Letting Go of the Impossible: Beethoven, the ‘Ukulele and the Revision Process

The “Pastoralele” project is coming along. Here’s me performing pages 10 and 11:

Page 11! The beginning of the recapitulation!

Page 11 had some tricky bits, which meant more revision than usual was necessary to arrive at something that was playable.

Here’s one of several examples on the page: In the first draft, I thought I had come up with a very clever “virtuoso” kind of passage. It’s an attempt to combine two independent lines-the melody in the second violins with a triplet counter-melody in the first violins. I was quite proud of my solution even though I knew it would be hard to play. You can see where I recognized the challenge at the end of the page, and left myself a note under the last two bars (“this will take a lot of work”):

If you try it out, you might experience some difficulty as well, especially with the stretch from the 2nd fret to the 8th fret in the second beat of the first measure. It was possible for me to play at a very slow tempo, but much more difficult when played faster.

I worked on it for several weeks leading up to this past weekend, when it was time to create a video of page 11. I REALLY wanted to make it work, so much so that I spent a disproportionate amount of time on this one passage.

Ultimately decided to let go of my pride and take the option I scribbled to the right of the tab (“also-could be like page 1). This was a tough decision, but it was the right one. A decision in service of the whole. A decision to keep moving and not get stuck on a small detail.

The process of revision almost always flows from the complex to the simple. Start with an idea that might be close impossible and simplify it until it turns into something that works. What is your process of revision? Is it similar? Get in touch and let me know.

Thank you for joining me on this journey!

all the best to you!


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