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Remembering Dave Brubeck: Legendary Pianist Passes Away

There are few names in jazz that are as big and well known as Dave Brubeck. Often called a visionary, Brubeck is credited with bringing jazz firmly into the modern era with hits as mainstream as “Take Five,” a piano peace that seemed always to be moving forward, leaning ahead, and captivation a new audience with each passing generation. Brubeck was 91 at the time of his death, and he will leave a big gap in the modern jazz piano industry.

To celebrate this titan of jazz piano, it’s worth remembering some of his more interesting moments and quirks. Every artist, it seems, has their fair share of unique stories, disabilities, and triumphs, and Dave Brubeck was no exception.

“Take Five” is Brubeck’s Biggest Hit, But it Isn’t Actually His Song

One of the great misconceptions about Brubeck is that he was solely responsible for creating “Take Five,” a legendary modern jazz number that remains a mainstay in environments as disparate as Starbucks coffee shops and music classrooms. While Brubeck certainly did perform in the released version of the song, which was released under his name at the time, it actually was not the jazz pianist who wrote the piece originally.

In fact, Brubeck’s alto sax player at the time is credited with having written “Take Five.” Though often forgotten in the background alongside Brubeck, the piece is the work of Paul Desmond. Of course, it was Brubeck’s legendary style that made the song what it has become over the past five decades, and for that he deserves a great deal of credit.

Dyslexia Nearly turned Brubeck into a High School Dropout

Though Dave Brubeck’s name is generally associated with the kind of rare musical genius that happens only once a generation, if it happens that frequently, the musicians was not always treated to the easiest of times. He was actually born with one eye so crossed inward that it typically appeared to be entirely white to onlookers. Special glasses as a baby, and as a young child, fixed this problem. The effects, though, lingered throughout his life.

Brubeck suffered from a severe form of dyslexia during his young years, making it hard for him to compete academically. The trials and tribulations of that condition were so severe that he nearly dropped out of school. Later in his life, the problem would manifest itself as a form of “musical dyslexia” that made it hard for Brubeck to read music and follow rhythms while playing. Like all great artists, of course, the jazz star overcame these hurdles and used them to more thoroughly develop his craft. It’s one of the most remarkable stories in modern music.

A Major Loss for the Modern Jazz Movement

Brubeck was one of the most transformative figures when he burst on the scene in the early 1950s, gracing the cover of TIME Magazine and bringing an entirely new generation into the fold with popular jazz hits. His genius, and his careful creation of masterful jazz piano pieces, will be sorely missed among today’s professional and aspiring pianists. One can only hope that a new mind will come along to challenge today’s conventional wisdom, pushing music forward in an equally dynamic way. Until then, Dave Brubeck will remain the face of modern jazz piano.

Brubeck was one of the most transformative figures when he burst on the scene in the early 1950s, gracing the cover of TIME Magazine and bringing an entirely new generation into the fold with popular jazz hits. His genius, and his careful creation of masterful jazz piano pieces, will be sorely missed among today’s professional and aspiring pianists. One can only hope that a new mind will come along to challenge today’s conventional wisdom, pushing music forward in an equally dynamic way. Until then, Dave Brubeck will remain the face of modern jazz piano.

Taking Piano Digital with Apple’s iPad Tablet

Apple’s iPad has been a transformative force in the music industry, as it has been in virtually every other professional field in the world. As recently as a decade ago, musicians who wanted the experience of creating piano music digitally had to settle for clicking and dragging on-screen controls. In the 21st century, though, that seems distinctly outdated. And that’s good news for today’s pianists.

The music industry has taken to Apple’s iPad in a special way, and the world’s piano players have moved even stronger toward the device. That’s largely because the 10-inch screen can host a mini, portable keyboard that’s far lighter than the real thing. The sounds produced are realistic, impressive, and professional, giving pianists a new tool in their arsenal when bringing their craft to a new venue. Among all of the apps available, several stand out as must-haves for those who play piano music either professionally or as a hobby.

50-in-1 Piano HD

The iPad’s retina display is used by this robust application to display a photorealistic 85-key piano keyboard that supports up to 50 different music instruments. That means artists can not only play their favorite piano pieces for a captive audience of friends, family members, or fellow professionals, but they can also mix that work in with other instruments for a fuller sound and a better overall effect.

Reverb styles, music effects, and an equalizer, all come standard with the application. This allows artists to control the sound of every note in a digital way, and it’s impressive that each of these things can be managed merely with the tablet’s screen. For all of these features and more, the developer charges just $1.99 per download.

Pianist Pro

Before Apple released the iPad, pianists everywhere were using Apple’s iPhone to write new pieces and master their craft using an app called, simply, “Pianist.” The application was designed for the iPhone’s smaller, retina-style screen, and required a few adjustments in order to be primed for use on the larger tablet. That resulted in the 2011 release of Pianist Pro.

The application mirrors the features of 50in1 Piano HD quite well, but adds the ability to record and export MIDI files on the fly. A slightly larger keyboard is featured, though the available instruments stop at just 16. All told, it’s a really great application for those who are looking to create new piano music on the go, in a more realistic way that many of today’s desktop applications allow for.

Piano! For iPad

While the first two applications in this article are all about feature after feature, file format after file format, Piano! For iPad has a slightly different take. The developers behind the application were looking simply to given pianists a way to play music on the go without scores of instruments, effects, file formats, and other bells and whistles. To that end, the free Piano! For iPad application is a rich keyboard that takes up the entire iPad screen. That’s it. It’s a refreshing commitment to minimalism and functionality that even Apple should appreciate.

Great Options for Piano Professionals

Tablets and smartphones are changing the way people create, play, and interact with music. Pianists who are looking to make the move to the 21st century will find no better ally than the Apple iPad or iPad mini, as well as its wealth of piano and music-related applications available through the App Store.

Not Happening: Steinway is No Longer for Sale

In July of 2011, Steinway & Sons began pursuing the possible sale of the company in order to stem a few financial losses that were dragging the company below where it wanted to be in the earliest years of the 21st century. The process of finding a potential buyer began immediately, and it continued through the end of 2012. Just before the dawn of the new year, however, company officials announced that Steinway would no longer be offered for sale, and that it would remain unchanged in its current format.

Steinway’s Reluctance to Sell is a Big Departure from the Company Line

For the past year and a half, Steinway’s sale to an investor or capital firm looked relatively certain. Though there was absolutely no certainly about who would eventually buy the legendary music company based in Waltham, Massachusetts, most people expected a sale announcement shortly after the new year.

Company executives, though, decided to practically sprint in the opposite direction. In addition to not selling the company itself, it was announced that all of Steinway’s various divisions, labels, and brands, would remain intact under the Steinway Musical Instruments, Inc. brand. Earlier, it had been rumored that the company was considering selling off its band instrument division. That won’t happen as part of the most recent announcement.

Motivation Behind Lack of Sale Might Be Recent Earnings

The reason for no longer pursuing a sale of the company has to do with the executive leadership’s believe that more value can be found in financial restructuring than in an all-out sale. That might be partially motivated by news that the company’s third quarter sales were flat, rather than in decline. It may also have to do with a recent 13.1 percent increase in profits, reported by the company to total $29 million.

Pursuing what the company‚Äôs CEO calls “strategic financial initiatives” instead of a sale might actually be a good thing. For the past two years or so, Steinway has been pursuing a slightly more controversial strategy in terms of its products and services. The company has been buying and developing a series of iOS and Android applications for smartphones and tablets, and has begun emphasizing many of its smaller brands to supplement the income received from its primary division.

The Status Quo is Good for the Piano Industry

Steinway, despite its flat sales in recent years, remains one of the strongest and most well known brands in the industry. There was significant concern among many professionals that a sale could lessen those attributes, especially if the eventual buyer was more concerned with profits than with the quality and usefulness of the company’s popular musical instruments and tools. That will no longer be a concern. If the company’s strategic changes pay off, this may be the best financial decision Steinway has made in quite some time.