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 ;)