30 days of piano – #7

Jun 7th, 2017

I’m using a felt over the strings of the piano to give it a softer sound. Also, this is my debut playing cello. 4 tracks of G and C drone, about all I’m capable of in the strings department.

30 days of piano – #6

Jun 5th, 2017

Ok, time to start using numbers instead of days, because I’ve skipped so many now. I’m still going to try for 30 pieces in 30 days, it’s just that I won’t necessarily do one every day. Yeah, I know, cheating…

Anyway, #6 is a jaunty little tune, suitable for a sunny Sunday like today.


Jun 3rd, 2017

Here’s something Mark and I have started working on. He had a whole backstory behind it which I can’t remember, something to do with swimming through an oil spill.

Mark is playing a repeating motif on electric guitar with a lot of reverb and echo, while I’m on acoustic guitar doing some arpeggiated figures. It’s mostly in minor, but it has this nice moment at 1:12, where it resolves to major in a very obvious way. I love that part of it, it’s a very satisfying resolution to the tension-building, and was completely accidental, which makes it even better.

30 days of piano – day 5

May 31st, 2017

Well, actually, day 8 maybe? I skipped a few days, but we’ll just keep that to ourselves, shall we?

This song has lyrics, haven’t recorded the vocal yet, I just wanted to get something up. Here’s the first verse:

Many miles across the ocean

In a house by the sea

Lives a man from another place

Taking off yet another face

Looks a lot like me.

Piano recording setup

May 28th, 2017

This is the current setup I have for recording my piano. No special preamps or anything, just using a simple 2-channel focusrite saffire interface and 2 mics: an AKG 414 and a Neumann U-87 clone that I build myself.

So far, I’ve experimented with 3 different mic placements:

  1. Over the piano, with the mics placed close to the hammers.
  2. Behind the piano, with the mics placed about 4-6 inches from the soundboard.
  3. In front of and below the piano, with the mics placed about 6 inches on either side of the pedals (see photo).

What seems to work best so far is #3. Additionally, since the bass strings go from upper left to lower right, and the treble strings do the opposite, what I have found works really well is to mic the bass strings from the right side and pan to about 9 o’clock, and mic the treble strings from the left side, panned to about 3 o’clock. Sounds counter-intuitive, but it has resulted in the best sound with the best sense of “space” so far. The recordings from day 3 and 4 are using this setup and I like it the most so far.

I’m going to experiment soon with using my Cascade Fat Head ribbon mics as the pair, and perhaps add the U-87 as a mono overhead as well. The ribbon mics have a very warm sound which I love on drums and guitar cabs, and are particularly good in a mid-side configuration. In fact, I think I will try the M/S setup as well. Stay tuned…

Rather than try to bring my whole recording setup from the studio in this room for the piano, I’m just using my 2 channel Saffire interface into the laptop. Simple, but sounds great.

Sometimes, while I’m playing piano, Levon likes to come in and take a big smelly dump and then leaves. I’m trying not to take it personally. I guess he’s “showing his work” too…

Fender Rhodes refurbishing

May 28th, 2017

My Fender Rhodes has been in storage for 2 years now, but since I have space again, I decided to bring it out of retirement. I replaced the tolex with a brown faux-leather, and am in the process of repainting the lid.

Here you can see the new tolex. The harp cover is peeking out there, you can see the botched silver sparkle that I did a few years ago. His buddy the Yamaha SK15 is piggy-backing on top. I love that old analog string machine. It has an interesting smell when it warms up, and the oscillators have a tendency to drift in the coolest vintage analog way.


Closeup of the somewhat shitty tolex job. First time, so lessons were learned…


Here’s the first pass of the new paint job for the harp cover:


I wanted to paint it with a sparkle paint, but I’m reconsidering. I love the pelham blue color that you see on vintage Les Pauls, so was thinking of copying that. This blue is slightly darker, and non-metallic. I might go over it again with a metallic or small flake clear coat to add some interest. Then I have to clear coat it about 10 times to give it some depth.

Here it is in context, just to check the colors:

30 days of piano – day 4

May 28th, 2017

This one has some more instrumentation to it: electric piano and french horns. Both of those are sample libraries. Since I’m recording with the piano which is situated in the back room of my house and not in my usual studio which is in the backyard, I don’t have my full complement of better quality samples. So, I’m just using what’s on the laptop, in this case, the Kontakt 3 built-in libraries. Another constraint which actually can be useful for this project.

I like this one, but it needs to go somewhere else with the form. After the project is over, I’ll probably revisit this and re-do the electric piano with my real Rhodes. I’m thinking getting one of the Awesome Orchestra horn players to record for real would be nice.


30 days of piano – day 3

May 27th, 2017

I like this one. I need to start playing in other keys though…

30 days of piano – day 2

May 25th, 2017

30 days of piano – day 1

May 24th, 2017

So I decided to give myself an assignment: write a new piece every day for 30 days. For this month, I’m going to limit myself to pieces featuring piano (some solo, some with other instruments as well). I’m sure some of it will suck, but I’m hoping to get a few usable ideas out of it.

Let’s go, #1…