Thursday, November 24, 2011

Piano & Violin Cover: Gray Wednesday (Mawaru Penguindrum)

Something (slightly) different this way comes! For a while now, it's been a goal of mine to perform a collaborative YouTube piece with at least one other instrumentalist (solo piano can't do everything, sadly :P). Recently, with the help of my great friend and talented violinist lpnotes, this goal has finally come to light. Many, many thanks to miss lpnotes for her help in this endeavor. Please check out her YouTube channel; she's doing some awesome work!

And now back to the requisite "unnecessary motivation story." :P For my first full season as an anime fan, Summer 2011, I chose to follow Kamisama Dolls, Mawaru Penguindrum, and Usagi Drop. All three were excellent shows and strongly reinforced my decision to jump into anime, and although Kamisama Dolls and Usagi Drop have finished up, Mawaru Penguindrum is still going strong. And by "strong" I mean "bizarre" (in the best way possible).

Mawaru Penguindrum's strange plot makes a summary here a completely futile endeavor, so I'll just talk a little about the music instead. The music is great, of course (else I wouldn't be talking about it), but the most notable aspect of the soundtrack is the many references to existing pieces of music. As is often done, the show quotes a number of popular classical composers such as Strauss and Dvořák, but to a larger extent, Penguindrum quotes a number of songs by the Japanese rock band ARB. Indeed, one could say the ARB songs, masterfully reimagined by the show's musicians, forms the sonic backbone of the entire series, contributing everything from insert songs to (4!) ending themes to the (in?)famous transformation scene theme. Despite having never heard of ARB before watching this show, I really enjoyed the insight into the Japanese band, and I thought the recut versions were wonderfully arranged.

The Penguindrum theme that lpnotes and I decided to tackle was "Gray Wednesday" (灰色の水曜日), one such ARB cover that was first introduced as an insert song, but was quickly elevated to the status of one of the most common ending themes. Despite my limited understanding of the song's lyrics, it was nonetheless able to convey a great deal of emotion to me; the feelings just flow out through the harmony and melody. Below is our attempt at recreating this lovely piece; here's the original, and here's the real original (the ARB version).

Gray Wednesday (Mawaru Penguindrum): Piano & Violin Cover

Composer: Yukari Hashimoto/ARB
Date Completed: 2011-11-19
Software: Adobe Premiere, Audacity, Movie Maker, Sony Vegas
Number of Takes: .......
Instrumentation: Piano, violin

This is a strict transcription of the source material, so there's not much to say about the piece. It was fun to put together, despite the ridiculous number of takes before I was able to play my piano part without making too many mistakes. Also, I learned a new piece of software when editing this video! Yay for demo versions of Sony Vegas. :) Leave a comment if you'd like the sheet music; it's pretty minimal, but it should still get the job done.

Thanks again to lpnotes for her help in this collab, and hopefully there will be more collaborative pieces coming in the future. Happy Thanksgiving weekend!



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