Aug 31, 2012

Malaysia 55th Independence Day


Happy Independence Day, Malaysia!! Selamat Hari Merdeka!
And doesn't it make sense if I make an instrumental cover of a patriotic song on her national day?

But then which patriotic song to play?

Recently I saw one of my friends' Facebook post on my news feed, sharing the video on the right.

The song is called "Setia", which means Loyal. I remember the melody of the song as one of the Malaysian patriotic songs (we really have a lot of those in Malaysia).

It's a rearranged version of the original one. I don't really like the rapping part though.

The range of this song in C major doesn't really favor the playing of erhu. That's why I picked violin instead as it has an E5 open string and I don't have the go too near towards the bridge.

As I've never taken any violin lesson before, it's once again a nightmare for me to play it. As you can see, I didn't utilize the full bow, and I was having hard time getting the bow lied perpendicularly to the strings. *Retarded*

Anyway, hope you like it.

Happy 55th Birthday Malaysia!!

Javin Tham, PMP, PMI-ACP, CSSBB Musician | Engineer | YouTube Coverist

Aug 29, 2012

1st ChurpChurp Cashout


Yay, my first ChurpChurp cashout cheque has finally arrived, worth $125.60.

I thought it would be a formally printed cheque in a envelope with printed address, but it's so informal (even got my address written wrongly). I'm fine with that and I think that's cute and funny.

Churp Churp is a company that gets advertisement from whichever organization that pays Churp Churp to put up ads, and gives registered users a unique advertisement links for their friends to click. Each unique click rewards the user $0.20, which is considered a lot compared to blog ads. I found it because it's a sister company of Nuffnang.

I registered for Churp Churp Singapore since I'm currently staying in Singapore and SGD is 2.5×MYR, totally makes sense right? It's quite a slow process because it doesn't always have lots of ads, and I'm not that desperate to force all of my friends to click the links. So this $125.60 should be an accumulation of a year I guess, but hey it's still money - passive income.

Javin Tham, PMP, PMI-ACP, CSSBB Musician | Engineer | YouTube Coverist

Aug 27, 2012

BIGBANG - Monster (Keyboard Cover)


I am not a K-Pop fan, but recently I saw a Facebook wall post from one of my friends, Tan Swan. She posted a few instrumental covers of the song Monster, by BIGBANG 빅뱅.

Then I thought, hmmm, perhaps this song is something.I found out that this song is of dance genre, and I could use the TrancePop style to accompany my cover.

Challenges

1. It was really stressful to play everything correctly from the top all the way till the end of the song with style (drum) - I need to press the triads on left hand when accompaniment mode is on and turn off the accompaniment mode when the style (drum) is off.

2. I wasn't playing the pitchless rapping part, since there's no way to play it. There're some rapping parts with pitches, and I had to sort of force the rhythm to adhere onto my brain so that I can play it relatively correctly.

3. I was using 2 different instruments to play the main melody.
Firstly, Electric Piano (from E.Piano category) was used to play the singing in verse and bridge, and the rhode-sounding piano in the intro, background and outro. Secondly, Skyline (from Synth. & FX category) was used to play the melody in the choruses.

4. The singing harmony in the bridge is quite hard to catch.
Part of the reasons I used SuitcaseEP instead of Skyline to play the melody in the bridge was, Skyline cannot play two or more notes at a time, because it serves the note-to-note gliding effect.



Well, that's pretty much about the bitter side, and the sweet side was, no cloning effect was required - less work for post audio and video production.

In conclusion, I actually find this song quite weird, and the singers...... -_- do they have to obviously portray themselves with their extremely distinctive hairstyles? But since it's somewhat quite well-known, I made the cover for entertaining purpose.

Hope you all will like it. Please subscribe to my YouTube chennel for more future updates, if you haven't.

Javin Tham, PMP, PMI-ACP, CSSBB Musician | Engineer | YouTube Coverist

Aug 26, 2012

Christina Perri - A Thousand Years (Erhu & Keyboard Cover)


During last Tuesday's jamming, I came across this song, A Thousand Years by Christina Perri. I'd never really listened to this song before that jamming session, because I don't really listen to English songs in the first place, and everytime we jam, I'll only join in to play after listening to the rest playing the first verse and chorus.

I was totally moved by the melody of the chorus. I went back to my room, listened to the song again and I found that I fell in love in this song, which is so beautiful.

And there went my decision of making an instrumental cover for this song.

This time however I had a breakthrough, by tapping on the python skin of my erhu (which I imitated from the cellist who tapped his cello in the same song cover done by ThePianoGuys) and shooting from extra angles instead of the usual single concentric-camera-center position, just for fun actually.

Like the previous cover, I shot the footage at Block D lounge, but sadly it was already 5pm and the lighting of the video is pretty weird and unnatural due to lack of sunlight (and I don't own any studio lighting equipments).

The next imperfection is, this time I actually listened to the song directly from my laptop far away instead of listening through earphones (well because it's somewhat troublesome and I'm super lazy). So if you by any chance are able to hear Christina Perri's singing behind my erhu's sound, you know why.

Nevertheless, I've once again completed a cover. Hope you'll like it.

Javin Tham, PMP, PMI-ACP, CSSBB Musician | Engineer | YouTube Coverist

Aug 18, 2012

周杰倫/梁心頤 - 珊瑚海(二胡&鍵盤)


Having thought of the idea of making an instrumental cover for a duet song makes me somewhat a genius (narcissism to max!), on top of causing a more cumbersome post production that took a couple of days, apart from the troublesome process of carrying all my stuffs (keyboard, erhu, clothes, tripod, camera, extension cord) downstairs, to my block lounge because I need to fit 3 me into the video.

I even printed a notice "Video Recording in Progress! Sorry for inconvenience caused." and tacked it on the door in case somebody wants to enter. But luckily no one entered and no one was using the lounge.

And so this time it's 周杰倫/梁心頤 - 珊瑚海(Shan Hu Hai or Coral Sea by Jay Chou and Lara Veronin), which I hardly heard any friends singing the duet melody correctly after so many karaoke sessions. I'm somewhat pretty familiar with the arrangement and melody throughout the song because I've written the full score out before when I was in high school. Next time if you're singing this song during karaoke, please listen to whichever melody carefully, especially the one in the chorus.

I played in the original key, A♭ major, which is an unusual key for erhu, but I was just playing by ears, hence it's not really a big deal. Harmonizing with the relatively same kind of timbre should be more consonant than any usual harmony, therefore I believed that playing duet even with two chicken-butchering-sounding instruments can turn out to be quite a success.

As my wall post in Facebook says, "Shadow Clone Technique leveled up", I was trying to resemble myself to Naruto, who always performs Kage Bunshin no Jutsu (影分身の術). The more you clone, the more hassle you're getting. Like me, scratching my head while trying to edit the clips thoroughly. Seriously, not fun at all.

Finally, please enjoy, and I hope my efforts weren't fruitless. ☺

Javin Tham, PMP, PMI-ACP, CSSBB Musician | Engineer | YouTube Coverist

Aug 15, 2012

Adele - Someone Like You (Erhu & Keyboard Cover)


If somebody asked you to recall an MV in black and white, most likely one who listens to English songs would say, Adele's Someone Like You.

Last year before I went to Sweden for exchange, I played bass guitar for the performance of this song by THreshold in Temasek Hall. I actually told the singer that there's just piano and no bass for this song but she insisted that there is and asked me to play for her. Fine then, I don't mind just playing for fun.
And recently I thought of making an instrumental cover for this song and listened to it thoroughly to play the annoying repeating piano triads pattern (do mi so mi) on the right hand somewhat correctly, and I was right ok?! NO BASS GUITAR!! Haha... It's just the bass notes from the piano.

Ohya, and a few weeks ago I found this Japanese version of Someone Like You, which I prefer to listen to, compared to Adele's. It's sung by two Caucasians (Mikaera and Kirby Henry) and the lyrics are translated by one of them, who's the guy. Awesome!

I used the same orientation as the Only Human cover that I did before this - Keyboard on the left and erhu on the right side, so the sunlight from outside can shine on me from the right side. However I made it in black and white and you should know why.

It's a relatively long one and it took me a while to correct the pitch on top of adding reverb effect so that it'll sound sweeter. 

Enjoy my cover in black and white. :)

Javin Tham, PMP, PMI-ACP, CSSBB Musician | Engineer | YouTube Coverist

Aug 13, 2012

Only Human (Erhu & Keyboard Cover)



1リットルの涙
I believe 1 Litre no Namida (1リットルの涙) or literally "1 Litre of Tears" is one drama series that makes whoever that watches it cry. Especially when it comes to the ending theme, "Only Human", you'll feel the grief and sorrow experienced by the pity girl in the drama who suffered from the illness. Like me, who underwent two cornea transplant surgeries because of Keratoconus, has empathy in her.

Quite long ago I listened to the cello version of the song before, which is also in the soundtrack album. Since it's instrumental, I was thinking of making an erhu & keyboard cover for that instrumental soundtrack as well. And the result turned out to be great! Just because I used iPhone to record my erhu instead of taking the audio file right from the camera, like I did in the 三寸天堂 cover, that made me realize that it's not a good idea. However that requires me to listen to the soundtrack from my laptop and play the erhu, and my laptop was actually under my bed. But at least my effort was fruitful.

I hope you find it as touching as the cello version. Enjoy, like and subscribe!

Javin Tham, PMP, PMI-ACP, CSSBB Musician | Engineer | YouTube Coverist

Aug 12, 2012

Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe (Keyboard Cover)


Recording, editing and uploading this video happened in one single day. I don't know why but the day before I had the inspiration of playing Carly Rae Jepsen's Call Me Maybe on my keyboard, perhaps because if the familiar syncopation of strings that symbolizes this song.

I took a little while to practice to play on my YAMAHA PSR-S900 with bass on left hand and piano on right hand with drum accompaniment, which I selected "TrancePop" as the style because I think it resembles the one in the original song the most.

Seriously, it's quite challenging to play the syncopated bass movement on the left hand and main melody on the right hand, plus, from time to time I have to press the fill in buttons and ending button. So busy right?!

I deliberately wore singlet because the main actor in the MV did so (I know I'm not as handsome as he is). And if you don't know why I chose to hold a piece of paper with "XOXO" at the bottom right corner, watch the MV!! Haha...

It took me a number of trials to successfully record a relatively perfect one, which was so irritating. I admit that I had a hardtime conquering the syncopated bass against the syncopated melody.

I think the result was good, hope you enjoy! (Thumbs up if you notice the wordings on my bed)

PS: If you think watching with the keyboard being upside down is gonna drive you dizzy, turn your monitor or laptop upside down. :)



Original song:

Javin Tham, PMP, PMI-ACP, CSSBB Musician | Engineer | YouTube Coverist

Aug 9, 2012

《步步驚心》片尾曲 - 三寸天堂(二胡&鍵盤)


步步驚心》是前陣子挺熱門及受歡迎的一部中國大陸電視劇。和《尋秦記》一樣,是部時光穿越劇。除了大陸演員,劇內也有來自台灣和香港的著名演員。

上半年在瑞典交換留學的時候聽聞一位朋友民凱提到這部電視劇,結果我在瑞典追完了這整部電視劇。因為劇情以清朝為主,我也從此學習到更多與清朝有關的人事物和歷史。

看了那麼多集的《步步驚心》,經常都在劇裡聽到片尾曲《三寸天堂》,是由大陸歌手嚴藝丹自己作詞作曲還有演唱的歌曲。這首歌給人黯然銷魂的感覺,對於看過這部電視劇的人,更是會令人感到纏綿悱惻。其中我最喜歡的一句是:木蘭香遮不住傷

歌曲開頭是二胡的旋律,讓我有感而發,想要用二胡拉奏這首歌,所以自己就在宿舍房裡錄製了這個具克隆效果的視頻-一個我在彈鍵盤為伴奏,另一個我在拉二胡為主旋律。

在這近5分鐘的視頻裡,我還真是拉奏得“步步驚心”啊,因為在那5分鐘內拉錯或彈錯的話,就前功盡棄,得重錄了。我知道我穿的日本浴衣和清朝還有中華文化扯不上啥關係,只是想帶出古代的感覺而已。

二胡的音頻文件是從相機裡取出的,加上弓與內弦的過度摩擦而產生的雜音(很似宰雞),其實令我感到不是很滿意(以後還是盡量拉外弦的好),這也怪我不到家的二胡功力。經過軟件修飾之後才得到了比較能令人接受的音頻。唉,我真的需要一個麥克風或錄音機咯。

各位,見笑了。

Javin Tham, PMP, PMI-ACP, CSSBB Musician | Engineer | YouTube Coverist

Aug 4, 2012

Sadness and Sorrow 哀と悲


I've only watched Naruto until the 100th episode and so I'm not a too acute fan of Naruto, but Sadness and Sorrow 哀と悲 is my favorite soundtrack of all, 'emo' is just the most suitable one-word-description of it.

Ok well, I've been thinking of making an instrumental recording of this soundtrack. Initially I thought of playing guitar as accompaniment and erhu as the main melody, replacing the shakuhachi in the original soundtrack. I was in Penang last month when I thought of that, and recorded a footage for guitar and planned to record that for erhu in Singapore.

But why it didn't end up the way I thought?
1. The footage covers only part of me - I am not at the center of the footage and the upper part of it is just the wall (because I recorded by my own without assistance). Besides, it was done in a rush - few hours before my flight to Singapore.
2. When I 'meet' my erhu back in Singapore, the outer string (外弦) was found to be broken, and so unfortunately I ran out of spare outer string, and replacing it with an inner string (內弦) just didn't make bowing the 'outer string' sound properly.

Phew, and one day, and on very one day:
• In the morning, I had the idea of making the instrumental recording using violin and keyboard, then have lunch with friends in University Town after that
• went back to my room and recorded the whole thing in the afternoon
• edited using Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5 in the evening
• and finally uploaded the videos to YouTube at night

ALL IN ONE FREAKING DAY!!!


The hassle

Thank God my effort wasn't paid for nothing. Shooting the video in my tiny room (although Temasek Hall has like the largest single room in NUS in terms of size, same as Eusoff Hall) is making me mess up my room- shifting the bed, reposition my keyboard, stand, pedal and adapter.

Furthermore, I had to make sure that I shoot quickly while there's still sunlight.
Also, I closed the windows and door, switched off the ceiling fan and table fan for clearer audio, and doing that made me sweat like pig in my own room.


Violin

I have to disclaim one fact, that I've never taken any violin lessons before and hence I don't actually know how to play a violin. The violin I was playing was my birthday present from Leong Chye. Therefore, please don't judge me too critically. I admit that my posture or technique of bowing and pressing on the strings are all wrong.
Bear with it please.

And because of that I took very long to record footage for violin because I just suck at playing it.

If you're wondering how I sync the tempo, here's the answer, I was putting on earphone in my left ear when I was playing violin. That accounts for this and for the hassle of taking my phone out of my pocket and replaying from the beginning whenever I needed to rerecord the whole thing.


Video editing

This is the final saikang before uploading, and seriously, in the near future I need a faster laptop. The preview and rendering are just way to slow in Premiere Pro.

At the beginning I thought I will just fail to create the cloning effect properly because the exposure of two instrumental footages are different and there's an obvious separation line in between them when I put them together, which I had to cover with a random shape or something that didn't look decent.
However from YouTube, I learnt another method of using Linear Wipe in Video Effects, which was so much better because it comes with feathering.


Thanks for reading my wordy introduction, and now please enjoy watching (available in HD)!





Remember to like and subscribe if you have a YouTube account.

Javin Tham, PMP, PMI-ACP, CSSBB Musician | Engineer | YouTube Coverist