Category Archives: Originals

2014 Piano & Pies Review

I’ve had quite an eventful first year here at Piano & Pies HQ including lots of content for the website. Below is a selection of 5 of my favourite posts that I have uploaded since my website started in January.

Sleepwalking – Bring Me The Horizon (Cover)

This was my first ever post to the site and my most popular Youtube video to date. It was a really fun video to make along with 3 close friends. Over the Christmas break we will hopefully be getting back together to record more songs for you to listen to on my site.Bowburn Photography

I love taking my camera out and taking pictures, and this blogpost has a few of my favourite captures of the year. I hope you like them.

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Abandon Window – Jon Hopkins (Piano Tutorial)

Another popular video of mine is this piano tutorial of a brilliant song by Jon Hopkins, an amazing artist. I wanted to learn how to play the song but couldn’t find any good tutorial videos online so I decided to make my own. I have two other tutorial videos, ‘Laura’ by Bat For Lashes, and ‘Farewell To The Fairground’ by White Lies.
Make You Feel My Love – Adele/Bob Dylan (Cover Featuring Lee-ann Gardner)

A great cover that myself and Lee-ann Gardner, a good friend of mine, recorded several months ago.
Seaham Soundscape (Original Composition)

Next up is an original composition I made for my Masters degree at Newcastle University. After my degree finished I decided to return to Seaham and record several video clips to show alongside the audio track.

Thanks for the support over the past year folks,

Billy

My Electroacoustic Compositions (Part 3)

So you’ve made it through Part One and Part Two of my electroacoustic music series, well done! But there is no time for a tea-break now, we must march on and delve back into the world of the weird and downright strange.

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This post features three tracks all linked together by the sounds they contain and I’ve purposefully not gone into too much detail when explaining them as…

1) I’d rather you form your own views and opinions on them without me spoon feeding them to you.

2) Even if I wanted to share the specifics of the tracks with you, I’ve completely forgotten the reasoning behind the songs as I wrote them well over two years ago, oops!

Lets get started then.

Don’t Drop The Beat Part One

This track came about when I loaned a H4N recorder with external microphones from the University music department and explored the sounds of my house. I recorded several clips that I felt highlighted rhythm over pitch such as trampling over paper, ripping cardboard, and hitting tupperware. I then edited them all together later in Pro Tools to create the track.

An interesting point is around the 1 minute mark where several sounds combine and create an illusion of rain hitting against a window. At least that’s what the combination of audio clips sounds like to me, would you agree?

Don’t Drop The Beat Part Two

Part two continues on with the focus on rhythm and timbre when I rub two cups together as well as roll drum sticks against my front door. All of the sounds appear very dry which I enjoy.
I Dropped It

The final part in the trilogy is a combination of the audio from the previous two tracks. I repositioned and edited them to produce a new track to see how they would fit together. Originally I wasn’t wanting to keep hold of the track but the more I played with it the more I enjoyed it.

Thanks for reading folks,

Billy

 

Seaham Soundscape (Original Composition)

This is a composition I made for my Masters degree where I took a H4N recorder to Seaham seaside and recorded several clips of the surroundings. I later combined the clips and manipulated the sounds to create a composition that aims to showcase the sounds found in that area.

The video is a collection of clips from Seaham and Aysgarth and were collected over a number of months in the spring and summer of 2014. I didn’t intend on using the video clips alongside the Seaham video, however as I wanted to share the clips with you I thought it would be interesting to combine them.

Thanks for watching folks.

My Electroacoustic Compositions (Part 2)

In this post I will share another set of compositions that I made whilst studying at Newcastle University as well as discussing how I made them. If you missed part one you can click here where you can read about what electroacoustic music (EAM) is all about as well an introduction to three of my compositions.

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EA DJ

This is one of my favourite compositions. This is the only track that features no original source material from me (I didn’t create the sounds) however the editing and audio manipulation is. The idea came to me when listening to a DJ called Jaguar Skills who is an extremely talented musician who extracts specific audio clips from a song and combines it with clips from other songs to make a new track. He takes the idea of what a DJ is and elaborates on it massively. Below is a video of his where you can hear an example of how he does it (From 2.36 onwards).

After listening to his work I wondered how I could apply that style of composition to my work and what I came up with was the following track. I decided to use audio clips from existing EA musicians and attempt to create a new piece of music by overlapping, rearranging, and manipulating their sounds that would become a new song.It was important that I edited it enough so I could label it a ‘new’ piece of music rather than a remix/cover/copy of other peoples work and I believe I managed that. I also wanted to create a new listening experience for the listener. What I mean by this is that when we listen to music for the first, second, or thirteenth time we will have formed opinions and judgements that will affect the way we listen to a piece of music and what I wanted to see is if I could use the same material in a new way to create new opinions for the listener.

Choas Reigns

One of the most fun aspects of composing EAM is the process of discovering, collecting, and recording sounds. Just like with any form of music there are many ways to compose and write a piece and with EAM I like to gather objects together and record them separately over the course of a few hours with the intent to combine the individual sounds together to form a piece of music.

This track came about when I was looking back at a number of EAM projects and realised I had hours of unused sounds that were going to waste so I decided to see what I could come up with by combining them. This is my most preferred method of composing EAM where I have no specific idea of what I want a piece to sound like, but record objects non the less and then see what fits when looking back at the sounds.

Splishy Splashy

The idea for this track sprung to mind when teaching improvisation to a guitar student of mine. A technique I like to try is to ask them to try a solo using only one note. This means they need to try and make a solo sound coherent, interesting and enjoyable with heavy restrictions on what is available to them.

As you will notice by listening I have limited myself to using only water as a sound source. I wanted to test myself to see what are the potential possibilities were available when restricting myself to one object. I did cheat by using different objects alongside water, but the theme stays consistent throughout the piece. I also used editing techniques to explore the sounds on a more detailed level.

Thanks for reading and listening folks,

Billy

My Electroacoustic Compositions (Part 1)

Between the second year of the undergraduate and final year of the postgraduate degrees I studied and majored in electroacoustic music (EAM) at Newcastle University, and this will be the start of a 4 part series of blog posts sharing and describing my compositions.

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A not-so-brief intro to EAM

I’ll be the first to admit that it is a very strange form of music but ever since I was introduced to it I found it fascinating. But before I explain my academic interest, I must try and attempt to explain what EAM actually is.

Even after 4 years of research I struggle to settle on a specific definition of the values and objectives this form of music holds. Much like Hip-hop, rock, or any other style of music which has an varied number of aims, so does EAM.

An online source dedicated to EAM studies suggests abandoning the attempt at a definition but still offers a few ideas. One of which states…

The use of electricity for the conception, ideation, creation, storage, production, interpretation, distribution, reproduction, perception, cognition, visualization, analysis, comprehension and/or conceptualization of sound.”

…whilst another goes even further by saying…

“Music in which electronic technology, now primarily computer-based, is used to access, generate, explore and configure sound materials, and in which loudspeakers are the prime medium of transmission.

There are two main genres. Acousmatic music is intended for loudspeaker listening and exists only in recorded tape form (tape, compact disk, computer storage). In live electronic music the technology is used to generate, transform or trigger sounds (or a combination of these) in the act of performance; this may include generating sound with voices and traditional instruments, electroacoustic instruments, or other devices and controls linked to computer-based systems. Both genres depend on loudspeaker transmission, and an electroacoustic work can combine acousmatic and live elements.”

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My personal description is that it is an form of academic music where we critically analyse, capture and manipulate the sounds around us (whether they are natural or man-made) through recording devices with the aim to preserve, manipulate, and potentially combine with other sounds to make compositions.

To the untrained ear EAM may sound like random sounds that may sound dissonant and unpleasing, however it is far from that. A lecturer of music at Newcastle Univeristy described the process of composing EAM as the philosophy of music as we challenge every step of the compositional process attempt to explore hidden meanings within the sounds itself.sme76

My Compositions

Hopefully all of the above is a good enough description to give you an insight if the style of music I have been studying. Now I’d like to share with you the first selection of my EAM compositions with a brief background on each piece.

This composition titled ‘Rookie’ is the first EAM track I produced and I was very happy with the final outcome especially the sound that is introduced at 0.17 which is an audio clip of a piano stretched out so far that the sound completely changes and we instead hear a high pitched whining. To me it feels like there is something very alive about that clip and I enjoy the sense of motion and energy that I felt when listening to it.

‘Guesture This’ is a piece i created for my third year undergraduate degree. I was studying the idea of gestures in music and how that can be translated to EAM. For example i tried to use one sound that could lead into another whether by rhythmic, tonal, or dynamical devices.

‘Geeetar’ is taken from my Masters submission and I was unsure whether to include as part of a EAM portfolio as I felt as if it leaned more towards an ambient genre. However in the end I did included it and thought I would include it in my first blog post as i feel it demonstrates how EAM can sound pleasant. The sound is from an electric guitar through an effects pedal and is heavily edited through Pro-Tools (Recording software). I enjoy the rhythm that swings the chords back and forth between each other until it is interrupted by contrasting high-pitched strikes.

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That’s the end of the first blog post on my electroacoustic music and I hope you enjoyed. To read part two click here.

Thanks for reading and listening folks,

Billy

In The Forest (Original Composition)

This is a composition that I made last year for my Masters degree at Newcastle University. It is one of my favourite pieces that combines the sound of a variety of birds along with an acoustic piano.

20140531-IMG_1983 20140531-IMG_1996 The recording of wildlife was taken from an online database whilst I recorded my own piano parts in a studio. Over the course of 3 months I composed the piano parts to fit with the wildlife audio and in the end I had enough audio to last 50-60 minutes, however I always had envisioned the piece to be short so I edited it down to feature my favourite bits. 20140531-IMG_2070 I’ve always been interested in the sounds of nature and how it can intertwine with man-made sounds and I thought the two complimented each other well. The video was shot several months later in and around Durham and although I didn’t intend any of the footage to be for this track, I thought it worked well with the audio.

Thanks for watching folks, Billy