My First Composition

December 18, 2017

I’ve been writing music for the piano for as long as I can remember. When I was really young, I wrote a silly short song about a frog. It wasn’t very good (here’s my wife singing it with a goofy snapchat filter).

But my first “good” composition was finished in 10th grade, when I was 15. It’s called “Jailbreak Rondo,” and it tells a story about a man breaking out of jail, or something. The story doesn’t matter, and I’ve created better songs since then, but the track will always hold a soft spot in my heart (and my mom still cries every time she listens to it). Listen here, or embedded below.

In 12th grade, for my “Senior Project,” I decided to take Jailbreak Rondo and arrange it for a small wind ensemble. Since I was huge band geek, I had no trouble finding friends willing to play.

So, here’s a video of me at 17 conducting Jailbreak Rondo at the year-end band concert. The audio quality isn’t great (sorry), but that just adds to the vintage feel of it. Watch it here, or embedded below.

Anthony / Trazer

P.S. If you liked the piano and/or band version of Jailbreak Rondo, you may also like the electronic version, here. Full disclosure, this version has a distinctively amateur production quality, since I made it when I had only just started producing electronic music.

P.P.S. Also in 12th grade, I played this original piece, Echo of a Dream, at my school’s annual talent show.

P.P.P.S Subscribe for more musical and personal tidbits like this! 🙂

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Piano Improv

December 16, 2017

Greetings from San Francisco. Have you listened to my track “Dancing with Light”? It’s piano improv, and has almost 42,000 plays on Soundcloud.

FYI, if you like that track you can download it here for free (or for a small donation).

I love improvising on the piano. It’s a special thing, sitting down and telling a story with my fingers. It brings me to a state of flow, such that it feels completely effortless. It also relieves anxiety. It expresses my emotions musically, and releases them from their grip on my mind. And thanks to the wonders of technology, I can listen to my improv tracks and re-enter that state of calm.

So how do I make my piano tracks?

I improvise on my Yamaha electronic piano, which gets digitally recorded as MIDI data directly into Logic on my computer. For each key I play, the computer saves:

1) Key, or pitch, like A, B, C, Eb, etc.
2) Time, i.e. exactly when the note was played.
3) Velocity, or simply how hard I hit the key.
4) Length, or how long I held the key before lifting my finger.

Once in Logic, I use the Alicia’s Keys synthesizer to output sound from the MIDI. I can also control the reverb, or add other effects. But really, the work is already done. It’s amazing how much of the heart of what I played is saved in those 4 pieces of data for each note. It would be theoretically possible to add each note “by hand” into the computer, but it wouldn’t be nearly as fun. And it still might not have any soul to it.

Watch this improv video on YouTube. You can see each and every note I play, and the velocity of each note is indicated by the color.

That’s all for now. Subscribe to this blog to receive email notifications about new posts!

Anthony / Trazer

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