Monthly Archives: October 2006

The Prey

Today’s improvisation was something of the opposite of my no-warmup improvisations of late. I spent about 20 minutes practicing the themes on this one, because I’m beginning to feel that my improvisations have not been pianistically challenging enough.

Oh right, the contest

I mentioned the ACM programming contest that I competed in on Saturday. The team was made up of Jude Allred, Paul Steinbrecker and me, on a team quite creatively named “University of Colorado Team 3”. The competition took 5 hours, and our task was to solve 7 difficult algorithmic problems.

Assuming that only the best programmers competed in the contest, that the contest actually measures programming ability, and that all programmers live in Colorado, we are the best programmers in the world. If you instead assume that all programmers live in North America in Colorado’s time zone, then we are only the 4th best programmers in the world. If you remove either of the previous two assumptions (but why would you want to do that?) then I have no idea.

For record keeping, since this is decent resume material, there were 12 competitors in the state and 45 in the region (time zone). We solved 5 problems (the three who beat us in the region all had solved 6, and everybody below us solved at most 4). We programmed all the entries in C++. If I have any advice for future competitors it is this: Know Dijkstra’s Algorithm. I think there were three problems which essentially reduced to that.

Crossing the Ocean

Today’s improvisation is something of an epic piece. I kept playing, and the song didn’t want to stop until I had played for 22 minutes. I must have been in a trance during the “climax” starting at 14:00. I regained conciousness in the middle of it noticing that I had no idea what chords or rhythm I was playing, simply that my fingers were washing over the keyboard like water. I’m really happy with that section, it sounds like a storm at sea (thus the title).

Jam (finally) with The Moment

It has been a long time since I last played with The Moment (or any band). Tonight Nolan, Josh, and I got together and played some music.

The omnidirectional mic was facing(!) away from me, so I came in pretty quiet. That’s not too bad, because my playing was nothing special tonight (except on Josh’s new song, perhaps named Born Again, where I have a beautifully subtle part, too bad it didn’t come through very well).


Ali Crockett of the CU Cognitive Science club invited me to see her perform at a cafe. Two musicians opened for her, and they were pretty good (guitar and singing), and then she played (guitar, piano, singing). She was good.

Anyway, the casual nature of the environment (five-or-so mess-ups were made throughout the night, and were taken lightly) got me to thinking that I could do something like that. Maybe I’ll ask Ali if I could open for her. Since my experiments of the past year or so have been in improvisation, I would like to do an improvisational act: basically get up in front of people having no idea what I’m going to play and then play it. As an exercise for this eventual day, my improvisation today had no warm-up whatsoever: I started playing and recorded what came out. I refused to stop.

I sort of like how it came out. It’s not one of my best, but it’s a proof-of-concept that the idea is feasible.