Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Chugging along

The songs I'm cleaning up are all more complex than what I've posted previously, and I really haven't been working on any of the easier stuff. I was going to attempt to record The Rose last night, but I don't think I would have gotten a quality take and we've had a bug going around the house so I figured rest was a better idea than frustration.

Instead I downloaded some Sarah Vaughan and listened to her and Billie Holliday.

The idea was that I wanted to hear Misty over and over again so I could get a good listen to a professional rendition, but I love hearing old recordings like those. Theres just a feel that you can't get from modern studio music.

So all in all it was a good evening spent. I should get to record something tonight.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Here's a way to make your teacher nervous

Go in and tell him about this wonderful new method of learning. It will make him even more nervous during a recession.

So, I came across The Sudnow Method of learning piano, and I must say that I'm quite impressed. I'm picking it up quickly and it's helping me with theory as well. I'm sure it made Larry nervous, but after working through some of the details and how I plan on using it, I think his mood improved. I know to a certain degree, he likes to employ a lot of the methods him self.

Warning: Technical detail to follow
Warning 2: I've had hardly any formal theory training, so most of this is interpretation and if you feel I'm wrong, I probably am.

Most (all?) modern pop/country/folk/non-classical (fwiw, classical isn't stuff written pre 1930. It's in movies all the time. See: Elfman, Williams, Zimmer) is written in a chord progression played by an instrument(s) and a melody line that is sung or during parts of the song soloed by an instrument. Different forms of music generally have different chord progressions. Floating around recently has been the 'all pop music sounds alike' youtube clip which features the ever popular I, V, vi, IV. So you take those chords, couple it with a rhythm, add a melody line and bam. Instant hit.

So, in it's basic form the Sudnow method is a jazz piano chord progression where you play two notes in teh left hand, root and either 5th, 7th, or octive. On the right hand you add a melody note on the top with the 3rd, and assorted other notes of the chord depending on certain rules.

What I like about it is that I'm learning to play left hand accompaniment without reading. I'm not playing an F, A, C and a Bb, I'm playing an Fm7. It's helping with other pieces such as Corpse Bride as well. It's not nearly as hard to read one staff and a chord as it is to read two staffs.

So, Misty isn't too far down the road to performance, and I think ya'll will like the sound.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Oh! I'm so excited. I get to put Musette up!

Ok, not really. None of my computers have a firewire port and that apparently is the only way I can get good video off the camera. It seems a trivial thing but publishing video of the playing is significantly better than just sound. Maybe I'm just dictating myself.

Next up is The Rose I suppose. Piano class is tomorrow and I'm debating whether or not to have my teacher evaluate a method I have been reading about. It's kind of a long post. You Piano World folk will recognize it, but I'll tell more about it later.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Don't you hate it when you go to bed unsatisfied?

So it's 11:30 and I should have been asleep an hour and a half ago. Instead I'm going to write and be up far longer.

I got two good playthroughs of Musette, but the camera was absolutely brutal. The whole thing is quite embarrassing really. I've got to figure out a way either to get good sound by itself or transfer the video better.

Since I was able to get through this song, simple as it is, twice with not too terribly much stress, I'm just going to give it another go tomorrow when I have more time. I'm very tempted to go audio only. Our video camera doesn't have any Vista drivers and what I probably need is a firewire cable instead of USB.

Anyway. practice was extraordinarily good tonight. Well over two hours of playing and it was all enjoyable. The Rose is going to be the next recorded piece behind Musette and it is very close to ready.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Not quite back in the swing of things...

I did get a short practice session in yesterday.  Just enough to realize that I have a lot of work to do.  Even worse, due to some inspiration from the Piano World forums, I have a new song to learn.

Granted, it's been done more than , but I still like it.  Here is jnick's version.  

So, currently in the queue is:
Theme from Corpse Bride 
An arrangement of Mozart Symphony No. 40 
Moonlight Sonata

This back better improve quickly.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Sports related injury.

Well, it was a treadmill anyway.  An old back injury flared up cutting my practice time out likely for a few days.  Saturday was taken completely by guests.

I've got to get back on the keyboard.  It's killing me.  I've been listening to tons of piano music as if I can absorb it all by osmosis.

In reality though there's little progress.  I've got a few pieces that are nearing completion.  Corpse Bride was getting closer, but then Friday I was terrible at it again.  That happens unfortunately.  Also picked up an old jazz book and will be running through that too.  Hopefully the back will behave and I can get something recorded soon.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


I asked for another piece to work alongside Corpse Bride as that one is slow going.  I specified I'd like it easier.  My teacher awarded me a piano arrangement of Mozart's Syphony No. 40.  This version is much more complex, but you should recognize the melody.

Corpse Bride progressed quite well surprisingly.  That's one of the more interesting things about learning.  Struggle, struggle, struggle, HUGE BREAKTHROUGH.  It must just take a while for the brain to organize itself in a way to process the technique to doing it properly.

So, I'm still at a loss to what the next recorded piece is, but I'm working on those two plus Musette and The Rose.  

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Maybe things are slowing down

Even though I got Watermark up last weekend, I've been crazy busy.  Work has been killer, scheduled activities worse, and fatherhood took up most of the rest of the free time.

Work should slow down a little as we got the major problem solved.  I'm trying to schedule more activies (Rock Band Party 5.5 and VI are on the board), but we're taking a break from them after this weekend.  Fatherhood, well, that never ends.

All that was written to say that I haven't had much time to work on new music prep.  Corpse Bride is one of the harder pieces I've tackled, but mostly I think it's because it's in an unfamiliar key (sorta).  I think it's actually written in C (no flats) or B flat (1 flat) -can't recall exactly-, but there are accidentals all over the place and I've not played on the black keys quite so often before.  The bass line is a little tricky, but it's similiar to The Rose and Watermark, so it's not too terrible.  It also looks like the second half isn't as bad as the first.  The problem is I'm less than 25% done.

Anyway, pieces I'll be trying to post in the next few weeks will be Musette, The Rose, or I might put up Beethoven's "Moonlight" sonata with errors.  

That's the update.  Piano class later.