• Published 31st Jul 2012
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Octaves Beyond - GuitarKirby

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Chapter 3: Accompaniment

Octavia arrived back home with many thoughts swirling through her mind. She went to her refrigerator and added the Sweet Apple Acres brand apple juice. She also added in a variety of other groceries, excepting the dandelion sandwich ingredients for her dinner. Although alone, Octavia was never lonely. Music wasn't the only part of life she enjoyed; walks, stargazing, and keeping a sharp eye on the weather ponies were all hobbies. They just weren't passions. She knew there were other musical ponies in the world as well, but she had met very few of them.
Vinyl Scratch is alright, and I think that Pinkie Pie character from Ponyville plays several instruments... But neither of them has the passion or the sight. If there was one thing Octavia knew, it was her own playing style. She sat down to eat, her thoughts tormenting her as she did.
That piece is some of my best work, but it's so lonely. If I had something else to go with it, it would be brilliant. Perhaps I could call an audition. I'll consider it tomorrow. She bit into her sandwich, the juice in the daffodil stems flowing through her mouth.

When she woke up the next morning, her cello seemed to stare her in the face. She rubbed her eyes; the next twenty minutes would require focus. She never got up with coffee, or any kind of caffeine, for that matter; it interrupted her morning flow. The mind worked most efficiently in the first fifteen minutes of the day for most. She had managed to work that into twenty. She turned to her notebook, and lifted it onto her bed. She opened it to the first blank page.

The notebook wasn't a diary or journal. It wasn't even a tool to keep track of dreams, as others might think. Instead, it existed solely to write down music after she woke up. Sometimes it took strange turns due to dreams. Other times, it was a continuation of a piece she had already written down. This particular time, she was simply writing for the sake of writing. The music meandered along, not making any unique movements.
I've been doing this too often lately... I need to find a way to embellish these pieces.
She finished writing, and was just turning to the door when a knock came. She stared in confusion; she rarely had visitors, since Celestia and Luna kept her location a secret. Her neighbors were used to her, and the novelty had worn off. She walked up to the door, and opened it. Before her stood a handsome, black stallion. His mane was grey, with purple streaks thrown into it. His tail matched, and both seemed unkempt. His wings, for he was a pegasus, flapped nervously when he saw her. She checked his cutie mark; a music sheet with handles of various instruments coming out around it. She raised an eyebrow.
"Who, exactly, are you?" He spoke in a low, quiet voice, but he also spoke with confidence, and his violet eyes sparkled as he did so.
"My name is Shady Sound. I already know your name, of course, Ms. Octavia. Please, call me Shade. Most everyone does." She looked over the pegasus again; he had a white saddlebag beneath his wing.
"Alright, Shade... What is it that you have with you?" Shade reached into his saddlebag and pulled out several crisp, clean pages of music.
"This. I wrote down a piece I heard you playing yesterday, and added some embellishment of my own. It's written for piano, so..." His voice trailed off as she took the sheet, reading it over.
How impressive. This would work as a piano accompaniment... It looks like it's written as a piano backup as it is. Octavia looked up at Shade.
"This is impressive writing. Why don't you come in, Shade? I'd be happy to offer you some breakfast, if you'd like." He smiled.
"I already ate, but I'd be happy to join you."


Shade stepped into the house, feeling as though he'd just conquered a dragon.
Brilliant! Now she can give me a name for that piece. He sat down at her table, and watched her cook. She seemed relaxed about the entire process, as though it was the most natural thing in the world. Cooking, however, may have been the improper term. She simply had buttered toast and a glass of orange juice. He smiled across the table at her, then looked back down at the music, which she had set in the center of the table.
"So, I brought this over because I needed some help. Obviously, I need your permission before I can play it anywhere, but even if you can't give me that, I wanted to hear the name of the p-" he was interrupted by a hoof right in front of his muzzle. Octavia was simply staring at him. She suddenly seemed to gain an inner focus, looking at him as he often looked at his piano. Then she nodded.
"You're a musician, based on your cutie mark. I have to be frank with you, Shade; I've been developing several pieces of music similar to the one you heard yesterday. I own several instruments, but I excel at the cello. As for this music you've brought me, while it's impressive, I can't use it yet. I need a pianist. I was going to go out and place an advertisement for auditions today, but you might save me time. I want to hear you play first." She raised a hoof before he could exclaim his excitement. "Wait. Just know that I only take the absolute best. The only reason you're getting this chance is because you took an interest just by listening. The fact that you figured out what I was playing just by listening to it is quite a feat, but I need to know if you can follow my lead." Shade nodded.
"I can, Octavia. I'm skilled enough, that much I can promise you. If you need a pianist, you won't find better than me." She raised an eyebrow once more. Shady looked at her defiantly, as though daring her to object to his confidence. She then leaned back, and put her forelegs over her face. She sighed, and just sat for a moment. Finally, she stood up from the table, and exited the room. When she came back, she was carrying a cello case on her back.
"Let's get to it, then. The music room is that way; show me what you've got, Shady Sound."

The music room was small, but packed to bursting with musical instruments. Violins, violas, double basses, a guitar, and a bass guitar sat around on the walls. The room was in pristine condition, as though Octavia never allowed so much as a speck of dust to touch her precious musical tools. The centerpiece of the room was undoubtedly the grand piano in the center. It was black, and the wood shone brightly under the light in the center of the ceiling. Shade stepped up to it, and sat on the bench. The pedals responded as though they were well-oiled. The keys were perfectly clean; he touched one down lightly. It produced a clean note, exactly between sharp and flat. He grinned; the instrument was perfectly tuned. Octavia simply watched him as he set the music in front of him. He stretched his forelegs out in front of him, and set his hooves down in the keys. Octavia began to play. He followed, matching her playstyle. After some time, he found her embellishment impossible to follow; on cello, it was impressive, but on piano, it simply didn't sound right. He then realized something; she was playing it differently than she had before. She was trying to see if he could recreate his music on the spot. He smiled.
It seems the game is afoot; let's play, Ms. Octavia. He began adding his own unique style to it, keeping it away from more modern styles such as jazz and rock shuffles. He kept to a classical style, but the notes began to flow. He had to stop himself from laughing as the familiar fire lit in him. He no longer felt as though he was playing the music; he simply felt like a vessel, allowing the music to pass through his body. After two hours of play, the two stopped. Both had their foreheads coated in sweat, but they were also both smiling widely. Octavia spoke.
"You certainly did save me time. You aren't the best I could probably find, but I think that you're the right one. You've got the spark." She smiled at him. Shade grinned back.

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