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?