I try to keep this blog pretty laser-focused on Japanese stuff, but once in a while I’ll make posts that are a bit off-topic that I feel are worthy of your time. This is one such post.
My interest in Japanese culture and language goes back pretty far, but there’s one hobby that I’ve done from an even younger age––music. I play a few musical instruments, with piano the one that has stayed with me the most as I have aged. In fact, it was less than a year ago when I decided to buy my first acoustic piano, which I ended up posting about here.
Over time, I’ve dabbled in a few different genres (including jazz, new age, and classical), and I’ve even done a little composition where I sit down and write out sheet music. But improvisation––basically making up music on the spot––is what I still enjoy most on the piano. (By the way, in Japanese this is referred to as 即興 [sokkyou])
For a few months now I’ve been giving little performances for my family where I play whatever comes to mind, but I finally decided to share some of these spontaneous pieces with others, in the form of a new YouTube channel: “J.D.’s Piano of the Moment”.
The original idea of the channel was to literally just play what I felt “in the moment” (and in a single take, with no editing except clipping at the beginning and end), and the first few songs were recorded with that sentiment. But I soon realized that if I don’t guide myself the songs are all going to start sounding the same, so I began making a conscious effort to create different songs each time, and also assign some sort of theme to them which I use as a title. To do this properly I need to give a little pre-thought before I record, and in some cases I’ll practice some ideas before I start, though most of the time I still do things in a single take once I start recording. I guess this is sort of a hybrid between pure improvisation and composition, maybe call it improvisational composition?
As for what the songs are like, besides the above-mentioned genres I think I have some influences from favorite piano players, for example Bruce Hornsby and David Benoit. Someone told me one of my songs sounded like George Winston, and while I am honored, to be honest I haven’t heard much of his stuff. I was told another of my songs sounded like video game music, and as a fan of PC and console music that’s definitely a compliment.
I’ve been recording these at a pretty fast pace, with 15 songs in under a month, sometimes recording and posting two on a single day. It will be interesting to see how long I can keep this rate up, and how my songs evolve.
Anyway, that was a long introduction but you can see the channel here. I know it’s obvious but I can’t help saying that likes, comments, and subscribers are very appreciated (: I’m also open to suggestions for themes to help inspire a song (preferably 1-3 words).
At this point I don’t have any clear favorites, but I’ll embed a few below to give you a taste. Or you can just click here to play them all, one at a time.
Take 6: Angry Train
Take 7: Pensive Moments
Take 10: Morning Maelstrom
Take 13: Melodini
Take 14: Shimmering Water