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Monica Xiao | Piano Music Posts

Noise or? Another recorder video

It was a nightmare for somebody. That is why it ended up in the thrift store and got sold for 2 bucks 4 years ago.

Wow, 4 years, and I still call myself a beginner player. To be fair, the only chance I get to practice the recorder is when Sz and I are on a trip somewhere in the nature and he is busy doing his photography, which means I had very little time into learning this instrument, and I am not a genius.

A few days ago, I picked up this flute tune from Claude Bolling’s Suite for Flute. It is really beautiful, and it fits into my soprano’s normal sound range.Higher than that, it would become pure noise.

So here is the video we shot on the weekend in Parc Miribel and Villars les Dombes

There are so many complaints about the sound of the soprano recorders from people who have kids, because the sopranos tend to sound extremely squeaky when played by the inexperienced. I have been trying to play it in a pleasant way, but today I came across this guy and he has totally blown my mind. He is a musician on YouTube who got popular by making fun of the soprano recorder.

Just so you know, he is a serious musician and a comedian. On purpose, he made it sound horrible and off-key, but deeper inside of me it seems the sound does sync with the character, and it tells me who he is: a happy, no-fuksgiving hobbit.

Unfortunately, I am just like the million+ viewers who would rather watch this funny video many times, than watch his more serious music videos.

 

The latest video: Vivaldi Takes Five

It was back in May, when the temperature was still cool. I was so busy preparing for the trip back to China that I forgot to post it here on my website. Chinese visitors who are blocked by the firewall can go to BiliBili.

As I have observed over the years, everyone loves Take Five. Probably Vivaldi would like it, too?

The bird was having a good time munching on my keyboard and fluffing up my black pants. It was much easier to have her on my shoulder instead of the tripod in another video Keeper of Flames.

One of the reasons I have not been posting videos recently is that I have been preparing for a concert in October at INSERM.  It will be the first time they are having a pianist playing a concert there, and I am so looking forward to it 🙂

In August I broke my face from a bike fall, and funny enough, my drone filmed the entire accident from above. Beautiful video, and it is almost a pity that I can not share it with you. But that added a pinch more difficulty to filming another music video, as I was patched up for many days. Now I am much better, and will be ready to film the concert in October.

Enjoy the show!

Southern Wind is here

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My album of 2017, “Southern Wind, Northern Sand” in jewel case is finally here in France! It consists of 13 piano pieces in Jazz/Hispanic/Arabic style. Special thanks to Rune Bo Jakobsen who granted me right to use his amazing art works of Malta on the album covers.

A very limited number of the CDs are available at Bandcamp.

N.B.: If you want the CDs with my autograph, please “Include a Message” to me before you make a purchase. Otherwise, the CD will come to you in its original plastic wrap.

A Flute Enthusiast

Most recently, I did two small projects with my flutes.  There is the music video of me trying a song called “Lord of the Dance” on an alto recorder flute. I really love the location where the video was taken: an area in the north of Lyon with numerous fish ponds. It is the place where my hubby and I would go for a half day biking trip, well, 1/3 of the time biking and 2/3 looking for bugs and birds.

Les Dombes

Well, let’s get to the music playing:

The cows loved my playing!

And then, there is the original composition by me called “Salin de Giraud”

Salin de Giraud is a small French town near the Camargue in Southern France, home to the pink flamingos which live around the salty water. Their red color is said to be from eating the red algae which grows only in shallow sea water. In the recording, I was using the crystal flute sample. It is amazingly natural and even resembles the songs from the flamingos at some point.

If you play any kind of flute, or if you know someone who plays very well, feel free to send me a message because I would really love to collaborate with you!

Videotaping with the bird

Recording with my cockatiel
Check out the video on YouTube, Keeper of Flames, or Bilibili, 守焰人.

I have been listening to Julie Elven’s (original) Keeper of Flames for about 2 years. It becomes an urge for me as a musician to do something with such good music. Therefore, with the approval of Julie Elven herself, here comes the cover of this song in a jazzy style.
While shooting the video I had the idea of bringing Mutyi, my cockatiel, into the scene. It was the worst decision of the day, trying to get her to stay put and not fly away while also keeping up with playing the music. But that is because Mutyi is her Papa’s bird who doesn’t care much about staying next to me on the shaky stand. So I tried the other bird, Koi, and she seemed to be OK with it. Koi is also featured in the following video where she is performing a color distinguishing trick: Cockatiel Telling Colors Trick. No one on YouTube has ever done such sophisticated multi-color tricks with a cockatiel before!

Hope you enjoy the videos!

A Night in Merzouga

Through a school window in Marrakech. Photo by Szabolcs Horvát.

Here is the link to my latest composition: A Night in Merzouga (Unlike in a recipe blog, I FIRST present my recipe, then write about every single thought I had during the day).

I have always preferred to listen to a piano solo. However, as a composer, I have many times seen the limit of my instrument. The piano is a powerful tool, but not omnipotent. In “A Night in Merzouga”, for example, the piano has talked a lot, like a stranger trying to paint a foreign world with his own words, but you don’t feel enough of it.  When wearing VR glasses, you can sometimes see the pixels of a movie. That’s like the piano effect to me, a “virtual” reality. Sometimes I find it important to stick to a solo instrument so other people can play it more easily. You can build a crystal castle with one kind of transparent shining stones which looks fantastic, and so can you build your style with one instrument. But the monotonous result simply doesn’t have the earthy feel that I missed from many places. My ears dig other sounds, too, and I allow them.

Let me show you some of the instruments I am gathering in this music:

  • Riq: an Arabic tambourine. Unlike the tambourine I have seen in the jazz band back in ND, it has fewer and bigger jingles. It was originally used in Egypt, but used in many other Arabic cultures.

    Riqq
    (picture from Wikipedia)
  • Drums. This is a picture taken by Sz in Merzouga. It is THAT night I am talking about,druming with some Nomads in the Sahara. I don’t know the exact name to these drums, but I think they are leather drums.Drums in the night
  • Krakebs. It is my first time seeing them. I found them throughout the souks in Marrakesh and in the dessert as well. They are the Berber version of the high-hat.

    Krakebs
    (picture from Wikipedia)

A friend of mine told me how she felt about the percussion. “Being kidnapped”, she said.