The Piano Played with 16 Increasing Levels of Complexity: From Easy to Very Complex

Remem­ber the feel­ing of accom­plish­ment as a child, pick­ing out a sim­ple tune after your first piano les­son?

Then the day you begin to play with both hands? So grown up.

Even­tu­al­ly you start using more than two fin­gers.

And then comes the par­ty where a proud par­ent, pos­si­bly with a drink or two in him, com­mands you to play for the guests, who indulge your efforts with applause and the sug­ges­tion that per­haps their child, a con­tem­po­rary of yours, take a turn at the key­board.



Max­i­mum humil­i­a­tion.

How soon can you bail on those damn piano lessons?

I flashed on that uni­ver­sal expe­ri­ence whilst lis­ten­ing to pianist and com­pos­er Nahre Sol demon­strate the “end­less pos­si­bil­i­ties” of piano com­po­si­tion and inter­pre­ta­tion by sub­ject­ing “Hap­py Birth­day” to six­teen lev­els of increas­ing com­plex­i­ty.

‘Round about lev­el five is where our respec­tive tal­ents began to part ways.

After a lot of prac­tice and false starts, I can some­times man­age a sim­ple arpeg­gio.

That’s greasy kid stuff to Nahre, whose YouTube chan­nel abounds with expert advice on how to sound like var­i­ous clas­si­cal com­posers and robust inves­ti­ga­tions of gen­res—fla­men­co, rag­time, Bossa nova, the Blues…

Now I know what made the vis­i­tors’ kid so much more advanced than me—broken octaves, glis­san­dos, great mus­cu­lar spans, a con­fi­dent com­mand of har­monies and rhythm…

Sol blows that per­for­mance out of the water, with seem­ing­ly very lit­tle effort, breezi­ly explain­ing what she’s doing each time she takes things up a notch, cul­mi­nat­ing in lev­el 16, which encom­pass­es all pre­vi­ous steps.

As home­less­ricegum observes in the com­ment sec­tion of the video, “Lev­el 17: you will now need your third hand.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Con­cept of Musi­cal Har­mo­ny Explained in Five Lev­els of Dif­fi­cul­ty, Start­ing with a Child & End­ing with Her­bie Han­cock

Learn How to Read Sheet Music: A Quick, Fun, Tongue-in-Cheek Intro­duc­tion

A Vin­tage Grand Piano Gets Reengi­neered to Play 20 Dif­fer­ent Instru­ments with a Push of Its Keys

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inkyzine.  Join her in NYC on Sep­tem­ber 9 for anoth­er month­ly install­ment of her book-based vari­ety show, Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domain. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.


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