Thursday, December 31, 2020

TOP POST - Why, why, WHY melodica?

P.S. From now on, this post will be the "top post" for this page. That's why you see the date is in far future. Here is the song list for this video:
1. Street Fighter 2 "Vega's Theme".
2. Dragon Ball Z "Vegeta VS Recoom" theme song.
3. Dragon Ball GT main theme "Dan Dan Kokorohikareteru".

I have heard some questions like this before:
"Melodica? What is that?"
"What is this piano thing you playing?"
"Why play this and not piano?"

Today I would focus more on the 3rd question, but more generally, WHY playing melodica.

First of all, back in 2012 when I was performing in a musical called "The Music Man" as the barbershop quartet, a friend from the quartet introduced me this portable, funny sounding instrument called "melodica". It in fact sounds quite similar to another instrument called "harmonica". When I saw him playing that, I decided I want one as well, since I have a piano background, I don't have to learn the fingering start from the scratch.

Then I first recorded my playing with only one-voiced melody, I was like "hmmm it sounds pretty nice but sound too much like MIDI, but the sound has very strong sustainability unlike piano which has very weak sustainability. how about if I add vibrato on the notes, will the tone gets more richness and depth just like how you make your singing or violin playing has more richness and depth?" After that thought, I started practicing playing with vibrato. I still remember the first song I recorded using vibrato was Andrea Bocelli's "Melodramma" :) Well at first it did not sound that smooth, but with more practice, I started to make my vibrato more and more natural sounding.

But you may ask, "hey dude, you still haven't talked about why playing melodica yet."
Regarding to this, different people could have very different answers.
For my case, there are mainly two reasons:
1. Singing opera/classical music is my primary instrument, plus I have piano background, learning melodica won't be too hard for me as the technique is the combination of both.
2. As playing melodica has quite a lot of similarity to singing, by playing melodica, I can interpret songs that does not fit my singing voice, or instrumental songs that I like, artistically even better than piano.

There is another main reason I think EVERYBODY especially those who learns piano should consider:
Piano and Melodica has similar fingering technique (you don't have to learn from scratch if you learn a song from piano then switch to melodica), but their artistic interpretations are very different, hence they are in fact very different instruments. So WHY NOT learning both, to learn different ways of interpreting music, further develop your musicianship; but more importantly, to achieve higher self-esteem that you could tell people you know TWO instruments instead of one, and to explore more about BOTH piano and melodica, then YOU decide which one you want to pursue, RATHER THAN let your parents, relatives, teachers, friends, community, society, or even education system, to decide it for you so you BLINDLY accept what they tell you (and it has quite a high chance that it is NOT NECESSARILY TRUE, or at least it is NOT SUITABLE FOR YOU)?

Anyway, here I post my previous melodica recording that has higher recording quality above again, to show you what a melodica can actually do in terms of music playing. I know you may have heard me playing these songs before, but I think you would like it :)

P.S. The melodicas below are Sound Electra Mylodica, Suzuki B-24 Bass Melodion, and Suzuki Andes 25-F.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Power of "Keyboard Recorder"!!

Hi all, sorry that I haven't updated for a while, as recently I am busy with managing my facebook melodica page and my youtube channel, as they just started generating income for me (and of course I want to boost more income haha). This time the topic would be about a special melodica called "Suzuki Andes 25".

This melodica is actually not a "melodica", it is in fact a "keyboard recorder", while a melodica is actually a "keyboard harmonica" (You can check out my top post picture to see how it looks like, it is the green one on the right). I ordered it a while ago from Japan, but to be honest, I don't know how to make good use of it, as it goes out of tune really easily (because of the change of air pressure that you blow, while a harmonica won't go out of tune even if the air pressure changes), and it is really hard to get a good sound if you play two notes or more together. Until recently I saw pianonymous, one of the best melodica players I have ever heard, played a solo on it; THEN I was like "AHH, man THAT'S how you make good use of it, let me go practice keyboard recorder again!!" Seriously, this instrument acts just like a recorder and SOUNDS like a recorder, it's just that you play it on a keyboard rather than blocking holes like playing a woodwind instrument.

Anyway, here is the video of her playing. Even though this is meant to be a comedic video that her baby daughter takes out the tube while she is playing, you can DEFINITELY tell that she is mad good on playing the keyboard recorder :) Enjoy.

P.S. I read from her facebook page she would perform with Suguru Ito (another crazy melodica player) in August. MAN I so want to go to Japan to watch them live, but I have to go somewhere else at that time. Anyway, next time I would feature one of their jamming recording, stay tuned!!

Monday, May 16, 2016

There is nothing you can't play on Melodica (Part 3)

Well well well...let's get back to "There is nothing you can't play on Melodica" series AGAIN.

As usual, this series is about arranging songs that you would NEVER expect that it can played on melodica as solo (and mostly are some up-tempo songs and/or orchestral pieces). This time it would one of "King of Pop" Michael Jackson's greatest hit - JUST BEAT IT, SO BEAT IT!!!!

The inspiration of making this arrangement was that I watched a guitarist/drummer covered this song in a concert. He could made some crazy beats and groove on just ONE GUITAR as the accompaniment for him to sing the song. Then I was like...hmm why don't I try to make some beats on melodica, AND put the melody on the melodica at the same time!! Then I recorded the song, and I think "hmm actually I memorized some melody part wrong, but this is the GROOVE I want, and good enough to make people recognize the song!!" Personally I think the groove could be stronger at the intro before the singing verse if I really pick on what it can be further improved. But anyway here it goes, MJ forever!!

P.S. I don't know will there be "part 4" of this series yet, will see if I found any songs that fits this title haha :)

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Yu Yu Hakusho - "Yusuke's Funeral" on Melodica

Hi all. It's melodica time again!!!

Well this time I would back to some songs that is like "melodica standard repertoire", and it would be "Yusuke's Funeral" music theme from the anime "Yu Yu Hakusho".

As you may know, Yu Yu Hakusho was a 90's big hit anime, along with Dragon Ball Z and Slamdunk, just like Naruto and One Piece today. The song I am going to play today is called "Sad Melody" originally, and it was actually played in the anime MANY MANY times. But personally I think the song name is too plain, and the first time the music came out was in Yusuke Urameshi, the protagonist's funeral in episode 1 (Yes, the protagonist is killed in the first episode LOL), hence I like the song name "Yusuke's Funeral" more haha. When I first posted this video on youtube, some people already commented "that vibrato!" on my video, which I think is bad ass, as this song really needs vibrato to make it sound beautiful on melodica. I actually think I capture the soul of this song pretty well on my melodica arrangement, you will be the judge to verify if I am right or not :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

There is nothing you can't play on Melodica!! (Part 2)

Well, first of all sorry about the late update as I had an ukulele performance last Sunday :)

Today I would feature another piece that you probably NEVER expect it can be played on melodica.

Recently, I got a made in Japan Yamaha Pianica 37D, which is a GREAT entry level melodica, in a very good price, as I want to see how it is different than its opponent - Suzuki M37C. To me, basically they are about the same tier instrument, personally I like the tone of Yamaha better while I like the key action of Suzuki better. This is what I get after testing the Yamaha.

But well, even an entry level melodica can sound like million bucks if you know how to use it. This is proved by the Japanese melodica virtuoso Mr. Masa Matsuda, as he uses Yamaha Pianica 37D in his performances. Today, I would show you MY playing of this Pianica 37D, by playing an ukulele virtuoso piece - Honoka & Azita's version of "Bodysurfing", on Pianica 37D as a SOLO!!

Before you listen to my melodica playing, listen to the song "Bodysurfing" by Honoka & Azita first:

Crazy isn't it? You probably never expect two ukuleles can create such music like THAT. But more crazy is that, how about arranging the song into ONE melodica that costs less than US$100? Today I would show you it is possible to do that. I haven't memorized the whole piece yet, but you could definitely tell it is getting there as the remaining parts are just the same chords looping with different improvisations. Next time I would probably use Hammond 44 to re-record the complete arrangement to get more bass, or use Mylodica to re-record to get a closer-to-nature tone :)

There will be part 3 for this series and stay tuned!!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Song from the movie "Keeper of Darkness" (陀地驅魔人)

I was too busy last several weeks hence I did not update my blog :P So this time I would show you some REALLY good stuff.

Several months ago, I watched a movie called "Keeper of Darkness". It is a Hong Kong horror movie, but in fact it is way more than horror in this movie. It has a great storyline, very authentic, and somehow quite touching. One of the spotlight is definitely the love story between the male lead and the female ghost who live in his house since he moved in when he was young. I am not going to spoil you by telling you what the story is really about. I would talk a bit more about the song from the movie.

The song itself is originally a song written by Wang Feng, a mainland Chinese rock musician. As I know, originally the director of the movie already planned to use some western music for the theme song, but he ended up realizing he could not get the copyright for that song. Afterward, one day he suddenly heard this particular song, found out that it suits the movie very well, especially the lyrics. The song actually has a hauntingly beautiful melody, and the style of the song suits melodica really well too. Hence I arranged a melodica version of it and here it goes. Hope you like it :)

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Other than Melodica: Guitar is a LIE!!

As usual, sometimes I would feature something other than melodica, as I am a multi-instrumental player. This time it would be a standard instrument -- acoustic guitar.

Well, recently I got a decent quality acoustic guitar for FREE by applying a 30-lessons plan, which is also FREE. Of course, the teacher's quality is mediocre (at least that's what I see so far), but you know, there's no free lunch. The good thing is that I still got a decent quality guitar for FREE, and of course I tested it out and recorded myself playing it.

This recording made me remember one of my friend who taught me guitar from the very beginning, and told me "guitar, is a lie! You play four chords, sing something, then you wow the chicks like 'Oh you are so talented!!' "I made an improvisation of a famous classical piece "Fur Elise" from Beethoven, which the part I recorded is also "four chords", but it's just the way I played is more than simply strumming four chords. I personally think this improvisation would definitely make quite a lot of people think "WOW that is badass, how you do it?", even though to me making and playing this is just as easy as killing a cockroach :P What you think?

Sunday, March 27, 2016

There is nothing you can't play on melodica!! (Part 1)

Well, you may think, "really? seriously?"

All I can say is that, "If you believe it is true, then it is true. If not, then it is a lie." Period.

For me, I tried playing contemporary songs like "Bad Romance", "Gangnam Style", "DADDY", "Rolling in the Deep", "Umbrella", "Beat it", "Baby", etc.; I also played Dragon Ball Z, Street Fighter, Megaman, Final Fantasy...such anime and video game pieces. For classical music, I also played Bach, Beethoven, and Chopin on melodica before; and of course, I also improvised on some Jazz, Funk, Blues, etc. on melodica as well. I can say I actually covered a lot of repertoire on melodica, hence I strongly believe that there is nothing you can't play on melodica.

Recently I got an invitation for online jamming collaboration from one of the really best melodica in Japan (which also means in the world since the best melodica players are mostly from Japan, as I mentioned before). She gave me a lot of song selections for jamming, all of them are really challenging pieces that you don't expect that it would be played on melodica. I gave her some of my solo playing recordings in order for her to add some extra harmonies as well. I am so excited about how the outcome would be!!

One of the song selection is the "Decisive Battle" from the anime EVA (Neon Genesis Evangelion). This song is originally played by an orchestra. For our melodica duet,  this time I would record the accompaniment while she would play the melody on top of it. Wait a minute, TWO melodicas can play a song for the whole orchestra? Well, BAD ASS isn't it? But the story is not over yet. I also made a SOLO melodica version for this particular piece! This definitely shows that "There is nothing you can't play on melodica". Here it is!!

P.S. Part 2 would feature another both technically and musically challenging piece that you would NEVER expect it can be played on a melodica as well. Stay tuned!!