Für Elise (And Formula One Racing Game)

When I was sixteen, maybe younger, I managed to convince my mother to buy a piano.  I had no idea if I could play one.  But I enjoy playing the wind instrument.  By my naive extrapolation and rudimentary research, I could see myself playing a piano.  When I was young, there was no such thing as cost benefit analysis, or risk assessment.  The question of whether or not I have the right talent did not come across in my mind either.  I had a desire to play the piano and the stubborn determination to get there.  That was all that it counted for me back then.

I did not engage a piano teacher at first.  I would practice the music scores on my own, deriving ways to articulate the music through this brand new instrument, which smelt divine by the way.  I would sit by the piano for hours practicing the same scale on my right hand, then my left, and finally together.  I would dissect a musical piece into segments, practice the melody, then the harmony, and finally put them together, with the foot petals all in.  It was a long and tedious process without a teacher.  But the joy of working things out all by myself is indescribable.

Of all the piano pieces I have practiced and self-taught, I enjoyed playing Für Elise the most.  It is a beautiful piece written by Beethoven in three parts.  Each part has its challenge.  The crescendo, the diminuendo, the change of tempo, the speed run of notes across multiple octaves, and the solemn harmonic chords that accentuate the mood – all while documented clinically as black and white in the form of a musical score is a sum of a unique interpretation by the pianist.

Für Elise is a rather short piece of music compares to say The Blue Danube that I self-taught later on.  It lasts only a couple of minutes and it can be therapeutic practicing  Für Elise on repeat.  I would try to run some of the faster segments as close to the original intend as possible.  And then I would hit a roadblock due to a lack of consistency.  To improve, I would slow the notes down and examine each closely, string the notes together aiming to keep them consistent while gradually increasing the tempo.  This might take hours, days, weeks, or not ever.

The bottom line is, back then, I believe that through persistence, nothing is impossible.

Recently, I have spent much of my limited gaming hours into a F1 racing game.  My blogging tempo to you may seem to have slowed down.  The truth is, I have been adding new content onto an old post as I journey further into the game.  That entry becomes a micro-blog by itself.

Now, how does a F1 racing game relate to Für Elise?  To me, it does.  Playing the game reminds me of my piano practicing days.

You may notice that quite a few classical pieces have a three-movement structure.  On every F1 track, there are three sectors with a distinct theme too.  To me, tackling a F1 track is like playing the piano.  There is a rhythm to the circuit.  While the circuit design defines the track’s characteristic, no two drivers tackles the track the same way.  Each driver articulates the track in a way that works for him or her, according to one’s interpretation.  To perfect the track, one needs to push the limit to see how far one could go.  It is all about understanding the track and to consolidate the maneuvers so as to bring consistency to the driving.  It feels extremely satisfying when a perfect lap is strung together, just like when Für Elise is played beautifully in one go.

One evening, as I spent hours going through the same F1 track in circle for the umpteenth time, I suddenly thought of Für Elise.  I was overwhelmed by the childhood sweet memory of my piano practicing sessions.

No wonder I find the game so enjoyable to play.

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