This looks like fun…

March 16th, 2009

Dancin’ The Boogie - Silvan Zingg (piano), Will & Maéva ? ? ?

Honky Tonk Train By Meade “Lux” Lewis

March 10th, 2009

Cameron Fallaw (the piano player) describing his piano

I’ve been asked a lot about my piano so I’ll write about it here.
It’s an old (about 100 or something) Bluthner “upright grand” as they used to call it. It was called this because basically it was a grand piano (baby grand I would think with a modified frame) turned upright. This gives it a beautiful rich, full-bodied bass and treble (although you can’t really appreciate it in my videos because of the recording quality).
It also has an unusual “over-damper” system (where the dampers are above the hammers), whereas almost all other pianos are under-damper (dampers under hammers). This over-damper system is the reason why you can see all those wires in front of the hammers in my videos :)

I like this video for the music obviously and for the fact that it’s shot directly overhead so that every part of the action is visible, nothing obscured. Great for anyone that wants to learn!

A blast from the past

March 4th, 2009

Look what turned up on You Tube!

Foggy - complete tune and progress report

February 26th, 2009

Foggy by LeRoy Bowman Just click to hear.

The new blues album is really coming along, expect news in the very near future as well as an update on the progress of Down Home - Part Four the final Down Home CD.

A Thank You

February 23rd, 2009

Just a quick thanks to all the good people who have taken the time to listen to the music. If you haven’t done so yet just go here and click on any of the CDs below! Samples of all the tracks from Down Home Two are here.

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And of course a huge thank you to anyone that has purchased a CD. keep those orders coming!

Whitby Blues

February 21st, 2009

Here is something a little different, a very gentle guitar blues from the UK.

In the performers own words:

The second guitar, my Garrison, im playing very “dodgy” A minor pentatonic licks with loads of “bum” notes thrown in, but hey im no pro, and most of it is guess work using my good ear

Whitby is a fishing town in the Scarborough district of North Yorkshire on the north-east coast of England.

That Honky Tonk Piano Sound

February 19th, 2009

Ever wondered about that loud bright slightly off sound that shows itself in some honkytonk piano pieces? Here is an excellent article written by a piano technician.

The sound started up in the late 40s when artists were rediscovering ragtime, apparently they were also rediscovering the original neglected pianos.

Anyhow, somebody thought this might be a cool sound, and by the mid-1950’s, many record companies were producing albums played on pianos made to sound “honky-tonk.”

The author goes on to describe various acts of malice that can be carried out on a piano to give it the right “wrong” sound involving thumbtacks in the hammers, or multiple coats of laquer. The former is definitely not recommended.

There are three common techniques. One is to make the piano hammers harder. I have seen countless tragedies where somebody has inserted thumbtacks into the tips of the poor defenseless hammers. Since a hammer is essentially a piece of felt bent over wood at a tension of over 60 psi, the tack will likely split the felt in a short time, leaving only the wood exposed. Then, either the wood or the still-inserted tack will break the strings due to the hardness.

Use of a mandolin rail is a non-permanent method described in some detail as is a different than normal tuning.

This (alternative tuning) was most commonly used by artists such as Billy Rowland and Dick Hyman (both as “Knuckles” O’Toole), Winifred Atwell and Del Wood.

It should be stated that the author is not a fan of any of the above methods and likes his pianos normal.

A Little bit about Ragtime

February 17th, 2009

There is much more to Ragtime than Scott Joplin’s “the Entertainer” , immortalized in the Robert Redford movie “The Sting” in 1973. The Entertainer rag dates back to 1902.

Introduction to the Wikipedia Ragtime page:

Ragtime (alternately spelled Rag-time) is an originally American musical genre which enjoyed its peak popularity between 1897 and 1918. Ragtime was the first truly American musical genre, predating jazz.It began as dance music in the red-light districts of American cities such as St. Louis and New Orleans years before being published as popular sheet music for piano.

In the 40s jazz bands started to include ragtime, leading to some ragtime versions on the old 78 RPM records. A bigger revival occurred in the 1950s.

The Wiki article conclusion:

Ragtime has been seen by some critics as an important influence on American music in the 20th Century.[5] Ragtime (with Joplin’s work in the forefront of the movement) has been compared to an American equivalent of minuets by Mozart, mazurkas by Chopin or waltzes by Brahms.[9] Ragtime influenced Classical composers including Claude Debussy, and Igor Stravinsky.[10]

Progress report - Down Home Part Four

February 16th, 2009

A quick update about two ongoing projects:

A fourth CD in the Down Home series is almost ready for release. The artwork is currently being finalized. More information very soon

To hear samples of tracks on the three currently available CDs click on the corresponding link:
1. Down Home - Part One
2. Down Home - Part Two
3. Down Home - Part Three

There is also a blues album in the works. Track selection is where we are at with that one, again more information when we have it.

Maple Leaf Rag Scott Joplin played by Fumitaka Anzai

February 15th, 2009

Here is a real treat:

In the words of the musician:

The music of such a style is called “Ragtime Piano” or “Honky Tonk Piano”.

The original sheet of music is written with straight 4/4 beats, but it is often played in shuffle-style(Triplet).

Also Keith Emerson, Andre Previn, Toshiko Akiyoshi and many other players love this title and recording.

Emerson and Previn play straight-style, Akiyoshi plays shuffle-style

I played shuffle-style. When I took this video, the piano of my studio was out of an interval because I did not tune it. However, the sound was suitable for a honky-tonk piano.


Fumitaka Anzai