Here are seven duets for four hands with two pianos. They are called “Te Popo Variations” because they are variations on tunes and Te Popo is the name of the rural area in which I live.
“Te Popo” means Dark Night – and in fact at night even with the light shining through a window you can’t see the sides of the house. I’ve never seen anything like the darkness before. It is pitch-black. The only way to walk around the house outside at night is to walk around patting the walls. It’s not scary but it’s a bit different and perhaps explains the traditional name of the place. All that has nothing to do with the music – the pieces are called “Te Popo Variations” simply because I live there.
The variations are duet arrangements of old hymns. I found in a second hand book shop’s reject bin an old hymnal called “Hymns Ancient and Modern”. It cost all of fifty cents. Inside is written “A token of affection from the Scholars of S. Barnabas Sunday School. 21 June 1917”. The arrangements are a little irreverent perhaps at times. I simply took a hymn or two at random and recomposed them with a bit more oomph! Incidentally the hymn book is still used today but is much updated.
Here then are seven duets for two pianos –Te Popo Variations.
Te Popo Variations 1: Audio HERE, sheet music HERE.
Te Popo Variations 2: Audio HERE, sheet music HERE.
Te Popo Variations 3: Audio HERE, sheet music HERE.
Te Popo Variations 4: Audio HERE, sheet music HERE.
Te Popo Variations 5: Audio HERE, sheet music HERE.
Te Popo Variations 6: Audio HERE, sheet music HERE.
Te Popo Variations 7: Audio HERE, sheet music HERE.
See that dear little old lady sitting in the front row? She’s always there when the twin pianists Andriy and Raahim Karpenko are giving a concert. I wouldn’t miss their concert for the world, but that little old lady is priceless. She reads a book and seems to take no interest whatsoever in the music. She even looks a little bored at times and yet she comes to every concert. You’d think she was their teacher or something and she’s heard it all before.
It’s amazing to think that Andriy and Raahim Karpenko are only thirteen years old. They’re child prodigies. And I would imagine they were pushed hither and yon by ambitious parents. Nothing ruins talent more than pushy parents.
Oh my goodness! That little old lady has put her book in her handbag and has taken out her knitting! Knitting! She’s knitting! Knitting, while two child prodigies play Olivier Messiaen’s Visions de l’Amen. What a scream! I don’t know why that little old lady even bothers to come, and I would imagine, unlike me, she has no interest at all in classical music, given her knitting.
There! That’s over. They’re getting a standing ovation, and deservedly so. That little old lady has stood up but she’s not applauding. She’s too busy stuffing her knitting back into the handbag next to the novel. Oh-oh! Andriy and Raahim Karpenko are coming down into the audience. They’re going over to the little old lady.
They’re speaking to her! They’re announcing something! I don’t believe a word of it. Not a word! I don’t believe that little old lady is their mother, chauffeur, and piano teacher. Impossible! I heard that their mother is the Professor of Music at the Conservatory. Pshaw! That old knitter ain’t no Professor of Music nor their mother. If she was she’d show a lot more interest.
These nine pieces for the piano are based on Anglican psalm chants. I have an Anglican Psalter with 242 chants – goodness knows where I got it from! – and each of these piano pieces is based on one or two chants from the psalter chosen at random. I hope I don’t get sent to hell for wrecking the chants! I can’t remember which chant I used for what as I’m totally disorganized and and have long abandoned any semblance of organization.
At first, since they were based on something religious, I called them after the monastic Liturgy of the Hours: Matins, Lauds, Vespers, Compline, etc. There were eight traditional prayer times, and then I wrote another piece and there were 9 pieces and only 8 liturgical prayer Hours! So I thought what the heck and named them after the hours of the day. The pieces really having nothing to do with the hours of the day and nothing to do with the Liturgy of the Hours, but things have to have some order!
I was pretty familiar with the Anglican chants as when I was a “monk” and everything changed from Latin to English we didn’t have much in the way of music to sing the Liturgy of the Hours (aka Divine Office) in English so we “pinched” the music from the Anglicans! Anyway, all I know now is that these 9 piano pieces have absolutely nothing to do with the hours of the day, nothing to do with the monastic Liturgy of the Hours, and nothing to do with the Anglican psalmody except I started out by stealing the psalmodies’ harmonies!
Here are three Etudes for piano. Basically an Etude is an exercise for improving on a specific skill in playing a specific instrument, but people like Chopin managed to turn them into pieces good enough to play in a concert.
As I walked up my garden path I heard piano music emanating from my living room. I didn’t have a piano so it must be a recording. The problem was, I live alone and there should be no one else in the house. Besides, I would never have left the window open.
I entered my front door and called out a hearty “Hello!” No one answered so I called out again. “Anybody there?” Again no one answered. The piano music continued.
Another strange thing was that I didn’t possess any recordings of piano music. In fact I think it’s a hideous instrument. It clashes and bangs and it’s really a fancy drum that can play tunes.
“Hello! Anybody there?”
I entered the living room and saw no one. I turned off the music player. I had a bit of trouble turning it off because I so rarely use it. There’s that many knobs and buttons and I don’t have a clue what most of them are for. Eventually I found the off switch.
After that I went through every room in the house.
“Hello! Anybody there?”
I found no one. This was all several months ago. Over time I’ve got used to the idea that it happened. It’s a bit of a mystery. It was probably some sort of piano-loving intruder. But then this morning…
As I walked up my garden path I heard piano music emanating from my living room. This time I’m telling the psychiatrist.