I'm releasing a new album.
After recording Where Abundance Lies, I left the audio interface and microphones in place. Recording loops of the piano and playing over it felt pretty good. I know how to play inside my own lines and I wanted to do this some more. Additionally, my studio was being painted so everything up there was offline.
The trouble is, I only have thirty minutes a day to record. There is a very brief window in the morning when my wife drops the kids off at school that I have the place to myself. So, as soon as I put the kids in the car, I walk back, open the piano lid, stick the mics in and start recording. Additionally, school is ending for the Summer, so the window itself evaporates. So this is how the major defining parameters of the project came to be: a half hour of recording time a weekday (10 days total... well... 9 as the garbage trucks scuttled one recording session) over a two week period using only a piano. Go.
For the technically-minded, I used a MOTU Ultralite with the on-board pre-amps, a pair of Neumann KM184 mics, a Yamaha C3 grand piano, MaxMSP, monome 256 and Digital Performer running on a G5 iMac. There is only one preset on a piano. However, that didn't stop the synthesist in me from attempting to simulate orchestration by processing elements to shape the sound into something ensemble-like. I used EQ, reverbs, delays, phase-vocoding, creative fading, reversed audio, etc... It isn't processed to the extent of something like One of the Most Interesting Kinds of Sounds, but the uninitiated may think I sweetened with synthesizers. I didn't. Just the piano.
In addition to the work-window constraint, there were other technical limitations. I'm not working with MIDI data where I can easily quantize timing, change the pitch of a flubbed note or remove a note in the middle of a sustained phrase. I don't have a proper sound-isolated studio space, so I'm at the mercy of birds, lawn equipment and cars passing by. When recording loops, these elements add some character. On linear solo lines... not so much. In the past, I may have obsessed over this and other matters like how the piano isn't perfectly in tune to the point of postponing the project into oblivion. Not today. It is what it is, blemishes and all, and I'm not going to diminish the imperfections to the point of sterility. The result is different from what I'd normally release and about as raw as I'll ever allow.
So, here it is: an collection of piano improvisations.
Recorded May 27th - June 11th 2008 between 8:20 and 8:50am
I'd be curious to hear what you think it sounds like, what conscious or unconscious influences informed the music, what kind of mood it puts you in.
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A Towering Achievement of Indescribable Beauty by Matthew G Davidson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.