Thirty minutes a day is treating me just fine so far. Sometimes I end up blankly staring at the keys for 2 minutes because I feel all used up, but then I refuel and start again. I want to bump this up to more minutes, but for the time being 30 minutes it is.

Today I was thinking about key areas. I had some hunches about where one section could twist into an other section and these felt very natural. What I just realized during this last half hour that the fact these felt natural was very obvious. I was in a circle of fifths. It’s hard to describe what that means if you don’t do music theory, but I’l just say it is very common. I saw I had C, F, Bb, Eb – those are each taking a perfect fifth leap down into the new key. I have other factors going around that I think will prevent this from being predictable and boring – particularly if when I get into a new key I just get going more or less right away. This a trick I see from the masters. They take a while setting you up for a really predictable F, for example, and then immediately pull you away from that F that was so anticipated. So you have no “yeah – I get it, next please..” attitude in the new key because you are moving from it already. With my bass groove, which I think will be nearly omnipresent, I’m a little limited in what I can do in this regard but there are a few options, and it itself is gnarly enough that the whole “key” is instantly unstable to an extent al the time.

When I got to the E flat section I made a piano playing mistake and ended up with a much better thing to do by accident. Instead of jumping up and down the dissonant interval of a flat 9 1, I just did 1,8, an octave which is super tonal. So I’m keeping to that. It gives some much needed relief from the very low and crunchy bass riff.

So seeing I was falling in a circle of fifths there was two problems. First of all, if you do it too long, you just get boring unless you do something spectacular to kep things interesting and I can’t figure out what that would be. So I break the chain and just wandered down to Db for the second to last section. But then I have to drive to C and Db to C in this context wouldn’t do it. So I”m taking my D flat and interspersing it with the chord that most beckons C, and that chord is G. The interval from Db to G is intense, so I go back and forth a few times and then I can safely land on G, and I can make that stable by giving a little piano tune in G before the choir comes in. Then I think I start my last in G or maybe go right down to C. I don’t know yet, but I’ll get there. And I think I want my last cadence not to be G / C but instead LOW Bb (which has never been in the piece before so it would be a refreshing pitch) and then circle in for the last C. Then as the choir hits whatever its final “fire” chord is going to be I hit the low low c three big times in a row. I think this is how Chopin ended something huge like his full preludes. I’m not sure, but somewhere he has this big body of work going to its ending and its just three loud chimes of the low bass note. That seems to work well here.

I’m not completely at peace with setting a key structure in advance because, as dozens of posts will tell, when I try to control things in advance it tends not to work. But my hope is that key areas leave enough breathing space for me to still let things be melodically driven. People wrote brilliant pieces with common pre-structured key areas for hundreds of years. So I think it’s not a deal breaker.

I’m also finding that the bass riff is so severe that if I want it to stay the whole time, and I think I do, I have to be very creative with variety in the choral sections. Even if they are very different the piece will be clearly what it is at all points because of the bass.

That concludes today’s 30 minutes.