PracticePrompt Blog

A new project and piece to learn!

Posted in Latest Piece by elwynrees on February 21, 2010

Got a new piece to learn and discovered an amazing talented pianist  I hadn’t heard of before….

I found a new project!  The Rachmaninoff is probably going to take a back seat for a while (again).

As much as I like some of the Einaudi/new age /chill out and ambient stuff that I hear on the Piano World ABF forum recitals I do have a craving for something with a bit more agression and excitement.     Infact, for a while I’ve been using SOTW (Smoke on the Water) as my warm up piece.  I don’t like doing exercises as a warm up (their too important) and I prefer to have warmed up before attempting pieces.  So lately I’ve been playing Smoke on the Water as a warm up – think about it, octave bass, parellel fourths, I use an alberti bass pattern under the guitar solo and do a Busoni-esk ending where I manage to hit the bottom A octave.  If I play a duff note it doesn’t matter as its a sacrificial piece.  If its going well, then things are normally falling off the piano and after which the real warm-up exercises begin. 

So  I think there’s plenty more scope for some piano music with more aggression and  attitude.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Hendrix lately, usually played at very high volumes whilst driving to work. It’s crossed my mind that several Hendrix tracks may sound cool on the piano (well at least in my minds’ ear).  So last weekend I was playing around with the “Jimi Chord” on the piano. Certain technical things are a concern like how do you bend a note on the piano 😉  The other classic sound is the ‘chucka chucka’ (muted strings) at the start of Voodoo chile and a number of others…  I’d started messing about with Machine Gun, and got a nice effect by playing GAB/F#G#A#   a bit like percussion playing on a Hammond, with the sostenuto pedal down and not too loud it sounds kinda cool….  I went looking for inspiration so searched YouTube for “Machine Gun” and “Piano”.  There were  a number of hits, but no Hendrix covers though, but one piece stood out.  It was a cover of the Portishead track “Machine Gun”. Portishead are a Bristol,UK based band (Portishead is small town on the coast where the brown sludge from the river Avon, hits the even browner sludge in the river Severn/Bristol Channel). 

Anyhow, I don’t understand how I hadn’t stumbled across this before, but if you haven’t then look up VKGOESWILD on Youtube.   Viktorya (Vika) is a professional and a very well trained and tallented pianist  who  now seems to be making a living by covering hard rock, metal and alternative stuff on the piano.  These transcriptions are trully awesome!  She has amazing painistic skills to draw upon to pull this off convincingly which she does time after time…..

Take a look at this System of a Down track Toxicity

There are quite literally hundreds of amazing covers. She also provides Sheet music (for a donation).

There are so many amazing transcriptions on her channel. I like her cover of Johnny Cash’s version of Martin Gore’s (Depeche Mode) song “Personal Jesus”…..

This is a great version. I decided to have a go at working this out by ear (well by watching the video) sort of by trial and error and without a score.

So during the latter half of the week, I’ve been noodling about figuring out what’s going on and coming up with a study plan. The hardest aspect is the syncopation and hand independance and at times the clashing and overlapping hands.    But its keeping the LH steady and in a ‘groove’ whilst  the RH is doing the melody or some fills and such, that I’m finding very challenging. I did a bit of hunting about online for “Piano Hand Independnece” and have found two approaches a) Play the LH for ages until its completely automatic, b) some specific hand independence exercises (actually targetted as a primer for the Bach 2-part Inventions).

So after working hard on it  the last few days I can now stumble my way through. There’s several sections I can do hands separately but find impossible HT.  Figuring out the chords to the “Hook” was surprisingly easy and its too forms a “closed” voicing then at the end a more “Open” expanded version.   –  This has been just so much fun!!!

In additon to the SOAD transcriptions there’s a number such as Metallica,  Placebo/Bush, Pink Floyd, Sex Pistols, NIN etc etc that sound “doable” but the sheet music would be essential.

So it looks like  Hendrix and Rach are going to have to wait for a while…

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