Computers and Music
Sunday, October 30, 2005
In the International Piano E-Competition, contestants perform their pieces on Disklavier pianos and the Midi files of their performances are posted on the competition web site. Click here to view a list of contestants and then click on the contestant name to download the MIDI recordings of their performances. I especially enjoyed listening to Alexandre Dossin (Brasil) performing Chopin Ballade in G Minor, Op 23 (click here). It brought back memories because I learned that piece and played it in a festival competition when I was 17 years old.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
My friend Hussein Alidina (who I ran into today at the library) is an up and coming Vancouver hip hop artist. Visit his web site to listen to lots of cool music samples.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
I was listening to Miles Davis's band playing Some Day My Prince Will Come and I got inspired to look up more info on the pianist, who is the late Wynton Kelly. Some of the licks he does are just fabulous, especially after a swinging, laid back solo in the title track, he plays a little ascending line that just glitters and reminds me that yes, this pianist has incredible technique but uses it sparingly, just when it is needed. Sadly Wynton Kelly passed away prematurely at age 39 in 1971 in Toronto, Canada.

Wynton Kelly Bio written by Joel Simpson at All About Jazz (scroll down the page a long ways to see it)

Dick Hyman's Century of Jazz Piano on CD Rom
Monday, October 17, 2005
This past weekend I played piano with the Sybaritic String Band for a contradance in Tacoma, Washington (see: What is Contradance?). Below is a picture. We had around 160 dancers in the hall, and the crowd had a great energy. I was also very pleased that they had a well tuned Grand Piano on stage, which was very fun to play.

Sybaritic String Band performing in Tacoma, Washington

In other news, I just got back from being interviewed on Global TV (Channel 11), which was broadcast on the province-wide morning show. It was exciting, and surprisingly easy thanks to the TV hosts Lynn Colliar and Steve Darling who made us feel very comfortable. I will post a streaming video version of our interview on in a few days.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
I will be appearing on Global TV (Cable channel 13 I believe) this coming Monday October 17th in the Vancouver Breakfast program for a 3 to 5 minute segment from 8:00am to 8:30am, along with my business partner Kevin Freeman. We're going to discuss our company, GK Media Inc. and the website that we have created, which provides a resource for people with special dietary needs for dining in Vancouver's restaurants.
It is not surprising that legendary jazz pianist Oscar Peterson has a school named after him. Considering the virtuosic way he plays, a name like his could only serve to inspire the legions of Mississauga students who pass through the doors at Oscar Peterson Public School. However, what even speaks more about his character is the fact that Oscar Peterson is donating the wealth of his talents for a fundraising concert to be held on Thursday, October 20th at the elementary school. From the press release:
Peterson will close the concert on the evening of Thursday, October 20, which will also feature the Shannon Butcher Jazz Combo and student choirs from the school. A limited number of tickets are available to the general public for $25 each by calling Oscar Peterson Public School at (905) 569-6261 for reservations or by dropping by the school's office at 3240 Erin Centre Boulevard in Mississauga.
From Chris Clay's article in the Mississauga News:
"The Peterson family has been very supportive of our school and its community," said school principal Caroline Mochrie. "We're extremely grateful that Oscar has given his time and talents to support our budding musicians and artists."
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Back in July of this year I attended AAAI-05, a conference on Artificial Intelligence in Pittsburgh, PA. During my trip I wrote several entries on the conference blog. I just wanted to collect the links to my posts below, in case anyone is interested in reading them.

The Web as a Collective Mind

Agents Don't Need to be "Super Intelligent" to be Helpful

A Little Story

The Future is Bright
Friday, October 07, 2005
As you might know, for the past year I have been recording all of my jazz piano practices in MIDI format, and putting them on my web site (click here). Lately I have been getting feedback from visitors all around the world, including some from Serbia and Montenegro. I have also had comments from Japan, Korea, France, and across the USA. The response has been wonderful and very encouraging. This has led me to thinking how useful the act of sharing piano practices might be on a larger scale.

I want to extend the idea of sharing piano practices on the Internet. One way would be to create a website similar to Blogger, that would allow anyone with a MIDI keyboard and Java to easily record and upload their piano practices. The practices would be stored on a central server in MIDI format, and users could leave comments about practices. It would also be very useful to have a customized Java MIDI player that would allow visitors to visualize the notes of the practices, and make annotations or comments about specific sections.

For example, below is a visualization of a short excerpt of a piano practice. The vertical dimension is the pitch, and the horizontal dimension is the time. Notes are visualized as a line at a certain pitch that extends through a certain time.
Piano Practice Visualization
You can listen to the MIDI version of the excerpt by clicking here..

What might even be more fun, or useful, would be a system that would allow a user to transmit his/her piano practices to other users, in real time. The other users could send back voice comments in real time, for example expressing delight or amazement at a particular technical passage, or a suggestion to work on a particular section more slowly.

This wouldn't have to be used for practices alone. Such a system could also be used for real-time improvisation performances which could be conducted at a certain scheduled times by pianists around the world.

I think this is an idea whose time has nearly come. It won't be long before many pianists will have access to a high quality MIDI keyboard and Internet access. Then we'll see the emergence of MIDI-blogging, and will enter a new realm of collaborative music learning and sharing.
Sunday, October 02, 2005
There have been numerous concerts of all sorts of music in support of the New Orleans hurricane victims. At Michigan State University, Rodney Whitaker, who is head of the jazz studies program, is organizing a concert today that includes some New Orleans musicians, for which MSU provided stipends. More details in this article in the Lansing State Journal by Mike Hughes (click here).

The show includes:

• Herlin Riley. "He's probably the master of the New Orleans drum style," Whitaker said.

• Two more visiting New Orleans men, pianist Peter Martin and multi-instrumentalist Don Vappie, who plays the banjo for the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and his own Creole Jazz Serenaders.

• The Professors of Jazz, a combo that includes Whitaker, Wilkinson, Rivera, Randy Gelispie, Rick Roe and, this year, Anderson.

• The Beaumont Brass Quintet.

• More MSU classical musicians - pianist Panayis Lyras, cellist Suren Bagratuni, violinist Dmitri Berlinsky and tenor Richard Fracker.

• Baritone Haijing Fu. He and Fracker sing with the Metropolitan Opera.
Thoughts of an aspiring jazz musician and computer programmer.

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