My brain's turned off and I can't write about or create things that don't yet exist, so this will be an attempt to break out of that by writing about things that have already happened. It's also a thank-you for all the recommendations on piano music. (It's also a great exhibition of how I postpone the start of actual content by putting meta-content and disclaimers before it.)

The first piece I'm working on was From The Interwebs (thanks, public domain!) and it's the Rachmaninoff op. 3 no. 2 (prelude in C-sharp minor) because... I was downloading pdfs of music and started playing this one (my laptop was balanced on top of the horizontally-flattened music stand). It sounded good. I started memorizing it. At that point, I figured I might as well go for it.

After a while (memorizing the first 7 bars), I noticed my hands had started to hurt in that lovely "I've been typing too long" way. Rachmaninoff had big hands, and his stretches of broad chords rooting deep into the keys are one of the things I adore about playing his pieces - but I do not have big hands, and splaying them out to grasp the notes becomes a strain after a while. (Side note: one of the nice things over the last week has been going through the sonatas I played as a kid and playing them without the modifications I'd had to make when my tinier-then fingers couldn't reach octaves and stretch out to arpeggios. I'm playing them very lazily and badly, but the fact that I can play them lazily now is pretty nifty.)

Back to the "Rachmaninoff had big hands" deal: fortunately, one of my usual practice modalities is in the "ooo-shiny" vein - that is, I alternate between playing a few phrases on the piano and working on whatever I'm in the middle of (code, reading a book, math, whatever), switching back and forth the instant my attention wanes. One of my dorm room arrangements had my piano directly behind my desk, so I'd swivel my chair back and forth between my computer and piano keyboards - I liked that arrangement and would love to do it again once I have an apartment and a keyboard. Anyhow, this keeps my fingers from being hyperextended for too long, and it's how I'm going to have to learn the prelude if I want to have things that (1) sound good and (2) don't hurt.

After a trip to the music store, I also have Debussy's Arabesque #1 (thanks, Katie!) Tank's mom had this on the piano when we visited her house, I played through it and made a terrible mess. The nice thing about Debussy is that his music just floats clear of sounding incoherent, and that's what gives it such a dream-like quality... and makes it difficult for me to sightread. At some point I'll actually study it rather than sightreading it badly each time I play, but I think I'll work the Rachmaninoff through first.

Nikki also found some clarinet pieces with piano accompaniments, but the piano bits are fairly easy, so that shouldn't be too bad. Then we found some clarinet-cello-piano trios and settled on a Ferdinand Ries trio in B flat major (Op. 28) for the three of us to play (Tank on cello, Nikki on clarinet, myself on piano). It's not bad either - the challenge is that half the notes Nikki (and my right hand, for that matter) are playing are outside my hearing range. Also that I have to go through and do fingerings for the streams of rapid arpeggios running through the 40 pages (...yay) because my hands have forgotten how to turn around each other.

Also coming down the line:

Bach-Busoni Chaconne in D minor, suggested by cjb. After (slowly) sightreading through about half of it this evening, I am slightly skeptical that the piece is actually physically possible for a human being with two 10-fingered hands to play (It is, apparently - I just need to figure out how). It requires your hands to rapidly switch between odd intersections with each other, and then do crossovers three octaves over, and then switch back up and down and up and... at one point the music splits into three staffs because the range of frequencies being played simultaneously is just ridiculous. It's going to be brutally difficult and take a long time. It is going to be very, very pretty.

At some point I'd love to be able to take on Rhapsody in Blue. And do jazz improvisation with a trio (or more)... and play swing piano. In my inanely wild dreams, I will also someday play bass (string and electric) and percussion (for jazz/swing music, and/or perhaps back to taiko drumming again). And, y'know, if a Madrigals troupe needs an alto recorder player, I might hop back into that for a spell. This starts getting into Ridiculously Overambitious Territory, though, and if I can play the prelude in C# minor and stumble my way through the Ries trio by the time we hit Boston again in August I'll be a pretty durn happy camper. I do, however, resolve not to pick up an oboe again. That was a bad idea back in 5th grade. Me + reeds = unhappy reeds.

Someday I'll be able to afford piano lessons again. I'd like to take them then. I wonder how good I'd be if I hadn't stopped playing 8 years ago. Ah well. I've got a lifetime to get back into it again. And someday I'll buy electronic instruments and headphones so I don't eternally bother my housemates and neighbors with the cacophony of practice, and so when I play on real instruments it'll sound good.

Brain-cobwebs are a little clearer, but not gone yet. I'll keep writing.