Miles and miles of smiles

Played to Joe ‘Relativity’s cool track on Thursday. It isn’t ready, but I still couldn’t resist to add to it:

This track is embedded with the friendly permission by the creatives on wikiloops.com.

Musicians:

Thanks for listening. And if you’re a musician, consider to join us on Wikiloops, and add some solo or vocals to it.

Pictures from a Sunday walk

I decided to go for a walk today – haven’t done that really since last winter. So I aimed for the Mönchbruch nature preservation area, which is approximately 3.2km or roundabout 5,000 steps away from our place, according to the “Google Fit” step counter in our mobile phones.

Here are some pictures:

7e2_5060385-no-trespassing-1-2

7e2_5060388-no-trespassing-2-2

7e2_5060391-deer-1-2

7e2_5060401-deer-2-2

Because I didn’t go into the restricted area, and because I didn’t have my longest lens on the camera, I couldn’t get closer views onto the deer. Approaching them would have been useless anyway, with the wind behind me…

On our way back (Mitchie had met me there after a while) we also saw some new goslings:

7e2_5060420-goslings

Meanwhile, at home:

7e2_5060436-afternoon-nap

As always, thanks for viewing.

Maiden in the glade

Here’s a short but sweet swinging tune from Andy (Stratcat77), Peter (Pewi), Devin (moonchild), and now also from me (wjl):

This track is embedded with the friendly permission by the creatives on wikiloops.com.

Musicians:

That was a fun one. Click on its number if you want to go to Wikiloops to hear more. Thanks for listening.

#121237 —> #136495

This is so remarkable. And no, I was not involved into this. But on November 11th, 2017, Ray from Canada (StJray on Wikiloops) uploaded a template with the number #121237 onto the platform, and he also made a video on Youtube explaining what was in his mind for what he called “StJray _ To the other side of …” on Wikiloops, and “Ray Jz Easy” on Youtube. Here it is from the latter:

It lasted until April 26th of 2018, and now Shi and anon418 (who used to call himself JazzReeds before) have fulfilled Ray’s wish, and with the number #136495 turned this into something which sounds like the next Bond movie title melody to me. Or at least I see some stage with a spot on the lady singer, or the outro of some movie where the main actor leaves a now empty stage and club and walks out into some not further defined nowhere… Listen to that amazing piece of music, which now has the title “Until Silence Falls” (Text is (c)2018 by Shi):

This track is embedded with the friendly permission by the creatives on wikiloops.com.

Adorable, isn’t it? I feel so glad and honoured that I can make music with such talented composers, singers, and musicians.

Thanks for reading, and for listening.

Worldwide Disco on wikiloops.com

Wikiloops recently turned 7 years old – in fact today it’s exactly 7 years and 1 month since Richard created it (and thanks again for doing that, man!).

And to celebrate that a bit, we’ve decided to put together some band-like projects, film ourselves while playing, and to put these together to videos. And today was the premiere of the first one, the disco group / band / project.

So please meet:

  • Vocals: Aleonz, Indonesia
  • Drums: mpointon, England
  • Bass: Alex Sarikov, Russia
  • Guitar: Tofzegrit, France, and – last not least
  • Keys: Marceys, Netherlands

I’m happy and proud that I was also invited into one of these, so there will be more videos to follow when they are done.

Thanks for watching. And if you are a musician as well – come and join us jamming at Wikiloops!

Some more virtual pianos, and a real one

About a year ago or so I’ve compared virtual sampled pianos myself, and I did that using a downloaded MIDI file with Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five”, played by someone I don’t know anymore (forgot to save that information together my my download as I’m afraid of). Anyway, for the purpose of pure sound (and effect) comparison, you can read the articles:

Take Five backing track, version 3 (from April 28. 2017),
Take Five backing track, version2 (from April 27, 2017), and
Trying my hand on… (from April 1, 2017)

The first two of these links have the XLN Audio Studio Grand, which is a sampled Steinway, and in the “Trying” article I used the free “Salamander” download, which is a sampled Yamaha C5 Grand Piano.

You can also listen to these three versions here if you wish:

(XLN Audio Studio Grand, Jazzish Preset)

(XLN Audio Studio Grand, tweaked with ‘cellar reverb’ by me)

(Salamander (Yamaha C5) Grand, which comes as a free download)

I like them all, and they’re more than enough for what I could play on any of these. But they’re nothing when compared to the real thing. Here is Bill Laurance, playing a Yamaha Concert Grand in Union Chapel, together with some of the Snarky Puppy musicians, and some classical strings and a horn:

The difference between a virtual piano and a real one is not only the sound – it’s more the feel, and hard to describe, but even *I* (as a non-piano player) can feel it. To understand what this is about, watch Josh Wright who explains it far better than I could (also demonstrate):

Enjoy… and as always, thanks for reading.

Virtual pianos

We’ve had an interesting discussion lately on Wikiloops. It started with played vs. sequenced (or programmed) stuff, and I also took it to using natural vs. sampled or even modelled instruments.

The “king’s class” as we would say here in Germany are of course pianos (and I also took a piano sound as an example for what I was writing about in the Wikiloops forum). Yes, of course a Steinway Grand from Hamburg (or from New York, depends on your taste) is the non plus ultra. But not everyone can afford such an instrument (at around 150k upwards or so), or has the time to wait for it being built (2 years or so), or has the space for it (about 2.7 meters in your living room).

So compromises have to be made. Next best thing would be a smaller Grand, or even an upright piano, and the latter ones now even exist as hybrids, like the Yamaha N1, 2, and 3 series. Still 5 digit, still take some space because they’re a bit bigger than your usual upright. But at least these can be played more or less “silent” already.

Which is the next big point. If you live in a rented apartment together with other people living in other rented apartments around you, you might need to play and/or practice and/or record more or less silently – and this is where virtual pianos come into play. Meaning that you still need some kind of keyboard, best a weighted one (a Kawai VPC-1 would be a nice example), plus some software for your computer, either sample based, or a “modelled” piano. Or you can have some integrated solution like a Yamaha Clavinova and its siblings from other companies.

So which one is best, and how do they sound like? Well listen to some here (it’s not a complete overview over the market, but it has some nice ones. Would love to have the XLN Audio piano included which came with my Focusrite interface, or even some free ones which you can download as well). Listen and come up with your own judgement:

Zuleikha briefly listened to these yesterday evening before she went to bed, and she liked some of the upright simulations and models. Pianoteq are “modelled” pianos which never existed, so no recorded (Giga-) samples, which makes them small and therefore suitable also for older or less capable computers. They even offer Linux versions I think. And while I don’t like the Pianoteq upright much, Zuleikha did. She plays a cheap Yamaha Arius here, a Yamaha Concert Grand in her music school, and lately played some nice Kawai uprights in a local music store.

So what’s your opinion? I did a comparison for myself already and decided that XLN is nice, but so was the free “Salamander” Grand (search for it, you can download samples with a few Gigabytes of size if you’re interested). Pianoteq would be interesting since all sample based instruments cut off differently than modelled ones. But I’m no piano player – and if you are, you have to come up with your own judgement.

Thanks for reading.

Edit: as Zuleikha told me, the music school has moved that nice Yamaha Grand, and now they’re back to an upright for her classes as well. Anyway…

Warren Huart about mixing

Another set of ten useful quick tips from Warren Huart:

Of course you don’t really need all of his plugins, or his Mac and ProTools setup – Ardour and some free tools will do as nicely. Like he says, use these tools wisely and sparingly (a dB or two can make a big difference) – and create your own signature sound.

Recommended viewing for music/video and other content producers.