Baroque goes Funk

And this is what skulking around on Youtube netted me today.

Amazingly enough, this is the kind of thing that goes through my mind often. It’s the same kind of musical sense of humour that has one track down a copy of “Bach ‘n’ Roll” because who doesn’t want to play Nights in White Satin in the style of Debussy?

I still maintain that Guns n Roses “November Rain” needs bagpipes in the instrumental solo at the end.   Seriously. Someone hook that up.

Just Dance (kinda)

I’m a sucker for a good cover. It may be a hipster thing to do (that’s the trendy thing, right? Call it “hipster” if it’s non-mainstream?  Whatever), but I’ve been enjoying Postmodern Jukebox for awhile…This is just one of the many offerings on their Youtube Channel….you should take a look!

I’m the first to admit that “Just Dance” is catchy on its own, but you give it a 1940’s dance swing and I’m smitten all over again.  They have a few songs like that.

 

Oh. And this. If you don’t know why I like this, you haven’t been paying attention 😉

Harmony

There are some things that you’d think I would burst if I didn’t mention. And then I go and do something like sit on the news for a month or more. I guess that’s just the way I roll….I tend to try and downplay all the pretty little grace notes that pepper my life.

That said, I have a new piano.

Not long after I had the realization that something was missing in  my life, we did a little research — and we found out that the cost of a decent digital piano is actually fairly comparable to a decent laptop. So with that in mind, I checked out some reviews, did a little math, and made some arrangements with some key people for making it happen.

I has a piano!
Buried under sheet music and a 20-year-old metronome. Typical.

 

It’s not the most expensive, top-of-the-line model tricked out with all the bells and whistles, but it has everything I need. I will admit that while I loved my Gerhard Heintzmann acoustic, it was very well broken in. This piano, though digital, has better weighting to the keys, good tone, and the pedals do just what they should.

As a bonus?  I don’t have to make arrangements for regular tuning appointments.

We’ve discussed that if it becomes necessary, we may save up for a newer acoustic, but for now, this will do just fine.  I’m not going hardcore on the scales and technique yet, but taking some time to enjoy relearning some of my old Conservatory pieces. I’m slowly, but surely, rebuilding my repertoire.

Of course, my idea of “slowly but surely” is entirely by my own perspective. It really hasn’t taken me long to actually start re-memorizing some of my old pieces. I’m looking forward to learning even more new pieces from the Grade 9 syllabus list.

Thanks Robin, Mum and Dad. I’ve mentioned it in person, but I’ll just say it here: Thanks for restoring that piece of my soul. I’ve missed it.

***

As an aside, I think I mentioned that I’d taken my grade 2 Rudiments and had been studying for my Grade 3 Harmony when I stopped piano lessons? I remember my teacher, Greg Chase, putting myself (and two other students) through the lessons and mock-exams, but for some reason I don’t recall the exam itself. The Conservatory begs to differ.

Grade 3 Harmony Exam results (1993)
Harmony marks hidden in a shoebox in the furnace room. I’m probably lucky I found it.

 

I don’t recall the exam, but apparently I did very well, thank you very much. It just means that more of my theory will be review, and that I have one less exam that I’ll have to take (hooray!). I guess it also means that I can work through the other two thirds of the workbook that we had been using when I took the Grade 3 exam.  I’m nothing if not vaguely frugal.

😉

Game of Thrones goes Cosplay

I know, I know…lots of videos lately.  I’m working on getting some actual content, really – I am!

At any rate, Game of Thrones has started its new season (no, I haven’t seen it yet), so I figured I’d share this little gem that I found on (you guessed it) YouTube 🙂

History of Rock in 100 Riffs

Games you can play while you watch this:

1. Name the era / realize when the era changes
2. Name that tuning (also: count the groping for the slide, shifting of feet for pedals)
3. How many of those songs did you you (or someone you know) spend hours learning on a fake, plastic guitar in Rock Band?
4: Count the amount of Jack White references.  Srsly.

You can thank Reddit

I found this little gem on Reddit.  The artist’s name is Kawehi and while she doesn’t exactly have Cobain’s growls and distortion, she has her own flair.  I’ll totally overlook the use of the auto-tune-like filter she’s using on her voice as it lends extra atmosphere.

TCS – Robot Heart: Heart-Shaped Box – Nirvana (covered by Kawehi) from Kawehi on Vimeo.

If you like this, go ahead and check out her other videos on Vimeo — there’s a cover of NIN’s Closer (warning: contains profanity), and a pretty stellar Mashup called “Monster Mash” (warning: contains Muse.  I will not be responsible for any physical or mental health issues obtained by listening to Muse, up to & including everything from donning a hipster persona to the development of allergies).

Danse Macabre

Ye Olde Internal Wurlitzer has started playing Danse Macabre, composed by Camille Saint-Saens, arranged by Liszt/Horowitz.

This one gets in your head and whirls around at a breakneck pace until you’re just on the edge of dizzy.  And then good luck getting it out of your head for the rest of the day.

You’re welcome.

The piano in your mind.

Not sure how many readers will know this (as I have no idea your demographic), but I used to be a musician. In fact, music was my first career choice prior to going to Art College (I gave up the dream after a series of University auditions that spanked my immature little pride on her tender little arse.  Probably mistake #1, but oh well.  Can’t change history).

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Hobbies coexisting

Robin and I decided that we would use this year to start making improvements in our lives. Seeing as how guitars are fairly portable, we saved some cash and began shopping around. For Yule, I gave him a copy of “Rocksmith“, and we’ve been using it to keep ourselves engaged with learning (and working through the development of calluses). Mum and Dad also gave us a video series on DVD that should be useful once we have a little more competency.

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An extra 110 pages, Ms Wood? Really?

Being the veteran musician, I delved into the book section of St John’s Music (after wistfully touching All The Pianos). When I emerged, I had a brand-new copy of Barbara Wharram’s “Elements of Music”, which I had used so many years ago to study for my Theory Exams. I also picked up “Theory for Beginners” for Robin, and the fact that it’s geared toward children causes no end of amusement. The purpose here is to dust the cobwebs off my theory knowledge. There are times when I can smugly say “I know the answer to that”, times when I ask “I knew the answer to that?” and times where I wonder if they totally rewrote the book and crammed it full of new information.

The answer to that last question is actually yes. Yes, it’s been edited and has approximately 110 more pages than the original edition.  I know this because I got curious and dug out my old theory book. I *thought* I detected elements of basic harmony in my stock-standard rudiments book! How dare they get their chocolate in my peanut butter! 😉

At any rate, a fun thing has happened as I’ve been toiling away. The piano in my head has started playing again.  No, it’s not something I should talk over with a mental health professional – it means I’m recognizing what I’m looking at and starting to visualize it in my mind. It isn’t playing in tune, mind you (I don’t have perfect pitch), but when I have the time to think about where I’m going, I associate the lines and spaces on the staff with the recognizable patterns on a piano, down to its position from middle C. It seems to work well enough that I’m actually enjoying my theory revision.

Also, the tunes that wander through your mind when your brain is just kinda idling? My internal jukebox has started playing classical piano.  Beethoven’s Opus 27 No.2 in C# minor (Moonlight Sonata), Bach’s Inventions and Sinfonias, Chopin’s Nocturnes….mostly music from my 8th grade piano exam, but with some notable additions.

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10 to 12 years of Piano Education in one place

It has forced me to re-evaluate a rather large chunk of my personality that I had buried deeply for a long time – the musician. I wasn’t anywhere close to being a concert pianist, but that was never my goal. I wanted to play, to learn, and to teach. Somehow I became convinced that the only way I could do this was to get my Bachelor of Music and that my ARCT (highest level of Royal Conservatory) would take care of itself during University. When that didn’t happen, I gave up. Nobody told me that I could stay home for another few years, finish my Grades 9 and 10, then do my ARCT while teaching basic piano. The expectation was that you took piano lessons when you were a kid, then you went to college.  I fell back on my second choice and went away the next year.

There are a lot of choices that I’m sure we would make differently if we were better informed. I keep reminding myself that while I didn’t go where I planned, I’ve had a pretty good adventure so far, and met some pretty awesome people on the path I’ve been taking. It doesn’t rule out rediscovering old loves. Musically, I don’t feel much different than the 20-something who put away her piano books and got on a plane to Toronto. I feel a bit more organized and in control of my goals (hooray maturity!). The fact that I’m slowly, but surely, learning an instrument that had me completely boggled at age 13 (I always envied my friend Kathy her guitar skills) gives me hope that I can brush off my own mad skills, pick up where I left off, and get back to learning.  I may decide to go for that long-coveted ARCT. I may decide just to play for fun. It will be another adventure!

(yes, the first step would be to actually get a piano in the house. We’re looking at going digital, as we don’t have either the money or space for an acoustic at this time. The quality of digitals has gone up considerably since I was in high school, and the price is comparable to a good quality laptop, so we have some saving to do).

Friday Five: Fading

It’s been awhile since I did one of these…

Today’s Friday Five is all about Fading.

What’s something in your possession whose color has obviously faded?
— numerous pairs of socks. Particularly the Koigu handpaints. I absolutely love the colours, but they fade so quickly! And, unfortunately, this yarn tends to wear thin quickly, so out of about 3 pairs of Koigu socks, I’m down to one….

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Koigu Socks

Which of your talents, skills, or abilities has faded as you’ve grown older?
— Amazingly enough, I used to be almost completely bilingual (French as a second language). While I can often understand conversation if spoken slowly and clearly enough, it takes some serious brain power for me to respond without sounding like an imbecile.

Among people you know, who seems best able to fade into the background in a crowded room?
— I would have probably chosen myself. Big girls often tend to try to make themselves invisible

What song seems to have a ridiculously long fade-out at the end?
— The Killing Moon by Echo and the Bunnymen.  Honestly, it’s like vocal masturbation. Seriously! La la la LAAAA La! (rolls eyes)

What recently prominent person seems to have faded quickly into oblivion?
— That’s one I really have no answer for that one. I’m not exactly on the cutting edge of what’s what 😉

Do they know it’s Christmas?

Once upon a time (1984) there was this guy.  We’ll call him Bob.  Bob saw that there was this famine happening in Ethiopia and wanted to do something about it. He was in a band, so he wrote a song, invited a bunch of friends to sing it along with him (they called themselves “Band-Aid”), and thus “Do they know it’s Christmas” was released.

Now, don’t get me wrong…whatever else I might say, the effort did some good. There were some very real political problems keeping food and supplies from the Ethiopian people, and if it weren’t for the consciousness-raising efforts of the Live Aid movement, they probably would have been ignored.

At any rate, Bob and his friends did very well with their single, and it spawned a similar effort in Canada (“Tears are not enough” by “Northern Lights”) and the US (“We are the World” by the very straightforwardly-named “USA for Africa“). I was only about 12 years old at the time all this stuff happened, but I can remember exactly where I was when the concert was taking place that July: I was at our next-door neighbour’s cottage in the Ottawa Valley, listening to the music while sitting on their dock. It was, and remains, my most vivid memory of musical charity. I think there was quite a bit of musical activism happening around that time, what with Peter Gabriel and Sinead O’Connor heading off in one direction, and celebrations for the tearing down of the Berlin Wall bringing musicians together elsewhere.

I’ve heard a bunch of different versions of “Do they know it’s Christmas” in the past couple of years: Glee, the Barenaked Ladies (one of my favourite versions, actually)…but I don’t know if the message is there. It’s a catchy song, but the Glee cast is obviously not singing for starving children in Africa no matter what the lyrics and the royalties forwarded to the Band-Aid Trust say (and while I like Glee, I started checking out when the use of auto-tune overshadowed the actual musicality of the songs). The message has become lost in the catchiness of the melody, and to be blunt, the world has moved on. Sure, there were a couple of musical concerts for the victims of 9-11, and I believe there was some effort for the people of Haiti, but there really is no community of musicians to stand up and lead the way. Musical taste has scattered all over the place, for starters, and there’s so much happening in the world right now, what with hurricanes, tsunamis, floods, fires, and other natural disasters that trying to keep up, keep track, and make an effort would seem to be a measure of insanity.

Plus, I’m not exactly sure where the funds go anymore. You see commercials asking for financial assistance on the TV all the time, but I’m not sure if the money is actually going to starving orphans in Africa for their day-to-day needs, or whether they’re going to a missionary fund. I’d rather a kid got medicine than a bible, and I’m pretty sure that the Christian God would understand and appreciate that.  I’m also pretty sure that there are kids a bit closer to home who could use the assistance as well.

My outlook these days?  Appreciate the music. I have the memory of that time, and that’s something I can tell my nephews and nieces (and possible children of my own) about when they start asking questions about the 80’s. As for the donations of aid?  I recommend Medecins sans frontieres / Doctors without Borders (and if I could find the accent keys on my MacBook, the french name would be spelled correctly). They send aid where needed, whether in far flung areas or closer to home. Also, thanks to the efforts of Yarn Harlot Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, knitters have adopted the charity as well. You can find more information about Knitters without Borders on her site.

 

 

*I’m surprised I managed to get this update out because, frankly, I’ve been having trouble saying what I’m trying to say in this post. So if I sound rambly….let’s chalk it up to the difficulty getting the words out added onto staying up late to write (I’m on graves right now and I really need to get some sleep
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