Archive for the ‘music’ Category

On turning 65

October 6, 2017

Well, here I am: 65 on the 3rd October, Tag der deutschen Einheit, for those in Germany, but no public holiday here in Scotland. And now what?

I’m planned to go down to 20% of full time at the end of this month (was to be 50%, but I reckoned, I’d end up working 100% for 50% of the salary. At least at 20% I can say “no” more easily. Plan is to work on various research projects (on the silicon cochlea, on the neuro-robotics project, on the contextual learning project, to name three), and to do a little  teaching too, but not to much, and , more importantly, to drop all the admin materials (like being in charge of impact, or of research within the Department). But it may not all be so easy.

We’ve lost 2.8 staff, out of a small group: 0.8 is me, 1.0 is one staff member who has gone to London, and 1.0 is another staff member who has been appointed to a promoted post in an ancient Scottish University. All quite normal, but unusual for us, in that they all happened so close together. So I suspect there may be pressure on me to do more teaching, marking etc …

But if required, I can resist!

Meanwhile, I’m aware I’m much less busy than last year or the year before at this time. Though still officially full time, it feels like rather less than that: I’m only working 35 hours a week, rather than the 50 odd I was usually working. And I can actually write some code again. So far, the man beneficiary seems to have been editors of journals, because I’ve agreed to review rather more than I usually do, but I’ll need to keep that within limits.

I’m trying also to take up other interests, after all, after 43 years in Computing, there might be other things to do. So I’ learning the clarinet, as well as playing piano with some friends who seem quite interested in getting a few gigs together… watch this space (and SoundCloud too!)

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A little light jazz

July 20, 2017

As I get towards retirement from academia, I’m trying to get more music going on. I’ve now decided to go down to 20% come the end of October 2017, and that’s getting to be soon…

So I’ve taken a little of a recording session Angus Scott (Saxophone) and I (Electronic Piano) did (here, in the garage, single take, no editing!) and put it up on Soundcloud. Have a listen to Rosetta and How High the Moon. The picture on Soundcloud is from a visit to a jazz club in the Cascadas bar in Hamburg a few years ago.

And meanwhile, I’m learning the clarinet – maybe one day I’ll try performing on it as well, but it’s hard!

Some tracks on SoundCloud

May 24, 2015

I hav started (just) to record a little of myself playing on SoundCloud. Not much there yet, but at least I know how to do it. I have a little 2-channel USB M-Audio sampler (that I bought years ago in LA!), and an AKG microphone for recording my nice new Kawai K200 Piano. And I also have my Roland Electronic piano, but i haven’t tried recording it yet (no good excuse: I’ll do it soon). What to put up there? A good mixture, I think: so far there’s a Scottish tune, and a short (and not terribly good) rendition of Monk’s Well you needn’t. But there’ll be more before long! Wonder if anyone will listen to them?

Playing at the Kinbuck Beer Festival

April 25, 2015

Just back from playing piano (electric) at the Kinbuck Beer Festival. Kinbuck is a small village just north of here, and they hold an annual beer festival, which I’ve played at before. But this time I played solo piano for about 50 minutes. A beer festival audience is not one given to subtlety, so I played a mix of old blues numbers and fast standards, with lots of bass and decoration. They seemed to like it! Maybe I’ll get another gig or two from it…though I can play with bit of subtlety as well.

St. Patrick’s night at the Dunblane Hotel

March 18, 2015

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Every Tuesday night at the Dunblane Hotel there’s an Scottish/Irish/other music session, staring about 8.30 (but nearer 9 or even a wee bit later sometimes). Sometimes there’s just a couple of folk, sometimes there ten or more. Whistles, fiddles, elbow pipes, the odd flute, and guitar, and yours truly often on an electric piano accompanying. And last night was St Patrick’s Night (17 March). Now, sometimes pubs put of a bit of a show for St. Paddy’s but the DH isn’t really like that. So it was up to us to play to amuse ourselves, and the other customers. There were eight of us last night, and at maximum probably about eight other customers too. But we did have a good time!

Bach, followed by Jazz at the Garrick academy

April 19, 2014

It’s been quite a week musically for me. Last week started with going to the Dunedin Consort performing Bach’s St Matthew Passion, in the City Halls in Glasgow (a lovely venue!): a full three hours of one of Bach’s magnum opus’s (magna opera?), which was stunningly performed. Though sung in a secular environment, it retained its religious content, and clapping seemed a strange thing to do (would one clap in a Cathedral?):  but it was a wonderful performance, with solos, choir and orchestra all acting in unity.

And then on Monday, I went to the three-day jazz course run by Gabriel Garrick at the Yehudi Menuhin School, near Cobham, in Surrey. This was the first time I’d been to a residential Jazz course, (as opposed to some  Sunday afternoon sessions near here, years and years ago). I was quite nervous about this. Although I have played in a jazz band locally, it was a few years ago, and though I do try to play every day, it’s often not for long, and sometimes the work simply stops me from getting near the piano. But I was keen to find out what such a course would be like, and whether I could learn from it what I felt I needed to – particularly more about comping (accompanying jazz solos), and how to practise for playing jazz. I was not disappointed. In fact I was totally blown away by the tuition (particularly the piano tuition by William Bartlett, who is not only a very fine player, but a really good teacher as well). But here I must mention Kate Mullins, the singing tutor. I was backing one of the singers, with a clarinet, and a bass, and we had got the song together, and it sounded reasonable. But 20 minutes of Kate’s time, and we had a really good arrangement, that really blew me away! That’s an amazing skill.

Many, many thanks to Gabriel Garrick for putting this course on: I’ll be back if I can: I’d recommend it to anyone who is serious about playing jazz (and willing to work bloody hard for three days at it as well!)

So: back home now. Time to try to consolidate what I’ve learned, and time to get a new band together!