Thank Heaven For The Digital Piano

When I was a child Maurice Chevalier was the TV’s favourite Grandad figure. His signature song ‘’Thank Heaven’’ was often sung around the house and the melody picked out on the digital piano. In his early years he worked on various jobs including a carpenter’s apprentice electrician and printer. Chevalier was performing in a café when his talent was first spotted:

Stage Presence

Chevalier was noted for his landmark dress code of boater and tuxedo. He was equally as smart in his choice of socialites and his rubbings with those in the right circles got his talent recognised. From a young boy in Paris to a more mature act at the Palace Theatre in London he had made the big time.maurice-chevalier-1930s-on the digital piano

As his stage presence grew Chevalier started to tour the USA. He starred in talkie films including ‘Love In The Afternoon’ and ‘Livin’ In The Sunlight, Lovin’ In The Moonlight’.

‘Thank Heaven’ For That

The original theme tune from the 1958 musical Gigi was performed with a full orchestral line-up and sung by Chevalier. Although Loewe’s scoring is never in doubt, this melody has also been transcribed for digital piano. When the orchestral sounds are rendered down you can hear the harmonies more clearly.  It can be played in a less strict more rubato style that I think is more appropriate to the mood of the piece.

Yes – I Remember Him Well

One of my favourites ‘I Remember It Well’ from Gigi sparks memories of Chevalier singing with his trademark improvised air throughout the song. Again, the spoken word with a heavy French accent adds a certain finesse to the performance as Hermione Gingold carries the duet to its conclusion as a well-to-do courtesan.

Every Body Wants To Be An Aristicat

Despite being in retirement Chevalier starred in the 1971 Disney Title track of ‘The Aristocats’. The introduction to the song starts with an upbeat accordion sound played on the digital piano. The off-beat tempo is fast and full of energy. Chevalier uses the spoken word to deliver the storyline – his ‘put on’ heavy French accent giving the piece buoyancy and enhancing the animation process – ‘naturalment’.

A Full Circle

This was to be Maurice Chevalier’s last contribution to the film industry. He had lived for the stage since he was first spotted singing and dancing in a Parisian café. He had come full circle and died in Paris in January 1972 at the age of 83.

Ah yes… I remember him well.

Jr

All The Fury Of Billy On The Digital Piano

This week commemorates 30 years since the tragic death of Billy Fury; a promising pop singer of both rock ‘n’ roll and later pop in the 50’s and 60’s. He was still writing songs at his digital piano in the early ‘80’s when death came a-calling.

A Look Of Fury

It is easy to see the Elvis influence and how this heady mix of charisma coupled with raw talent would make for a cocktail of success amongst his fan base. Alongside his suggestive body movements; smarmy upper lip and smooth operator looks Billy completed his image by playing guitar, digital piano and drums. Continue reading “All The Fury Of Billy On The Digital Piano”

A Sister Act On The Digital Piano

Continuing with my ‘watery theme under Aquarius, today I thought I’d explore the talents of a female R&B trio who made it big during the ‘70s and ‘80s. They have a wide repertoire of hits that spans many music genres including pop, jazz, gospel and many fellow black styles – the Pointer Sisters –  With Some great 80 Style Digital piano sound. Continue reading “A Sister Act On The Digital Piano”

Let Music Sooth Your Soul On The Digital Piano

Most of us turn to music as a hobby; a pastime. Whether it’s listening to a digital piano concerto whilst driving along with the car radio on; or the latest Guns’n’ Roses album through our ipods; perhaps an Andre Rieu concert on the television; humming along to the chorus on a CD or otherwise. We are exposed in one way or another to this evocative art form every day.

Whistle While You Work

Many people depend on music for their profession be it a DJ; Teacher of The Arts; Musicians; Commercial advertisers etc. Promoting music; its message; its purpose; its function to an audience poised to subconsciously listen is an essential part of our environment. As we do our weekly shop around the local supermarket we are succinctly persuaded to make a purchase by the presence of different forms of advertising. It’s not just the bargain labels and the special offers that ‘seal the deal’ we are also influenced by the atmosphere as the digital piano or saxophone ‘mood music’ overhead lulls us into the ‘you know you want it’ mode.

If Music Be The Food Of Love

Play the digital pianoRecently the cultural music of France could be heard flowing over the tannoy in a well-known Supermarket. As the sounds rang out on the accordion more shoppers made their way to the wine aisles and made a purchase with very little persuasion.

A Mazing Music Study on digital piano

A study was done to test whether or not music can help in retaining information. White mice were taught to go through a maze to find food. One group listened to no music, the second group listened to Strauss waltzes played on the digital piano and the third group listened to hard rock music. After eight weeks, the results were as follows. The mice with no music had improved but the mice that listened to Strauss waltzes got through the maze much faster. The hard rock mice did not improve in finding the food, but had got worse, and became disoriented. Upon re-running the whole experiment a few weeks later it was found that the Strauss mice retained their memory while the hard rock mice had lost their memory altogether!

I think I’ll come back as a Strauss mouse!

Jr

A Digital Piano Player Made In Japan

So… what piano stories should I write in the New Year? I seemed to have covered so many angles of the digital piano in 2012 I wonder if there’s anything left to discuss! From outer skin through to carcass and the some!

Then I came upon this musician, Joe Hisaishi. The name grabbed my attention so I read on and found out a little more.

A Digital Piano Musician Of Note

Born in 1950, Joe is his professional name. Here is a multi-talented musician

A Digital Piano Player Made In Japan
A Digital Piano Player Made In Japan

who wears many hats and has his twinkle-toe fingers in many pies. Joe is a composer, director, author and conductor to name but a few of his skills. He has notched up over 100 film scores over time and is renowned for his musical dexterity in exploring and fusing European and Japanese musical traditions. His younger years saw him study composition in Japan. Instruments played include the violin and digital piano. Slowly throughout the 1980s his reputation for minimalistic and electronic music in his animation-based soundtracks started to take flight.

Castle In The Sky’ 1986

On listening to Joe’s score for his 1986 ‘Castle In the Sky’ I was pleasantly amused. The music is based on the dance genre and any Japanese elements are disguised behind a typically westernised façade of the characteristic heavy dance floor beat. The digital piano voice settings include a synth and electronic sounds that emit a sci-fi effect. The use of a vocoder gives the desired reverb but you can still distinguish the poignant Japanese accent as the female voice soprano sings of her flying fantasy.

Top Score At The Peak Of His Success

In 1998 Joe scored the music for the Winter Paralympics. A landmark piece with indigenous Asian timbres that enhanced the composition further by its use of a wooden flute played in a low register and harp glissandos that swirled their native magic into the western orchestra. The infamous digital piano sounds of Joe’s animation scores are tacet and make way for way for a more New-Age feel.

Now in his later years, Joe still continues to compose using his special mix of carefully fused ingredients that are the best of both worlds. They are those made in the West and Japan.

Jr

Falling In Love With Your Digital Piano

Here’s to 2013. Unlucky for some?… Let’s hope not. New Year resolutions have been made and for some have already been broken. Well here’s one you won’t regret – the start of a beautiful friendship with your digital piano.

Part Of The Divorce Settlement?

January is the busiest month in the divorce courts all because of the stresses and strains of Christmas. Some fight for custody of the children or the dog, for others it’s the memories of their time spent together with their electric piano. It’s a bond that cannot be broken. There to be played; draped over; fought over; adorned; negotiated with – the list is endless.

Celebrities insist on adorning their homes with a grand digital piano – usually a specific colour e.g. white to coordinate with their ‘‘lavish décor darling’’. In The USA particularly it is a statement about striving for success.

Buying Back Her Piano in 1993

Many films use the digital piano as an integral vehicle for the storyline. In the 1993 film ‘The Piano’ Baines allowed Ada to buy back her digital piano, key by key whilst he entertained himself with his laud behaviour whilst she played her way back to a full set of keys again!

‘’The Hills Are Alive…’’

A piano was discovered close to the summit of Britain’s highest mountain Ben Nevis in 2006. 200 metres from the top of the mountain complete with cast iron frame and strings – the keyboard is still to be recovered. The piano stool was nowhere in sight and the piano was consequently broken up and descended piece by piece down into the valley below. The storage charges would be astronomical I’m sure!

Keeping Dry At High Tide

Only this time of year 2 years previous in 2011 a digital baby grand piano was seen on a sandbank in Miami whilst the tide swirled around it. In the media it was reported that unless it became a navigational hazard it was staying put. The seagulls meanwhile were using it as a landing pad!

China’s Old Cars And Shiny A New
Digital Piano for your living room
Digital Piano for your living room
Digital Piano

It would seem that in 2013 the ‘’first buys’’ of China’s nouveau riche are the luxury car, the Rolex, fine wine and a digital piano. This new status symbol is catching on in Asia although Europe has been seen ‘doing it’ for some time now.

2013 promises to be an interesting year for the digital piano. Just remember a piano is for life not just for Christmas. At least you don’t have to walk it every day!

Playing Looney Toons On Your Digital Piano

Cartoon animations are peppered with the use of the digital piano as a vehicle for their success. The piano is often featured as a live creature with black and white keys for teeth and the full register of the piano for its wide smile. From the Black and White movies of the 1930s to present day, a menagerie of well-known creatures have adorned the piano stool. These include mice, rabbits, cats and those in human form. Here is a short but interesting insight into those that play the looney tunes on their digital pianos:

The ‘Digital Piano Tooners’ 1932

Many cartoons use the digital piano as part of the slap-stick act. The scene begins with the feint scratching’s of ‘His Masters Voice’ vinyl on the gramophone. The double act Tom and Jerry feature as a little and large duo in a sketch of 1932 called the ‘Piano Tooners’. They can both be seen in black and white singing the song ‘’Margie’’ whilst playing the digital piano and a broom (guitar or ukulele). The piano needs ‘tooning’ and many a gaff follows interspersed with musical interludes.

Bugs Bunny Plays Liszt

Likewise Bugs Bunny Franz Liszt this time in colour see Bugs sitting on his piano stool playing Liszt as he weaves through

Bugs Bunny and the digital piano
Bugs Bunny and the digital piano

the repertoire at speed. Of course the proverbial carrot prop allows appears followed by numerous implausible spoofs. Bugs’ silly antics include a 2 fingered trill that represent a telephone ringing. This is followed by a real phone ringing that is tucked just inside the digital piano case.

The Opry House

The Mickey Mouse Piano Solo of 1927 is a short black and white clip showing magical Mickey as he works his way through the “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 in C-sharp minor”. He wears white gloves so the audience can clearly see his movements on the digital piano keys. This is animation at its cutting edge as this cartoon makes way for ‘’Rhapsody in Rivets”, “The Cat Concerto” and “Rhapsody Rabbit’’. He finally battles with the piano and continues in his frustration to give the keys a good hammering. The digital piano retaliates and boots Mickey Mouse off the stage whilst he and the piano stool share a hearty laugh.

Keyboard Capers

The series of Mr Beans Keyboard Capers Cartoons see him grapple with Beethoven’s Symphony V. The repetition of the first 8 notes see Mr Bean getting more and more frustrated as he picks up the piano stool in a fit of rage. His frumpy digital piano teacher leaves the room thinking he is starting to make progress as she can hear snatches of Eric Satie’s ‘Gymnopédie’. Mr Bean has a transistor radio hidden! Several hours and two teachers later there is no improvement. The climactic point is reached when Mr Bean uses a projector with an image of the great master himself reflected on the wall playing the fifth symphony. Mr Bean is seen synchronising his lack of talent as he plays the table!

Encore!

 

Jr

Nine Ladies Dancing On Your Digital Piano

Imagine that – nine ladies dancing on your digital piano! I hope you enjoyed celebrating New Year and ‘Auld Lang Syne’ rang out on the stroke of midnight.  The reference to Nine Ladies dancing is an integral part of our ‘Twelve Days Of Christmas’ song and today is it! Continue reading “Nine Ladies Dancing On Your Digital Piano”