Friday, August 28, 2009

A tuned piano...

Last week I finally got my piano tuned and it certainly sounds so much better. It was tuned by a blind piano tuner named Kevin. Real nice guy and we talked briefly over the two hours it took to tune the piano to its crisp and melodic sound. The piano really needed the tuning after two moves and then subsequently across several states to its final destination after I bought it brand new back in December 2008. Now with the ragtime pieces I'm playing they sound so much better but some pianos do sound better with certain rag pieces than other pianos, even newer ones. Even my aunt's player piano sounded really great when I played several ragtime pieces for year. Another dream of mine is to get an antique player piano someday. It'd be a really great center-piece for my house (aside from a baby grand piano) and a fun one to play on. So many rags to choose from, the list just keeps growing. Ain't that great or what?

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Bag of Rags

Two weeks to go til I go to the next monthly Portland Ragtime Society get together and I'm thinking about trying "A Bag of Rags" piece by W.R. MacKanlass. I was looking at the piece today and played my fingers on my kitchen table just to get a feel of it. A doable piece to do in a short time. Maybe memorize it by then? Dunno since I continue to practice other pieces such as Kitten on the Keys which I'm improving slowly. Maybe in time for the October meet up instead? Plus I really like the toe tappin sound of A Bag of Rags piece.

Here's the YouTube version. And here's the free music sheet A Bag of Rags you can download from.

I may even do Humoresque of a Little Dog by Ron O'Dell. A new piece but more modern rag piece. The tune came from a Nintento role-playing series called "Mother" which is the Japanese title but the English title is "EarthBound." It was composed by Hirokazu Tanaka. The piano sheets can be downloaded here. Though I don't know if I will be ready by then since I'll be wanting to do A Bag of Rags first while I have time. We'll see.

And here's the original Humoresque of a Little Dog "Mother Earth" just to get the idea of what it sounds like.

And it has the same bit of rag heard in a 1928 popular guitar ragtime piece called "Dallas Rag."

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Portland Ragtime Society Meetup

Today I met up with Mark Nuismer and another older gentleman named Kurt (sorry, didn't get the last name!) at their monthly Portland Ragtime Society get together. Although I arrived late at the It's a Beautiful Pizza restaurant where the ragtime piano playing was taking place. It was well past 2 PM. At least they were happy to see that there a 3rd player show up since it was only between the two of them on the piano for four hours (from 2 to 6 pm). Next time I'll show up on time.

(Please note there has been a change in venue since last year. Visit my updated blog on the new monthly meeting location).

Mark Nuismer plays a ragtime piece.

Mark in the background. Front of restaurant (It's a Beautiful Pizza)looking from the front to back. Psychedelic wall coverings and peace signs (in another room).

The piano I played on was quite old (didn't even look what brand it was) but I'm sure it was or used to be a player piano along with some loose keys, some were exposed down to the rough wood, and some of the white keys were missing, too. It was a bit different playing that piano with such a crappy keyboard condition, though it did carry an alright tune for its age. I am so used to a piano keyboard that's smooth with all the black and white colors in place, nicely laminated. One piece of a white key covering actually flew off when I played Black and White Rag. I heard a "click" sound and then suddenly a white piece from a white keyboard flies off. It startled me enough to ruin my concentration. I introduced my piano pieces through a microphone to a listening audience. And did some short commentaries just to keep things moving. All in all I wasn't that nervous to begin with and it was enjoyable. No picture of me playing it. I completely forgot about that one. Next time, for sure, I'll put one up.

I played one new ragtime piece that neither Mark nor Kurt heard of and that was K.K. Ragtime. Kurt even asked about it and I told him where he can get an electronic copy of it. Mark laughed when I explained to him how KK Ragtime came from a tune in a Nintendo game called Animal Crossing.

Afterwards Mark told me about another place in Portland where there is an open-mic night for musicians tomorrow and he invited me to join him and play some ragtime tunes. I can't go since my mother will fly up to visit me and then her sister in The Dalles, Oregon. Told him to keep me in touch if he wants me to join him in on those open-mic night. But here's the good news. They split up the money from the tip jar and I got $10. Whoo hoo! Ok. Not that much but at least this opportunity allows me to play before an audience. Meanwhile, Sept 6 will be the next Portland Ragtime Society get together.