What happens when you listen to Joe Hisaishi

19 11 2013

Instead of writing your play, you want another Studio Ghibli marathon at the Pacific Cinematheque like the did last year  (and earlier this year).

Also, you realize just how extraordinary and amazing this man is.

The Swan — Camille Saint-Saëns, Godowsky version

6 11 2012

I first heard this version of The Swan in the Chinese film, Secret, and thought it was just a specially arranged version of the piece by Jay Chou.  The version of The Swan in the Secret piano songbook is much simpler and not that version, so I naturally dismissed any sort of hope finding that version (and transcribing it or learning it by ear would take too long as it’s complicated).

Last week, I somehow stumbled across this Godowsky version of the piece, and lo and behold — it was the same version!  I’ve yet to obtain the sheet music for this version, but print off or find it somewhere and learn it.  It’s been a while since I learned to play anything new… I think this would be a fun one.

“Gymnopedie No. 3” — Erik Satie

9 01 2012

A piece that will likely be in my short film I’m shooting on Saturday.  It’s so simple and mournful that I couldn’t imagine anything suiting the scene better than this.  I know I’m being vague because I’m not explaining the scene, but if you really do want to know, click on this to find out more details: http://www.indiegogo.com/June-a-silent-ghost-short-film

Pyotr Tchaikovsky — June: Barcarolle

26 10 2011

In preparation for my next short film, a part of the film features a ghost playing this piece (or at least trying to).  When I wrote the script, I specifically had this piece in mind for the part in the story as I thought it fit perfectly.  It’s a piece that I’ve heard many times in the past but never learned to play myself, and when I had the revelation of having it in my script (and soon to be film), I took to learning it, which was quite easy, I admit (though the middle section took a bit more time to get right).


Dreaming of music

1 08 2011

I dreamt last night that I was playing William Joseph’s Piano Fantasy for a competition, I think.  It’s a damn hard piece to play, especially at the right tempo, but in the dream, I was totally killing it.

Too bad it was only a dream.  😦  Maybe I should get to learning it again…

La campanella — Franz Liszt

17 07 2011

I first studied this piece during my History lessons for music theory and it wasn’t until I actually listened and eventually watched it on youtube that I was able to grasp and see for myself just how difficult and demanding this piece is.  It doesn’t sound all that hard and is in fact an ARCT piece (my piano teacher asked jokingly if I wanted to learn it and I flat out refused) but the most obvious thing watching videos of people playing is the “little bell” part in the right hand.  The piano player has to pivot between the octaves really quickly, which, just watching videos, hurts and tires my hand.  I’m impressed by anyone who manages to play this one.

Yundi Li plays this version:

Revolutionary Etude Op. 10 Nr. 12 — Frederic Chopin

31 03 2011

Many a year ago, I used to be able to play this one and it took me about a year or so to learn it, play it at tempo, and play it all without dying halfway through.  There are sixteenth notes in the left-hand throughout the entire piece and at a tempo marking of Allegro con fuoco (fast with fire = loud and fast), it really tires you out quickly if played at tempo.  And though it took me a long time to work my way up to tempo, I eventually did manage to do it, albeit kind of sloppily.  But alas, I performed it for my ARCT exam and it was good enough.  Unfortunately and very much stupidly, I didn’t keep practicing it, so now when I play it, I’m done around halfway (or else if I go on, I miss about 80% of the notes and there’s only so much murdering of Chopin I can handle).

Although it’s just under 3 minutes in length, it can be an extremely painful 3 minutes.  But performed right — like in the case of Alan Schiller in the youtube video at the bottom here, who plays most similar to how I used to play it  — and it’s a dazzling spectacle of technique, rhythm, and virtuosity.

Piano Fantasy — William Joseph

21 10 2010

One of the pieces that inspired me to write “Elvin’s Waltz”, “Piano Fantasy” is a ridiculously hard one to play, mainly because of the fast tempo + lots and lots of octaves which tire out your arm and make it feel like it’s going to fall off.  I’m learning this piece right now and playing it slowly but even at a slower tempo, it still kills me.  Nonetheless, I think it’s pretty damn impressive, especially considering Joseph was in his early twenties when he wrote it.  Kudos to him.

One Summer’s Day (theme from Spirited Away) — Joe Hisaishi

8 10 2010

Okay, so this obviously is not Classical music but a film score.  To be fair, this is under “Classical” music after all, so there.  Also, this is a fantastic, beautiful piece composed by the brilliant Joe Hisaishi, who I admire greatly and daresay he’s leagues better than some overrated American composers who I will not name (*coughJohnWilliamscough*).

Every time I hear the broken chords in the first few bars, it makes me sigh with nostalgia, remembering the movie so well and the feelings and emotions I experienced.  Spirited Away is one of my all-time favourite films and this track is full of the spirit of the film in a way I obviously cannot describe (not just because I’m super tired right now).

Anyway, I’m a loss of brain power so I will leave it at that.  If you haven’t seen Spirited Away, then what the f—?!

Le Tombeau de Couperin — Maurice Ravel

2 10 2010

Studying music and listening to it are two totally different things.  I could tell you about Beethoven’s life, his style of music, and how important his works were but have I listened to a lot of his stuff?  Psh, no.  The same goes for almost all the composers I studied while learning music history back when I was taking piano lessons.  Mozart, Haydn, Cage — all those guys.  It was only earlier this year when I met a guy online who lived in Texas who played oboe in an orchestra who sent me a link to a concert where they played this piece: Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin.  He was so awesome he had a solo in it, and man, I was impressed.

Unfortunately, it’s not on youtube so I’m not able to link it but!  I found a fantastic piano version of it, played by Rubenstein, who, I’m not gonna lie, I know nothing about except that he has some pretty good renditions of Classical pieces.