G Major -- for real!

A while ago I started playing (the melody line of) works written in G Major, but with the F# notes highlighted. Today I started playing (the melody line of) works written in G Major, without the benefit of the highlighter, and it isn't nearly as much harder as I expected. Really, figuring out the fingering when the melody goes up and down beyond where a hand can reach is still the hardest part, and I'm getting better at that, too, insofar as I no longer precalculate the fingering and mark finger numbers over the notes. Sometimes I still stumble when the fingering is hard, and sometimes I hesitate longer than I should between notes, but the key signature is barely even an issue any more. (It will be again when I add in the left hand, because the bass clef will add another place where F can be, but if it's no more an issue there than it was on the treble clef, I should be playing comfortably in G Major by March, no sweat.

I've got some hymns in F Major (one flat on B) highlighted already, so maybe next week or so I'll start trying to play some of them.

Meanwhile, as I mentioned yesterday, practice with chords in C Major is ongoing.

Ah, more material.

I now have another book of piano music I can play, when practicing chords. This is right at my level, at this point: the first several pieces are all in C Major, with the right hand doing mostly just the melody, and the left hand doing chords, mostly chords with which I am already familiar. (This is not a coincidence; the book was designed to go with the piano course book I am using.)

These are fun to play, because I can actually play them, but they do stretch me a little at this point, and the practice is good.

Paul's News (draft one)

I've been working on this, off and on, in my spare time, for a while now. It's intended as song lyrics, but it would need a chorus, plus of course the music. Otherwise, it's just a poem, as presented here.

The Good News According to Paul:
A Synopsis of Romans 1-12

God can be known, but men turned aside, exchanging their God for nothing.
Wickedness grew, and God let them go, his judgement in sin erupting.
Hypocrites boast, condemning themselves, but Gentiles and Jews are the same.
No one does good, but God gave the law to show us our sin, then he came.

Righteousness comes apart from the law by faith in the act of his Son.
Abraham's faith that justified him preceded his circumcision.
He is our father, we who believe. Our sins are not held against us;
Thus we rejoice: our hope comes from God, and hope does not disappoint us.

While we were helpless, God demonstrated love when he shed his own blood.
Death from the time of Adam till Moses reigned, for we couldn't make good.
Now we can die to sin and can live to God through the life of one man.
Slaves must obey the master they serve, but sin is no more our sultan!

Freed by this gift, we die to the law, which made us aware of our sin.
[line needed; possible ending: I know nothing good is within.]
Through the command sin put me to death — I can't keep the law, I now see.
Sin within me does what I should not; he rescues me, setting me free.

As it now stands, it leaves off in the first part of chapter eight. I'm still working on it, obviously. The intention is to take it through the end of chapter twelve, where the topic finally changes. I was going to wait until I finished to post it, but &e says I should post stuff here more frequently, so I guess I'll go ahead and post now, and then post again later when I finish some more of it.

Incidentally, the metrical pattern of each line is as follows:
dactyl trochee dactyl trochee dactyl trochee spondee

Music Group Theory

I was reading an Uncyclopedia article on Music, and it contained a link to an article on Music Group Theory. This sounded like a fascinating topic (group theory, after all, is my favorite branch of mathematics), so I clicked the link, but it turned out to be an edit link. The article hadn't been written yet.

So I wrote it.

One Sharp

With the assistance of a hymnal, photocopier, and highlighter (my mom's idea), I've begun to practice playing in G Major. For the time being I am playing just the soprano part when I do this, but once I get comfortable with it I will attempt to add in other parts. Eventually I'll want to wean myself off the highlighter and play straight from the hymnal, but one thing at a time.

Actually, two things at a time: in addition to practically every occurrance of F being sharped, this is also giving me a real workout in terms of shifting to the right and back to the left when the piece moves up and down. My piano lesson book has only just begun to introduce such position shifts, but of course most real music has a bit more up and down to it. In practice, I think this is going to take me longer to get used to than the key signature, but I'm working on both.

Puff's dog tag

The state of Ohio really needs to invest in sturdier materials.

This is Puff's dog license tag, after one year. Puff at this point is over seven years old and is starting to become lethargic in his old age. He lays around the house a lot, scarcely deigning to open an eye when someone passes, the picture of lassitude. He still enjoys going on walks, but he gets them only once a week or so at this point, and never for more than a few minutes. So his tag is in much better condition than his ones from several years ago. I wish I'd saved one, for comparison, but you'll note that this tag is still almost totally legible, after a full year. You can easily tell the county, and only one digit got cut off from the number, and that only partly, so that you can still nearly make it out. Also the hole where it was attached to his collar ring is less than twice its original size, and nearly circular, and the edges are not very worn, especially the broken-off end. Also most of the paint is still present. When he was younger and more active, his tags did not fare so well. And Puff is really only a medium-sized dog: half black lab, part golden retriever, and part chow. I hate to think what a Saint or a Husky would do to such a tag.

Here's the back. My apologies for the quality of the second image. I am not very experienced at photographing small objects, and also I am not very familiar with the controls of the digital camera I used to take the shot.

VBS Materials Online

The other day we did some more work on the Bible School materials, to the effect of three missions lessons, and I wanted to write about that here. But it seemed strange to do so without linking to the updated document. However, I had not, up to that point, gotten around to securing hosting for the materials and publishing them.

So now I have. Here they are. (Update: ZendURL didn't work out. Links updated.)

The new missions lessons are here. Meanwhile yesterday we wrote most of Tuesday's missions lesson as well, but I haven't got that one added to the HTML document yet (update: now I have, although it could use further work).

Intervals, chords, notation, and superscripts, take one

Now that I'm starting to play chords, I'm trying to understand some of the traditional nomenclature and concepts surrounding them. (If I'm going to play counterpoint eventually, I'm going to have to play harmonic chords quickly and easily first. I figure one of the steps along that path is to be able to see a chord on the staff, know what it is as a unit, and play it, without thinking about the individual notes. That means I've gotta understand the structure of the chords, at least the common ones.)

So I was trying to understand what makes the G7 and D7 chords what they are, versus the C and F chords with no superscript. After some Q&A with my dad, combined with some deduction and calculation of my own, I partly understand it.

My dad's first instinct was to say that G7 and D7 contain "a seventh that wants to resolve". This was way over my head, but after some pressing I got him to explain that the ones with no superscript are "Major" chords, and that they start on the note whose name they bear, C being the first note in C Major, F being the fourth. (They are typically played with the notes out of order, but fortunately I have enough math background to understand equivalence classes, so we didn't get hung up on that.) Dad also showed me the "fifth" major chord in C major, G, and revealed that there are no others, just those three.

Some counting reveals that the three major chords, starting from their named letter, go up four semitones and then three. This, apparently, is what gives them the "major chord" sound. (They do sound similar to one another, when compared to the other chords.) Further investigation reveals that forming a major chord in like manner starting on any note other than C, F, or G forces the use of a black key, i.e., in C Major it means an accidental. Hence, there are no other major chords that fall within the key of C Major, because any others would violate the key signature. One supposes that in a different key signature one could form major chords starting on different notes.

Similar counting reveals that the 7-superscript chords go up four semitones and then six, so they are similar to one another in exactly the same way that the major chords are similar to one another. I have not yet determined, however, how the 7 superscript denotes this. My dad said it means there's a seventh, but Wikipedia says a major seventh is eleven semitones, which is way more than six, so I'm not clear on the connection. Perhaps once I see some chords with other superscripts I will be able to deduce a pattern.

Getting old doesn't seem so bad if...

I've been telling people I'm 20. As a computer programmer, I feel I should be entitled to express my age in hex. My mom asked how old she'd be under the same system and, hearing the answer (39 I think) said, "I like that".

So I'm 20 years old in hex, or 0x20 for notational purists.