All Over The Place

A gentleman named "Captain Pat" wrote me a while back asking permission to use one of my piano musings in a project of his. The completed project is available now - an experimental comedy shown on community television in Australia, parts of it shot on location in Bangkok! My music "Old Toy Soldier" is on whenever "The Presenter" is speaking and I'm in the credits at the end. You can also read more about the show.

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I've Got You Under My Skin Video

So, yesterday I thought I would start experimenting with this video stuff. I set up my macbook on a stack of piano books on the corner of my piano, recorded the video (and room sound) through my iSight, recorded the audio through my mixer to my M-Audio microtrack, then used iMovie and Garageband to replace the sound with the mic'd version. Didn't pay much attention to dressing up my set or anything (which I might regret), just pressed record and sang into the mic like normal.

This is me singing I've Got You Under My Skin in my living room. Youtube downsampled the audio so it's in mono (and you can't hear the reverb either), but you can get the full-quality source audio if you're subscribed to my standards podcast.

You Tubing All Aboard

One of the fun things about having my stuff up online is that people will occasionally ask permission to use them for random things. Yay Creative Commons. Paul Ivanov asked permission to use All Aboard for a local contest having to do with the Berkeley International House. Here's the resulting video - my music starts about 1:30 in. It's just a rehearsal recording of my song, and Johns Williams is a tough act to follow, but it's always fun to see one's own work applied to someone else's stuff.

Jazz Piano Lessons on YouTube

One of those things that is cool about youtube. They've got people out there that are rigging video cameras up above their pianos, and demonstrating how to play jazz piano. This guy took it to the point of actually annotating his performance.

It's interesting to note how much of purist different performers are about jazz. People that don't play jazz don't always understand what it means to improvise. A friend was recently dumbfounded to realize that I play my piano solos differently every time, perhaps thinking that all jazz performances were pre-written. Others see it on the other end of the spectrum - that improvisation is purely inspired, akin to being psychic or touched by God. The truth is it's somewhere in between. (Okay... maybe not as close to the "touched by God" end...)

But here it's interesting to note that the performer is very definitely planning certain licks for certain points. The prepared bass part has a riff at about 1:57 that the piano mimics - he's clearly planning to play that part then. And when combos rehearse tunes for performance, it's common for instrumentalists to work out favorite licks to the point where a solo section becomes a bit more structured and prepared; very different than what would come out at a fakebook jam. It's more prepared than I'd want to be for a gig.

I still get stuck in wanting to know what the "right" way to do it is - if I'm improvising "too much" or relying "too much" on licks I already know. I think the truth is there just isn't a right (or wrong) answer.

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© 2007 Curt Siffert. Some audio protected with a Creative Commons license.
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