Sing the songs

On different web sites you will be able to find karaoke (MIDI) files with Tom Lehrer's music. A MIDI file can be used to "autoplay" any computer or synthesizer.

Lehrer himself is no stranger to technology. In this picture he is sitting in front of his own piano which could very well be the Yamaha Disklavier.

Tom Lehrer in front of an instrument looking very similar to the Yamaha Disklavier

Check out the controls on the upper right side of that piano! The Disklavier -- introduced in the U.S. by Yamaha in 1987 -- is a piano which can be "played" with the use of MIDI files. You can also record yourself playing and then play back the performance. What you are recording are not sounds, it's your "performance data". MIDI does not have a sound of it's own.


How and when and vodka Jell-O

Why use MIDI files? Well, you could play back the Lehrer MIDI files and add the vocals yourself. Use them for parties or karaoke versions or whatever. A karaoke night party with vodka Jell-O shots and Lehrer's songs would really be honoring Tom Lehrer, because he was one of the inventors of the vodka Jell-O too!

If you need some help with the drinks please click HERE.


The links you need to start singing

One song: Sing "I Got It From Agnes" HERE.

Many songs: Check out the lyrics to Lehrer's songs at casualhacker.net. When you see a note icon to the left of the song title, (right)click that icon and you'll hear a MIDI file for the song. Unfortunately some of the arrangements have drums and too many intrument tracks, but go on and remember to sing along! Right click the link if you use QuickTime or a browser plug-in. The lyrics and MIDI files are HERE.

Another casually hacked page is HERE.


An honest statement about MIDI files

Many MIDI arrangements are bad. It is easy to find "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park" as a MIDI file on the web. But the arrangers have too many MIDI instrument channels (16 in total) to play with so they usually mess it up. They don't understand that less is more. Why not make a standard MIDI file with just the piano voice?

In an interview with the San Fransisco Weekly Lehrer demonstrated that he is no stranger to music technology.

Quote: "Tom Lehrer indicates the piano's electronic controls and remarks that with all this new technology, any idiot can now learn to play. Instant Tchaikovsky."

Read the whole interview by clicking HERE.


High speed MIDI fun

Some years ago the French-Canadian classical virtuoso pianist Marc-Andrč Hamelin decided to write a piece that (even) he couldn't possibly play live. He wrote the "Circus Galop" for two player-piano's, and of course the song is now on YouTube:

If a MIDI song was ever "hamster on amphetamine" it has to be this one.


Learn more about MIDI

Scroll down a web page and see if you can find some "different" MIDI files of Lehrer's music, HERE.

Study the Wikipedia article on MIDI HERE.

Study the Wikipedia article on the General MIDI standard HERE.


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