This year musicians worldwide, unable to play live, have been scratching their performance itch by recording at home. Some have been collaborating with others – though the recordings may be made in different places and times, some clever editing brings it together just as if they were performing together.
I have often played at the Hillbilly Hoot, under the name of Eric the Unready, since 2017 (I’m in several recordings on Tim’s YouTube channel). Since we stopped meeting in March, the show has continued on the radio with recordings that we send in. This lets me do songs I couldn’t do live: Being able to do multiple takes lets me try more difficult songs I wouldn’t be game to play live, while being able to add tracks together allows multiple vocal and instrument parts.
Some of these are songs I often bash out on the piano, done in a take or three, while some are the product of many takes and much editing. The more complex ones were made with Reaper. I’ve included links to Wikipedia pages about the songs or the shows they’re in.
I’m keen to do any requests or collaborations or help someone make a recording (even after 2020, time permitting). I can arrange, create backing tracks, sing, play piano/keyboard, edit (inc fixing mistakes, inc video). I just don’t do much polish – what you see here is what you get.
A rare song by R.E.M. dominated by piano. The ostinato isn’t hard to play, but I was never able to play & sing it at the same time. Going multi-track let me throw in some recorder too.
Do you dream of me w
Piano pop song by Michael W Smith.
Lily’s eyes – The secret garden w
I recorded a basic piano accompaniment, then recorded the two voice parts. Then I tried playing following the piano score more closely, doing the two hands separately, but it didn’t sound as good and I stuck with what I had played first. I added a bit of recorder and glockenspiel.
The tenor (left channel) is Archie, who sees his niece Mary and is reminded of his late wife Lily. The baritone (right) is his brother Neville, who was also fond of Lily. (In the book, the late wife is Lillias, Neville is a cousin, and Mary’s eyes are grey rather than hazel).
A laughing boy – The Yeomen of the Guard w
This song is not in the score, but the production I was in in 2001 included it.
Hereupon we’re both agreed – The Yeomen of the Guard w
The first one I did using Reaper.
All by myself w
Classic pop song by Eric Carmen using bits from Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.2. The lament of many stuck home alone in 2020, this was an obvious idea for a Hoot recording. Unable to choose what key to use, I went with Eb for the first part, which put the refrain nicely at the top of my range, before swinging to A, which allows different voicing of the harmony, then finishing in Db. Some inspiration for my arrangement came from Only Men Aloud.
God only knows w – Bioshock Infinite w
The game is set in 1912 and most of its music is from that era, however the lyrics of the Beach Boys song perfectly foreshadow what will happen, so early in the game, the player comes upon a quartet singing this barbershop arrangement. I never played the game, but learnt about this song here (rewatching that, I see the transcription I used had a few mistakes, so I re-recorded a bit of it).
I still call Australia home w
My four-part arrangement. I was tempted to write some 2020 words for this song, as this is the year cities like New York and London did close down and perennial travellers had to stay home.
The steadfast love of the Lord
Most hymns pre-1960 are written in four parts; most modern-day church songs aren’t, but this one is. By Edith McNeill, from Lamentations 3:22-23. First time all parts are down a fifth (with some bass notes up the octave). Second time in the original key of Eb with soprano down the octave.
We sail the ocean blue – HMS Pinafore w
Why God why – Miss Saigon w
Oh, better far to live and die – The Pirates of Penzance w
Build your kingdom here
One of the more modern church songs that makes for an easy a cappella arrangement, thanks to melody matching chords and little syncopation. Only downside its its long rests. The three verses are in Bb, D and G.
The holy city w
A song I often play. I’ve played it more accurately before, but this recording was so well-received on the Hoot that I include it here.
You’ll be back w – Hamilton
In my room w
I found a 4-part transcription I’d printed out 15 years ago.
Non_più_andrai w – The Marriage of Figaro
I first discovered a short version of this song in a piano book in Eb, so I imagined it was a tenor aria (and didn’t know which parts were sung). I loved singing with the orchestral MIDI backing.
Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road w
My 4-part arrangement.
Gently, gently – Princess Ida w
Somewhere somehow w
Sung with Suzanne Georg. A song recalling a time where leaving town meant losing touch with dear friends. This year’s dynamics have been unique, with many people cut off from nearby friends, although we can record songs with friends over 200km away.
Out there w – The Hunchback of Notre Dame
A fitting song for the week of South Australia’s brief lockdown in November.
A British tar – HMS Pinafore w