May 4

Chopin Nocturne Op. 55 No. 2

It took me 20 min to record this Chopin Nocturne Op. 55 No. 2, but I spent the whole night making it into a video with the score for any pianist who is interested in seeing what is happening in the piece.

This is one of Chopin’s later Nocturnes and is very different from the rest in the same genre. It is gorgeous piece but rarely heard. I assume this is partly due to its technical difficulties. There are hardly any rests in either hand, hence creating an infinite flowing effect.  Voicing can be somewhat difficult in this piece, as the right hand  has to control a main melody (top voice) plus a counter melody (middle voice). Even though the left hand only has a single arpeggio line throughout the piece, it can be a challenge to keep the continuous movement smooth and expressive, as there are a lot of big leaps in the arpeggios — The way I deal with this issue, of course, is to play the top notes in the left hand with my right hand when there is not enough time for the the left hand to do the leaps, and also, of course, to practice hands separately.The most difficult part — how do you make the piano, a “percussion” instrument in nature, sound like human voice?

October 17

Untitled100512

Finally decided to start messing with the composition software Sibelius 7 last week, and here’s the first piece that I wrote. I didn’t expect to have to practice (sigh) my own composition, but apparently I had to, so I did..well, a little bit.

Here’s the first recording of it —

Untitled100512

 

Enjoy!

June 29

Lovely

I’d like to share this page of score with you. It is the first Variation of Mozart KV331. At the beginning of the variation my piano professor Edward Auer had written the word “lovely” to remind me the spirit of the piece.  That was over five years ago. I did understand how the piece should sound like, but somehow it was rather awkward for me to execute it correctly back then. I sounded more “neurotic” than “lovely” when I listened to a recording of my practice.

I certainly hope it sounds better now. I got to record KV331 from Theme through Variation IV yesterday, so you can now hear how I play this passage —

KV 331 Theme through Variation IV

 

 

June 25

Recent News – And a Short Audio Clip of Mozart KV 331

A lot has happened in the past 7 months that prevented me from recording and posting…Long story short, my brand new Tascam US-800 interface turned out not to work with my Windows 7 – 64 bit computer. I searched high and low online but simply couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t get it to work. I was frustrated beyond belief and eventually just quit recording altogether. I finally sent the interface back to Tascam, who issued me a full refund right away (apparently they had known the issue with this discontinued model and its incompatibility with Windows 7 – 64 bit). I didn’t want the money — I wanted an interface that worked for me, but I really didn’t know which interface to get. After all, I’m a classical musician, not a recording engineer.

Then I found out Guitar Center offered free recording lessons every Saturday morning, so I decided to check them out to see if it would help me understand the whole recording process a little better. At first I was totally clueless, but after a few sessions I started to feel more familiar with the recording terminology and equipments. So here are the new equipments I bought in the past few weeks —

– M-Audio Fast Track Ultra interface

-Pro Tools MP – (the software that came with M-Audio)

-Yamaha P-155 – I’ve been wanting to buy a keyboard for a while and eventually decided to go with this one because of it has weighted keys and the touch is pretty sensitive. It can also be used as a midi.

-On Stage KS7150 Table Top Keyboard Stand – for my Yamaha keyboard I originally purchased a standard sized keyboard stand which was adjustable from 27″ to 39″. 27″ turned out to be just one inch too high for me. It was to either purchase a tall keyboard bench, or a lower keyboard, and I decided to go with the latter.

The recording lessons at Guitar Center also helped me connect with the instructor Ben, who actually came to my house tonight for a private recording lesson. I was so glad to find someone who could set everything up for me without me having to read through the horribly complicated manuals. Ha! Ben also made me realize I probably was never going to figure all these things out without help.

So here’s the first short clip I did after my recording lesson, hope you enjoy it. This is the theme from Mozart’s Piano Sonata KV331 (I promise the rest of the Sonata will come soon!), hope you enjoy —

Mozart Piano Sonata KV 331 – Andante grazioso

June 30

Midnight Improvisation 062911

It was a nice night for another short recording session…

Midnight Improvisation 062911

In contrast with 062111, this time I decided to try a steady bass to support the melody.

Improvisations are probably the best way to express my feelings at this stage. Lately, I often feel as if I have lost the structure and direction of my life, and my creativity has also dwindled. I can think of a few reasons why this happened, but understanding the causes doesn’t help regain my focus. If I can’t capture a whole picture, I suppose at least I could try to catch pieces of fragments floating in the air.

June 24

Chopin Nocturne Op. 9 No. 1

Another midnight concert –

Chopin Nocturne Op. 9. No. 1

This is my third home recording of Chopin Nocturnes. The first two recordings used my old microphones and will need to be redone later to match the sound quality of my new recordings.

I’m starting to realize this is going to be a never ending project that just started – music practice, recording, writing…etc, or just being a artist.

Also started a facebook page today. Be sure to “like” it to receive updates of my new recordings, projects and blog posts.

 

June 22

Midnight Improvisation

A short midnight improvisation for those who are still awake —

improvisation 062111

This was recorded with my new Rode NT5 Studio pair and Shure PG27. I had trouble recording directly through Audition because of some setting problems(and still can’t figure out) so it was first recorded in Audacity, exported to mp3 file, and then minimally edited in Audition with the hiss reduction effect.

May 18

New Recordings and Music Night at Single Smile Cafe

Added two new recordings to the recordings page today — updated Chopin Nocturne Op.9 No.3 (second take) and the popular Nocturne Op.9 No.2 (first take). No.3 is a new piece for me. Just started three weeks ago and probably still need to work on it for a little longer.

I played both pieces at Single Smile Cafe tonight. Keith Miller, a member from the Greater Summerville Music Forum (which I just recently joined) started the “Acoustic Night” for musicians and anyone who enjoys free live music with a cup of coffee on a nice summer night. The current plan is to hold the acoustic night every Tuesday from 6-8pm, and anyone who plays music is welcome to bring an instrument, share some music in a relaxing setting with a supportive audience. The little cafe was packed tonight. I met a few talented musicians and exchanged a lot of ideas with them. We stayed until the cafe closed at 9. It was great fun.

Earlier today I also had my first practice session with an 8-hand piano group. It has been too long since I had to sight read so much, but I enjoyed it immensely and look forward to our next practice session in two weeks.

Striving for perfection is important, and so is the sheer enjoyment of playing. It was a happy day for me today.