Rehearsal Room

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Virtuoso  PV Ami Procoppio 

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Musica multos magis dementat quam vinum.


Music induces more madness in many than wine. As expected, Cel had never tasted a drop of alcohol in her life other than that of cooked food, but she remembered the proverb in full as she stopped in her tracks on the last step of the staircase leading to the fourth floor. The wood rumbled beneath her, beginning to slide away from her destination, and she scrambled to jump across the small gap before the stairs abandoned the fourth floor completely, very nearly dropping her book. Her silk bookmark fluttered down, down, down on the air-- she was thankful that she hadn't used her metal markers today.

The music in question that had diverted her attention in the first place continued to drift out from the hallway before her: a powerful melody that she knew by heart, played on the slender white and black keys of a piano. After a moment, Cel turned to face the dim-lit corridor, smiling a little at the music that emanated from it. Few people enjoyed such music; few ten- and eleven- year olds, at least, and even those who did were not found in the school she had become accustomed to calling a second home.

Beautifully composed and beautifully played, the piece was: The theme song of the Phantom of the Opera, composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, one of the first pieces she had mastered upon her arrival at Oxford. Much sooner than later, she found herself humming along with the song, then quietly whispering the lyrics to herself-- whomever the pianist was had already progressed to the last verse.

Without so much consciousness as she could have had, the girl began to walk, unknowingly beginning to sing a little louder and louder with each slow, small step along the hall. It was quite a good thing that the library was on the other side of the hall and that the doors of the other rooms seemed to be shut-- finally, she recognized the cracked-open door of the Rehearsal Room to be the origin of the powerful music that washed out from its interior.

"And in this labyrinth, where night is blind, the Phantom of the Opera is there, inside your mind." The words drifted away from her in perfect sync with the piano, and for the first time she realized the volume of her voice-- but it was too late, for the trills, the zenith of the song, came into the reality of time, and she could not help but open her mouth and sing.

One note, held, raised. Another, held, raised. The high, piercing melody of her voice wove along with the piano's, which did not stop, and she ceased her slow perambulating along the hallway as she reached the door of the Rehearsal Room, not quite peering in yet. Up, up, up-- this was what she loved, the pure, high, clear note of her voice straining to produce a sound that disguised the stress of her focus. One last note-- without the slightest notion of trouble, she hit a perfect pitch and faded off the end with a genuine smile.

Smiles on this little girl, this then First Year Ravenclaw, did not usually last for long, but the suggestion of it tingled at the corners of her lips as she peered into the Rehearsal Room, curious as to who had put up with her singing that had likely interrupted what was a direct focus on his or her playing. The only things her green and brown heterochromic eyes caught before the person sitting on the piano bench turned was the red hair on a figure leaning over the grand piano in the middle of the room.

Without so much as a word, she squeaked and backed away from the doorway, knowing full well that she'd been spotted but not quite accepting it. The pianist was good, but she didn't welcome unwarranted attention from skilled pianists any more than she did from normal students... actually, she did, but that was beside the point. A look left, a look right, and the girl fled, beginning to backpedal down the corridor.

Reducio
Permission to Godmod granted by Ami


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Virtuoso  PV Ami Procoppio 

Music was a sweet escape for those who didn't drink or gamble or do... other questionable things. It was a portal through which one could jump through and escape whatever hell they were living in at the moment, whether it be mentally or physically. There were so many different ways that you could do it, too- whether by listening, creating, playing, transposing... Music was a wonderful medium. Enough said.

After coming to Hogwarts, Ami quickly realized why her mom told her not to bother bringing her phone- obviously, electronics didn't work. While she realized that of course, this was because of the powerful magic in play, that also meant that she didn't have her music to listen to, to escape to. The next best option- actually, if she was being completely honest with herself, it was the best option. The best option, by far, was playing the music herself.

That's why on most days, when she was still constantly procrastinating all of the work she had yet to even start, you would find her perched on the edge of the piano bench in the Rehearsal Room, toe on the pedal, fingers gracing the black and white keys. 

Some days, it was the sharp, biting chords of a dark Liszt piece; on other days, it was the lilting melody of a movie soundtrack; on others, the syncopated rhythms and loud high notes of Broadwshow tunes. It was pretty clear that Ami knew what she was doing, and used it to her advantage.

On this particular day, it was Phantom of the Opera- the whole show, actually, not just the one theme song. The shorter Overture was first, and although it wasn't entirely necessary, Ami still felt obliged to play it. Then, it was Think of Me- and sure, she messed up a bit since it had been months since she'd last seen the sheet music, but she made due. The growing crescendo of Angel of Music was next, where she poured every last bit of her heart into it, before reaching deep down into her soul for the theme, The Phantom of the Opera.

This song was truly Andrew Lloyd Webber's one true masterpiece. The sharp chromatic scale that made up the melody she knew so well, the consistent bass notes that exuded a haunting effect that set the mood for the whole song, the simple melody that would get stuck in your head for ages... truly, it was pure perfection. There was nothing else that she would rather play to get rid of the last bit of her exasperation and anger.

So, imagine her surprise when she heard singing in the hallway- perfect singing, no less. She didn't stop, no- she was an experienced accompanist, used to unwelcome interruptions from various family members and friends, whether it be her father, mother, or Thomas. This, random singing from the hallway? No big deal.

Except, it kind of was- after all, this was opera she was playing, not some normal pop song you'd hear on the radio every day. And really, whoever was singing was incredible- not a word misspoken, not a line skipped over. Clearly, whoever was out there really knew what they were doing.

The end, oh, the end. Higher, higher, and higher the notes would arc, reaching pitches Ami nearly forgot existed. The girl, whoever was out the hallway, they simply followed along like it was no biggie that they were singing so high up in their head voice, they could probably carve a hole right into Heaven. With the final. haunting note, the voice and piano faded away, until there was nothing left.

Whipping her head around, Ami desperately scanned the room for the source of the voice. The only thing she could find was the pale face framed by dark hair in the doorway, before the figure swiftly disappeared. "You!"

What was this, some kind of Cinderella story?

Leaping to her feet, Ami dashed after the rapidly disappearing figure. Quickly catching up, she grabbed the girl's arm before she could run any further. "You..." she said quietly, not out of breath in the slightest. "You were the one singing, weren't you?" 

Without waiting for an answer, she hauled the small girl back to the Rehearsal Room, heeding no mind to whatever complaints she might've had. Shutting the doors behind them, Ami turned back to the Ravenclaw, hands on her hips. "You. Why the hell are you so good?" Sticking a hand out, Ami smiled, her fierce expression softening. "I'm Ami, by the way. The pianist you heard? Yeah, that's me."

Virtuoso  PV Ami Procoppio 

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Sine ore loquens, dominatum in animum exercet.


Speaking, though speechless, it exercises dominion over the mind. The quote was not so clear in its meaning, but it spoke of music-- the entrancing quality of music's rhythm, the hypnotization of its melody, the emanating emotion that its beat drew out of the listener's hearts. Good music did that to you.

And she was loath to fall prey to its whims.


Or perhaps not so loath, for she was scarce out of its trance that she felt a surge of pride over her accomplishment. And still, that pride beat, along with her heart, even as she darted away and out of view of the pianist. It was only now that she fully registered the pianist's skill-- most likely one who had been playing since a very, very young age, and most definitely one who enjoyed the art. It, put in feeble words for lack of better ones, was purely incredible.

Skill of the musical instrument was not her exact concern, however, when she heard the red-haired pianist call out. "You!" the pianist had said, the sharp note of her voice piercing Cel's muddled thoughts like a spear through water. The young Ravenclaw stopped dead, not quite thinking why she did so, and turned just slightly, enough to see the other girl's face-- Hufflepuff, she assumed, from her robes, though her next words would be expected more of a stereotypical Gryffindor, in Cel's mind.

Singing. She had been singing in front of a stranger-- or behind, in this case, and one who had been playing piano, too. Blood painted her cheeks red in brushstrokes of regret and embarassment-- it had been the second time that she'd been caught singing, but at least the first she hadn't interrupted anyone. A flinch, at least, was in order as the Hufflepuff gripped her arm-- physical contact was not alien to her, but she was not a touchy person, and nor did she usually react the best toward surprise. "I-- yes, I was the one singing," she echoed in reply faintly.

Yelping slightly as the unknown pianist began to tug forcefully on her arm, the girl had no choice but to follow-- her strength was no match for the taller, probably stronger, and far more insistent Hufflepuff. Besides, she did not mind so much; although her movements were driven, they did not seem angry. Mumbled protest faded in the presence of curiosity, and she allowed herself to be dragged back into the Rehearsal Room that was so familiar to her in its emptiness.

They'd scarce reached the room when Cel jumped at the sound of closing doors. Why was she so jumpy today? The girl had no such clue as to why, only that she would not be so for the rest of the day, if she paid attention to it. Still, she was taken aback at the stranger's aggressively worded compliment. "Uh. Am I?" she replied, rather stupidly. Indeed, the slight ten-year-old was no stranger to her own skill. She knew she was not the most terrible singer out of the most terrible, but still she did not praise herself to such a degree-- few people did, after all.

Handshake. That she could work with; Cel took the amazing pianist's hand-- Ami, that was her name, apparently. "I'm Celynne," she greeted in return, North Californian accent strong as ever, "or Cel." Or Celery, as some had decided to call her, but that was not relevant. There-- an introduction. "You shouldn't praise my singing when there's your piano to talk about," she chided honestly. "I play, too-- actually, so do a lot of others-- but your playing is beautiful. I've never heard such a dynamic version of Phantom of the Opera."

Indeed, there had been many concerts in which the orchestra of the grand opera was compressed into two hands on a piano, but none had been so great as this piece-- resonating with a style of its own, too, one that she quite liked.

Perhaps it was the music, or perhaps her residual glee from being able to belt out her opera outside of the soundproof Ravenclaw bathroom, but she was beginning to like this girl and her fierce demeanor-- and she had an American accent as well; that was a plus. Perhaps it was far-fetched to judge one before more than a minute of conversation, but there would be an outcome, whether or not she chose to predict it. The honest truth: she tended to expect the worst of most that she met, but perhaps a friendship would be in order here. Her hand fiddled with her robe for no apparent reason; she ceased to do so as she noticed it.

Pianist-- that was a word that had been applied to her, to Parker, to so many others that existed in her world of music. She'd reached high in her studies of piano, but not quite this high, and few had exceeded her in their determination in so many subjects, even as so many chose to pursue piano, or abandon it. What she could do with a pianist-- what songs she'd sang and played and been accompanied by, all with a piano, a bench, and a musician. Parker was always busy, though, and her days of music-making with others were slowly fading away-- such a finding was a jewel in the depths.

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Virtuoso  PV Ami Procoppio 

Ami desperately wanted to hug this girl until she dropped dead- or, at least, became thoroughly uncomfortable. Her words, her speech... now, this was something she could work with. Somewhere in the back of her hard-headed skull, she began to pick apart the vowels and consonants of her words, the shape of her mouth and the way her tongue decided to move.

California, she finally decided, her mind running through all of the states on the west coast of her beloved home country. Definitely California. So, this girl, Celynne, was also American- or, had at least spent a vast majority of her life in America. Was there anything that Celynne wasn't? First, an amazing singer, then American, then fricking gorgeous like what, plus a Ravenclaw? What a deadly combination... if anything, she was going to be a real heartbreak once she got just a smidge taller.

Oh, Christ- she'd begun with the praising. If there was one thing and Ami couldn't stand, it was praise. She was aware of her... talent, and aware of just how random it was, but she already knew that. She didn't need other people to remind her of it when she'd rather them tell her how to get better.

Besides, Celynne moved the topic on to how she played piano as well, piquing Ami's interest. Not many people she knew played piano, which was kind of sad. It was, after all, clearly the best instrument out there- although Thomas would never admit it, insisting that the guitar reigned as the king of all instruments. 

Oh wait, nevermind- there she was, back at how her playing was so phenomenal or whatever.

Disgusting. And Ami had thought that she was better than that.

"Come and play with me," Ami said as an offering, sitting back down on the piano bench, on the right side. It was clear that she was leaving the left side for Celynne, as an offering of friendship- play with me, and we'll be friends, the gesture said.

Friendship. Really, what was friendship? Simply an alliance with a few favors sprinkled in here and there? No, surely that couldn't be it- surely, it was more than just an alliance. It was loyalty! It was how you survived life- it was how she had survived bullies. The power of friendship truly was a powerful force indeed- would there be a spark between the two musicians?

"I'm sure we can find a song to compromise on." There were plenty of well-known songs out there in the world, and Ami had full faith that Celynne would be knowledgeable enough to recognize a majority of the famous songs she would choose to play.

"What about... Canon?" she suggested softly, fingering the keys of the piano soundlessly. "Pachelbel's Canon. In D." Like there was any other Canon that was acceptable- Canon in C? Who played that? That was like playing a minor version of The Entertainer- completely unacceptable. Celynne would surely know the song, it was a staple in every decent pianist's arsenal.

Virtuoso  PV Ami Procoppio 

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Sine ore loquens, dominatum in animum exercet.


Perhaps it had been courtesy that prompted her to speak, but without the requirements of etiquette, she would have thought just the same in her mind, even if she would not express it in words. Yet it was not simply the skill with which this Ami played upon the keys; it had been the passion of one who truly loved her art. Her point had been made, her civility defined-- she had no need to speak of it any longer.

Indeed, the only praise she herself usually did not object to was that of her teachers-- praise was always used in the manner of feedback, not compliment. It would always come with criticism of some kind or another, pairing the observation of points that she had no need to practice over and over again with suggestions for that which she did. After all, what was the point of praise if it did nothing for improvement? From attentive observation, as she was so accustomed to using, she examined Ami's freckled expression-- perhaps she, too, thought the same way, or at least did not preen in the face of compliments.

Instead, the Hufflepuff-- American of some type, Cel noted with a slight pulse of surprise-- had offered a duet. Come and play with me, Ami had just suggested. For a moment Cel hesitated, doubt coming to flood her senses-- she was proficient enough, and had continued to brush across the keys when she had the time, but it had been a while since she'd played with anyone else, or for that matter in front of anyone else.

Hesitation left her, however, as Ami volunteered a song. Her fingers ceased their anxious fidgeting in her robe, causing the bunch of gathered fabric to fall, wrinkled, back to her side. Canon. It would be a good choice; every good pianist could play it, thankfully including her, and it was not a challenging song. "I haven't practiced for quite a while," Cel admitted hesitantly. "and I haven't done a duet in... I don't even know how long? But all right," she receded, and moved to take the proffered half of the seat. Her form was still small; there was still a good amount of space for Ami to take up more of the bench that she'd allowed herself.

Uncertainty returned again to nibble at the edges of her consciousness as she shook out her quill-weary hands for a second and placed them, curved and at the ready, on the familiar black-and-white keys. Her nails were a bit long, in all honesty, but at least her fingers hadn't been frozen stiff today from the cold outdoors and she wasn't half-asleep from book fatigue. Experimentally she felt for the pedals with her foot, then loosened her right sneaker and nudged it under the piano bench-- her Japanese piano teacher had always taught her indoors, where she'd learned to work the pedals barefoot. The young Ravenclaw swallowed, calling to mind the placement of her fingers, the workings of Pachelbel's Canon. "I haven't played this one in a while, either," she murmured, not quite caring if her words were heard or not. 

It occurred to her that although she knew the song well, she'd never quite had the chance to play it in a duet. Actually, she rarely played duets at all, save for the one she'd played with her piano teacher one and a half years ago... which really didn't count, since it was for fun.

Improvisation would be necessary.


Such was not, to be fair, the most opposing idea. Improv piano was fun-- she'd done it before, but never with someone else, and never with this song alone. The furthest she'd gone with Canon was the countless variations that she'd picked up of it, but the thought of trying something new-- something that sounded truly fun-- sent a burst of excitement through her mind. Keep an open mind, Parker would always say when she refused something-- that happened unfortunately often-- and it would seem that his repeated lessons were finally coming through.

"Do you want to start?" Cel asked the how-even-that-tall figure beside her, tilting her head up in a futile attempt to see and ultimately giving up on it. She wouldn't mind starting, but judging from the fact that Ami was a better pianist that she, it would seem more reasonable for her to start-- and Cel preferred to adapt to another's lead, not the other way around.

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Virtuoso  PV Ami Procoppio 

A lack of practice, in Ami's opinion, had absolutely nothing to with if you were still good or not. If you had, say, played piano for five years consistently, consecutively, took a break for two years, then decided to pick it back up again, you didn't lose all of your knowledge. Practicing only helped you retain the notes you learned, to help you stretch your fingers.

In Ami's opinion, it was all about refining and honing the raw talent.

Celynne looked like she had a lot of raw talent.

Whilst Celynne looked like a fish in a new bowl of water, Ami was completely in her element. Her usual sloppy posture straightened into one of a trained concert pianist, poised and ready to bend and break with the music. Her hands, one would notice, were rather large compared to the rest of her body- wide palms that looked like they spent years playing basketball, and bonily supple fingers that seemed to stretch on for days. At the Ravenclaw's suggestion that she start, Ami nearly wanted to leap off the seat in joy and start dancing around the room.

Retaining her composure instead, she nodded curtly, gratefully, before subtly tapping out a basic beat with her foot. Her hands moving as if they had a mind of her own, she played the basic scale that made up Canon's baseline once through, just as a starting point. It would be a good reminder to Celynne, had she forgotten the song, and a simple octave-scale warm-up for herself.

Her left hand continuing to carry the base, her right hand began to move to its own rhythm, as well. The lilting melody echoed through the air, a sweet simpleness with no embellishments, nothing special. It was quite uncharacteristic of Ami, who loved to add in flourishes whenever she pleased, but she felt a gradual build-up would be best suited for the occasion. More could be added to make the sound deeper, more layered, but you had to start somewhere.

Canon's melody hung quivering in the air, like a question unanswered, and Ami shot a meaningful look at the tiny Ravenclaw sitting next to her as both hands settled back into the base, except this time in chords, rather than octaves. 

Your turn.

Virtuoso  PV Ami Procoppio 

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Ludere.


Her piano teachers learned quickly that Cel had a natural ear for music, but that if she didn't greatly enjoy whatever song she was instructed to learn, she would not do well, and that when absorbed in the midst of music she loved, she could play for hours on end practicing one song. For that reason, she rarely played classical or even baroque at times, preferring the emotional tunes of romantic pieces or the uneven harmonies of contemporaries. Improvisation, however, was another matter.

Her eyelids dropped shut as she collected the notes of the familiar baroque song like pebbles off a riverbank, music shifting through her bones like water seeping into sponge. D major was a key she was well accustomed to working with. C was anyone's favorite, but it was always either B flat, E flat, G, F or D, at least for the major songs. Her sight reading was not extraordinary: her teacher had made her practice it, over and over, before giving up and accepting that she would always play better by ear. Most of the songs she played were in a minor key, as she found a sort of beauty in such, but major keys could be just as if not more mellifluous.

The first notes, utterly modest compared to the dynamic arrangement of opera meant for a symphony from before, rang out in her ears. Cel fisted her hands tightly, the stretched them out-- her hands were not exceptional, but she could reach across eight keys just fine, ten of she strained. A breath in, deep and filling, then a breath out, gentle and relieving. And then she placed her hands on the keys.

Improvisation, in her opinion, was the best way to show a pianist's style. It could not quite be done with singing, at least not as well, but on black and white keys, it was perfect. Her teacher noted that her style always emphasized emotion, that which was kept behind guarded walls of her mind-- sometimes a little too much, in fact-- but she did not listen. The advice was not as crucial as other critiques, anyway, and that was what she used her music for-- a second face, one that could twist into heart-wrenching emotional expression just as her physical, stolid face could. When she improvised, however, her passion came along later; she decided it could wait until she was a little more familiar in the tune.

Carefully her fingers pressed down on the first note, then the second, and so on. With each new hammer against the strings and knobs within the grand piano's body, Cel's fingers grew a little more accustomed to the basic tune-- nothing too hard, nothing so stressful, only an easy, flowing canon. In D.

In the key of D major, which had two sharps, F and C, she reminded herself sternly as her finger almost slipped from its place. The rise in her shoulders somewhat relaxed a little as she found her rhythm again, adding another couple of notes on each beat.

...Right, this was a duet, not a simple improvisation. She could feel the reddening of her cheeks as she realized she had somehow forgotten for a split second. Slowing down by just a hair's breadth, the young Ravenclas looked up at Ami again, not quite twisting enough to face her fully but enough for a change in her position to be noticed. Her arms shifted to one side as she eyes her piano partner's lanky arms-- they likely needed more space than her own arms did.

Considering a tentative venture into complexity, Cel decided against the thought until Ami joined in again, until the two found a steady melody together-- to push for something she herself did not know if she could do would be absolute suicide. If Ami progressed, then she would follow, just as she had followed and was following the beat the aggressive Hufflepuff had tapped out by her feet.

For now her music would remain as it always was when she played the calmer, lilting melodies of gentle major pieces: each note crisp yet dreamy under her thin fingers, betraying the passionate force that they could pound with. Her foot sought out the pedal underneath the grand piano, just in case she would need it-- oftentimes she would find herself pressing the wrong pedal in the middle of a piece and needed to stop in order to find the correct one. That was not happening today.

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Virtuoso  PV Ami Procoppio 

Okay, this was getting boring.

Her mind was restless, and she itched for something more. As the melody was passed back to her again, as they cycled around to the next rotation through the song, her hands hesitated for a split second, trying to make a decision that should've been planned out ages before.

The dilemma, of course, was what alteration to make next. The first round was a scale of quarter notes, nothing too fancy to look at there. The next round, played by Ami, was the common melody that was so often played at weddings- starting with quarter notes, then slowly progressing to eighth notes and some sixteenth notes. Celynne had further elaborated on that, flowing more with eighth and sixteenth notes, although quarter note and half note accompaniments were also present. That left Ami with two choices- double up, or fly into triplets.

On the one hand, triplets would alter the mood drastically. Blueberry blueberry blueberry... or blueberry blueberry blueberry... or, everyone's favorite, blueberry blueberry blueberry. There were many options to explore should she poke down that fork in the trail, and it would require fast thinking on her part. Triplets meant an extra note in the melody, ergo, triplets meant more improvisation. 

On the other hand, she could double up the notes- that is, play the harmony with her right thumb whilst her left hand played chords and the rest of the finger on her right hand flew around the keys, playing the melody. That, too, was a challenge, and it also required quick thinking- pairing a harmonic note with whatever note she would play next, or would be required to play next.

She had to make her decision soon, however- her finger was almost on the key of the first note, and then, from there, she'd have to live with her decision. Oh, what did her mother always say when she couldn't make an important decision? 

"If you don't know which to choose, choose both."

Her hands hit the keys, and the harmonized triplets flowed forth from her fingertips. Ignore her face, ignore her face... Ami kept her gaze firmly on her hands, blocking out everything around her. The notes were lilting and playful, a childish take on the regal original. She knew if she looked at Celynne, she'd burst into laughter, and everything would be ruined.

Instead, she focused on her hands, on the perfect they formed; on the precise amount of pressure she needed to ensure that the loveliest sound possible was coming out of the piano. It was a good mental workout for her, not to mention a good stretch for her fingers, which had been lying dormant for far too long. As her manic triplets rounded to the end of her rotation, she let herself settle into a poco a poco diminuendo, passing the melody back to Celynne. Could she top that?

Virtuoso  PV Ami Procoppio 

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Euge!


Triplets, her favorites! Cel grinned, just a little, as she heard the melody change, heard the complex triplets and harmonic notes spin out of Ami’s dancing fingers-- there it was again, that beautiful, lilting tone of a truly advanced pianist at work. But she was holding back-- this was nothing compared to what the lanky red-haired girl had produced earlier, chords pounding into the keys with a kind of fervor that dominated skill and feeling. No, Cel could never top what she’d heard. But how about this toned-down version of mastery?

Once again she heard the worried voice inside her mind, reeling back the rope that explored, cautiously making its way toward ambition. However much she tried to shove it aside and let herself try, it remained-- she’d named it Doubt. But as the melody quieted gradually, Cel took a breath in, took a breath out.

...Well, there was still the problem of what she was going to do.


There were triplets and harmonies, but Ami had just done both. There was an alberti bass she could somehow complicate, but it did not seem… right. Not for this song, at least. What else could she do? And why did her mind always blank when she needed it the most?

Finally, finally, an errant thought came to her rescue. Her piano teacher noted her strange understanding of scales-- from seven years old, a single run up and down in sixteenth notes could be mastered within three minutes. She was no real prodigy at the piano, but there was something about scales that she caught very quickly-- it was… it was natural to her hands; her fingers just fit the keys so well. Tripping, sliding, any other mistake; they were all rather rare for her-- but only in scales. Could she somehow incorporate that into this piece?

Well, Ami had been warned that she was out of practice. If she tripped, she could easily smooth down the melody again, with the simple chord progression-- hopefully the failure wouldn’t hit her too hard, but her time was coming to an end, she’d have to do it, now or never and a whole lot of embarrassment--

Then her fingers hit the keys.


Her left hand remained constant, playing the chord progression so familiar to herself, gentle but fervent as ever, not too much pressure, not too little. No fancy inversions polluted the simple tune just a little lower than her right hand, only the plain, familiar chords. Her right hand, however, was an entirely different story.

The fabric of the young Ravenclaw’s robes bunched and unbunched in spirals of dark soft fabric as her fingers flew across the keyboard, stretching across the short distance available to her. Unfortunately, the juxtaposition of Ami and herself led to a short space of keyboard available to her, at least to her lacking ambition. She’d wanted to go up another octave, allowing the sixteenth notes of the scale to turn to thirty-second notes, but quickly realizing that her fingers were too stiff from disuse to allow her to spin out the scale smoothly enough, and there wasn’t enough space for her to reach all the way up-- too bad, but not a terrible setback.

Within a few seconds her focus had narrowed to the fingers of her right hand, attentively upping the flitting pressure on each note as she traveled up the keyboard and lowering it as she came back toward her left hand. Cel could feel her left hand slow down to match the waning strength of her right; newly panicked, she tripped-- cringed-- and then was revived, able to continue smoothly once more. She did not spare the attention to check on Ami’s reaction as she normally was, only unconsciously clenched her jaw harder and ceased to blink.

The music filled her ears, and she loosened her stiffened wrists, allowed them to move with her hands. Her ears were, her teacher would go on, her greatest musical tool. Ever since she was young, or at least ever since she could remember, she could hear the slightest differences in noise, the highest pitched sounds, the tremble in any singer’s voice-- it was good, too, for to sing or to play, those ears were vital to success. Unfortunately, such good hearing also meant that she could starkly contrast her own playing to Ami’s astounding talent, but that was not always such a bad thing-- she must learn from those who succeed when she herself did not, wasn’t it?

Soon her scales lessened and diminished, shifting into simple arpeggios, and then she traded patterns with each hand, settling into the basic beginning of the song itself. Her fingers were far warmer now than they had been before-- she glanced at Ami, not for the purpose of conveying information to herself but rather to signal a sign that the tall redhead did not need. Indeed, she did not believe that she could actually see Ami’s face without craning her neck upward.

A sheath of light had fallen over the gleaming white keys-- Ami’s turn, again.


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Virtuoso  PV Ami Procoppio 

Incorporating scales into a piece like this was clever, she would give Celynne that much. With the steady chord progression that would only repeat over and over again, seemingly with no end in sight, traipsing your way up and down the scale was a lovely way to tie everything together. She, herself, abhorred scales; she considered them to be tedious and a waste of time. 

After all, why warm up with a D minor scale when you could transpose Solfegietto by CPE Bach into different keys instead?

As Celynne tripped over her fingers, as she rushed a note after trying to make up for another note that had lingered too long, Ami could feel her tense beside her. She grimaced alongside her, feeling her pain and embarrassment empathetically. Messing up in front of another person was always hard; however, every mistake was recoverable, and Celynne did just that. She mentally applauded the Ravenclaw for her perseverance and persistence in playing through the improv; not many people could do what she just did.

As she played her scales, Ami's mind began to drift. This time, she should actually plan out what she was going to play. Of course, it would no longer be true improv, and she normally despised cheating of any sort, especially when it came to improv, but this required a little bit more preparation than the simple harmonic triplets she had played the round before.

She had, of course, a vague idea of what she wanted to do, but she wasn't quite sure how she would put it into effect. As Celynne's turn drew to a close, her mind raced as her perfect pitch fished around in her mental library of notes and pitches for one to start one. Her right hand reaching for the note, her fingers curved as they began to pound on the alabaster keys.

Her favorite holiday, of course, was Christmas. She was not religious in the slightest, but she adored evergreen trees and the prettiness of snow cascading down from the sky. The music itself was wonderful, too; she and Thomas had busked for spare change in subways quite often during the wintertime with Christmas carols, songs that everyone knew and loved. 

However, just by rule of thumb, they point-blank refused to play Carol of the Bells. It was annoying, repetitive, and for babies to play. They both hated the song, and thus, never played it. Ami, of course, still knew the melody and the tune; and on this lovely spring afternoon, was there any reason that she shouldn't play Christmas music?

Her fingers pressed the notes with gusto, bringing the Christmas spirit and cheer into a normally morose and stoic wedding march. It was odd, hearing Canon be transformed into Carol of the Bells, even if only momentarily, until Ami's left hand seemed to gain a life of its own.

As her right hand hammered out the repetitive melody of Carol of the Bells that would only reach higher and higher up into the keyboard, her left hand began to play the actual melody of Canon. It sounded odd, at first- wrong, almost. She soon found her footing, her groove, and the notes began to lace together like a perfect spiderweb- interlocking, supportive, and right.

As she began to wind down, her hands playing a quick succession of chromatic chords, then a triple-grace note into a tense descent of minor chords, signaling Celynne's turn. The chords would provide a beginning, a prompt charged with potential energy, given to Celynne to do whatever she pleased with it.

Maybe this would be fun, after all.

Virtuoso  PV Ami Procoppio 

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Nexilis.


The word meant something akin to intertwined or joined in Latin, and Cel plucked it out of the chaotic whirlpool of thoughts swirling around in her mind. As the main melody left her fingers, she heard Ami begin to play again-- this time, something she hadn't heard before. Subconsciously she arched a brow, tilting her head slightly in consideration of the new tune. Canon was still there, but the entire thing seemed... strangely familiar, but most definitely different...

Then it hit her, the blending melodies, slowly coming together to form a mashed tune-- Christmas spirit. That was Carol of the Bells! The girl mentally smacked herself for being unable to tell apart the minor song transposed to a major key, but then again, she'd only ever heard it one way-- in its distinctively minor melody, however repetitive. It had to be some kind of work, to transpose the song into a major-- as she was playing it, no less.

Thoughts, however, were what kept her from foresight. As the melody was passed back to her, Cel found herself, once again, scrabbling for the slightest idea of what she should do. The girl cursed inwardly as she stiffened her hands on the keys, then relaxed, frantically searching for a grasp-- a handhold-- anything to play. What pattern could she use? What turn could she make? What kind of improv could match what Ami could probably do, what she obviously had near no experience in?

And that was why she didn't like improvisation.


But her fingers fell on the black-and-white keys, carrying on the melody that Ami had set as she searched her mind, panicked, for anything that might help. Her hand tripped into a wrong note-- she winced-- and then another wrong note. Her jaw tightened at the sound, but then almost without thinking, her hands kept going... one seemingly wrong note after another until they weren't wrong at all... no, not wrong, but another tune entirely. First she shifted Carol of the Bells into a minor key, then she dropped the melody of Canon completely... all that was left was the simple melody high in the piano in her right hand.

Now she'd made one change; what was next? There was a reason why nobody played this song-- most versions of it were boring... uninteresting. Nobody wanted to hear it over and over and over again; it could be immensely annoying. She needed to find some way to make the song... interesting. Absentmindedly her left hand joined the quiet melody in its familiar downward progression, and four measures later, just because she really wanted to use a glissando later on, she began to shift the right hand down with the left chromatically-- down, down, down, down, down, until her fingers rested on an a minor key.

Doubling the repetitive notes on the left hand, then the right hand after four more measures, the girl gradually faded the melody out until it was but a whisper-- and then, on a whim of decision, slammed her hands down on the deep end of the piano in an arpeggio. What was a lilting, easy melody blurred into a grandiose, powerful tune as the arpeggio, doubled in octaves, ran up the piano once, then came to a stop as she pounded the full, sonorous left hand in octaves, four for each measure. Her right hand’s key melody was played in a fifth interval, then a single note, and another two fifths.

Gradually the notes faded out, and her left foot found its way onto the soft pedal, allowing the octave notes to cool down-- heck, her fingers hurt-- and she moved onto the next, likely overdue portion of the song. On a whim, her left hand spun out an arpeggio as her right shaped chords according to the main melody, but it didn’t sound quite good enough-- no, she jumped the left hand up an octave, then began chord picking-- the first note of the chord, then the two top notes of a five-three inversion, then the fifth of the chord an octave lower, thrice, followed by a note right above, and above again-- forming a passage into the next chord, and so on.

The pattern continued, but she found herself at the doorstep of another issue soon enough: by the time the short scale upwards arose, she no longer had space at the end of the piano to continue without jumping. Panicked, she slipped again, but invigorated, she skipped the part entirely, choosing instead to hammer out the first, fifth and octave notes of an a minor scale upwards in her right and a normal scale downwards in her left hand. Her right food darted toward the damper pedal, and finding another upon it, heeled it aside by the ankle and pressed down.

With that, she slammed the last note of the scale and curved her fingers in an upward glissando to return to what she regarded as the main melody. Names and labels escaped her; she pounded out the four-note section three times, then continued onto three notes of a fourth section, but halted both hands for a heartbeat-- then shortly slid a glissando from an octave under to repeat the action again, and again, and again, gradually quieting the forceful tune and removing the glissando, simplifying the doubled octave of the right hand into single notes, and bringing the force of the left hand up into a higher region.

She faded off, passing the melody to Ami once again, cheeks turning just a bit red from both exertion and slight timidity from attempting such ambition in front of such a virtuoso-- someone whom she knew would top what she’d just tried.

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Virtuoso  PV Ami Procoppio 

And to think- to think! -that Celynne had complained of "not being good enough", or "not liking improvisation", or some strange nonsense along those lines. She was marvelous as she was, taking a concept Ami had hesitantly dipped her toe into the waters of and dove right in, as hesitant as an Olympic swimmer was. She had half a mind to halt their improvisation masterpiece right there to slap the Ravenclaw silly and to lecture her on the importance of self-esteem and self-confidence, but there was the piece to think of. Their masterpiece, created by two first-years that seemed too legit to quit.

Celynne chose to fully embrace the true spirit of Christmas, which once again, made Ami want to double over with laughter. It was only mid-May, after all, and the chances of hearing Christmas music at this time of year were slim, very slim. She swore she saw another kid poke their head in through the doors at some point during Celynne's aggressively elegant pounding of the black and white keys, but it could've also just been her imagination. Whatever the case, she knew the sounds of the fortepiano playing holly-jolly Carol of the Bells was rather odd.

The mistakes Celynne had made at the beginning were nothing compared to the rest of what the slight girl played, and nothing compared to the hundreds, thousands of mistakes Ami had made over the course of her life. Was it embarrassing? A little bit. Was it natural? Of course! They way she transitioned from Canon into Carol of the Bells was genius, anyway, so that totally made up for any mistakes she might've made. She really seemed to enjoy her scales and arpeggios, something Ami decided to keep in mind for when her turn inevitably came about once more. She was shaken from her stupor and her boring, adjusted-minor backing chords as her foot was roughly shoved off the pedal by Celynne's foot. Nearly gaping at the girl's audacity and sudden boldness, she had to restrain herself from kicking her back. It was a childish move that she would've pulled out to employ under normal circumstances, but it was entirely rude during a wonderful piece to do so.

As Celynne finally relented, her well of creativity apparently having run dry for the time being, Ami slammed her hands down on a jolly, major chord, a ridiculously sharp contrast from the somber minors of the melody prior. Only through muscle memory of Christmases past was Ami able to play what she did at such a speed- Sleigh Ride (Just hear those sleigh bells jingle-ing, ring-ting tingle-ing too) at double-speed, the transition rough and almost nonexistent save for the rolled chord at the beginning. It wasn't her best work, sure, but it was a fun song that she felt just needed to be mentioned at this point in time.

Shoving Celynne's foot rather aggressively off the pedal as payback, Ami played the top three notes a few times before easing herself into a ritardando, before letting her right hand wander intuitively up and down chromatically, drawing from her fairly limited knowledge of the blues, trying for a soulful, woeful tone. Slamming her left hand down onto a chord, she let the seemingly wrong chord hand in the air for just a moment, before playing what was undeniably the intro to Piano Man, perhaps the best song of the 80's era in the entire universe. Celynne was Californian, right? Didn't Californians like to be cool, and listen to the golden oldies? Surely, she would recognize the song.

Her left hand playing a simply tonic-third-third chord pattern in a three-four time signature, her right hand played what would've been the accordion's part, feeling out the sound by ear. There were many mistakes, as it was a song she had never attempted to play before, but it ended up sounding fairly decent. After their brief tryst with Christmas music, they were long overdue with something new. Something.. spicier. Something olden and golden, so Ami was emboldened to opt for some sweet, simple 80's.

Hopefully, Celynne would catch on, because the intro was winding down and it was her turn to play the main melody.

Virtuoso  PV Ami Procoppio 

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Luceat lux vestra.


She She probably deserved the revenge that was exacted on her foot. The first song that her new piano partner had transitioned to was a common one—Sleigh Ride, a song she held memories of, humming with the radio in Parker’s car or singing along with Spotify on her laptop just a few years ago. The magical music-playing device, whatever it was called, in her dormitory hadn’t played the playful melody during the Christmas season the last Christmas five months ago, but who was she to say no to a nice song? The sudden major chord had been quite… stunning, for lack of better words, to her. Cel preferred minor songs, really, but in the face of Ami’s piano, she really didn’t care all that much.

Not long after, the tall Hufflepuff made another transition—something decidedly less Christmas-y, with a three-four time. At first she mistook it for a waltz; then, the harmonica’s melody came through. Ah, this song. A hazy memory of Parker playing it for her arose in her memory, likely years ago, she wasn’t certain. She’d played it before, too, but that one was not the only memory she had of Parker’s harmonica—it might as well have been his favorite song, one that they’d enjoyed every year. For once, memory did not wreck her brain, even as nostalgia curled itself into her heart.

Then she panicked.


Her turn, her turn, her turn! Cel scrambled for the keys for the fourth-or-something-like-that time, extending the intro for a few measures to buy herself some time. She’d showed her hand in the Carol of the Bells; what else could she do to make it different? Scales had been done, arpeggios had been done, both of them her favorites. She didn’t quite trust herself to do anything else, honestly. If she’d had more time… well, honestly, if she had more time, she probably would have wasted it all on thinking about other things. Irritated with her own self, Cel sucked in a breath, only to allow song lyrics to surface in her mind. When she finally exhaled, her breath carried an idea.

It's nine o'clock on a Saturday, the regular crowd shuffles in…


The words came to her as she sang, first tentatively, then a little more confidently. Her voice carried with it a sort of merry lightheartedness, as was the spirit of the song, as if it could reach over and clap a hand on Ami’s shoulder as it progressed. The chorus was a familiar caress: “Sing us a song, you're the piano man, sing us a song tonight; well, we're all in the mood for a melody, and you've got us feeling alright…” Another verse…

Aaaaand she forgot the lyrics.


Cel was in the middle of the previous line when the flow of words ran dry, when she knew that when the time came for the next verse, she would not know what to sing. But instead of relenting, another song came to mind—one that might match the three-four time that she was playing in, the pattern that Ami had set and that she had followed. Was this a good idea? Probably not, but it was the only idea she had, and she had seconds before it would be enacted.

"...As the smile ran away from his face, ”Well, I'm sure that I could be a movie star, if I…” The last note trailed off with a long flourish, giving her hands time to shift keys again, in the same way she’d done with the Carol of the Bells from Canon, simply faster. “…know you, I walked with you once upon a dream…

Disney was not the most dignified choice of song artist to most people, that was true, but a few songs in particular were relatively nice. The Lana Del Rey version of Once Upon A Dream was rather kind to the ear. Back her foot went on the damper pedal—she would have preferred the middle pedal, whatever it was called, but this piano, like most ones, didn’t seem to have a working one. Her left hand’s pattern stayed constant, but as the tempo slowed, she jumped down by several octaves for the tonic, then skipped back up the keys for the thirds. “…and I know it’s true that visions are seldom all they seem, but if I know you, I know what you’ll do; you’ll love me at once, the way you did once upon a dream.

Here came the lalalas, usually strings accompanied by voice in the orchestral version, but she only sang them, allowing her hands to work out a two-to-three polyrhythm chromatic scale. Most people hated them, and even though it came naturally for her, more naturally than her piano teacher said she’d seen anyone else, the rhythm wasn’t perfect. Nevertheless, she progressed an octave before she arrived at a higher D on her left hand.

Her right hand left the scale, allowing her left to go on another octave from that D in its now two-four time. As soon as it landed on D, it began a backwards arpeggio by an octave down—her right hand now met the keys again, softly drawing out the lilting melody of Canon again. Both of them had been at it for a while; reverting to their original song was a good way to end the piece they’d both made.

Simple and clean—it was the original version of Canon, the last few measures, no flourishes added, in quite the contrast to the fanciful detours they’d made before. At this point Cel was aware that her part had extended for more time than either of theirs had lasted, but she was relatively spent, and the last part could be an exception, couldn’t it be? As she neared the end, her right hand left the keyboard, resting comfortably in her lap, the other hand gently tapping out the last bit of chord. The sigh of the damper pedal seemed loud in the empty room.

The last chord rang out in the room in unison with the soft pedal, near silent and extremely controlled. She allowed it to fade out, then took her hands off the piano, daring to turn towards Ami slightly.

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Reducio
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