Finally Reading More

I’ve stopped whipping myself for not reading words on paper and instead have gotten back to reading music on paper. It helps me live with myself. My repertoire is comprised entirely of a small variety of JS Bach compositons. I captured my practice area last night just for the heck of it. I’m working on BWV 847: Prelude and Fugue in C Minor.

At some point about 15 years ago I learned the prelude by ear. That’s a thing I can do. I feel obligated to learn the fugue. It’s at my skill level, but challenging, particularly as I don’t practice for hours a day. Still, I’m finding more enjoyment in it than I have for some time at a time when I need it.

Do note, I’m practicing on a keyboard older than your kids. I like the shape of the keys on the Yamaha PSR-36, and it sounds fairly decent through my stereo. It’s not ideal, but it’s enough. Despite the for rent sign that literally moved with the wind early in the year and remained face down under the snow to my utter delight, I’m getting a neighbor; I may be playing in headphones more often. So long as I practice, then so be it.

I spent the today stuffing pages in booklets and cutting paper (happily, for a good cause), and robotically formatting text in my favorite Adobe InDesign (for eventual monies), so I felt the need to do a creative brag. I look forward to bragging that I can play the piece.

In the meantime, here’s a nifty video analysis:

Keyboard keyhoarder

I grew up in a time when consumer keyboards were developing fast, and a musical streak happens to run through my family. I was hooked after my first keyboard, gifted to me on Christmas. It was a Realistic brand (re-branded Casio). RadioShack … memories. Despite having rhythms, didn’t have auto-accompaniment, which turned out to be a feature that fascinated me despite my pretty much all-classical training with regard to keyboard instruments. I was surprised and delighted last month to find this little guy at Goodwill in Coudersport for $3.99:

Yamaha PSS-470
Yamaha PSS-470

I could likely flip this board on eBay (there’s probably one for sale now, or will be soon, if not). When last I checked, they go for about up to $100. So, all the cumulative time I’ve spent on eBay stalking these old keyboards finally pays off. Of course, I didn’t know if this unit worked, but I used to work … at Goodwill! What’s more, I can reach the only outlets I’m aware of in the store, above the merchandise rack on the back shelf, because I’m 75 inches tall. The keyboard even came with a compatible adapter. How handy is that?!

About that auto-accompaniment I mentioned: I thought I’d do a demo of the various beats (pre-PCM drums). But, “What to play?” I wondered. I remember the demo song from yet another keyboard in the PSS line. Here’s a recording from my SoundCloud of each rhythm with two chord variations. Since the piano sound is the same on my PSR-36, which I keep hooked up regularly for practicing and other music applications, I used that to play the melody. It’s certainly nothing special, but is “curated” through comments — since “content curation” is a hot-ass buzzword now in content marketing.

The PSS-470 is one of the “SoundBlaster keyboards” featuring the same sound chip as the original Creative SoundBlaster. Check out some other demos on YouTube.