Sunday, 23 December 2007

All of your presents are in my house...all of your dinner is in mymouth...

Far too long, yet again, but for once I am truly proud of what I have achieved.

Some weeks ago I set myself the goal of having a CD of my music complete by Christmas. Its been a hard and long ride...too hard to even stop and blog about, but I've done it. 9 Tracks coming in at around 40 minutes. Some are tighter than others and perhaps a little better, but that's OK.

I suppose a lot of this has been more of an exercise in editing and fixing and ideas than real piano playing, at least in the later stages, but that comes with the territory.

So here is kevinplaystheblues:cloudedmelody

Intro Song.

Anthony & Alf.

Insensibility - Stupor VS Coma.

Clouded Melody for the Ocean.

Clouded Melody for Microelectronics.

Forest Feet

Ballad for an Australian Vampire.

You're Top 12.

Ok, so maybe ambient isn't the best way to describe this stuff after all, Warwick.

Of course, it wouldn't be Christmas without a finally mixed and mastered version of my Christmas single going up as well!

So there you have it!

Now of course I need some ideas for the new year...maybe work on being actually able to play this stuff live?

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Guess who's coming soon?

Pretty busy here and there. The band is taking up a fair bit of my time, but I have been working on a few things:

This is a little pop thing I came up with. Needs a lot more work. I've got some lyrics, but I doubt its something I'll run with.

This is a little jazz thing I came up with. Did the lead first and then tried to figure out chords. Paul has helped me with a more appropriate progression, and I'll work on that this weekend.

This is just me double tracking a fuck around on my synth. I like some bits there. Its pretty grating, but I should work on this to play live.

Finally Thelonius Monk's 'Blue Monk'. Only worked out the first bit, and then solo'd over it. I need to work it out in full, but I quite like some of my soloing here.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Kevin's Gonna Ruin Christmas!

Ok, so tonight I was talking to the missus on the phone and I started singing her a song as I played the piano. I am a pretty bad singer at the best of times, and tonight I was told that I sounded like a villain in an xmas film. So I ended up with this.


It kind of reminds me of The Streets playing Elton John's Your Song. Cept I am not that good.

Monday, 29 October 2007


Wow. Almost a month. That's quite inexcusable, I suppose. The new band has been taking up a bit of my time, I suppose.

Still, I haven't totally neglected the playing. While I haven't been composing much, still working on covers a bit. As part of my lessons I have been working on Miles Davis'.
All Blues. Without going into it too much, here's something I sequenced in and did a bit of soloing/arranging on. Nothing too elaborate, but a bit of fun. I tried playing some of this organ stuff on non-weighted keys. I am trying to get back into that style of playing to at least some extent. Also, the finishing drums were played entirely by me. Can't say the same for the ones during the song. Ha.

What else? Tascam finally released the drivers for my recorder! That means I am actually able to record things on my computer. This is good. I've also got the right amount of midi ports now, so I can play in and out of all of my instruments without re-rigging. Getting a bit more out of the synth now, which is nice. Talking to this guy I met about a synth band, too. Could be interesting. I wish I still had that moog. :(

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Before this dance is through, I think I'll love you too.

Until Saturday...or maybe it was Sunday, it had been an unproductive few weeks. Paul has me working on 16ths in my jazz tunes, as they've been neglected of late in favour of triplets and swung eighths. Its significantly harder to play 16ths, and that's been a good challenge.

Compositionally, its been pretty dead. I really need to sit and work on my existing tracks. I had a pretty good run a few weeks ago, but I haven't had much time, or perhaps interest since. Started a new band with me on drums, and we've got shows planned pretty soon, so that's taken up a bit of my time and musical thoughts.

Being off piano for two weeks, though, I didn't want to sleep into stagnation. I've been meaning to learn Damien Rice's 9 Crimes for a while now, and on Sunday I finally figured it out after some heavy wrestling.

Its quite simple when you figure it out - there is almost always only one note, and its just eighths, but it took a while to get my head around it. I am not sure if its quite right, but its pretty close. I think some weird timing things are happening when the vocals come in, but I am pretty sure the piano line stays the same. Its hard to tell for sure though.

Tonight I tried another one that I've been meaning to tackle - Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova's Falling Slowly, from the soundtrack to the film Once. I had the soundtrack before I saw the film, but when we did go see it, I realised that it was in C major, (or is that a Minor) so I had no excuse.

I am pretty sure its a bit off, but I'll get there. I am working out the vocal melodies, too, but didn't record that yet.

These songs make me really wish I could sing though. It's painful.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

The Spiral Architect...

Its been disgracefully long since I put anything here. Disgracefully long since I started this blog to have so little to show for it. At least this time though, I haven't been really slack.

Lessons have been going well with some good progress on the Ben Kweller and the Jazz side of things. At home, I've been working on a few ideas and had a jam with Emmet the other day trying to get some guitar on board. I am not sure it all grabbed him that much, but we'll see what comes of it all...

Tune Up.

So I've been working on a Miles Davis song called Tune Up - fast bop, I am told. Anyway, its fraught with odd timings and weird notes that were really messing with me. It should have been a really good challenge to my sight reading, but I couldn't even get to that stage - it was just going nowhere.

I relented and sequenced the track, putting note names down where I needed them...which, funnily enough, was everywhere. I was a little embarrassed taking them to the lesson, but I think its worked out well in the long run. On that note, jamming with Emmet was interesting - he wasn't actually able to tell me what notes he was playing when I wanted to play along - self taught and all in his ear. For those of us without such fine aural skills though, I think there's something to be said for decent practise and reading.

So here's a run through of tuneup at about 155BPM, breaking down into a jam after 16 bars. Paul showed me how it progresses across a few scales - I need to find out if its actually changing keys or what.

And then here I am trying it at about 200 or 220BPM. Its a bit harder to hold it at such a tempo, but it introduces some fairly interesting ideas that don't really come at the lower tempos.

In both cases, changing instruments was the death of my. Probably should have cut that crap off? Listening to the originals is a real ear opener though - they must be up at about 300bpm...or maybe 150 at double time. Still, it sounds completely different to what I've come up with. I did try it at such high tempos, but it was a ridiculous mess.


This track is operating under the working title of Top12 (actually I think its top12_piano version III at this stage, but that's academic at this point). It was inspired not by, but while watching Australian Idol. In fact, I worked on the last iteration during the footy on Friday - volume down of course. Maybe I should rename it to TV.

It was born out of the electric koto sound you can now hear a little less, and has developed from there. I was really conscious of my tendency to rush through the ideas very quickly so I've worked hard on drawing out the intro - Jing thinks to much so, but Emmett thinks I should stay on it further. Either way the rest of the song needs to be drawn out to some extent. My only concern is perhaps that the song contains too many disparate ideas. How will I bring these hooks together? Time will tell I suppose...

Skipping points include:
  • 1:20 Intro develops
  • 2:00 Piano is introduced
  • 2:20 New melody ( should be piano only - I think that synh is too waily)
  • 3:20 Introduction of new, angular drum beat...piano ostinato...

Anthony and Alf

So I have named this song
after a friend's paternal issues. I'll admit it started more in a search for a name for names sake, but I am now working to have the feel follow my perception of events. Maybe I should just change the name. I only started working on this track on Saturday, but its actually a rehash of an idea that's been floating around for a while. I think I initially came up with it playing piano during lunch when I worked at UC.

I've gone for a bit more of an ambient feel now, but the piano is still quite dominant. The MIDI fucks out for a couple bars at some point...2 minutesish I think, and its live recording at about the time of the positive change, so timing is a bit off - made evident by the delay.

So I haven't been slack in playing. Just blogging. I wish I had more time for both, though.

Monday, 27 August 2007

"Owen was found with a nearly empty bottle of pills next to him."

So I recorded some blues stuff tonight, but I am not happy with it. Not at all. Though I never am happy, eh.

I've finally got a recording of 'in other words' up. I tried tempo matching and doing the sheet music, but they slow down after about 25 bars or so. There's also this 2/4 change that messes with me if I actually endeavor to count. Who does that though?

So here it is, pan balanced. I could keep learning more, but I think I'd do better to figure out the bassline rythms and lead licks for the progressions I already know:

Jeez, between watching Australian Idol [ha] and playing this stuff, I am hardly listening to any music. Loving this 'Buddy Rich VS Max Roach' LP.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Saturday looks good to me!

So I posted a blues here a week or so ago, but it seems to have completely disappeared. Some people had trouble viewing it, so who knows what happened there.

Here it is, anyways.

Not sure what I had to say about it. I was sick at the time. Paul is giving me heaps of techniques to try on bluesy jazzy things.

Ben Kweller's 'In Other Words' is coming along quite well. I can play about half of it in terms of chord progressions now. There's some melody shit that I haven't gotten down yet, but its coming along. I'll post a play along later. Not quite there yet. I should also repost Death Cab's 'Passenger Seat' That was like the first song I learnt. I need to relearn it though, I think.

The main point of all this is to put some songs up so that I can convince a guitarist to come put some structure to my ideas. Its pretty similar stuff to what we were doing in TDN!S, but its not really getting anywhere just by myself. Actually some of those songs are alright, hey.

Anyways, as for these songs:





Tuesday, 31 July 2007

I have been playing even less than I've been typing of late, if that makes sense?

Tonight's lesson was a bit more productive, and I am not going to fourty gigs this week, so I should be able to present a few things.

I am to get some Gotye, some Ben Kweller, some random melody stuff up.

In fact...I'll do that now..

Still none of the new songs though. I want something more in them yet.

Friday, 20 July 2007

Yes, yes. Slack in playing, slacker in blogging.

No sound examples today, I am afraid. I've been looking through a lot of my previous compositions this week, sorting them into three categories 'electronic' 'jazz/blues' and 'pianoy'

I want to turn the short electronic ideas into proper songs, maybe get some people singing and set that shit up on a myspace. For now I want to re-image my computer. Anything to procrastinate.

On the piano itself, I was just playing some string 7th chords, playing C7- F7 on the quarters and just practising different melodies on the right hand. Hardly challenging, but it makes me feel like I can actually play something decent.

I also dug up a couple compositions I made in the old lunchtimes when working at uni - trying to teach myself to play them fluently again. I think I said this last time.

Monday, 16 July 2007

I don't quite know what I am doing at the moment. I am very undisciplined. I don't think the drum kit is helping.

I've been doing a bit of practice - naughtily not in the area of bass clef reading, though.

I've been spreading myself between replaying compositions I used to play fluently that I have now forgotten, and working on a few new 'song' ideas I have going. Three great intros that I can't seem to break out of. Story of my life. Do I have a songwriting partner yet?

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

I had a witty subject line earlier...

I did a bit of old school practise today. Dug up some old songs I wrote while at uni and tried playing them again - reading them off the notation. Played some older blues, too.

My goal tonight was not to do anything knew, just to get my hands really in time.

I was going to record and reflect, but I realised that when I do that I practise significantly less.

Maybe on Thursday.

Sunday, 8 July 2007

This was supposed to be on Friday...

While I was posting the last entry, I was doing some back referencing to the various things I have been doing, but ended up getting distracted.

Initially this came up as a dissonant piano thing, but I've been doing a lot of those, so I decided to try an electric piano with some delay and tremelo.

I like it. I need to space it out though, like I mentioned previously. Let it breaaathe.

I've done another version here. Double the speed and with drums:

I like this one too. Maybe for later in. I need to stick with this one, not let it die like the others. Something to take to a songwriting partner. Now I just need one.

Been a long time coming...

So I must reach deep in the bowels of my memory since the latest quicktime update made playing MP3s in firefox very temperamental and I lost last night's blog entry...and of course now that it is finally finished, its Thursday's blog entry. Nice.

Useless thoughts of uselessness.

So I have had a slight feeling of uselessness lately. I guess its because I am really not that good at things. My strength was always my ideas, cheesy as they were, rather than my playing. For a while there the formal piano stuff actually stifled the ideas, but I thought it would be worth it in the long run. Now, I just don't know. I have all this gear, and I am not really doing anything with it.

I probably just need to snap out of thoughts like that and just focus on the getting better, rather than whinging about not. Beyond practice, which I need to do more of anyway, I've though of a couple strategies to make me feel better about things:

Firstly, a songwriting partner of some description. The TDN!S stuff sorta fell in a heap because no one was really coming up with ideas that we could do anything with. Matt just wanted to jam with no continuity. I love jamming, but I want to get songs out of it. I was planning to have Jess over to do some stuff, but that just never materialised. I should hit her up again. JP is coming over on Sunday, I think, but he's really at a basic level with the bass. Hmmm. Something will work out, but yes, it would be good to have ideas to bounce off.

The second thing I need to concentrate on is giving my pieces time to breathe. Too often do I find myself trying to build things up and introduce change too quickly. I need to listen to more ultra ambient and try and emulate it or something. We went to the Front Gallery to see a few bands the other night, and there was this dude playing a fat Rhodes with a million effects pedals.

He was barely playing any 'piano' as such, but you could tell he was a virtuoso. Ok, well I had checked out his myspace the night before. I am not sure if it was inspiring or just depressing, but it was a good lesson in chilling the fuck back and building some atmosphere.

Carlos the Midget.

Before going out the other night, I sat down and nutted the first bar here on the EP, later adding the second bar and drums.

I've got an 8th note delay on the EP there. I need more feedback on it, but it was a real effort to record this through the mac and all, so another time. I want to have a 1.5 beat delay on the drums too. Its made me realise what little amount of things I have set up on the computer. I'll set up the delays I want this week and do it again.

I'll have to challenge myself to develop this slowly. I think I'll put some jangly 16ths over the top, and need a bassline too.

The Thursday Song.

I showed Paul the developed Thursday song, and he helped remind me of that two chord interchange I stuck on at the end. I know its not that impressive, but I really like the way they sound together.

We worked it out and it sounded ok. Of course, as usual, it didn't sound right when I brought it home. After a while, I realised it was because I was playing them at slightly different intervals, ok and a slightly different note.

Not sure who was right here when comparing to the original, but I like the second one better either way.

I only discovered this by accident, though. I wish my brain was more open to the concept of intervals - that a C Chord can as easily be E/G/C, but it doesn't come naturally - another area where I need to challenge myself.

I do love them though. They are very useful for playing the Bontempi Junior.

Sigur Ros.

We spent a fair bit of time working on the Sigur Ros song on Tuesday. When we first heard it he figured that I was pretty close. After a bit more listening, we realised I was pretty off. The song isn't in a different temperament or anything, just slightly tuned down. We figured this out using this excellent program called Transcribe! Its a frequency analyser that converts tells you the dominant notes in a selected part of a sound file. Its great for working out chords, too,

We also realised that the song started at Eb, rather than G. What was interesting was that a straight transposition didn't work. Moving one note to the correct spot leaves some notes out. I am not sure if there's a complexity of transposition I don't understand, or just that some notes were more off than others. This might explain why some notes sounded more out than others and why I thought it was in a different tuning.

What gets me is how far off I was. Not just a semitone, but four. When I played along with the tune, I could tell it was off, but it was doing that phasing sound you hear when notes are close, so I figured it wasn't far off. I tried starting at F# and F# instead of G, but it just wouldn't have occurred to me to go all the way down to Eb. And this is a problem. I really don't have an identifying ear. I don't think its something you can train up that much, either.

But all that aside, I've got the intro in key now.

While Transcribe! is great for figuring out the simple stuff, it doesn't really have me much closer to the more complex parts of the song. I know the first piano changes when the second one comes in, I just can't nut out how yet...

Old Song.As planned,
here's something I came up with almost exactly a year ago. Its pretty silly. Not something I will really recover, but it could be good to see if I can easily play it.

Maybe I'd be a virtuoso if I practiced more and blogged less. No lessons for two weeks now.

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Well no one told me about her...

So once more it has been almost a week between posts. Still, that all might change now...

Wired for Sound

I finally got things happening studio wise this week. Apart from the carpet being ripped up and the new drums, there's the matter of the tascam and Vista. As my USB Midi interface only has 2 inputs, the lack of the two on the tascam has been an issue of concern, but I managed to succeed through a but of a jury rig: Have the controller keyboard and piano go into the tascam, and then have the one of tascam's outs go into the USB Midi. The drums then go into the other USB input. I don't have four, but at least I have three.

Downsides mean I need the computer on or a rewire to control the synth, but I found an added benefit when I accidentally made the drum kit control the piano. I have been intending to use my digital delay on the drums for both a bit of fun and to help my timing - I was dreading having to swap the pedal all the time though. Because the drums control the piano though, I can trigger the on board drum sounds and delay them. It doesn't sound that great, but its good enough for practising, that's for sure.

The Blues

Paul gave me some useful feedback on the16ths problem. I realised that it was the continuation of nothing but 16ths that was losing the feel of my blues tune. Breaking it up was the key. I've developed that this week by putting more consecutively repeated notes as well.

I have been encouraged to jam out a 'motif' and repeat that to get more of a song feel going on.

I hope to sequence something up soon. I had also hoped to get something recorded tonight, but this blog has taken way too long to write. Maybe tomorrow.

Wednesdays and Thursdays

Last week I posted that piano piece in E Minor. I took it to the lesson with the view of finding some "strategies for making those slow ‘pianoy’ songs more interesting".

The problem I presented was pretty much shifting between two octave notes on the left hand and doing nothing more. Paul suggested I move the left hand up and just find some combinations in they key - more complicated two hand chords. Interestingly, this reminded me of something I did with Jing the friday before where I played a silly little thing using a cheese organ and only the black keys, all up in the higher register. I wish I had recorded that.

Anyways, I tried to take it on board and recorded this song last Thursday:

I didn't break away from the bass notes as much as I'd have liked, but I felt they gave it all structure. Later in the piece, though [1:30+] I do get more into the two handed stuff I was planning on doing.

I like the little piece of niceness I get in the first 10 seconds after 2 minutes. Loses it a bit until 3:40 where I find a pair of chords I really liked. I wish I'd written down what they were, coz now I can't remember them. Another night I'll figure them out again.

Yes, I really like that up and down bit - I do go a bit nuts with it though? God! I have to get MIDI going again! These bungs notes are killing me.


In between getting frustrated with various things this week, I've tried some interpretations. The first was Sigur Ros' Hoppiolla.

I've got a few ideas that sound close, but they are impossible to check against the song - it sounds out of tune no matter where I play it. I suspect a band that sings in a made up language would have no qualms about playing in a made up tuning. I've tried retuning my piano and even playing in some different tunings, but I can't get it.

I've got this going now, at least:

Its close, but not quite there. I know the 'bass'line changes when the second piano comes in, but I can't pick it. They've got some really complicated changes going on there. Even now as I hear it back I am picking things that should shift slightly up or down.Its getting late. Maybe another time.

It almost seems to me like they are fitting new notes in the spectrum. Take the rise on the piano, for instance. I think I've found the highest note for the first run, and the high note on that third run, and there's no semitones between them, yet on the second run in the original recording, it goes higher, but not as high as in the third run. Very confusing. I need to train my ear more.
Another one I've been working on is based on the Zombie's No One Told me About Her. The other day I was sitting and having a listen to some music on random when Malcolm Mclaren's About her came on. I had forgotten about this tune, but when the Kill Bill II Soundtrack came out, I had really enjoyed it.

The two songs are quite different, but I've managed to nut out a bit of the vocal line.

I am getting closer on the first part, but not quite there yet.

I suppose the real challenge is to work on the music itself though. I just don't have enough of an understanding of it all yet, I think. Its like I don't know where to look...

This week I would like to:

Re-record the cheesy organ thing I mentioned above.

Keep working on the Sigur Ros song.

Find an old piece of something that I abandoned to work on again.

Get a final recording on that blues piece I am happy with.

Now we'll see if I can do one of those things!

Monday, 25 June 2007

Late, as always...

No players this week. I've got to go to bed. I'll fix that tomorrow.

Another week of not posting, and these week I had things to talk about. Distractions of the familial and electronic drum kit variety have been holding me back a bit. I was going to post some of the drum kit, but I'll do that another time.

Last week I showed Paul the G# Blues thing. By then I had manged to [but not record] some more advanced versions, either playing quarters on the bass, rather than holding wholes, and also putting a descending bassline in at the end of the phrase. I really meant to record that this week. I will add it to my to do list, but to be honest I am kinda getting sick of that tune now.

One thing that Paul suggested, especially with the clavi sound, was to get some 16th note ostinatos going on the right hand. I have been working on them, but I really lose the feel of the song. I need to get I need to get lighter fingers, or something.

That lead me to try these sixteenths up and down on three semitones - it was quite hard - my fingers keep wanting to play ascending groups of three rather than up and down on four.

I'll try and get back into this tune this week.

The reading, as usual, is a bit of a sore point. Its not that I can't do it, its more that I just can't stick to it - especially when trying to read the two clefs - I wish I could just snap myself into doing it, but...Bah, I don't know.

Not wanting to go a whole week without producing anything of substance, I made something up in a Eb Minor [Dorian but don't tell Elyane] and played it down the phone. Afterwards, a consensus was reached the it so should have been recorded. I gave it another go, but it wasn't quite up to scratch.

A few bung notes in there. I think tomorrow I'll talk with Paul about some strategies for making those slow 'pianoy' songs more interesting, as we've already gone through a lot of ideas to spice up the jazz solos this term...

Sunday, 17 June 2007

We can stick around and see this right through...

More reading practise tonight. Its a really frustrating part of my regime, but I am sure it will pay off in the long run. Tried something new tonight. Rather than trying to play it right through, I find a couple notes and figure them out, then I bounce between them, concentrating my vision and mind to one note at a time, saying the note in my head and playing the key. I am hoping this will cement in a visual association between note names [i already know notes on the keyboard almost fluently] and the position on the stave.

Here's hoping.

Breaking away from that frustration I tried some interpretation. Earlier today Amy and I were discussing Peter Bjorn and John's 'Young Folks' while I was packing away the Casiotone, so naturally I tried to figure it out. Later I continued on the piano.

I've got the intervals for the first bit, I think:

Root note, down one town, down 3 semis and back up 3 semis. EG: AAAA,GG,EE,G or DDDD,CC,AA,C.

So I've got the intervals, but not sure where to put the root. I tried playing along but the whistle riff isn't repeated enough. I would normally loop it on the computer, but I still haven't set up my speakers! Paul suggested I build interpretations up from the bassline, but its a bit fast and hard to hear without being able to loop it.

I suppose rather than trying to play it in key I should figure out the rest of the riff. Its a good challenge, and I should apply myself...but y'know...

While doing that I heard the Doctor Who theme from the kitchen. I nutted out the bassline quite quickly, but the synth lead is hard with a standard piano sound. I might have got it - hard to tell. I didn't want to leave the doctor who excursion empty handed, so I had some practise transposing the bassline on the fly. [Its R,up 3, down five, eg DDDDDD,FFF,CCC]

I also played some more on last week's blues piece. Some new solo ideas and I am getting a lot stronger with the more complex basslines, too.

One day I'll be Ben Folds, honestly...

Tuesday, 12 June 2007


Another lesson today. Another slightly less than ideally productive week, but there's been a fair bit going on in the non piano realm.

Did a bit more sight reading practise during the week. Tried a few different strategie, but kept wanting to 'hear' the songs - something I am supposed to not do, it seems. Slowly getting over it I suppose. Paul gave me a random piece today and he got me doing two hands at once - I'll have to try that this week.

I also showed him the bit I recorded last week, and explained how I was having trouble soloing over it. As I explained it all to him it became clear what the difficulty wa: It wasn't the straight beat, but the syncopated bassline. I simply couldn't sustain any creative soloing while keeping that in time. I realised that normally I would lay that bass down and record it layer by layer. With the renovation upheaval and subsequent laziness I have not been able to do this, but I am realising its providing an interesting new challenge to my playing.We tried a few different things, with Paul laying down the chords and me soloing and doing various simplified versions underneath. It sounded really cool. Not so cool when I came home, but that's to be expected. Here's a couple things I did nut out though:

Here's an example of the variation between the 'real' bassline and the bassline I can actually solo over. It then develops at around 50 seconds into a go at getting a bit tighter on the solos. There are quite a few stuffups here, but there are also a few ideas that almost get out that I wanted to note - particularly that last 'three note' one.

Here's another one. Short on Clavinet.

And gere's the final piece for the night, back on the clavi. Still gotta work on timing and feel a fair bit, but its a full live recording of both the bassline and the solo, and I don't normally do that. A few glitches here and there, but that's life. Pretty happy with it.

Piano blogs always keep me up too late...

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Gotta do something...

So tonight I did a decent chunk of site reading, and then just played around on G# Blues, which has been my latest blues of choice.

I played this little ditty on a distorted guitar and it sounded really cool. As usual when I came to record it was bad and out of time. I guess I get nervous. Not nervous as such, but just concerned with the recording going it never does.

Not particularly happy with or proud of this. Sometimes it feels like I am going backwards, but you gotta keep it up.

Too lazy to even do the stream tonight. My baby thumbs are sore from all those bass octaves...

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

...between drinks.

Piano has really taken a step back with the room renovations. I now have my piano at an appropriate height, which has good to be good. The renovations should also lead to the recorder being set up within a couple weeks. It would be a couple hours if I wasn't such a procrastinator.

I haven't really been composing much. Paul pointed me towards the Abersold Chord and Scale construction sheet, so I've just been figuring out different scales and playing them. Last night he challenged me to improve my sight reading, so its really slow rythmless reading this week. I get so tempted to try and play the rythm too, though, and end up fudging the melody. Perhaps if I didn't pick 174bpm Coltrane songs I'd do better?

Thursday, 24 May 2007

...and at my feet it fell

I am a very frustrated piano player.

I don't take enough notes at my lessons and go to practise what I've learnt and find I am using the wrong backing chrods in BiB. I am silly.

Also, I just can't get motivated at the moment. There's lots to do, I jsut find myself doing other things. I am not losing interest, just drive to practise. I'll try and hit into it this weekend. Do some pentatonic blues, that I can't record. Maybe I should set up the recording?!

Anyways, to avoid this being just a total rant, I thought I'd figure some pop songs out, or at least the intros to them. Can you pick it?



Monday, 21 May 2007

Fire Tissue

I am quite horrendously sick, but I didn't want a Monday to go by without some substance.

For some reason I was singing the Drizzle Song 'Fire Tissue' today. Fire Tissue was written on the day of a bands night back in year 11, inspired by the peppermint oil tissue I had in my pocket to deal with a sickness similar to the one that ails me now. Essential Oils were not really enough of a topic for a song, so Liam and I threw something in about a sick relationship in there.

It was poorly rehearsed and my insistence on employing many non hihat breakdowns left timing to the wind. Fire Tissue was never performed again. We've got it on a mini DV tape somewhere, but the travesty that was fire tissue has really only lived on in my head. Today I decided to do something with this lyrical gold:

Fire Tissue!
Makes me feel so warm inside!
Fire Tissue!
Makes me wonder why-y-y.

She calls me up, late at night.
She says I make her feel alright.

But we all know [but we all know]
There is no way [there is no way]
It just won't go, I won't play your game. No way!
It doesn't work that way.

I was sitting on the toilet today singing the words and I made them a bit less cheesy, while still keeping them cheesy. Kinda like when Syd changed the one off 'free games for may to see emily play. Maybe. I forgot what I changed it to today, so its either lost or perhaps already integrated into what I wrote above.

Regardless, I decided to revive this old gem. Now clearly it can't be taken seriously, so I've gone for a sorta muppets jazz feel on this one.

Vocal melody,something like this.

Timing, Kevin!

And a fairly basic chord progression underneath, though perhaps with a bit more hand shuffling than this

Yep, itsa
coming along safe in the knowledge that it would still be dropped from any Drizzle set...

Now to write the next verse...

Saturday, 19 May 2007

If Looks Could Kill... I was saying, I was fiddling around on the white keys and I came up with this little ditty

[actually I just played the C iteration first - took a few more gos to send it up to D]

Not normally a rhythm I would play, and I think the scale familiarity helped with this. Its just the same three notes in sequence, but what makes it interesting are the slight changes in rythm. It has a cool Buddy Hollyish 50s rock feel, but after playing it a few times I realised I'd heard it before...recently in fact.

After a bit of head searching I realised what it was.

Not exactly the same in terms of scale, but the rythm and feel are definately there, and there was probably some subconcious processing going on there.

But what to do with it?! I constantly played it over and was dry of ideas of what to do next, or what to throw on top. I certainly didn't want to cover the Camera Obscura song. I wanted to do my own thing with the feel. I tried a few different ideas on top of it - just the root note for instance. It sounded OK, but didn't really lead me anywhere else with it. I tried some 7th chords, too, but they didn't sound right...

Then at my piano lesson I showed it to Paul and explained the issues I was having 'doing' something with it. He was a bit confused by my question, and after going through some ideas with him I suppose I was, too. What had sounded pretty boring at home actually sounded OK in the lesson - though we did settle for C6 instead of C7.

There's a lot I can do with the C6 and D6 chords, though rythmically I seem to keep reverting to the feel from Camera. Paul also suggested I try just running about the scale, holding different note lengths on top of this. Suddenly I have a situation where I am tackling two of the challenges I mentioned previously: note lenghts and different rythms.

Unfortunately these challenges were coupled with another - two hands. The odd rhythm of the bassline is apparently hard enough to sustain on my left hand on its own. Whenever I throw in anything but the most basic right hand stuff, it goes to shit. I am not sure what I can do about this - practise makes perfect I suppose.

Paul got me to try something really simple - hold a quarter pulse on the right hand while playing the bass rhythm - like this.

I do lose the feel a bit with that quarter pulse - I guess I am losing some swing there. You can see at the end there that I am finding it hard to get abck to the start - I also think I am speeding up?
Let me try it again with a metronome.

That's a little better. It sounds simple enough, but it made me realise a bit about the timing of the bassline that I didn't realise previously - its not very 'neat' at all! I'll keep working on the timing, but for now I'll have to try the two hands separately. This is something involving different note lengths on the right hand [bassline courtesy of computer. :(]

The problem is though that it really loses that rocknroll feel there. Still, I'd be happy if I could play the two together. Feel or not.. Plenty to keep me busy. I really need to challenge myself to beat this.

Its interesting that the 7th chords actually sounded ok in the lesson. I have often found me changing my mind about something sounding good or not. I think I'll talk more on things sounding crap one time, but good another in a later post...

Why do you only use the white keys, Kevin?

So about a week ago I was fiddling around on the white keys. Now that I have figured out three different scales all using the white keys,

This post is now about the white keys.

I remember back in year 10 or 11 or whenever it was, we were in music class and I was putting some stuff into Fruity Loops. Liam was giving me shit about only using the white keys and Mr Lipsham chimed in and teased 'oh but its much easier that way'. Nevermind the fact that he should have then explained a bit about intervals and suggest how I incorporate some sharps in there - he was never a real music teacher anyways. The fact is, given my breadth of music theory, it was easier.

Where does that leave me now though? I know about scales and intervals, and I know many scales that work across whites and blacks, so why when I stuff around do I find myself on a D Dorian, C Major or A Minor? Its to do with familiarity I suppose. I just as often find my fingers running up a C or G blues. These are just the scales I know inside out, and where I am inclined to go. I wonder what will happen if/when I know 100 different scales?

I don't think this employment of a few regular scales is a bad thing in and of itself. Playing in a scale that I am familiar with allows me to play in ways that I am not familiar with - there's more to my playing than just the scales!

By having the scale in a familiar place, I can more easily experiment with components such as:

  • Rhythm.

  • Two hand independence.

  • Note choice. [as in not just playing up the scale as I am wont to do -more like working around a key note and referencing other notes from that, or just jumping around the scale in differnet ways]

  • ...and a particular week point of mine...note lengths, and employing diversity between them.

I talked about note lengths in the last post with those basslines. Maybe I should talk to Paul to get some exercises on this.While I do try and challenge myself to find [or just look up and play] different patterns, too, I think trying too many new concepts at once will leave my high and dry.

Anyways, the next post will go on about familiar notes and unfamiliar rhythms.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Why don't you write a blog about it?

8:30 piano lessons and new episodes of 24 are not conducive to a decent blog, but before I forget...

Tomorrow or the next day I must reflect on:

  • Organ VS Piano.

  • That inadvertently Camera Obscura inspired 50s rock'n'roll riff.

  • Working out scale structures.

For now I had best bed...

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Always one step ahead...

It just occured to me that for this to work, I need to be posting up everything. My last post missed a very important piece of progress from the last week...

In the last lesson, Paul had my playing up, and improvising on a Pentatonic C Minor Scale here.

[FYI this is playing up, not improvising]

After a bit of fiddling, though, he issued me a challenge. Pare back the improvisation, but try and hear in your head the note you are going to play next. This proved an interesting challenge. I was not to hum the notes, only to hear them in my head. I found it really hard at first, but after trying a few times, it became a bit easier. I found myself imaging the next note. Sometimes, though, I wasn't imagining the next note in the scale - my brain was literally saying, don't go to the F, jump straight up to the G. It was really weird and hard to explain.

I think I am able to get into it much more after playing a scale a bit - getting used to where all the intervals are. After playing the funky tune mentioned in the last post a bit, I could actually 'audiovisualise' it all with my hands, but away from the piano. Again - weird - interesting - but ultimately hard to get across in text form. I'll keep practising 'hearing ahead of myself' and see if I can explain it any better.

I start my new job tomorrow, so I should really bed, but I can't resist playing something on the Pentatonic C Minor now...very short...

Gotta keep it regular. Like Bran, bitches.

So this week has been a bit lax. I am still crippled by Tascam not supporting by recorder. I really need to set up my mac to do multitracks, but it will have to wait till I rewire everything. Each weekend seems to pass by without me wiring it all how I want, so as I said above, the progress here is stifled a bit.

I've also been busy generally, and not playing that much. I have a bit on my mind, and haven't really been feeling like playing that much. The songs I was working on prior to starting the blog [including one with lyrics!] have pretty much stopped dead, as has my plan to go back and look at what I've done in the past. Maybe next week.

That said, things aren't totally dead. I am currently working on this funky little thing
I made in a C Blues / C Pentatonic kinda feel. It really hasn't progressed much beyond this basic lead line though.

[disgracefully recorded onto the mac using a microphone - I tried a bit of compression, but it still sounds sad - I really need to set up the tascam :(]

There are two distinct basslines in this tune. While in terms of core notes, they are very similar, they have a markedly different feel in terms of timing. This has made it hard to play in the song context, but has given me a good practice focus in this fairly uninspired week.

What I am doing is just a simple alternation between the two basslines, trying to keep it continual without inventing a third bassline as I try and recover from the futz. I've been trying it a few different ways - say four of each - two of each - etc. The real challenge is playing them one after the other, bar in, bar out. I am not quite there yet. I can do it once, but I end up repeating myself. Anyways,here's an example of what I am on about:

The difference in the note lengths between the lines is as much a part of it as the timing of the notes themselves, I think. More practice to be had, as usual!

Of course, at almost 23 years of age, one might begin to question the point of it all, particularly when your 8 year old second cousin can pull off shit like this:

Look @ More from this user. Her older brother is just as evil...

Saturday, 5 May 2007

Hunting Ginger Extremes

My theory about the piano at work was right. While I am not 100% happy about the recording, it is closer to the sound I want than what I was nutting out at home. I think it has a lot to do with the softness of the sustain pedal. I suppose I should upload what I did at home too, what with my 'real illustration of progress' rule, but I don't want to remember it if its total crap.

Still thinking of a title. I suppose I'd be in a better position to give it a cliched piano wank title if I knew what key it was in. I think its a C Harmonic Minor, but there are a few notes in that scale that don't sit right with this, so I am not sure. As usual, my theory follows slightly behind my playing. For now, lets go with Hunting Ginger Extremes in some form of Cm.

Actually, wait. The notes match the key of F Dorian. I don't think this song is in F Dorian, but I can't remember how to extrapolate Dorian's into other scales. I know D Dorian = A Minor = C Major with different dominant notes, but I don't grasp this enough to make a decision. Lets go with Hunting Ginger Extremes that work in a Dorian's F.'

As I said above, this is far from perfect. At nearly fifteen minutes long, its a bit of a hike. There are a few bung notes here and there, and there are at least a couple spots where I lose all semblance of rhythm and direction. Persevere past the pieces of pain, though, and there's actually some stuff in there that I am really proud of. Some of the better stuff is at the post ten minute mark. I probably should have ended on that first downwards arpeggio, but you know me, can't stop playing.

I was thinking about doing a running commentary, but I think I'll pass. 15 minutes is enough to listen to, let alone write about.

Thursday, 3 May 2007


Here's something I came up with today. I don't really think it has that much potential, but perhaps that is because I haven't found a way to introduce it yet. I really like the melody, but I have this inkling its actually from somewhere, and that I will soon realise this. Anyway, its called Clouded Melody I

Initially I banged it up on piano like this:

That's the Jinger's favourite, but I was also fiddling around with a bit an EP sound, banged on some distortion and applied a swing.

The EP experimentation also revealed this dreamy sound that I threw some electronics on.

I am not sure which, if any, have real potential. I am a bit frustrated to decide, I suppose. This is due to my main idea at the moment, Sadness in C, being uncommitable. For starters, its not really that sad anymore, but regardless of that, whenever I record it, it goes to shit. Last night I did a pretty nice version but forgot to record. Today I sat at the piano at work and took it to a new level, but again, no recording. I think the problem is that it lacks any structure - just a few ideas, the transitions between which are fudged at best. I think the piano at work gives a bit more of the sound I want, so tomorrow I'll probably take an edirol in and see what happens...

Kevin Plays the Blues

So, is born.

This site is still not looking quite how I want, but it will do for now. In an ideal world I’d have a nice looking theme that automatically scales these images. No such luck. I was contemplating creating my own theme, but I didn’t start this whole shootenany to learn CSS and PHP, I did it to document my rise to piano god status.

Perhaps not. I came to the conclusion some time ago that I will never make it ‘anywhere’ with my music. That said, I love it. I am determined to become as good as I can be. My goal here is to document the progression my playing and of the songs I write.

One thing I regret is not doing something like this ages ago. Since I began playing piano seriously about a year ago I’ve learnt a fair bit and formalised things in my playing. [though I can’t help but feel this has stifled some of my creativity on the synth] Not counting the songs I’ve learnt, I’ve written a fair bit of stuff, ranging from little ditties to almost songs. While I still have copies/recordings of them now, I don’t have a record of the progress that went into these songs. A lot of what I write changes dramatically before I get bored and start playing something else.

Initially I am going to throw up a bit of stuff I am working on at the moment…hopefully streaming. Then I’ll probably use this as a vehicle to go back through what I’ve created, maybe find some stuff I need to work on.

I suppose I should stop writing and start playing…after neighbours.

…the real question that arises out of this though, is how can I play piano with all this crap on it?