Melodica ~ Picasso Styling By Jepps

Melodica ~ Picasso Styling By JeppsLadies & Gentlemen, indeed gracious Boys & Girls also, please welcome into the world the divine and most beautiful face… of the Melodica Picasso.

If you have been following my custom Melodica posts you will notice I have specifically chosen to title this post with the official term ‘Melodica’, rather than my own term ‘Keytoy’. This is because I feel that this, my latest design, namely the Melodica Picasso, is the truest portrayal of the instrument in a professional light.

It is this portrayal which I feel gives divine utterance unto the authentic term ‘Melodica’ and with it a long awaited endorsement of its orchestral designation.

The problem with the Melodica is, unlike all other orchestral instruments, it has always appeared ‘unhappy’ or ‘uncomfortable’ with its own face. This is because having originally evolved from a child’s toy, it never had a professional face to begin with.

For as long as it has existed, the Melodica has retained the same appearance as that with which it was born with. Thus it has always harboured the toy-like face of its original conception.

Yet the Melodica is without shadow of a doubt one of the most professional instruments you may ever have the sacred pleasure of hearing. Make no mistake.

And I myself, a lounge pianist for over twenty years, I have heard this instrument crying to me in the night, pleading for me to please, please, please create and reveal unto the world… its true face.

It says, “I was born a child but I am now a sage. Please adorn me a garment worthy of my name.”

I believe therefore, if there were a standard, as there is with a clarinet, a saxophone or a trumpet, then the Melodica Picasso is where the Melodica finally stands up, puts on its dinner jacket and exclaims, “Listen! I am the embodiment of Jazz itself!”

I built the Melodica Picasso much in the same way as my other custom Melodica stylings, by mixing and matching components from various Hohner branded Melodicas. It’s all Hohner.

The Melodica Picasso features genuine Hohner white & black naturals, white & black sharps, both a genuine black casing and brilliant white mouth piece. Again, it’s all Hohner.

Now you ask, “Why did you call it the Picasso?”.

Well first of all let me explain why the design. A Piano has white naturals and black sharps. A Harpsichord has black naturals and white sharps. The Melodica however is a relatively modern instrument in comparison and until what I feel is this day, today, it had not yet evolved a true relative identity within the keyboard family.

Jazz. To answer the question. The Melodica is the very embodiment of jazz and so, it occurred to me that therefore the instrument should portray that element of its character in relation to the other keyboard instruments in the family.

Thus the Melodica Picasso is a blending of both Piano and Harpsichord styling, whereby alternating octaves display an alternating pattern of white on black and black on white. This 37 key instrument features two half octaves at each end, similarly alternating with the pattern, each embracing the two full center octaves in splendid glory.

I believe absolutely that the Melodica Picasso portrays the instrument’s character completely.

And so… unto Picasso.

It is not merely an artistic ‘label’. Nor do I consider myself a ‘picasso’ in like-mindedness. No, it is because firstly, I genuinely have an adoration for the artist and secondly, I happen to have met and dined with some of his closest friends. Some of whom painted with him at college.

Melodica ~ Picasso Styling By JeppsAt the turn of the millennium I was living and working in Italy as an English teacher, where on my joyous travels, I met many artists with whom I became closest friends. It was here during this time, that I happened to discover how these artists were also close friends of Pablo Picasso himself.

Here, the International Academy Of Art in Turin, of which my friends were administrators, awarded me a 1st Place Certificate In Sacred Art for an abstract illusionary pencil drawing of an “infinite garden painter”. Whilst I wouldn’t claim my “sketch” to be a masterpiece, I am certainly most honoured for the prize.

So there you have it. Good times.

Oh… there is also of course the fact that Pablo Picasso happened to be famous for wearing striped shirts. Yes, that’s it. Striped shirts. Well what do ya know.

God bless and goodnight.

Keytoy ~ Rainbluew Styling By Jepps

Keytoy ~ Rainbluew Styling By Jepps
The Rainbluew Keytoy By Jepps
Ladies and gentlemen, this little beauty you see right here is my most recent and beloved creation.

Readers of my blog will know I have dabbled in custom styling of melodicas before. Yet even whence dancing with the radioactive moon in the grace of the night, I still felt my one true love to be amiss.

I have discovered gradually over many years that my “problem” with the melodica is nothing to do with its performance, or that it is a “one handed” instrument.

Nay, for even a trumpet is a one handed instrument and besides, the performance of a melodica is purely a question of decent reed quality and adjustment.

Indeed, the base model featured here is a Hohner Superforce 37. Give the reeds a personal tweak and she will be your spouse for life.

No, my “problem” in the end all crunched down to aesthetics. How does it look and feel to hold?

Thus after experimenting a few times, I decided it was high time I actually put in some serious effort to design my own “Jepps” style.

(more…)

360° Chess Symbols & Counter Pieces

360° Wooden Chess Counters by Jepps
These 360° Chess Counters by Simon Jepps are made from wooden base discs for craft models, which were then hand painted freely with Indian ink. They are only the simplest improvised creation, yet so easy to replace and make again.
This is a personal project I undertook in order to remedy the Chess industry’s apparent inability to manufacture sensible, useable counter Chess pieces.

This project is also a secondary hobby to accompany my Chess variant creation, Genie Of The Lamp.

There are many Chess sets featuring counter pieces, yet for some unknown reason they are always designed featuring standard Chess symbols.

Of course you would ask, “Why, whatever else?”

Aye, if studying a Chess problem, or correspondence position, or indeed teaching strategies to a classroom, of course you would make sure a universally accepted symbol is employed.

However, a problem is encountered when employing the universal symbols into a face to face match, over a real board.

This problem is the inevitable fact that standard Chess symbols are only recognisable if they only face one direction.

Granted, people can play with these symbols, but in reality they are very disorientating and “counter-productive” when trying to study a position… upside down.

It occured to me that since nobody has yet decided to design specific “360 degree” symbols for counter piece Chess sets, that I should publish a public template for such a concept.

(more…)

Genie Of The Lamp

GOL Sondergut Travel Chess
Genie Of The Lamp is designed for the Sondergut Travel Chess Set
Of gods and men, mountains and seas,
Wherefore art thine hearkener of pleas;
A game of Chess, a battle of truths,
Aye, summon ye good Genie, for ’tis time we choose.

Here is another good Chess Variant of mine, which I created a few years ago whilst living in an old Church house.

I have fond memories of that time, a period in my life whence I was enjoying much blissful contemplation.

This blog article will be a purely concise tutorial, that is to say, without detailed intricate diagrams, since the rules to this game are actually fairly straight forward.

Therefore, I hope you enjoy the beauty in its simplicity, which I endeavoured to create.

(more…)

Masters Of Pocket Sax

After somewhat of a round the world trip, I have finally began to gather a collection of Pocket Sax Masters. I will no doubt be updating this playlist as time goes by.

Click this on screen icon for video list.

Herewith, a ‘pocket saxophonist’ is the term given to a most talented Xaphoonist who’s sound is almost en par with that of a larger Sax.

Whence reading my blog you will know, I have spoken many times about how true virtuoso Xaphoonists are very hard to find.

They are more precious than star dust.

Therefore, it was only inevitable that I would eventually begin searching the endless vaults of recordings, in the hope to start compiling a playlist of Pocket Sax Masters, those of whom have truly began to take hold of the heavens and channel this truly special instrument’s secret divine heart.

There are of course, many talented Xaphoonists out there, yet my excuse for not including them is purely a consequence of musical arrangement or presentation, rather than any absence of talent.

Also, whilst a Xaphoonist of good calibre may impress in one aspect, for example fluidity of scales, he or she may be weaker in another aspect, for example maturity of voice.

Of course, the Xaphoon as I have written often, harbours a rich diversity of voices, such as like Trumpet, Clarinet, Oboe, Sax and even Armenian Duduk. Yet the instrument itself requires a translator of its soul. Its disposition is of a linguistic unorthodoxy, as opposed to any social illegitimacy.

Thus, when addressing one as a Pocket Sax Master, I am saying the performer has acquired a substantial understanding of how the Xaphoon itself wishes to be interpreted and translated to the listener.

It cries, “My body may be finite, but my soul is eternal.”

Indeed thence, as time goes by and existing novices become more adept at their craft, I expect not only to find more and more quality performances, but much, much more well practised individuals who have truly taken The Art Of Pocket Sax unto another musical dimension.

Please enjoy.

Paper Aeroplane

I see a boy,
Out on the plane,
With a toy,
A paper aeroplane.
Who knows
Where it’ll fly to,
Its paper nose
And its paper crew.
They’ve closed the door,
Their backs to each other.
They’re at war,
No care for one another.
Jokers in the moonlight,
Batman meets his doom.
Why do they fight
Over the mushroom?
Is this the end to all we see?
Finishing all this endless misery?
Is this how God wanted it to be,
When he formed the earth
And surrounded it with sea?
Lions in the mirror of parliament,
People drinking whiskey
And bathing in milk.
Lions in the mirror of parliament.
This is how it will end.

~ Simon Jepps, 1994 (Aged 15)

Through The Looking Glass

I saw you today through the looking glass,
Your world seemed more beautiful than mine.
The flowers behind me were made of brass,
But the tulips you scented were divine.

I know I’m stupid but that’s because I’m sad,
And the world doesn’t listen to my screams.
I get frustrated because others are more glad,
In this disputed world of broken dreams.

My soul has been poisoned and played on by fools,
I don’t like this trauma, this insanity of mine;
A broken equilibrium because I want to break the rules,
And show the world it’s possible
To command the sands of time.

I saw you today through the looking glass,
Your beauty, God’s reflection in my eyes;
And how quietly a memory returned from the past,
Of the time we saw God make the skies.

~ Simon Jepps, 2002