Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Nock, Prokofiev, Sacagawea

I've been playing some Mike Nock pieces over the last couple of weeks, as well as a number of short pieces by Prokofiev. The former are playable, the latter in some cases playable, in some cases very difficult.  But the interesting connection they have is that evidently both the composers have quite large hands, with considerable extension between the thumb and the little finger.  I write music in which I assume that other people will have a hand about the same size as mine - so there are tenths that I find comfortable to play, often included a third note in the middle. 

But Prokofiev's tenths (and occasional elevenths) are a different kettle of fish: they include other notes that make the stretch that much wider, and while I can manage them in some cases, in others they're just beyond my playing without arpeggiating the notes.  Nock doesn't do this very often but when he does it's plain he has the same sort of stretch as the Russian.  In some places it's assumed you'll comfortably reach a top note while holding others further down the keyboard.

On a totally different topic, I came across the Sacagawea coin the other day.  I'd never heard of Sacagawea and had to look her up (I didn't know at first whether it was a person or a thing).  She was an Indian guide who accompanied Lewis and Clark on some of their expeditions and was highly respected for her skills and mediation with various natives they met on the way.  Yet another woman who was in no way inhibited by some people's idea that women should keep their place.

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