solo piano

Weekly Wish 04-11-11 - Fats Waller

Diesel is a sweet kitten when he ain't misbehavin'...
Well, that was a waste of five bucks. 

I just downloaded sheet music for a Fats Waller transcription (I hoped) of "Ain't Misbehavin'".  The first page (which is all you see before you buy) looked promising to be a note-for-note transcription of what he plays, but it was not.  Of course, they all say Fats Waller, because he wrote the song.  I guess that's what I get for being lazy and not learning it by ear.  I can do it that way, or I can buy the book of his solo transcriptions.  I'll probably do both - buy the book but learn some parts by ear anyway.  Eeeeee!!!

"Eeeeeee" is for excitement - I love, that is luurrrrrrve Fats Waller.  His playing is full of both muscle and humor.  He's the kind of guy who'd write a song called "Your Feet's Too Big."  "Your pedal extremities really are obnoxious", he says at the end of the song.  I mean, I ask you.  I wish I could get inside this guy's head a little bit. 

"Your pedal extremities really are obnoxious - one never knows, do one..."

Weekly Wish 03/07/11: Gershwin

You know it's been a long week when you're dreaming of happy hour at 11 a.m. on Monday. Freelance musician "weeks" sometimes stretch into the "month" neighborhood. Finally a bit of a respite today - just a couple short rehearsals and one lesson to teach.

This is by way of explaining why I didn't post my Wish last week. Last week was "I wish... I could play the piano solo from Ben Folds' "Lullabye"." It went ok - one of my favorite songs & I fell in love with the solo the first time I heard it. Never enough time to work on it, as usual - I continue to ask myself why I bother at all, when I should be working on my career instead. Networking, practicing audition material, updating my website blah blah blah... I don't have the answer to that, except possibly the answer "I suck at business".  What I do know is this: Wishing gives me something that I need to survive in the shark-and-disappointment-
infested waters of the music business.

This week's Wish:
Go back to the Gershwin "Swanee" transcription... More specific Wish: "I wish I could play it up to tempo." I've worked out a couple technical snags in it, so hopefully this is the week. Then I can record a video and go back to torturing my neighbors with the accordion.

Oscar Medley VIDEO!

Here is my Oscar medley - unfortunately I haven't had time to write my geekery about/analysis of it, so please check back later in the week for that!

The four nominees are (cue suspense):
"If I Rise" from 127 Hours
"Coming Home" from Country Strong
"I See the Light" from Tangled
"We Belong Together" from Toy Story 3

And the Oscar goes to... ???

Medley-Makin' Time

With Mom, who is responsible for my language-nerdiness. She is also a pianist.
I nearly misspoke (miswrote?) just now, when I was about to call this post "Mashup-Makin' Time", trying to be cool and hip and preserve my youth as long as possible by using Glee-speak.  Then I googled "mashup", because I'm a giant nerd.  Here is what I discovered: according to the interwebs, the word mashup actually refers to an electronic mix of two (or more) pre-recorded songs.  It is not a clever arrangement of parts of two or more songs cobbled together cleverly (we hope) and live.  No, that would be a medley.  They are two different things. 

You know what I love about the English language?  That it has so many words that we can distinguish between a mashup and a medley.  You know what else?  I love that it is a living language, flexible and constantly evolving.  So I could be pedantic and correct people when they refer to a medley as a mashup, or I could just be cool and hip and go with the flow.  Anyhow, I surmise that "medley" comes from the same root as "muddle" (meaning to mash, as mint leaves with simple syrup in the bottom of a glass). Furthermore, I surmise that 1) I need a drink that involves muddling and 2) my language-nerd mom (who deserves the blame/credit for this tangent) is going to fact-check the etymology of the words medley and muddle.

I'm hedging, really.  I should be working on my Oscar medley right now, since the only time I have to record it is tomorrow around noon.  I almost gave it up earlier today.  My heart's not really in this particular Wish anymore, I thought.  I should use my time for other things.  Then, just for the heck of it, I started noodling around with the Oscar songs for a few minutes before I had to leave for rehearsal.  And of course it was fun and satisfying for my nerdy brain to experiment with muddling (ha) these songs together.  So I'm going to do it, and tomorrow around noon I'm going to B.S. a medley for my videocamera for my next vlog entry.

Know what else I love about English?  How nouns can be verbs.  Like hedge.  And noodle.  And B.S.

Oscar Songs - If I Rise

I didn't learn this song very well the first go-round. I intended to learn it a week ago Sunday, and then ... didn't. I was busy, sure, and also cranky about the fact that I have no idea what this song is about. I couldn't understand a lot of the lyrics, so I looked them up on the internet and read them. I still couldn't understand the lyrics.
You know how I am with lyrics. So I "learned the song" in the same way a little kid "washes his hands" before a meal - I played it on my computer while I cooked lunch, and intended to learn it, and then I think I took a nap.

So imagine my surprise when I found myself kinda liking the song the other day when I took a second crack at it. The production builds into a really interesting and tone-clustery melange of sound halfway through the song. The underlying groove never changes, but it sort of gets painted over by the rest of the orchestration, so that by the time the children's chorus comes in, it's possible to lose track of the downbeat.

Dido and A.R. Rahman collaborated on the song, and there is all sorts of stuff in it that I know very little about: electronic sounds, Eastern influences. According to the comment-sphere (usually there is space for "song meaning" comments on the sites that post song lyrics), the song is about making the most of whatever time you have. (Hey, they stole my epitaph!) There are also numerous comments about how well it works in the film. Which I wouldn't know, because I haven't seen it yet. Score minus-1 for taking things out of context.

As for the medley I'm concocting, I think I'll use the little opening riff, and maybe pick part of the melody to throw in at some point. I don't have time to render large sections of the song, or the arc as a whole, for solo piano, so I'll pick and choose what I can do at this point.

Weekly Wish: Oscar-Nominated Songs

Why I am not learning a song a day this year, even though I miss it:
because I'm writing about learning a song a day, a book which is turning out to contain barely any material from last year's blog posts. 

Because I'm learning audition material and working and looking for more work and doing stuff that is higher priority than learning a song every day just for the heck of it. 


Because I'm wishing.

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride: so goes the proverb.  I have a beggar, and she is saying, "Please please please let me go back to learning a song every day, just for a little while."  So this week, she will ride on a horse that says, "I wish I could still learn a song a day.  I wish I paid more attention to the movies.  I wish I knew this year's Oscar-nominated songs."

So, I'm going to learn the four songs that are nominated for Best Original Song:
"Coming Home" from Country Strong
"I See the Light" from Tangled
"If I Rise" from 127 Hours
"We Belong Together" from Toy Story 3
 and I am going to make a little medley for solo piano. 

Target date for starting to post videos: on or before Valentine's Day.  Hold me to it, readers!