Monday, March 31, 2008

On rejuvenation and remixes

Sigh. It’s been a bad month for piano-stuffs. Work stress has left me totally uninterested in doing anything but vegging when I get home, so that combined with the fact that I wasn’t really getting anywhere on any of the pieces I was working on kind of killed my initiative for a while there.

In an effort to get going again, I decided to take a step back and try some different music. I spent a couple of days downloading and compiling music from games and shows that I’ve liked over the years, and I have a nice hefty notebook full now. I spent some time this weekend plinking away at a few things and found myself much rejuvenated, so that’s a plus.

I do have one of my Chopin preludes ready to be recorded… I just need to sit down and play it until I get a clean run. I’ve left my MP3 player on the piano in encouragement – no portable musica for me until I have successfully recorded! Incentive!

One last little rant: in looking for new music to play, I’ve discovered that I have absolutely no ability to judge how difficult a piece is going to be by looking at it. I either slightly overestimate or grossly underestimate how hard the piece will be in practice, regardless of whether I’ve listened to it or just looked at the music. It’s very frustrating. Ok – two rants: part of the problem there is that all of the game music I’ve been looking at is either trivially easy or entirely ridiculous. Take the Kingdom Hearts Hollow Bastion theme… I have two versions of it – the original, and a fan re-interpretation. The original version looked intimidating, but I sat down and played it through hands together in one go. It was entirely trivial. The fan version, on the other hand, starts with a 10th chord that it wants me to hold the bottom note of while doing a bunch of other crap. C’mon guys, can I get a little middle ground here?

Right. End ranting! The bright side is that I’m feeling much more inclined to play going into April, and I hope to have a new recording up within a week or so!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

To Prevent Further Foolery....

I've finally gotten around to uploading a few pictures of my gorgeous piano. It certainly took me long enough - I know, I know I'm a horrible slacker. But! There they are! You may oooh and aaah appropriately.

[EDIT: Boy picasaweb sure does suck. I updated these links again - hopefully this time they'll actually point to the right pictures.]

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Chopin Overload

Before I ramble about my latest practicing-bits, let me make a little apology/disclaimer:

As of right now, my mp3 files are hosted on my desktop. Said desktop makes a dandy little server for transferring files back and forth, but if the power flickers, or comcast sucks, or someone accidentally leaves their work VPN connected, it's suddenly a Bad Little Server. No Cookie. Apologies for the difficulties with downloading - I beg you to bear with me a try again if you fail the first time. Getting better hosting is next-next on my "piano-related todos," right after "get a better recording setup."

Right, back on topic. As the title of this post suggests, I've currently got more Chopin on my plate than I entirely intended to. Predictable, knowing the type of music I like best, but it was fairly amusing to catalog the things I'm working on and realize that 75% of the pieces I'm working seriously on are all Chopin. Heh. For the moment I've got 4 pieces I'm working on pretty actively: a Sibelius and 3 Chopins. The Sibelius is a piece called Romance, that I spent a good portion of my senior year working on, and is easily the most gorgeous thing I've ever had the privilege to play. I've rambled about it before, I think, so that's enough on it for the moment.

The other 3 pieces are kind of an interesting progression - you're going to have to bear with nicknames for them since I don't have the keys/opus numbers memorized. One is a piece I learned in high school (henceforth Old Chopin), one is a piece my mother used to play (Historical Chopin), and one is (sort of) entirely new (Bemani Chopin). I swear I didn't realize the second two were Chopin until I'd already resolved to play them. Really.

Old Chopin doesn't need much said about it. It's pretty and it has some entertaining runs - who needs triplets when you have seventeenth-er...ets? There's actually a bit in the middle that kind of bugs me, but the rest is nice enough to make up for it.

Historical Chopin has been an interesting experience, because while I've never played it I know how it goes backwards and forwards from listening to my mom play it when I was little. This one's short, just one page of notes, but it's made of big chords! And by "big" I mean "Lisa's tiny hands have issues reaching a few of them." The same could be said for Romance, though, so I'll manage. Surely if my mom's fingers could reach them, mine can too. This one will probably be the next piece I post, since my only issue with it right now is that I screw it up whenever I try to play the first line as Fortissimo as the music wants me to. Don't as me why my fingers are convinced that playing it more loudly should be problematic.

"Why in the world would you call the last Chopin piece 'Bemani Chopin,' Lisa?" I can hear you crying in bafflement! This one was actually pretty funny - I was hanging around minding my own business when the background music playing somewhere started sounding... really oddly familiar. I was completely befuddled for a minute or two - my brain absolutely could not reconcile the piano being played with the level of familiarity. Then my feet started feeling twitchy, and I realized it was Kakumei from Dance Dace Revolution and IIDX. Yes, I'm a geek, I know. A whole lot of Bemani music is based off of classical-type-stuff (ex: Vivaldi's Winter is V) but this one caught me off guard. I managed to track down the case for the CD being played so I could get the sheet music... and of course it turns out to be another Chopin: Etude in C minor (opus 10, no. 12 as it happens - I had to remember this one so I could find it again!) or rather "The Revolutionary Etude." Practicing it so far has been... really, really hard. This is the first time in 7 years that I've tried to work on a completely new piece with very little reference for how it should sound. It's painful. I also suck at site reading, and easily lose my place amongst all of the accidentals in this piece. Still, I think it'll be really fun to play once I start getting it down, so I'm going to stick with it.

Goodness, I nearly think I've rambled quite enough. As a parting note, a little birdy told me that I'll be getting daily comments spam if I don't upload pictures of my gorgeous piano soon, so look for those next week. I promise!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Music Clip the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd

Well, it took me entirely longer than it should have, but after much fiddling with my desktop, apache, Audacity, my MP3 player, and (of course) my piano, I have 2 new performances and one old performance to re-post for you. I'm tempted to wax amazed here about how far embedding music into HTML has come since I did might web-coding, but since this is a piano blog, I will refrain and stick to the important things.

**Edit - a little birdy told me he wanted direct links to the MP3s, so now you get links -and- embeds! Fancy!

Clip the First: a re-post of Rollin Prelude No. 2

Clip the Second: C.P.E. Bach's Solfeggietto

And, Clip the Third: Chopin Prelude in B Minor

Before I ramble on about these a bit, a question to my (admittedly few) readers. Would you all be interested in a more complex music player? Something over to the side that listed all the pieces I'd uploaded, so you could play them at your leisure in the order you'd like? Just something to think on.

Now, about the two new pieces I posted.

I'm absolutely thrilled to say that I had to play the Prelude exactly once to get a clean recording of it. That's right - one time through, no big mistakes. I was quite pleased. ...Unfortunately, my success with the Prelude did not carry over to Solfeggietto. I've played it through both quickly and cleanly a number of times, but this time it was not to be. The first day I tried to record I literally played it through 20+ times, and got nothing even approaching clean. The trend seems to be: either I have one huge, awful, glaring mistake and have to backtrack; or I have a whole bunch of smaller mistakes riddling the music throughout.

I've tried re-recording Solfeggietto several times since I took the recording I put up here, but have still had no luck any time I was actually recording. As such, I'm going to stop before I get monstrously frustrated with it, and just put up this version, which contains a number of little foibles - though listening to it again after a long hiatus, I don't notice nearly as many. Guess it's not that bad after all :]

I suppose that's about it! Thanks to anyone who is still reading, in spite of the hideous delays in getting actual music posted. I hope to post at least one completed piece a month for the rest of the year - I can't promise they'll be new or exciting pieces, but I think it's well within my capability to get one old piece a month back into playing order while I work on new things.

Now, enjoy the music (please?) and look for another upcoming post about what I'm working on now.