Watch Ryuichi Sakamoto "Playing the Piano for the Isolated"

The great Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto—whose work has spanned the electronic pop of Yellow Magic Orchestra and numerous film scores to experimental ambient and contemporary classical—has released this magnificent live performance: "Playing the Piano for the Isolated." His special guest is Shamisen master Hidejiro Honjoh.

“Music, work, and life all have a beginning and an ending,” Sakamoto has said. “What I want to make now is music freed from the constraints of time.”

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Anthony Hopkins performing Chopin for the benefit of his cat, Niblo

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Niblo is making sure I stay healthy and demands I entertain him in exchange... cats 🤷🏼‍♂️

A post shared by Anthony Hopkins (@anthonyhopkins) on Mar 18, 2020 at 10:20am PDT

Sir Anthony is in self-isolation, but keeping his (and his cat's) spirits up during the pandemic by hitting the keys.

I think that's one of Chopin's Nocturnes but Hopkins is an excellent composer and it might be a pastiche.

CNN rounds up some of the better "isolated celebrity" performances:

Coldplay's Chris Martin has been singing to an empty room, Justin Bieber has been dancing, David Spade has done a stand-up set in his living room, and Ellen DeGeneres has been watching herself on TV.
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Watch this pianist play through a delightful history of cartoon music

I mostly credit cartoons for my appreciation of classical music. In this video pianist Lord Vinheteiro plays through a survey of cartoon music from 1928 to the current era. No, it isn't comprehensive, but it's still a wonderful medley!

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Cat lullaby

The world can be a loud, scary, chaotic place. You may need this. Read the rest

Elton John explains Tiny Dancer as he plays it for a TV crew in 1971

Elton John, then around 23, takes a TV crew through the structure of "Tiny Dancer," a song with lyrics written by John's longtime writing partner Bernie Taupin about his girlfriend (later wife) Maxine Feibelman who at the time was the Elton John Band's seamstress.

(via Laughing Squid) Read the rest

This incredible LEGO grand piano has moving parts

Prepare to be impressed: While it doesn't actually play music, this 2,798-piece miniature LEGO model of a concert grand piano does have 25 independently working keys, a removable keyboard, and a height-adjustable bench. It also has a working damper and pedal, a self-playing mode, a working piano lid, and more. LEGO master SleepyCow engineered it to contribute to LEGO Ideas in the hopes that it will be voted in to be mass produced as a retail kit.

He writes:

Ever since I started learning music, I have always wanted to build a piano out of LEGO bricks. I have also been asked many times by my students about the inner-workings of a piano. I think this will be a great set to teach students about piano mechanics. I've seen many people do it in different ways, but I decided to make my own version, as well as try to make it as similar to a real piano as possible with correct proportions.

Vote for it here.

(The Awesomer, Mike Shouts) Read the rest

An upbeat piano cover of Michael Jackson's 'Beat It'

Hungarian pianist Peter Bence covers popular songs by performers like Sia, Queen (check out his "Don't Stop Me Now"), and The Beatles. His latest cover is "Beat It" by Michael Jackson and it might well be the most chipper version of it I've ever heard. Absolutely delightful!

(The Awesomer) Read the rest

Pianist Henry Butler dead at 69

If you love New Orleans-style piano or simply subscribe to joy, the music of Henry Butler would be welcome in your home. Gospel, old school rhythm and blues, Caribbean-tinged jazz and, of course, that signature syncopated New Orleans sound made renowned by musical luminaries like Jellyroll Morton and Professor Longhair--Butler could play it all.

And he did.

His playing challenges the ears, turning well-known standards up on their ends to show listeners what's inside of them. Sadly, we're all given our time to go. There'll be no more Henry Butler for us to enjoy, save what has already been recorded. Butler died in a hospice facility this week, in Brooklyn. He was 69 years old.

From the New York Times:

Mr. Butler commanded the syncopated power and splashy filigree of boogie-woogie and gospel and the rolling polyrhythms of Afro-Caribbean music. He could also summon the elegant delicacy of classical piano or hurtle toward the dissonances and atonal clusters of modern jazz. He could play in convincing vintage styles and sustain multileveled counterpoint, then demolish it all in a whirlwind of genre-smashing virtuosity.

As The New York Times' obituary of Butler points out, Dr. John once called Butler “the pride of New Orleans and a visionistical down-home cat and a hellified piano plunker to boot.”

Knowing that his playing will inspire generations of musicians in the decades to come feels like cold comfort in the wake of the loss of such a talent.

The older I get, the stranger it feels to watch as the musicians who inspire me fall to the ravages of time. Read the rest

Enjoy these delightful piano lessons from Mikael Jorgensen of Wilco

I don't play piano but I just can't get enough of this series of music lessons from my pal Mikael Jorgensen of Wilco and Quindar. The clips are smart. Funny. Earnest. And weird. Just like Mikael.

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Watch this moving tribute to abandoned pianos

Photographer and pianist Romain Thiery accompanied his own remarkable images of abandoned pianos for his Requiem for Pianos series. Read the rest

The evolution of music from 1680 to 2017

I enjoyed the piano stylings of Lord Vinheteiro in this "Evolution of Music" video**. He plays a little music from each year, starting with 1680 and ending with 2017. There's Beethoven, Iron Maiden, Aqua, and more.

Another fun video of his has him playing the soundtrack and sound effects from Super MarioWorld on the piano along with the video game itself.

**Though I found his staring at the camera a bit jarring! Read the rest

Watch how different composers might write the same song

Nahre Sol's Practice Notes channel is a whirlwind tour of music history, with variations of well-known melodies in the styles of different composers, mashups of genres, and other delights. Read the rest

Blind cat hugs phone when his favorite pianist is playing

I'm convinced that there is nothing more heartwarming on the internet right now than this video of a blind cat hugging a phone. Read the rest

Cat enjoys relaxing and playing piano with owner

These videos of a guy in Istanbul playing the piano with his kitty cat are so sweet and genuine. I can't get enough of them.

His name is Sarper Duman. Play him off, keyboard cat. Read the rest

Pianist performs while wearing eye-tracking device

Professional pianist and Steinway Artist Daniel Beliavsky and his student Charlotte Bennett agreed to perform while hooked up to an eye-tracking device that superimposes the wearer's eye movements. Read the rest

Learn how to play piano chords in under 8 minutes

Even if you've taken a lesson or two, this brisk run through the basics of musical chords probably will remind you of something you've long forgotten. Read the rest

1907 upright piano transformed into gorgeous desk

“I turned an 1907 Upright Piano into a luxurious desk.” What an amazing share, via IMGUR. “Seeing how this piano serviced the great depression, WW1, WW2, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and to this day, brings me such happiness, to know I have a little piece of history right in my own home.” Read the rest

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