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Happy New Year! Here's the gift of Radiohead



The snow is falling, the temperature is plummeting and I've been slipping into hibernation mode a bit these days. As this year draws to a close and the next begins, I find myself coming back to writing original music for various projects (and for myself as well). Becoming a good arranger is something I've put a lot of energy into lately, but now the pull of new things is too hard to ignore. Plus, people want to pay me for it, so hey! With that in mind, I'd like to share some piano/vocal arrangements I've worked on over the past 10 years or so, and perhaps let go a bit of my hold on interpretation now that I'm moving back into creation.

I realize this is probably very 2002 of me, but these are just for fun and have served as a bit of a palette cleanser over the years, to help keep me motivated, as well as developing some different skills on the piano.  My hope is that they come across and interesting arrangements and not just simple covers.  I certainly hope you enjoy them for what they are.  Lord knows, I just love doing stuff for the hell of it.

Disclaimer: Sorry for the crappy quality they look super cheesy and are recorded on a craptastic radioshack mic with lame midi sounds since my audio interface is a piece of $*@^ and died so I had to add all these dumb effects so it isn't nauseating also I have probably mangled some lyrics and I don't own any of these songs just the arrangements

So without further ado, here are some songs. Most of them are up a step or two to accommodate the lady vocals.  If you just want to hear the audio without dealing with the videos, you can find them here.

15 Step

There was a Pitchfork review back when In Rainbows came out that compared this song with a Nina Simone cover – I assume they must have been thinking about Sinner Man, and I could see the comparison. A driving, static accompaniment with a minor pentatonic melody on top, soulful vocals. I thought, yeah, someone should do this song like Nina might. Someone like me!



All I Need

So, basically, this was to see how coordinated I could get with these octave shifts. And then – can you do a counter-melody on top of that? And sing? Sure you can, Maria. And hey, rocking out at the end is too fun.



Exit Music for a Film

This is like the most melodramatic of the melodramatic, and boy do I love that. It always reminds me of the episode of Father Ted where the happy priest is thrown into despair when this song comes on the radio. That probably shouldn't be funny. Anyway, I thought, how can I make this MORE melodramatic? Rachmaninoff swoops and stompy chords! Mission accomplished.



Nude

When coming up with accompaniment patterns on the piano, I oftentimes find myself channeling different art song composers. That will probably become glaringly obvious over the course of these. In the original, the guitar has an ascending/descending pattern that outlines the chords which is pretty common in R&B. This is super reminiscent of like, Schubert's Ave Maria. So I totally ripped that off. I kept screwing up the video (first I chopped my head off, then it was blurry, then I chopped my head off) and finally gave up. So here's some audio instead.



How to Disappear Completely

This song is so therapeutic and so heartbreaking all at once. I'm not sure how successful this arrangement is, though – part of the appeal of the original is the gorgeous and creepy strings, so the challenge was to maintain the bass pulse and still accomplish the “crazy” with just the punchy chords in the right hand. I think the crazy was accomplished – hopefully it's still beautiful.



Lotus Flower

This kind of screamed jazz standard to me for some reason. Just the groovy bass line, I guess. And the (b)9 chords. I did arrange this for a small band, but haven't had a chance to record it yet.



Reckoner

I really wanted to preserve the meditative, other-worldy quality of this song, so I start out setting the tone with an out-of-time repetition of the accompaniment pattern before I kick into the song. It was kind of hard translating the acoustic guitar to piano, but I wanted to see if I could do it convincingly and still keep the accents in the right place. That took some coordination – especially since I think I learned it wrong the first time, oops. Then I threw some sweepy Ravel-ish piano into the bridge. This has to be one of my very favorite songs, it's so epic and spiritual.



Street Spirit

This song is magic. I didn't do too much except combine parts (and change a couple harmonies I happened to like). Go on, immerse yourself in love.


There are of course a few others (Wolf at the Door – who really needs to hear me awkardly singing swear words - Last Flowers which no one probably knows, and Everything in its Right Place which is awesome but not so much on piano, Subterannean Homesick Alien, which I do on accordion these days). But how much is too much Radiohead covers? I think we'll leave it here for now.  So, onwards and upwards!  Here's to 2014 and all the new creativity and beauty it brings. 



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