Who is Littleman in C Major, and why the name?
I’m Leo, the guy behind it. Littleman is my nickname at home thanks to me being the youngest in my family, and C Major scale (the white keys) was the only thing I knew when I started playing and writing music.
A little about me
- I was born and bred in Medan, Indonesia.
- I am University of Michigan alum, class of 2007. Go Blue!
- I am now working as software engineer in Seattle, WA, U.S.
How long have you been playing?
This is the question I got asked most frequently, and a very hard one to answer. In short: one year plus a little bit. Before I started writing my own music in September 2010, I could only play exactly four songs. The long story …
The first song – 2002 to 2003
I never played any musical instrument until my senior year in high school. I heard this song 新鮮人~ Luv Theme Whisper by Stephen Fung 馮德倫 on a Hong Kong TV show called The Green Hope, and loved it so much that I decided to learn how to play it on piano. Musically blind, I downloaded the music sheet, converted those “beansprouts” into numbers on paper, and painstakingly learned it by memorization: right hand melody, left hand chords, followed by agonizing synchronization of both hands. I also asked my classmate Feriany to show me many times how to play it (Thank you : )
The second and third song – 2003 to 2006
At the beginning of my college year, I was hooked by Pachelbel’s Canon, and I got a music sheet in C major key from my friend, Eva, who also showed me many times how to play it (Thank you : ) Not having a piano, I would go to the piano lounge in Pierpont Commons at Michigan whenever I could. It took me my whole college years to learn the whole song, using the same method as my first. At the same time, I was also learning to play 好夢難圓 (Unrequited Dream) by Gallen Lo 羅家良 of which I only got halfway through.
The fourth song – 2007 to 2010
The dormant period. I bought myself Yamaha P70 digital piano when I got my first job, but it quickly became a piece of furniture. I only managed to learn one more song, 心裡話 (Truth), which I have now forgotten how to play. I was somewhat discouraged by my slow progress, and stopped playing.
Have you taken any lesson before?
Piano 101 for non-music major during my last semester at Michigan. It’s taught by the wonderful Ms. Rajung Yang. I think it was 2 or 3 hours per week for 2.5 months. The most vivid memory I have from this class was her showing us how to write a short music in under 2 minutes using only three notes (Thank you : ) It was the inspiration for Love and Longing in Seattle. I figured then my music doesn’t need to be overly complex.
How do you learn to write?
Experimentation. I came across the 4-Chord Song by Axis of Awesome which suggested that I should be able to write something very simple. The version of Pachelbel’s Canon I learned happened to use all C major chords (C-G-C’, G-D-G’, A-E-A’, E-B-E’, F-C-F’), so I kept experimenting with combinations of those chords until I found something that sounds good to me. Here are the chord progressions I use often:
- C – G – A – E – F (Happy Birthday)
- C – F – G – A (Love and Longing in Seattle, Hello & Good Morning, etc.)
- A – F – G – C (Silent Argument)
- C – A – F – G (We Miss You Everyday, It’s a Beautiful Day, etc.)
- G – E – C – D (Sleepwalk)