I take back every mean thing I've ever said about technology.

All that stuff about encouraging passivity and deadening the spirit and dumbing-down the intellect. Frying the brains. Keeping the kids out of nature and in the house in front of the Wii. I take it all back, every little thing. Well, maybe not the stuff about cell phones, but you get my drift.

Because holy technology, did my world just open up.

So shortly after I moved out here - 5 years ago this week, actually - after a few frustrating weeks spent hankering for a musical outlet, I bought a decent used keyboard from this girl down in San Mateo who needed to make a quick $100 and figured she'd lose the dead weight that her dusty keyboard in the corner had been to her. I hauled that puppy home and up the stairs and settled it into my living room, where it has since occupied a place of honor in the corner by the bookshelves where I can settle in, straddle it like Schroeder from Peanuts (it's on the floor most of the time, because I'm too lazy to hoist it up to the table where it'd be at normal height), and lose a few hours with those fake ebonies and ivories.

This arrangement works well, because it means that when I sing along, my voice goes right into the wall, thereby muffling it a bit and delaying by a few minutes the inevitable stomping and bowling-ball-dropping from the bitchy girls upstairs who for some inexplicable reason don't appreciate my serenading them with Sondheim at 8:30 in the morning (yeah, I don't get it either). That's the only real drawback about living here in this old Edwardian with its thin walls and creaky floors; a girl can't sing full-voice to save her life. You have to plan it out just the right way, pick a time of day when nobody's around, above or below (usually a weekday, mid-afternoon works decently), and then create as much ambient noise as possible, meaning that I run my dishwasher a ridiculous number of times a week.

Anyway, by the time you've done all that planning, all you want to do is wail away, but then you sit down to that arrangement of "Not a Day Goes By" and you're jamming out and suddenly it peaks at an F# and you, my friend, are fucked. Because you can't wail that shit without employing the big guns, and the big guns will be heard 2 blocks down the street at an F#. So what do you do?

So lately I've been busy working on a Very Special (Secret!) Project, and trying to get back into good voice and a decent rhythm again.  But, after all these years, I've never really bothered with figuring out the buttons on this mammoth fake piano. San Mateo Girl lost the keyboard handbook, so I never had directions for using any of the tricks (and it's got quite a few), and just figured the sustain pedal was enough to get me through. But this morning I looked up, saw a magic little button called "Transpose," and, gingerly, hit it 3 timid little times...

and MAGIC!!! My unsingable Sondheim dropped 3 steps, and even though I was playing in the easy no-flats, no-sharps key of C, I was singing it 3 steps down. And I proceeded to bellow through every song in my collection at a nice low Diana Krall murmur instead of the ultra-vibrato Ethel Merman belting I'd been slogging through, eyes wincing as I prepared for the bowling balls to start dropping above.

And sweet mother of god. Who knew. All these years I've felt a bit sad I can't have a "real" piano here in my old flat, and here comes this little piece of technology to rock my world in the most fabulous of unexpected ways. I was never a good enough pianist to transpose immediately by instinct, and I stopped paying attention in music theory far too soon to ever develop that skill anyway. So god bless the piece of black and white plastic sitting on my floor right now. Because it just made my life peachier than you'll ever know. Even though it'll still take awhile to wrap my head around the fact that I'm playing a B flat but singing a G. It'll come.

That's a lot of words about something you probably don't give a shit about. But anyone who's ever squeaked out a G and wished it were an E has got to understand my joy here. Holy fucking technology. Yeah.


Anonymous said…
Rock on with your bad ass fake piano. Can't wait to see this amazing trick myself in 12 days!!!!
Matt said…
Dude, straight for reals. Any time I have to sing anything that's a little...stretchy, I play it into Finale and drop it a third. Phatty boom blatty.

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