The Stranger

Billy Joel Keyboard Book CoverBilly Joel is one of my keyboard heroes. He, with others — Elton John, Keith Emerson, and Herbie Hancock have done much to invite me and my fellow ticklers-of-the-ivory to the front, rather than the back of the band.

His song, The Piano Man was in my repertoire during my record-setting (for its brevity) engagement at Cafe Italiano in downtown Birmingham, AL around 1974. His album The Stranger was released in 1977. Our Reflections dance-band, with Roberta, performed a really nice version of “Just The Way You Are” by 1978. Since first hearing it, I wished to eventually record the whistling parts from “The Stranger.”  I was fortunate to find the Billy Joel Keyboard Book online. The book contains a transcription of this piece that, thankfully, spared me needing to transcribe it.

My recording uses Alesis Ion for the whistling sound. That sound is a modified version of the sound I programmed and used in my version of the Andy Griffith Show theme song. The piano in the recording is the Synthogy Ivory American Steinway Model D. The bass, ride-cymbal, and side-stick snare sounds are produced by my Kurzweil PC3K.

I hope that you enjoy my recording.


The Typewriter

LeroyAndersonCoverBlogVer2Except for this composition, few songs prominently feature a typewriter. In fact, there are, by now, a generation or, two of “youngsters” who have never touched or seen a “real” typewriter. I only dreamed when I was the only male in a class of “girls” taking typing at Huntsville High School (1968-1969) how well my 80+ wpm typing-speed would serve me in my college, life, career, and career-after-life.

I became aware of The Typewriter when, a number of years ago, I purchased the pictured volume of Leroy Anderson piano solos. By that time, I had already played and likely recorded another of his well-known compositions, Sleigh Ride. Leroy Anderson wrote many pieces that became popular favorites, with many featured by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra. The Typewriter has been on the list of pieces I wanted to record since discovering it.

The piano solo arrangement had no included percussion / typewriter notation (that I needed and wanted). I listened to several online recordings and wished to find an easier way to obtain the notation than by transcribing it myself. Free legitimate versions of notation for the piece are not found readily… I found that I could purchase the entire orchestral score for $65; but, I wished to find a less expensive solution to obtain the typewriter / percussion parts. After more searching, I found that I could (and, did) purchase notation for the typewriter / percussion parts for $2. That’s my kind of deal — big-spender that I am… I used this store-bought notation to augment my re-instrumentation of the solo-piano version of the piece.

The typewriter sounds I used are ones that I found online and trimmed, cut-apart, and placed in-time into the recorded arrangement. Because each typewiter-key strike, bell, and carriage-return are discrete soundbites, I was able to arrange them in-time so that the piece’s tempos could fluctuate and breathe without losing synchronization with the typewriter audio/MIDI. All the sounds that are not typewriter are my Kurzweil PC3K8, using the 21st revision of the custom synthesizer program that I created (then, the 11th revision) for 2013’s Christmas At The Keyboard project.

I hope that you enjoy my arrangement.

Memories of Christmas, Volume 2 — 2015

CD Cover Christmas 2015 750x750This year, my Christmas music-project is my selection of your and my favorite songs and carols from previous Christmas projects, 2007-2014. I have included all recordings made by Roberta Silva and me since the first volume of “Memories of Christmas” (2006).

Each of these songs has a rich history. Some of these I will later share. The only new performance for this year had been intended to be a medley that included “Silent Night” and “Adeste Fidelis.” However, 2007’s “Christmas Fantasia” project also includes both of these songs. David Lowe’s included organ arrangement, “Prelude, Fugue, and Toccata on Adeste Fidelis” features the piece again. It seemed that a third arrangement of “Adeste Fidelis” in this year’s project would have been excessive. This recording will wait its turn in an upcoming year’s project.

The included arrangement of the “Hallelujah Chorus” for brass and strings is by me. It is also from 2007. I was never pleased with certain aspects the 2007 version. So, this season, I placed the work back onto the potter’s wheel and gave it a re-spin.

Without hesitation I will say that my favorite piece in this group is the last one, Roberta’s 2008 recording of “Some Children See Him.” I transcribed Dave Grusin’s arrangement of this and “In The Bleak Midwinter” from the “James Taylor At Christmas” CD. I hope that you find the piece and Roberta’s beautiful performance as emotionally moving as I do.

Merry Christmas & Season’s Greetings from Stan Owen, Jr. and Creative Minds’ Music.

Click on the mp3 player to play
Title mp3 Audio Composer
In The Bleak Midwinter mp3 Harold Edwin Darke, arr. Dave Grusin
Christmas Fantasia mp3 Various, arr. Carl F. Mueller
O, Little Town Of Bethlehem mp3 Lewis Henry Redner, arr. Harold DeCou
Do You Hear What I Hear mp3 Gloria Shayne Baker, arr. S. Owen, Jr.
Carol Of The Drum mp3 Katherine Kennicott Davis, arr. Harold DeCou
Go Tell It On The Mountain mp3 Traditional, arr. Harold DeCou
I Wonder As I Wander mp3 John Jacob Niles, arr. S. Owen, Jr.
Sleigh Ride mp3 Leroy Anderson
Willy Evergreen mp3 John Von Spreckelsen, arr. S. Owen, Jr.
Hallelujah mp3 George Frideric Handel, arr. S. Owen, Jr.
Prelude, Fugue, and Toccata on Adeste Fidelis mp3 John Francis Wade, arr. David Lowe
Some Children See Him mp3 Alfred Burt, arr. Dave Grusin