Derek and the Dominoes

Back in college I somehow wound up in an experimental college band that was a sort of education-board experiment in offering wanna-be rock musicians and studio engineers an on-ramp to education other than a piano and some Bach sheet music.

I’d probably gotten into the band because the guy in charge, Grimsby’s Barry Whitfield, knew my dad, or because the other keyboard candidates read music.

One of the songs we had to learn was a “golden oldie” that didn’t do much more than make me tap my foot. It turned out to be Eric Clapton playing guitar with “Derek and the Dominoes” on a track called Layla. It’s a great jamming song. I don’t know that I’d have picked to listen to it otherwise.

I picked the song up pretty quickly, at least the piano-lead at the end. It’s a tricky song to play as a group, but when it came time to play our gig we all got into it and we ran long – just like you’re supposed to ;)

My dad tried one more shot at getting me into music, tricking me into playing keyboards for a 12-piece travelling soul band called “The Rumble Band”. I was with them 6 months before their old keyboard player came back. An amazing experience, but I was so terrified on stage I parted ways with my youthful musical daliances.

During 1.27 my stress levels were phenomenal. I realized I need a hobby that was away from computer/TV screens but compatible with being on call 24×7. And I’ve been hankering to play music again.

So this weekend, I stopped by Lewisville Guitar Center. I was fixing to pick up a cheap keyboard, maybe something with weighted keys like my dad’s old Clavinova or the baby grand that sat in our front room for 5 years… Only smaller and lighter.

The sad thing was, I haven’t touched a piano/keyboard in 5+ years, and then not really played in at least 10 years. I became insanely self conscious. And suspicious that I might have left it too long and that it would take months of patient practice to even remotely pick up again.

I’d about settled on something, but in the middle of the showroom was sitting a Korg Triton Extreme. A steal at $1000 (that’s $1700 under MRP). I was always one for messing with sequencing and midi/mixing – I can’t tell you how many versions of Tubular Bells I’ve done (ok, I can, 3).

When I asked my dad to recommend a good keyboard that I’d get on with and with sounds I wouldn’t hate, something cheap to help me get back into playing, he’d recommended the Triton.

And so I arrived home with the beastie I’d barely tapped 5 keys on. I was preparing myself to feel really stupid. I sat down and, sure enough, made a horrible racket.

So I moved it to the computer room, I was gonna hook it up to the PC and try playing along to some midi files. A faint little voice was saying “you got a midi-keyboard-karaoke system instead of a 50in widescreen?”

I was waiting for midi files to download and transfer, and unthinkingly I reached onto the piano keyboard and… Began playing Layla. So hauntingly familiar, fond memories and all that. Wait, I’m playing it!

After that it took a little more effort, but I was amazed at how quickly various bits of songs came back. After Layla, Hill Street Blues; after that various bits of Jean Michel Jarre, even the bass riff from Tubular Bells I spent months learning to play (its a great left-hand exercise).

I’m still planning out Part 4 of my Instrumentation/Testing/etc post, I want to put some practical examples in it.

But for the next couple of weeks, while I start on 1.28, I’m going to spend a little more private time unwinding, away from the computer. So if the post count drops here, I haven’t given up, just think of it as a working vacation ;)


Clapton Is God.

I know lots of left handed exercises you can do with a box of kleenex that wouldn’t cost $1000 ;)

You’re obviously a lot braver than you realise, if you go around saying things like “didn’t do much more than make me tap my foot” about Layla. In some parts of the world those are fightin’ words.

Bah – we’d been listening to various kinds of songs – from rock to pop to thrash – for several hours, and the best versions of Layla are the live ones. It sounds chaotic, undisciplined – its only when it switches into the “concert” part at the end that you realize it’s not sloppy, its actually very tight, in a sort of Rock-Jazz way.

My dad ran a local jam session at the Spider’s Web; after the college gig, I plucked up the courage to play now and again. When we had a group of guys who knew it, Layla and Lay Down Sally are awesome jamming songs.

There’s a bunch of songs I’d never have listened to of my own accord (perhaps in part because dad was always trying to get me to listen to stuff) but it has a special place for me know as part of my “set”. River Deep, Barefootin’, Pappas Got a Brand New Bag, Lay Down Sally, Hill Street Blues, etc… And a whole bunch of Jean Michel Jarre tracks.

It was actually my catching some of the JMJ on a pod-cast that made me realize I was missing my music.

So — there I am with my $1k synth, and what do I do? I experiment with the piano sounds. Lol.

LOL, enjoy your new toy, and I hope it helps you unwinde.

I still enjoy listening to a bit of JMJ, although do you thin you can fit a laser harp in you appartment? ;-)

Yeah, muscle memory rocks.

I can still play snippets of stuff I learned in the 70s when I was forced to take piano lessons.

I hated the lessons, except for a couple songs here and there. Too much torture of crap lesson music, not enough of anything I enjoyed. I never became good.

But there are those few songs I really liked, and learned well, and I can still play portions of them due to the ingrained muscle memory.

Now here’s a wild tangent – this is why it is so hard for a golfer or tennis player to change his swing. The muscles know what they have been trained to do in this particular action, and they don’t want to do it differently. A player can suffer a serious career slump trying to change.

And here Tiger Woods has done it 3 times.


Mind of Muscle, so Zen

Mind over Muscle, so Zen

Muscle memory has got me out of the jam of forgotten passwords a couple of times. No idea what the password is, so just switch off the conscious mind and run through the login procedure on automatic.

That’s a serious bargain there – I sold somebody a shop-used Triton the other day for £679 ( I work for the closest thing the UK has to GC) and felt slightly sick doing it – the lucky beggar got the deal of the (admittedly young) century – or so it seemed until now…

Once you explore the presets a bit you’ll probably recognise quite a few sounds from tunes of more recent years ;)

Erraj Si Gnivil!
Ibiza Sunrise (chuckle)
“Walking on Mars” is great for something D,Gm,D,B#,Gm,D.

The M1 samples make me cringe. Dad has a battered old “day 0” M1. The little glass buttons broke after about a year, and its sort of held-together with masking tape.

But I never liked the piano on the M1 ;)

Yeah, with current exchange rates, I got my triton (and its the 61 key extreme) for about 530 quid.

When I got home I checked ebay and the lowest same-model listed there was starting at $1100 ;)

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Oxygene!!!!! « kfsone’s pittanceNovember 3, 2007 at 3:21 am

[…] been trying to replicate that feat since I bought my Triton; it’s an excellent workout, the timing and direction of each hand is quite […]

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