Leopold GoDOHsky

Sunday, May 30, 2010
Leopold Godowsky was a Polish-American composer, who, as far as I can tell, was legally insane.

For example, he decided that Etudes of Frederic Chopin (which are already incredibly difficult) weren't challenging enough already, and rewrote them. He reversed some of them so the left hand was playing the fast parts. He wrote some entirely for left hand alone. He combined two different ones into one piece.

Because I am a glutton for punishment, I decided to try to learn a few for myself. I chose the variation on Op.25 No.4. It has been reduced to be played entirely on the left hand, but there aren't too many notes on the paper, so it can't be THAT bad, can it?

So let's see what we've got here. Hey, these first three notes aren't too bad, so the rest of the piece can't be ....... ohhhhhhhhhh WTF:

Those numbers you see above and below the notes? That's telling you what fingers you should be using to play each key. Since I know most of you aren't pianists, try this exercise instead:

Using your left hand, on your computer keyboard hit the left Shift key with your pinky, and the letter "M" with your thumb. Now, WITHOUT LETTING GO OF THE "M", reach over and hit the period key with your middle finger, and the right Shift key with your index finger. Not so easy, eh?

Alright, well let's move on and see what else we have. Hey, lots of finger substitutions, and ... oh what the hell is this?!?!


For you non-pianists, hold down the left Shift key with your ring finger. Now hit both the "N" and the "M" key with your thumb. It's not too hard to do when thinking about it, but try doing it in the midst of regular typing!

Well let's see what the rest of this line has to offer:

Ow ow ow ow ow! Finger substitution isn't that uncommon in music, but this is unreal!

On your keyboard, hit the left Shift key with your pinky and the "M" key with your thumb. Now, without letting go of the "M" key, replace your thumb with your middle finger. Now, while still holding down "M" with your middle finger, hit "C" with your pinky, the comma with your index finger, and the slash key with your thumb. Now try doing it in one fluid motion!

OK fine, what does the last line torture us with?

I'm not even going to worry about the chord part for this demonstration. On your keyboard, with your left hand, just hit the following keys in rapid succession:

1) "Y" with your pinky
2) "G" with your pinky
3) "T" with your middle finger
4) "F" with your ring finger
5) "D" with your pinky
6) "E" with your ring finger

Well I don't know about you but my hand is already cramping, and we're only on the first page. Well done, Mr. Godowsky.

Nice cans.

Sunday, May 9, 2010
I do not like dealing with homelessness.

It's not because I think I'm above a homeless person. I'm not.

It's because you don't know who legitimately needs help and who doesn't.

Several years ago I saw a guy panhandling for money outside of Crossroads Mall. He had the typical beard and old clothes and sign saying he was a homeless veteran, please help, god bless, etc.

About ten minutes later, I saw the same guy walking through the mall, talking to somebody on a Bluetooth headset.

I once had a guy approach me for money to replace a broken fan belt for his car. I knew there was a Checker Auto Parts just a block away. I offered to walk up there with him and buy him a fan belt. He declined of course, he just wanted the money.

And then, of course, there are stories like this:

Bottom line: I don't give money to people who claim to be homeless. I much prefer to give to organizations like The Road Home who can put the money to use for people who actually are in need of it.

This last week, however, I did meet a person who I felt genuinely needed help.

I had just gotten home from somewhere, and he was walking down the street. He was going through all of the recycling dumpsters in the neighborhood and collecting all the aluminum cans from them and loading them into a huge plastic bag on his bicycle.

I knew I had a ton of cans, so I started pulling mine out of the dumpster and crushing them for him. He made it to my house and helped me round up the cans I had crushed. I chatted with him for a little bit. Said he had a few medical problems, a few thousand in bills to pay off. I wasn't sure of his housing situation, but you could tell his need was legit. And you know what - he was actually doing something about it by rounding up cans for recycling money.

I gave him all the change I had on me and told him I would set aside all of my cans for him in a separate bag from now on so he didn't have to go rooting through my dumpster. I do really hope to meet him again and find out more about what his story is. I hope it will eventually end up with a happy ending.

Supply and Demand

Sunday, May 2, 2010
The other day I was running some errands in West Valley, and I decided to pop into F.Y.E. to browse their used classical CDs.

F.Y.E. always has an odd selection of used CDs. Sometimes they're even priced reasonably.

Other times, though, the pricing leaves me completely confounded.

For example, about a year ago, I ran into a set of about eight CDs of Beethoven-contemporary Ferdinand Ries. They were all priced at about $10 a piece.

Sounds reasonable, right?

I've been teaching myself about classical music since I was about six years old. I've been broadcasting it for nearly six years, and while I am no means a professor at it, I consider myself well-versed in it.

I have never heard of Ferdinand Ries.

And I'm guessing none of you have either.

In fact, I'm guessing the number of people in the entire Salt Lake valley who have heard of Ferdinand Ries can probably be counted on both hands.

I could be wrong on that number, of course, but I doubt it's by much.

OK, so let's double that number and say that 20 people in the valley have heard of Ferdinand Ries.

What are the odds that one of them goes into that particular F.Y.E.?

And what are the odds that one of them is actually looking for music by Ferdinand Ries?

I'm going to put that number around zero.

Which is why, a year later, the same eight CDs were still available when I visited this weekend.

Frankly, if the price was a little more reasonable, I'd pick up the set myself just out of curiosity and for something new to play on my show. But at $10 a pop, I can't justify that.

And I doubt there is any one else in the Salt Lake valley who can either. Which is why I expect those same eight CDs to still be there another year from now. Or five years. Or until the store closes.

(Any F.Y.E. people reading this, maybe drop the price to $8 (plus the 20% used CD discount for buying three or more, plus 10% off for being one of your special members), and I'll give it a second thought.)