Welcome to Matter Anti-Matter, a site about nerd stuff. By day, I'm Head of Community at Kickstarter.
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There are 2 digital pianos and 3 synths in my house.
I spend on average 0 hours a week playing music. Before moving to New York, I used to play music about 2-3 times a week, and play shows about once a month. Now I have musical instruments gathering dust in my closet, under my bed, and anywhere else they will fit in my apartment.
This weekend, I plugged headphones into one of those digital pianos and proceeded to massacre songs that I love. I messed around with Beethoven’s Pathetique. An abysmal performance, though feeling muscle memory in your hands spring into action is always fascinating. Like, how is it that I suck at reading music and am staring cross-eyed at some sort of double sharp diminished mess, confused as hell, but my hands are still sort of doing what they’re supposed to be doing?
After ruining Beethoven, I figured, what the hell. I might as well go destroy Chopin. So I pulled out the sheet music for Chopin’s Scherzo No. 2, Op. 31. My white whale.
I have loved this song since I first heard it. I was 14, and my piano teacher had me learning Chopin Preludes and listening to them on CD (part of the Suzuki method involved listening to a lot of music and training the ear to help you learn to play).
Well the Suzuki method is awesome, because if you learn to play by ear you can fudge learning how to read music. Which is exactly what happened to me. On my CD filled with Chopin tunes was this fucking incredible Scherzo that I immediately and desperately wanted to learn how to play. It was dark and beautiful, and used all the keys and clearly was the best Chopin song ever.
However, Mrs. Kade, my piano teacher, did not think this was the right type of song for me. In fact, every song I liked would be a song she didn’t want to teach me. I wanted to learn Rachmaninoff. She would teach me Bach. I wanted to learn this Scherzo. She taught me the Preludes.
Mrs. Kade was a mean old lady who didn’t want me to learn the good stuff. So I tried to teach myself this epic Chopin Scherzo. I listened to it over and over and over again. I tried to read the music and where the chords and arpeggios got too hard, I’d just make it up. As long as it sounded fine, close enough right?
I spent months on this secret mission to master this Chopin Scherzo. It was a slow, painful process, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get it to sound like the recording. I couldn’t play it fast enough. My hands couldn’t reach the chords. I didn’t have the agility to handle the runs and would trip of over my fingers every other try.
But after about a year, I finally got to the point where I could get through the whole thing — imperfectly, of course, but I could play the whole goddamn thing. I never told my piano teacher what I was up to, never shared with her that I had (imperfectly) taught myself the song she wouldn’t teach me.
Of course Mrs. Kade wasn’t just a mean old lady. She just didn’t know how to tell me that I didn’t actually have the skill to play these songs.
I still don’t have the skill to play the Scherzo, and stumbling through page after page of complex, insane music that would sound beautiful if only I could actually play it right is one of the most satisfying things in the world.
I will never master this song. I will also never stop trying to master this song.
Why would I be a good beta tester?
1. I want The Elder Scrolls Online to be good. Really good. If I can help make that happen, then I’ve hopefully given something back to a game that’s been unexpectedly meaningful to me over the years.
2. I have almost no experience with MMOs. To be honest, I like playing games by myself! However, if I were to ever get into MMOs, I feel hopeful that Elder Scrolls Online would prove to be the gateway drug to all others. I imagine good feedback can come from those who’ve played a zillion MMOs and can compare to those experiences. But in my experience, valuable feedback often rests with those who enter in without preconceptions of what counts as “good” or what should be expected.
3. I’m a longtime fan of the series. Obvious, since I’m here, but I feel compelled to tell you anyways. I’ve spent a decent amount of time contemplating the world of Elder Scrolls, some of which manifest here: http://www.themarysue.com/the-elder-scrolls-my-so-called-life-as-a-dark-elf/