Here’s a little something for Sunday. This is a quick two minute demo piece that I put together to practice my mockup abilities. The arrangement is based on some ideas that I had while playing prelude music about a month ago. I’m looking at getting some killer string and orchestra sounds, but for now these will have to do.
Every so often during one of my piano jams, I’ll start playing songs from my childhood. Ducktales, Who are the People in Your Neighborhood, Gummi Bears. It’s one those things that really gives endless pleasure. There’s nothing better than revisiting favorite music from the past with about 10 year’s of musician’s perspective. There’s this interplay between recreating a favorite melody, and seeing what else you can do with it now that you’re not just stuck with trying to plunk out the notes.
One of the things I’ve been returning to more and more recently is the Super Mario Bros 3 level 1-4 theme. I remember being frustrated and captivated with that level. It was the first one where the screen scrolled automatically and you were forced to jump ahead to avoid getting squished or pushed off the ledge. The first time the screen warped little mario into the platform and the first dissonant pitches started playing through the TV, I was like “Oh my gosh, what the heck!” (I had yet to add swear words to my vocabulary). It was heartracing. After we beat that level, my brother and I somehow got a hold of a Nintendo Power Guide and started trying to get the White Toadhouse to appear. It required you to run through the level with near perfection, capturing almost all of the coins in the level. The first time that little whitehouse appeared somewhere near the Hammer Brothers I think we did a little dance. It was a pretty wild celebration, I don’t quite remember what happened.
With that spirit, I thought I’d record a little jam session. Aside from a few takes, what you’re hearing is a completely unedited version of me trying to jam on my MotifES6. You’ll hear mistakes all over the place, that’s what I get for trying to play a fairly fast piano piece on a keyboard with no hammer action. The Motif’s keys are like playing the organ, so I don’t have the resistance of a real piano keyboard to prevent me from accidentally nicking the note right next to the I’m actually meaning to play. But that’s what makes it fun and a more realistic jam session.
I’ll probably eventually rerecord this with a digital piano (with real graded hammer action) or touch up the MIDI. So laugh at my fat fingers now before I upload a new version, haha!
p.s. I’m using a new software synth, Pianoteq 3, I’ll write my comments about the software in a future blog post.
So for the past year or so I’ve been the unofficial branch pianist. Unofficial because I have another calling, and I’m the default pianist in the branch. Not the only one, but the most convenient one for the branch because I just show up and play. They just called a new pianist last week, and I am a little sad to no longer be playing prelude and postlude music. That’s usually where I experiment and try add some twists to the hymns.
Occasionally, I’ll try and spice up the hymns a little bit during the congregational singing portions of sacrament meeting. Called to Serve is a fun one, that hymn is meant to be a rousing call to service and should be played as such. But generally, I try and stay true to the reverence of the hymn. Every so often I’m tempted to bust out, but I try to be a good little pianist.
However, a couple of weeks ago, we were singing O My Father, and the song ended up being this internal tug of war emotionally and musically between what’s right and what’s wrung*. I was happily playing the hymn in 3/4 time. Tri-pl-et, Quarter Quarter, tri-pl-et, quarter quarter, tri-pl-et, quarter quarter. You get the picture.
Unfortunately, the rest of the congregation was singing the song as if the whole thing was 6/8. I went through one complete verse of the hymn before I succumbed to rhythmic peer pressure and ended up playing the poor song at full lilt. The whole time, I kept thinking “This is all wrung, dang it! Should I force 3/4? I should force 3/4. Come on people, read the music.” But finally, I was just too tired of fighting against years, nay, centuries, of tradition. Ok, only one century, but still!
*Wrung: When something is sung completely wrong. Example: W. Hung sings “Mary had a little ram, little ram, little ram.”