Joe Alexander Shepherd “Lonely Hearts of San Francisco”

Editor’s Choice 28th September 2014

Selected by Andrew Eales.

Joe Alexander Shepherd is an outstanding up-coming musician from the UK. He studied BA (Hons) Music at Liverpool Institute Of Performing Arts (Paul McCartneys Academy Of Music) for 2 years and subsequently signed an exclusive publishing deal with Nettwerk Music Group who look after the likes of Passenger, Olafur Arnalds, Fun, The Stereophonics, Sinead O Connor etc.

Joe wrote the song ‘Lonely Hearts Of San Francisco’ after a holiday in Spain. He explains the background to this very moving piece:

“I met a wonderful lady who very sadly has terminal cancer. It really touched me emotionally because she was just a normal lovely girl who was full of happiness and joy. So I went home and was really inspired to write something with all my emotion possible…

I came up with the idea of ‘Lonely Hearts’ because I could tell that she didn’t want to get close to someone to tell them that she isn’t sure how long she has left to live. This girl really moved me with her words so i thought the only way i can express i am feeling is by writing a track on the piano & came up with ‘Lonely Hearts of San Francisco.”

This piece is just the tip of the iceberg though – Joe has more than 50 tracks for you to enjoy on his SoundCloud Page.

TPC Wedding Challenge Stage 3

wedding

 

TPC Wedding Stage 3, “Something borrowed”, is the next showcase we are featuring here.

This stage was broken into two halves. The first called for submission of original music that people were happy for other members to cover. Most people submitted these in notated forms. Speaking from my personal experience of the event, it challenged me to delve into my recording software and refine my knowledge of the notating section of my computer program, which was a huge benefit for me personally and yet another example of how TPC events can really push us to step out of our comfort zones.

Using either notation or just playing by ear, members then reinterpreted the submitted music, recording their own cover versions. The showcase of tracks submitted is a stunning example of the talent pool TPC brings together from all over the world. Twelve tracks were submitted by nine artists. Brad Stark from Vancouver, Canada, went way over and above the call of duty, recording and submitting four tracks. He then also had one of his own tracks recorded by Francis Loch (Dreamland Fantasy). At the time of writing this article, Shelby Lock’s reworking of Dirk Maassens “To the sky” has been listened to by a stunning 29,988 people.

As an example of how global The Piano Cloud is, the nine artists came from the USA, Canada, Germany, Australia & the UK. Listen through this showcase of fantastic tunes and if you want to cross reference to the originals, look on the SoundCloud pages of the composers & hear how much the tunes have been changed or remained faithful to the source.

 

Andrea Carri “Metamorfosi”

Album Review by Milana Zilnik & Artyom Tchebotaryov

Andrea Carri - Metamorfosi

Andrea Carri was among the first pianists I met on SoundCloud. Though just 24 years old, Andrea has released four full albums as well as a few singles. He has performed solo and with different bands. Even more impressively, his compositions have appeared on TV and in short films.

Andrea’s love for piano has started since the age of six, when, “instead of giving him Lego” (c), his parents gave him his first “Bontempi” keyboard. As Andrea says on his site, “playing live is a fresh air for my lungs, vital and indispensable”.

A year ago I came across Andrea’s third album, which is called “Metamorfosi” (released in 2013), and I was captivated by its delicate and spacious melodies, as pure as raindrops. Andrea started working on the album during the late Autumn – the season that he has been always fascinated by. It’s a season of music, if one would exist…

The harmonies of the first few tracks are structured, but leave space for variation, with twists from major to minor, and sometimes for semi-tonal shifts in the melodic line. The dynamic subtleties are especially enjoyable, while the melodies remain bare and minimal.

While listening to “Giochi di luce” (“Games of light”), the third track of the album, I was strongly reminded of one of my favourite composers – Debussy. His “Reverie” has such an angelic melody, very sensitive and rich rhythmically, with both hands leading and intertwining. “Giochi di luce” is reminiscent of this and is my personal favourite here. To use an artistic metaphor, I would illustrate this particular tune in water colours and Chinese motifs. Hearing those pentatonic scales on many tracks of this album, I wonder if it was a deliberate choice, influence, or merely a coincidence.

Next up, “Frammenti”, combines lovely switches in tempo and moods: from meditative, cautious minor to speeding up major parts around the middle of the track. I can’t help but admire the accentuation of various parts in the melody: some parts are syncopated while others are more predictable in their rhythm. Lovely variations on the main theme appear, and are memorable and haunting. This is one of those pieces that I immediately want to play by ear, or search for the score. True to its name, “Fragments” is rather like a puzzle of glass pieces, combining in variations, and sealed with repetitive harmonies.

“Metamorfosi”, the title track, is a minimalistic delicate tune, which allows you to enjoy the deeper reverberation and the brightness of the piano in both high and low registers. A true masterpiece, I would say.

The following “Riflessi d’autunno” (“Reflections of Autumn”), as the title suggests, includes somewhat impressionistic touch on the keys. Short splashes of notes are followed by the flowing melody, which is very cinematic. Particularly impressive to me is the fact that the composer followed his own concept of natural sounds and the metamorphosis is continuously happening from one track to another. It sounds as a whole spectrum of one main theme; life in its fullness: harmonious but not monotonous.

“Sunshine after rain” is surprisingly described by lower sounds than the previous tracks. And how beautiful and gracious the melody becomes, when switching to higher register! It is followed by “Cuori nei vento”, which is more intimate, with a lighter reverb, sounding to me as being slightly shaded. This track is the essence of the delicacy that projects over this album time and again.

The following track, “Moments of life”, has a particularly memorable melody, stepping slowly through the shadows and special effects in the lower register of the piano, which some of the previous tracks had explored. A lot of tension is created through repetition here. The second part of the piece contrasts, using more spacious octaves at the beginning of the new theme. Such music makes a perfect fit for those like me, who can’t study without good music to put their mind at ease and focus the attention!

“Memoria” (“Memory”), the tenth track, has a lovely New Age, modern feel with profound inner rhythm that is not obvious, yet surely there. No drum beats or percussion were needed – simply the richness of the piano and well crafted composing. The track has a lovely ending, with the piano fading away to leave space for whispering voices.

“Fluire” (“Flow”) includes a lovely dialogue between high and low registers, taking turns to lead, followed by massive chords culminating in waves of melodies in both hands.

“Diario di un viaggiatore” (“Diary of a traveller”) has a surprisingly fast, almost rushing intro with a melodic line that was intertwined in some previous tracks as a motif, when each note is just a step away from another, gentle but intense. It was a great pleasure to witness a wide dynamic range of the pianist – even a repetitive melody becomes fully live and intriguing. At around three minutes into the track the upper melody is especially clear without the intense rhythmic support in the bass register.

I loved how each track of this album is naturally transformed into the following one. The concluding “Passeggiata alla ricerca di me stesso” (“Searching for myself”) is no exception. Some surprises in timing and many tempo variations make this track so breathable. Every phrase here is a sensual delivery of joy in music, joy in nature, a never-ending metamorphosis.

In my opinion, describing such an album would be as hard as categorizing the beauty itself. Trying to fit it into a “box” is as hopeless as trying to hold a fragile miniature with thick gloves.

 

TPC Wedding Challenge Stage 2

wedding
We continue on with the Wedding Challenge series of articles, featuring the playlist from the second stage “Something New”. My last article featured the playlist from the “Something Old” challenge, so if you want to recap, read the previous “Wedding Challenge” post.

If you remember the old matrimonial rhyme “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue”, then the naming of this series will make sense!

The “Something New” stage, called on TPC members, to compose a new wedding march. The much used, “Bridal Chorus” (“Treulich geführt” in German), from the 1850 opera Lohengrin, by German composer Richard Wagner, apparently has a 70% usage rate in weddings across the US, so a new composition could be a lucrative windfall for a savvy composer!

The TPC community had 7 days to write & record their submissions & unfortunately only garnered 4 entries, but they were all gems in their own right.
Enjoy the following playlist & revel in these talented composers from all over the world!

The International Challenge

 

Ed Haydon – who moderates the Piano Cloud Facebook group – has started a project to compile playlists from some of the creative challenges that the group has enjoyed over the last three years or so. Starting with  the International Challenge from 2013, Ed writes:

“Every so often The Piano Cloud runs a musical challenge. This is the first of a series of posts, which will look back at previous Piano Cloud Challenges. Back in Spring 2013, we were discussing the fact that we had a significant growing number of members from all around the world. The Piano Cloud was becoming a true global village and we were really keen to continue to promote this as an international group.
The aim of this challenge was to express a musical a style which was native to Piano Cloud member’s home country or in the style of a famous artist from their homeland.

Giovanni Sarani (Italy) posted a beautiful traditional ballad from the area defined “delle Quattro province”. The song was freely arranged by Giovanni Sarani and performed by Paola Zadra, Giuseppe Pinna, Giorgio Ghezzi and Giovanni Sarani.
Daniel – aka. Zeit Faktor (Germany) used an old German folk song and decided to make a soundtrack interpretation around it – the results are stunning as I’m sure you’ll agree!
Anthony Marinho (France) pays tribute to his favourite french composer, Jean-Philippe Rameau. Anthony describes his wonderful suite as largely baroque, which integrates some romantic and modern elements.
Andrew Eales (England) paid homage to some of England’s great national composers such as Parry, Elgar, Delius and Finzi in his beautiful submission to the challenge.
Stephan Beneking (Germany) wrote a wonderful piece about the “Loreley”, one of the most famous German sagas. The track is played by the very talented Pamela Chng (Australia).
Jason Cort (UK) and Chris Jolley (UK) produced a beautiful reflection of the United Kingdom’s quirkiness and heritage.
Robert Stadler (Austria) wrote a great piece called Ups and Downs. Though living in Greece for nearly 25 years, Robert’s Austrian influence is still very apparent.
Satomi Uchimura (Japan) submitted a most beautiful track, which was written as an expression of how he feels about his homeland.
Carl Johan Liungman (Sweden) created a fabulous musical picture of his native country Sweden. Carl wanted to describe a beautiful country with a long history of struggling in the wild nature of the North.
And I attempted to take most of my influences from great English composers such as Holst and Vaughan-Williams in an ambitious orchestral arrangement!”

Here is the playlist that Ed has compiled, which I hope you will enjoy as much as I have!

TPC Wedding Challenge Stage 1

weddingOne of the things I really love about “The Piano Cloud”, is the constant challenges presented to the members. As musicians, we can sometimes tread water or loose the spark that keeps our creative juices flowing. This is something I feel the challenges on TPC really do help with: they “challenge” us all to try something a little different to what we normally do and push us all to either end a dry spell or keep the spirit of creativity moving.

TPC Wedding challenge was set up based on an old English rhyme (“Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue”), and the four objects that the bride adds to her wedding outfit or carries with her on the big day act as good luck charms. Over a few months this Summer, four short challenges would step us through each these themes.

It started at Stage 1, “Something Old”,with entries of music featuring a composer / musician that was dead. For the challenge “Something Old”, Piano Cloud members were invited to submit a brand new version of any piece by a deceased composer, which could be a recording of a classical piece or instead have been their own fresh variation, arrangement or improvisation based on an old tune, such as a folk song, hymn or famous melody.

Some remained close to the  original, while others used it as a start point for some amazing improvisations on the theme. Most of the tracks used only piano, but some members of the community chose to orchestrate their submissions.

Once again, this challenge showed the wide variety of possible interpretations, musical styles and backgrounds within the Piano Cloud group.

Fourteen fantastic tracks by fourteen talented musicians were the result – here is a link to the showcase on SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/the-piano-cloud/sets/piano-cloud-challenge-1

Look out for my report on Stage 2 of the challenge – coming soon!