13 February 2011

Pretty Persuasive Discoverer

Hello friends! It’s been a while since I last filmed some R.E.M. piano covers, so I thought it would be cool to pair up a really old song with a brand new one. happy Shall we start with the new one first? Okay! To celebrate the fact that Collapse Into Now hits the racks in less than a month, I tackled the new album’s leading track, the smashing “Discoverer”! This song was a bit tricky to transcribe for piano, because Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey use lots of chiming power chords (i.e. chords without thirds) and Michael Stipe often sings “blue” notes. Since piano is a tempered instrument, these are impossible to reproduce, so I had to constantly make decisions where to use major and minor chords. Oh, and I transposed the song from B major to B flat major, because it was easier to play. big grin


Pretty Persuasion

And here’s the oldie goldie. As y’all probably know, “Pretty Persuasion” is actually one of R.E.M.’s oldest surviving songs, however it only made it onto their second full-length album Reckoning (1984). I don’t particularly like the album version though – in my humble opinion, it sounds pretty tame (compared to how exuberant this song can be when played live), so I tried to capture the spirit of a kickass live performance.

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UPDATE: Apologies to all, I was having problems with embed links last night, so some of you could not see the videos. I’ve just updated the links, hopefully they’ll work now. happy

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17 Responses to “Pretty Persuasive Discoverer”

  1. Auctioneer Says:

    Sweet! “Discoverer” seems very melancholy, what with the Bbmin7 chord and all. “Pretty Persuasion” has that classic poppy vibe to it, just like the good ol’ days of Reckoning.

    I agree with the comments on the videos – these covers are awesome! big grin How long have you been playing piano?

    Yours truly,

  2. Ivana Says:

    Thank you so much, as Mr Stipe would say! I’ve been playing for many many years, I started when I was 8. For a while I considered a career as a touring virtuoso, but eventually specialised in musicology and music theory. happy

  3. arek Says:

    Hi Ivana, I started when I was 9, and the instrument was… accordion!? Then I converted to the organ at the Music Academy (how do you call that in England?, I don’t know, here in Poland we call it Music Academy, where you graduate after high school, music high school, of course).
    It is really great, that people who know music better than REM members (theory, rules of harmony etc.) are admiring them so much.
    ps: your REM covers are great and You are great player. Thank you. I’ve never played their songs, I’ve never even tried, I don’t know why? I’d prefer listening Them.
    have great day!

  4. Ivana Says:

    Thanks Arek! Obviously my knowledge of harmony and music theory helps a lot when it comes to transcribing R.E.M. songs for piano solo. And all those years of practicing piano etudes and scales help as well… Nowadays I don’t even practice every day, but my fingers already know what they need to do. happy

    You should try to play some of their songs on the organ, or accordion – might turn out awesome! I often wish piano had more manuals, because then I’d be able to play a song like “Harborcoat” or “Hyena”, with all those interlocking melodies.

  5. Auctioneer Says:

    So you’re a music teacher? That’s brilliant! I’ve been doing piano for about a year now, and I can play “Nightswimming”, “Electrolite” and “At My Most Beautiful”, so I’m happy. happy Keep in mind, though, that that is the extent of my piano playing abilities. tongue

    You know what would be cool? If the two of us did a violin/piano cover of an R.E.M. song – if we got each track recorded separately, I could put them together on the computer and we could post the finished product to YouTube. Just a fantasy for now, but if you want to, I’m more than willing to give it a shot! big grin

  6. Kirsten Says:

    Great covers Ivana!!
    You’re right Auctioneer, the transposed Discoverer sounds very melancholic now, like that it has a whole different feeling and hearing experience to it. It’s more for when you’re in a sad or reflective mood happy
    And Auctioneer, you play violin? Awesome, awesome, awesome. It has been my dream to learn to play the violin since I was a little child, but never had the opportunity.
    Hey, maybe when my bass playing abilities have improved (might take quite some time though hee hee, we can do a piano/violin/bass cover, that would be very unusual and very kickass big grin

  7. Linda Says:

    I certainly hope all of you record your tracks and do exactly that! That would make for a fabulous musical mix laughing

  8. Auctioneer Says:

    You know Kirsten… if we had a drummer, we could do a full band cover – me on guitar, you doing Mills’ piano bass, Ivana rocking on the piano, Arek on the fruity organ and all of us on vocals! happy

    Oh, I’m feeling dizzy now. tongue This might work, actually… there’s a person on YouTube who plays R.E.M. covers, and he definitely has a drum kit. Perhaps if I asked him we could all do a cover together? Anyone any suggestions for a song?

  9. Auctioneer Says:

    Or better yet (sorry for double posting – this just occurred to me), we could completely change the style of the song! If we used bass, piano, organ, violin, guitar and vocals only, then we’d come up with something really interesting and new. I’ve always fancied a crack at “Wolves, Lower”, but I don’t mind which one we do.

  10. Ivana Says:

    Yay, we have a virtual MMT band! Kinda like Gorillaz, only (hopefully) better! Btw we don’t need a drummer, we can programme drums easily.

  11. Auctioneer Says:

    Then it’s settled – we have a group! Now all we need is a track to do. I think a good way of working it is if I send out a click track of the piece, and everyone records their part. We can’t really fiddle around with the structure of the song or anything, as that’ll complicate things a lot, but choosing when and where each instrument becomes prominent might be a good idea. After you all send the tracks in, I’ll mix them on Audacity and publish the finished product.

    Ivana, could you record the drum part to begin with? I don’t have any software at home I can use for that, and as the piano whiz I’m sure you’re best placed to handle these things. Alternatively, I can start with a guitar part and send that to you. One track at a time, we’ll build this piece! happy

    Of course, we could always add some other instruments on top at the end – my keyboard has a few sounds we can use, plus if anyone else has some more instruments lying around the house we can use those.

    So, now we need a song. Seeing as this is our first go at this, it should probably be an easy piece. My friends don’t really like R.E.M., but I can teach them to play “Driver 8″ in no time at all. How does that one sound?

    One last thing… if anyone has dynamic/condenser mics, or can plug their instrument in, it’d be great if you could. Means less background noise. tongue

    The whole idea of this makes me giddy with excitement. Finally, I’m in an actual R.E.M. cover band! You guys are the best – I’m so grateful. happy

    Yours truly,

  12. Kirsten Says:

    Oh, I think I’ve created a monster big grin

    W-w-wait! I DID say that it’s still gonna take me whole lotta time to learn to play the bass decently, didn’t I? winking
    Really, I only started a short while ago and hardly had any time to practice yet because of my exams, so really guys, you honestly don’t wanna hear me playing – at least not now!

    It would be one of my biggest dreams to be in an R.E.M. cover band, but as much as I’d like to start right away, that REALLY has to wait until I am able to play halway decently sad

  13. Auctioneer Says:

    Sorry Kirsten – I think I may have jumped the gun on this one. I just got carried away with myself. sad But this doesn’t mean we can’t still do a recording! Granted, Mills’ basslines are hard, but we can simplify them… just the root note of the chord at the start of each bar would suffice. I realise this is a hectic time for everyone, but there’s absolutely no rush for this project – we have all the time in the world for this!

    Also, Kirsten, if there’s any other instruments you’d rather play than bass, I’d be willing to record the bassline for the track instead. I don’t have one myself, but the school I go to has a few and I’m sure I could “borrow” one. big grin

    While we’re on the subject of instruments: does anyone want to do lead vocals? I’d like to do backing vocals, just ’cause I like Mike so much. tongue If we have multiple people, we can take turns, maybe a line for a line.

  14. Kirsten Says:

    Don’t worry, you don’t have to apologize for jumping the gun or anything! winking
    As much as I’d love to do a recording sooner rather than later, I first HAVE to learn how to play… And I don’t see much sense in simplifying Mike’s sublime basslines, that’s not how it’s supposed to be, and not how I, and I’m sure also other people, would want to hear it winking – my maxim is do it properly or don’t do it at all.

    If I made a recording, I’d want to pay tribute to the exceptional artist that is Mike, and thus I’d want to do it in the best way possible.
    So since we have all the time in the world, as you said, I’d be thrilled to do the tribute when I’m ready to, that means when my playing abilities are good enough.

    Unfortunately I can’t play any other instrument than bass (which I only play poorly as of now), so I can’t help out with any instrument at the moment (I learned to play the piano when I was little, but haven’t played since I was 11 or so, thus I have forgotten everything, so this doesn’t count – plus we have a very talented full professional on piano here with a PhD in music tongue ).

    Hehe, I’m almost always singing along only with Mike’s background vocals (IF there are some), cause they’re so uber-great AND because it’s much nearer my pitch of voice than Michael’s singing big grin

  15. Auctioneer Says:

    I absolutely see where you’re coming from – it would be a shame not to have Mike’s bass in there. I like a perfectionist! happy

    Just one other thing, though – in my excitement about doing an R.E.M. cover, I kinda… err… recorded one myself. :L I still think we can get this virtual band working – perhaps not with you on bass, but maybe background vocals? Yesterday I did “Driver 8″ on the computer, and although I recorded backing vocals just to see what they sounded like, I think it would be great if you sang them instead. If you could send me your e-mail address to ljgdavie@hotmail.com, I’ll reply with the song attached. And if you sent me back some backing vocals on their own, I can incorporate them into the finished product!

    So, what do you say? Would you like to do some backing vox for “Driver 8″? big grin

  16. Linda Says:

    This is a great idea……..I think this is a fabulous idea. The people who are confident can add their tracks( not me…I just want to hear the final product laughing, but it would be a really fun musical exercise. AND @Auctioneer…we really have to do something to educate your friends on what really truly melodic, advanced, innovative music sounds like!big grin

  17. Auctioneer Says:

    Well, the track is in a completed state guitar/vocal wise, and I’ve just got a few more things to add (piano, also maybe a harmonica sound like in the record). happy I’ll post the finished thing to my blog.

    I’ve been trying to get my friends into R.E.M. for SUCH a long time now… it seems it’s only really me who likes them. Oh, and my mum. tongue

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