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I recently watched “La La Land”, which is an amazing film. One of the very best this century. Perfect in every way.

Ryan Gosling plays a jazz pianist. One of the special features on the disc discusses how he didn’t know how to play the piano or how to read music. He had a piano teacher/coach/guru who worked with him for 3 months during pre-production. They spent 2 hours together 5-6 days a week. He memorized the pieces.

On the second day of the shoot he had to play the most complicated piece in the movie. They had a hand double on the set in case he couldn’t manage it, but he played so well they didn’t need to use him. Whenever you see Ryan Goslings hands playing the piano, it’s actually him doing it, although the sound is apparently overdubbed from a professional.

What I’m particularly impressed with is that the movie is shot in long takes. Talk about pressure. Anyway, I just wanted to mention this and to recommend the film, particularly to those of us who love the piano.

https://youtu.be/7szilgmvaeQ


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Yep. Notice how well he managed to understand and copy that arm weight thing.

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Thanks for posting that! I haven’t seen the movie but I’d like to, now even more.

It’s interesting to read about actors like this (didn’t Holly Hunter learn the main theme of the Piano?)... I always wonder if they then continue playing at all. It’s not,Ike they can’t afford a good instrument!


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I wonder how much he played before starting the movie. The video says something like he played a little by ear before. Almost impossible to believe that some one could learn the music for the movie that fast.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I wonder how much he played before starting the movie. The video says something like he played a little by ear before. Almost impossible to believe that some one could learn the music for the movie that fast.
I agree. I just don’t see how somebody could achieve that much dexterity and speed in a year, let alone 3 months.


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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I wonder how much he played before starting the movie. The video says something like he played a little by ear before. Almost impossible to believe that some one could learn the music for the movie that fast.

I noticed that too! Off to read the article that bSharp(C)yclist posted!


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Hmm... the article was interesting, but didn't answer any questions! And actually raised some. For example, it says he learned 14 songs for the movie. It also says he spent 3 months practicing 4 hours a day... So what, 360 hours? That's not very much at all!

So, is it the teacher? Is it the method?

I wonder what I could accomplish (pianistically) if I had a teacher I met with daily and all I had to do was play the piano, not work my regular job etc., and I played the piano for 4 hours (or more!) a day for 3 months...

It's fun to think about anyway! smile


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Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
Hmm... the article was interesting, but didn't answer any questions! And actually raised some. For example, it says he learned 14 songs for the movie. It also says he spent 3 months practicing 4 hours a day... So what, 360 hours? That's not very much at all!

So, is it the teacher? Is it the method?

I wonder what I could accomplish (pianistically) if I had a teacher I met with daily and all I had to do was play the piano, not work my regular job etc., and I played the piano for 4 hours (or more!) a day for 3 months...

It's fun to think about anyway! smile

Deep fake technology!! smile


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Making the 'movements' on a keyboard is hardly the same as actually playing it. The sound of the pianos in the movie came from pros, not from him playing.

That means that he can play a whole load of wrong notes as well as uneven 'runs' and rhythms, and the viewer wouldn't be any wiser. (Actually, if you slow the video right down, you'd notice some things don't match up.)


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Originally Posted by bennevis
Making the 'movements' on a keyboard is hardly the same as actually playing it. The sound of the pianos in the movie came from pros, not from him playing.

That means that he can play a whole load of wrong notes as well as uneven 'runs' and rhythms, and the viewer wouldn't be any wiser. (Actually, if you slow the video right down, you'd notice some things don't match up.)
This sounds much more reasonable. But if that's what happened, then both the video posted at the beginning of this thread and the article about the teacher are quite deceptive. They make it sound like the actual sound in the movie was from Gosling's playing.

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Plus, if you have seen the music to Mia and Sebastian's Theme, it starts out with 4 sharps, then goes to 7 flats! It's a simple melody, but it's not easy to play.


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You have an unusual arrangement there, I think.

I was coincidentally playing Mia and Sebastian's Theme last night from this book which I think is the "official" sheet music: https://www.amazon.com/Land-Music-Motion-Picture-Soundtrack/dp/1495088243

The first half is three sharps and the second half is in C (no sharps or flats).

I agree that La La Land is a really nice movie. I played it in my theatre when it was a new thing, and earlier this year when 100% of the theatres were closed the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation hosted a special event "virtual screening" of a few movies including La La Land for people who work in theatrical exhibition so my wife and I watched it again. Still a really nice movie. smile


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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by bennevis
Making the 'movements' on a keyboard is hardly the same as actually playing it. The sound of the pianos in the movie came from pros, not from him playing.

That means that he can play a whole load of wrong notes as well as uneven 'runs' and rhythms, and the viewer wouldn't be any wiser. (Actually, if you slow the video right down, you'd notice some things don't match up.)
This sounds much more reasonable. But if that's what happened, then both the video posted at the beginning of this thread and the article about the teacher are quite deceptive. They make it sound like the actual sound in the movie was from Gosling's playing.


re the bolded, that's what I was thinking.

The did say somewhere that the actual audio isn't Gosling, but it's very much downplayed.

It would be better if they were really upfront about that. I wonder how many adults watch/hear something like this, and compare it to their own (lack of) progress and feel like giving up!


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Any music at all with any presence in a film will be recorded in a studio with a pristine controlled setup with a top tier professional playing, that should be a safe assumption. Wouldn’t surprise if he did learn enough to make some nice sounds, but at the end of the day he’s paid to look good and not sound good when it comes to music.

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There have been movies in which the protagonists have actually played the piano themselves and weren't miming to a soundtrack by a pro.......because they were highly accomplished pianists themselves.

Like this scene from '10', where Dudley Moore played Henry Mancini in one continuous take:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_oAMN9EwGA

Perhaps less well-known, French superstar Gérard Depardieu is an accomplished pianist and played the piano in several (mostly French) movies. But here he is in an American movie, having fun at the piano grin (and probably having a dig at his countryman Pierre Boulez's impenetrable music - have a listen to his Piano Sonata No.2 to see what I mean: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zW2YkmeeBaI ):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0vyMuAkOYQ


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Im not an expert but all I'm thinking is nope, no way someone can just crank advanced jazz after 3 months. Even if practicing several hours a day you can only retain so much in a given day or period of time. I'm not down playing his skill set and I'm sure it wasn't easy to learn what he did and it took a lot of time and effort I just dont think anyone can learn such a complex style with no background in a few months.

Be more realistic seeing an article "I taught Sebs piano in 3 months" yes, after 3 months he pretty much learned almost nothing and got one very simple piece learned. laugh

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Originally Posted by AndrewJCW
Any music at all with any presence in a film will be recorded in a studio with a pristine controlled setup with a top tier professional playing, that should be a safe assumption. Wouldn’t surprise if he did learn enough to make some nice sounds, but at the end of the day he’s paid to look good and not sound good when it comes to music.

+1 👍


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On the conversation of whether Gosling is playing, faking, getting it close, there must be somebody out there watching his fingers. I know guitarists that argue over what chord is in a pop song by watching the guitarist on a YouTube video, and the strings they press on.

Otherwise I find the story of Gosling getting up to speed by having intense instruction for three months very humbling. I'm sure I am not the only one.


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Originally Posted by Josh1770
On the conversation of whether Gosling is playing, faking, getting it close, there must be somebody out there watching his fingers. I know guitarists that argue over what chord is in a pop song by watching the guitarist on a YouTube video, and the strings they press on.
I'm not a guitar nerd, but when watching movies, I often look at the actors' left hands when they play the guitar in movies to see whether the chords they are playing are actually what I'm hearing. Unsurprisingly, it's usually "yes" - it doesn't take long (like: a few minutes smirk ) to learn a few chords on the guitar to accompany a pop song, or more accurately, to press the right strings on the right frets.

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Otherwise I find the story of Gosling getting up to speed by having intense instruction for three months very humbling. I'm sure I am not the only one.
I find it much more humbling when actors lose massive amounts of weight (sometimes over fifty pounds) just in order to look convincing in a movie......especially when they are playing the part of someone starving (so they aren't just losing fat, they're also losing muscle).

Faking the hand movements on the piano is actually very easy to do if you aren't playing classical in a movie - especially if you already know how to play the piano a little. Even an expert wouldn't be able to tell in most scenarios when watching a movie, when the camera is moving around so much (as in this movie). You'd have to get the DVD, slow the scene right down and wait for a lingering shot of the actor's hands and fingers before you can tell for sure that the keys being played aren't quite the notes you're hearing.


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