Hello, everybody! Last year, a piano pupil of mine asked me to teach her how to play All That I’m Living For by Evanescence. I took the 2006 AOL Music Sessions performance as a starting point, as the piano is much more prominent than in the original version of the song and arranged it to have the piano and vocals combined on the keyboard. Recently I listened back to it and realised that there was quite a lot of direct repetition of parts, so I worked on it a bit more. Some of the melodies were harmonised, and I added a guitar riff from the original version to the chorus. This video is the result.
I’m a big fan of alternative arrangements of music, as I believe that we can learn a lot as musicians by seeing what other people can do with a composition and thinking about how we would approach the same material.
I’d like to announce my newest video – a piano arrangement of the music from one of my favourite scenes from the Metal Gear Solid saga. I’ve had ideas for this going round in my head for a while and finally decided to nail them down to figure out what works and what doesn’t. I hope you enjoy it!
There are some parts which are lower in the original music that I moved up an octave to be playable with two hands, though I did consider an arrangement for three or four hands, but don’t have much experience with duet arrangements. That said, I do have ideas for a duet arrangement of a piece from the second Onimusha game, so keep a look out for that in the future.
I haven’t posted here for more than a month, so I’d like to give an update on why that was how things are going.
At the end of last year I spent three months living in Kyiv, Ukraine. My wife (who is Ukrainian) and I got married during that time. Once my visa free 90 days were up, I came back to the UK, got a visa, and went back to Ukraine with the intent of staying there for longer. I was teaching my pupils from England remotely during that time, via Skype and Zoom.
One week after I received my temporary residency permission, the Russian military invaded and started the horrific war that has caused so much, death, destruction, and disruption to peoples’ lives. My wife and I were displaced by the war – it took us about a month to make it from Kyiv to Sheffield, via Poland and Germany. Obviously during that time I wasn’t teaching at all and outside of updating my current pupils, didn’t think of updating this website.
Now that I’m in Sheffield again, I’m restarting face to face lessons as well as continuing with online lessons for those that prefer them. I’ll be happy to take on new pupils – anyone interested can get in touch the usual way through the contact form. I’m glad to be teaching after the forced break and glad to be able to continue making music.
Hello, everybody! This week’s video is a cover of one of my favourite piano compositions – To Zanarkand from Final Fantasy X. It’s a great example of economical use of chord progressions – harmonically, it’s pretty simple and uses (for the most part) two variations of the same progression that get moved into different keys.
There’s a brief analysis of the chords involved in the video description, for those who are interested. I’m considering expanding that analysis into a full video in the future.
If you enjoy the video, please consider subscribing to my channel.
This week I have a performance of my latest composition, titled “A Moment of Safety”. It’s inspired by the safe room themes of the Resident Evil games, which provide a few safe areas in the games. The music reflects this but simultaneously creates a sense of tension, a small dread that you’ll have to go back out into the danger eventually. That’s what I’ve tried to capture with this composition.
The chords used are Am11 and Gm11 – they don’t relate to each other, but being so extended softens the contrast between them as they actually share a lot of notes. I chose them for this reason, as together they sound pretty relaxed.
The sense of unease comes from the rhythm between the hands – only occasionally do they sync up. While they aren’t actually playing in different time signatures (although the left hand sounds like it moves between 6/8 and 3/4), there are enough stressed notes falling apart from each other that some rhythmic dissonance is created, in my opinion. Let me know whether you agree or not!
This exploration of creating certain feelings, atmospheres or emotions is one reason I love composing so much and also why I enjoy teaching composition.
This week’s video is a piano arrangement that I made of The Landing from Final Fantasy VIII. It’s one of my favourite pieces from the game and I feel that it captures the chaos and excitement of the SeeD exam wonderfully! Piano transcriptions of music written for other instruments have a long history, and I feel it’s a great learning opportunity for pianists to think about how they would represent another instrument on the piano.
Let me know what you think of it! I’d be glad to hear your thoughts.
It feels like I put out a lot of videos last week, though there were only three – the additional two were things I was too excited about to wait for the usual schedule.
This week’s video is me performing a cover of the main theme from a game called Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights. It’s a really cool, 2D Soulslike game with phenomenally good music which I think more people should hear!
This piece is also a great example of making a few variations on a theme – you get the main melody harmonised with simple chords, then an octave lower with a busier left hand. Then there’s my favourite part, which switches the left hand from 3/4 to 6/8 time and is polymetric when the right hand comes back in. Later we get a similar chord progression, but with a much heavier left left hand with a hint of Dorian mode.
I have a third new video this week! Another orchestration, this time of my piano piece Clockwork Sanctuary.
This is a location theme for the game that I’m making. As the player moves deeper into the level, the piece will change, with more instruments and sounds related to clocks and industry getting added in. This is just the first version that will play upon entering the area.
It took me a while to settle on instrumentation for this version – I had a rough sketch of it recorded about a year ago but wasn’t happy with my choice of instruments at the time, or with my ability to make them sound good. I’m much happier with this version, especially with the string quartet at the end of it. All of the instruments are physically modelled and thus can be played in a very expressive manner (they’re the Audio Modelling SWAM Solo Strings and the SWAM Flute, Oboe and Bassoon, for those interested in specifics).
Here’s the original piano version for comparison. Please let me know what you think of each version! If you enjoy my music, please consider subscribing to my channel!
I decided to release a second video this week – something I’ve been working on and was too excited to fit into my usual schedule of one video per week!
I’ve been working on orchestrating some of my piano music recently (the first ones were Theme of Oppression and To Arms!, though the latter is a rock arrangement rather than an orchestration. I’ve got a few compositions in progress and have been figuring out what works when it comes to combining instruments and learning a little about how they’re played as I go along. I’ll make a more thorough study of orchestration when I’ve experimented more by myself, as I’m a firm believer in having some practical knowledge to stick the theory to.
The video this week is an wind and strings version of ‘Innocence’. I say version, as I believe that it’s worth making multiple versions of the same piece of music to explore the many different ways that a melody or harmonic progression can go. Arnold Schoenberg advocated a systematic approach to composition in his education materials, exhausting all of the possibilities that you can think of, and Moshe Feldenkrais designed his Awareness Through Movement classes in such a way that you try a whole bunch of different variations of movement that are “wrong”, but they give your nervous system more information to work with and allow you to find new ways of moving outside of the habitual.
Soundtracks often have many variations of the same compositions, to give a sense of coherency to the story and characters and is particularly effective in video games. I remember Jak II adding an extra layer of rhythmic elements over the existing music whenever you drew a weapon and finding that really raised the tension. More recently A Hat in Time impressed me with just how many versions of every piece of music it has – as you move around the levels and encounter different characters, the instrumentation changes to reflect the mood.
I’ll link the original piano version of this composition, so you can easily compare the two. I’d be glad to hear what people think works in each version, ad whether people have a preference for one or the other. If you use YouTube, please consider subscribing, and let me know what you think in the comments.
Hi, everybody! I have a new video on my YouTube channel – me performing my own composition, Grief. This piece is a variation on another one of mine called Innocence – they’re both themes for a character, but Grief is the minor key version of Innocence. Not all is dark and depressing in it, though – I aimed to capture how it feels to work through one’s feelings of Loss, and memories of good times gone by.
If you enjoyed the performance, please consider subscribing to my channel!