Being almost tone deaf wasn’t the only reason why I gave up on instruments when I was younger, but it certainly played its part. With a tool like this one back then, things might have gone more pleasurably. I would have been encouraged to keep at it for a little longer, and maybe (just maybe) reach the point in which I could actually play something. I find myself thinking that every time I go to a rehearsal of any of the bands I write lyrics for, and any member couldn’t make it there on time, leaving an instrument vacant. Today was one such day. Hence, today is the right time to review this site.
Found at http://pitchimprover.com, this a site that will let you learn to play instruments by ear. The site lets you choose the one you want to master from a list made up by “Piano”, “Guitar”, “Strings” and “Woodwinds”, and then it will let you do as many exercises as you want. These all revolve around a melody being played to you, and you having to reproduce it using an interactive keyboard. There are 20 different skill levels, and you are actually the one choosing the one you are in at the beginning of the process. Level 1 is “Major 1, 3, 5” (the one even I get right), and level 20 is “Chromatic” (the one I wouldn’t get right in twenty consecutive reincarnations). Continue reading →
The latest sensation to emerge from a “talent” show, pianist Liu Wei has captivated the world with his life story and his determination. He lost both arms when he was 10, and he learned to do everything using his feet. That includes playing the piano.
“I realize I have two choices in life”, he says. “Die now or live a beautiful life”. A very inspiring video, and one that I am immensely pleased to share with you.
There were only two instruments that I ever tried to learn in earnest in my life: the guitar and the piano. In both cases, my mind was made up because those were instruments we had at home. Had it been down to me, I would have gone either for the drums or the bass guitar. And I know it is not late to pick either now, but I no longer have the time and (what’s more important) such a starry-eyed outlook on music to go for it. And today I’m also aware that creating music is not my forte.
Could a site like this one have helped me when I tried to learn the piano? Well, the basic premise is letting you mastering how to play the instrument by ear. Back then, I was absolutely reliant on sheet music. And I think that was my problem. You took the sheet music from me, and that was it.
And I don’t know if this site could have worked out for me or not, but I can tell you for sure that (had it been available back then) I would have loved to at least check it out. It is full of online exercises and games that you can try out, and (on the whole) these will let you learn how to distinguish the intervals between notes, how to memorize the pitch, how different chords are constructed…
The site even includes a beginners game that consists in telling if a given note is higher or lower than the other. That is the first thing you must master when trying to play something by ear. To some (lucky) people, that comes naturally. Others have to work on it to make it grow. Well, this site will let them do it. And at no cost. Continue reading →
If you thought ChatRoulette’s Merton was going to go unnoticed by other musicians, then I have some news to share with you. Singer-songwriter Ben Folds (frontman of Ben Folds Five, known for hits like “Army” and “Brick”) has just impersonated the sensation from ChatRoulette at one of his gigs.
He was playing a live concert in Charlotte (North Carolina) when he decided to pay the random chat service a visit and sing about those he came about in front of the audience.
The whole piece goes by the name of “Ode To Merton”, and you can watch it below. My favorite bit – the “If You Turn Your Head I Win” guy. What about you? Let us know in the “Comments” section!
As many of you probably know, one of the latest Internet crazes is a messaging service named ChatRoulette. Created by a 17-year old Russian, it is a webcam-based chat in which you are placed face to face with an utter stranger. You can chat with the person if you like his/her looks, or you can hit a button to skip that person and come across someone new.
The big (and nefarious) thrill of it all is that you might come across girls who will show you their charms just for the fun of it, and also boys who have no qualms jacking off onscreen. That is why this IM service is called “ChatRoulette” – as in Russian Roulette, the “dangerous” element is what makes it all so thrilling.
Fortunately, there are also people who do something funny and clever. And this pianist steals the show. Named Merton, he is an impromptu performer in the truest sense of the word. Just watch the video I have embedded for you below. And note that he has a YouTube channel – I hope he adds more videos soon.
Without a shadow of a doubt, this guy is the best excuse you can have for trying out ChatRoulette. Or is it? ; )
A Two-record Set, "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" Was Released In 1973. It Is Now Regarded As The One Album That Marked Elton's Highest Commercial Point.
This is the quintessential Elton John album. It has some pop masterpieces, some filler, some embarrassments, some songs whose lyrics wouldn’t work anywhere else but here, a couple of songs that have inexcusable words, and (on the whole) songs that scream out “this guy sure plays and sings with gusto”.
The cuts that work obviously include the larger-than-life hits “Bennie & The Jets”, “Candle In The Wind” and the title track. Personally, I find it impossible to assimilate that these songs stand as part of a bigger work and not as isolated pieces that are played on the radio every five seconds, and that can sit next to anything. These songs are likewise the ones where Bernie does its job correctly, and even more than that on the perennial “Candle In The Wind”. The album also has the live favorite “Saturday’s Night Alright For Fighting” – it was actually the first single, and it hit higher in the UK than in the US, which was something unusual for Elton at this point. The song also was covered by The Who for the John/Taupin tribute “Two Rooms”, and their version (with Who archivist Jon Astley on drums) can be found on the “30 Years Of Maximum R & B” boxed set as well. It is certainly a “British” song – it deals with Bernie’s early years on the countryside (Lincolnshire), and the images of boys and girls preparing for a long night out surely factored heavily in its success. Continue reading →
The Cover Of "Captain Fantastic & The Brown Dirt Cowboy" Was Drawn by Graphic Artist Alan Aldridge
Notwithstanding all his successes, even by 1975 Elton was a somehow enigmatic figure. Many doubts were to be dispelled when this record was released. It was an autobiography of sorts, chronicling Elton and Bernie’s early stint as paid writers (“Bitter Fingers”) and the eventual forming of a true brotherly bond, culminating in the recording of the “Empty Sky” album.
The music is uniformly good, with Elton backed by his best ensemble ever (the classic band plus Ray Cooper on percussion). His voice was never sharper, and his piano skills shaped the melodic contour of the record with his usual fire.
It is also the one “classic” Elton John album whose lyrics meet with unanimous approval. Bernie did an excellent job here, painting vignettes about ennui (the Queen lookalike “Better Off Dead”, the orchestrated “Wake Me When The Whistle Blows”), the decadence of the rock & roll scene (“Tower Of Babel”) and a moving reflection on intent and dreams named “Curtains”. Continue reading →
This live album is incredible. Not because the performance sets a standard to judge all future live records in the history of music by, but because what you listen to here is so divorced from the concept of Elton most people have that it is all frankly startling.
11-17-70 was recorded before a small audience. It has roughly 45 minutes of music, 20 which are taken up by a long “Burn Down The Mission” jam that has interpolations of “My Baby Left Me” and “Get Back” thrown in for good measure.
Elton plays backed by Dee and Nigel only (that is, bass and drums). The energy they display in general, and the stamina Elton has in particular is admirable. His piano skills are highlighted so markedly that any fan of the diminutive British pianist can be but hypnotized. And there was something which I found quite funny: Elton even sounds a bit nervous when he addresses the public! Continue reading →
The Album Is Named After A Remark Elton Made To Comedian Groucho Marx During A Show.
This was my first Elton John album. I bought it on the strength of “Daniel”, a song I had always been moved by. I admit that even back then, when I had no other albums of his, I had certain a feeling when I listened to it… a sort of hunch that told me “this guy can do better”. And now, having listened to Elton’s output both sides of it, I am sad to say that the record is not only average at best, but it is also the point where his work became saccharine for all the wrong reasons.
To me, “Don’t Shoot Me…” marks the instance where singles began having priority over albums within Elton’s career. The problem was somehow more evident in forthcoming ’70s albums like “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, and the ’80s were characterized by such an issue, of course.
Of course, the two A-sides here are so monumental that everything is forgiven for a minute. In addition to “Daniel” (a top 5 hit) we have “Crocodile Rock”, Elton’s first chart topper and a song where the farcical element that many saddle Elton with is put to the best possible use. Continue reading →