Airborne is Out!

It’s been a wild ride, but my debut solo piano album Airborne is done and out!

Eleven months ago, I was inspired after returning from two GRAMMY Camps and had a bold idea: I was going to release a thirty-five minute solo piano album by the end of the following summer.

At the time, I only had one piano piece (“Airborne”) that I felt was good enough to record.  I had already committed to producing an EP for singer/songwriter Lily Garay that fall, too.  And there were college music school auditions in February to practice and prepare for.  Suffice it to say that the prospects of releasing a full-length album were not good. Continue reading “Airborne is Out!”

Studio Diaries – Airborne, Part 2: The Rubber Meets the Road

I didn’t want to do this, but I’m pushing back my Airborne album release to July 19.  I’ve changed my plans, but I haven’t changed my mind—I’m still making an album.  I’m going to push through these roadblocks and move forward. Continue reading “Studio Diaries – Airborne, Part 2: The Rubber Meets the Road”

Exceptions Are the Rule – “Airborne” Studio Diaries, Part 1

In The Studio

After five years of studio work, I somehow continue to hope that, maybe, my next recording session will be “normal”—no technical problems, no surprises, and no burnout.  But I’ve never had a “normal” session.  Apparently, in the studio, exceptions are the rule.  

Recently, as I’ve been recording my piano album Airborne, every day has been an exception:  five-hour experiments gone bad, poorly timed thunderstorms, and unexpected results.  Don’t believe me?  Read on. Continue reading “Exceptions Are the Rule – “Airborne” Studio Diaries, Part 1″

Why Piano Recording Is So Challenging

Piano miking
Previous piano session miking using a matched pair of small-diaphragm condensers

In my last post, I mentioned in passing that I wrote a new piano composition. Well, now I’m getting ready to take it to the studio.  It’s called “Equinox,” and it’s eight minutes long, in the key of Db (also modulating to Ab and Gb/Ebm), has lots of tempo changes, uses nearly the entire keyboard, and requires all three pedals (yes, even the middle one).  Recording it, to say the least, is going to be challenging.

While one might think it would be easy to record one acoustic instrument, personally, I find it much harder to do well.  It’s so much more exposed; you can’t hide your problems.  There’s no covering up bad edits or poor tone-quality by burying it among other tracks.  With this kind of recording, you hear it all––the good and the bad.

Continue reading “Why Piano Recording Is So Challenging”

Composer’s Block: Pushing Past the Walls

Too many composers and songwriters just sit around and wait for creativity to happen.  But the truth is that, most of the time, by making yourself write, you inherently have to be more creative to be able to put something on the paper in the first place.

I used to be the kind of composer that just waited around, and I often moved onto new pieces whenever I hit the “barrier.”  I used to think that forcing yourself to be creative stifled creativity, but now I see otherwise. Continue reading “Composer’s Block: Pushing Past the Walls”

My Heart Beats: The Final Chapter?

Wow.  Just, wow.  I know I haven’t posted anything in a couple weeks, but I’ve been insanely busy mixing and mastering My Heart Beats and rehearsing for the release party.  So now, the album is finally out, and Lily and I performed to a packed house last night at the launch party.  It was incredible.  It was one of the best nights of my life.

Continue reading “My Heart Beats: The Final Chapter?”

Studio Diaries – “MHB” – Part 4: Answering the Production Question

Remember in english class how you were told to keep your essays on-topic?  They said to come up with a thesis, and everything in the essay had to somehow support or build up to it.  You weren’t supposed to put in lots of “padding” or go off on a tangent.  Well, believe it or not, the same concept applies to music production.

Like a strong essay, your song should grab people from the beginning and make them want to stick with it until the end to see how you resolve the “question.”  The intensity of the song has to be constantly increasing through contrast and changes in instrumentation, tone, and dynamics.

Continue reading “Studio Diaries – “MHB” – Part 4: Answering the Production Question”

Studio Diaries – “MHB,” Part 3: Sleeplessness and Logic’s Super Tool

It was 1:00 AM.  Like a typical teenage musician, I didn’t feel the least bit tired.  The rest of my family had already gone to bed, so I couldn’t play or really mix.  What did I decide to do?  Why, I added some key commands in Logic, of course!

I hit option-K and opened up the long list of assignable shortcuts.  I’d already made key commands for most of the tasks that I did routinely, but I wanted to add more to save even more time.

One thing that has continued to irk me about Logic has been the lack of the Super Tool (aka, the Smart Tool) that ProTools has.  After working in ProTools at GRAMMY Camp this summer, I took the SuperTool for granted.  I could clean and edit audio tracks so fast with it.  When I came back home and discovered that I had to assign a key command to switch to the fade tool in Logic to clean tracks, I was pretty frustrated. Continue reading “Studio Diaries – “MHB,” Part 3: Sleeplessness and Logic’s Super Tool”

Studio Diaries – “My Heart Beats,” Part 2: Hurricanes and High-Pass Filters

Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, I gained a few extra hours today for mixing since classes got cancelled.  Where I live, we have been fortunate so far because it has only been raining, and there has just been some mild wind.  However, we need to keep those more directly in Sandy’s path in our thoughts and prayers.

Our packaging manufacturer for the album is located in New Jersey, which has been hit pretty hard.  Because of this, Lily and I haven’t been able to order the packaging since the company’s web servers are down… Continue reading “Studio Diaries – “My Heart Beats,” Part 2: Hurricanes and High-Pass Filters”

Studio Diaries – “My Heart Beats,” Part 1: Long Hours and Little Sleep

I know I said I was going to make posts about everything that happened this summer, but right now, I’m in the middle of something big–I’m producing my first album.  I’m producer, engineer, executive producer, and keyboardist on Singer/Songwriter Lily Garay‘s debut bilingual pop EP “My Heart Beats.”   For the next few weeks, I’m going to be keeping a “Studio Diary” so you can have an insider’s look at the whole thing.  I will also have some mixing and production tips interspersed here, too, to make it even more interesting. Continue reading “Studio Diaries – “My Heart Beats,” Part 1: Long Hours and Little Sleep”