Studio Life: Piano Recording for Film/TV

When you think about Christmas break in college, you might imagine sleeping in, spending time with family and old friends, and just doing nothing.  While it’s true that I did do all of the above a little bit, for me, going home is always a time for recording and composition.

This is what my "break" looked like
This is what my “break” looked like

Continue reading “Studio Life: Piano Recording for Film/TV”

Why My Next Album Can’t Live up to the Past

Back in the studio working on my second piano album!

It’s official… I’ve begun working on my second piano album!  I plan to record most of it over the course of this summer, and I expect to release it in early spring of 2015—perhaps sooner or later depending on how many other projects I’m doing.  I’m hoping to make it longer than Airbornehopefully around 40 or 45 minutes.  As of right now, I’ve completed two compositions with another almost done, bringing me to around twenty minutes of music.

I was hoping to come home from college with enough material completed to record another album right away.  And I wanted to be more active on my blog throughout the past year, release singles, produce other artists, and play more gigs, but life happened… Continue reading “Why My Next Album Can’t Live up to the Past”

Successfully Recording an Out-of-Tune Piano without Tuning It

As I was getting ready for my piano jury at the end of the semester, it became apparent to me that my Chopin nocturne was at its peak.  The problem?  Juries were still two weeks away.  I know myself too well, and I know that when I get to a certain point, the more I practice, the worse my pieces will become.  So I decided that if I ever wanted to have a recording of my nocturne, I had to do it fast.  So one night, I packed up all my gear (a feat in itself) and headed to my university’s music building, hoping to somehow find an open grand piano. Continue reading “Successfully Recording an Out-of-Tune Piano without Tuning It”

Putting “Position” Back in Composition

Have you ever noticed that the word “composition” has “position” in it?  It may be a coincidence, but recently, I found out that position is more than a part of the word—it’s a part of the process that can make all the difference.

Over the last few months, I’ve been having a dry spell in my composing.  Even though I probably composed my usual amount of music last semester, I was beginning to get to a point where composing was just another thing on my homework to-do list.  There was no enjoyment—just dread.  It all came to a head last week, when I realized how miserable I was when I composed, and I started to wonder if I had lost the abilities and passion I’d had for composition before my album release.

Continue reading “Putting “Position” Back in Composition”

Bright Idea or Playing With Fire? – Airborne Studio Diaries

As the lone audio engineer for my piano album Airborne, at this point, I’ve done way too much solo piano editing.  Am I that bad a pianist?  No, but I’m a perfectionist, so I strive to meet impossible standards—especially since I have such a strong idea of how my own compositions should sound.

Even so, editing is much more than finding flawless takes and putting in crossfades to piece them together—it’s about maximizing musicality through artistic and technical choices.  While I don’t purport that putting together twenty different segments into one track is as good as playing a perfect take straight through, I will go so far as to say that, when edited well, the difference between a composited track and a one-take track can be minute.  However, with any kind of solo instrument recording, making edits is playing with fire if you don’t know what you’re doing.  And with piano recordings, their many inherent challenges only pour on gasoline.  Even so, by following some simple rules, I’ve found one can safely edit a piano recording: Continue reading “Bright Idea or Playing With Fire? – Airborne Studio Diaries”

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″

288 Hours

Oh, the doom of May 18!
Oh, the doom of May 18!

May 18.  The day is burned in my mind.  It ominously looms over me like a storm cloud, on the verge of raining havoc upon my world.  So what dreadful tribulation shall befall me on this date?

May 18 is my album’s tracking deadline.

No big deal, right?  Wrong—I still have to finish writing one of the pieces (which I’ll refer to as “F Minor” for now) on the album.  That’s a serious problem—really serious. Continue reading “288 Hours”

Better Than a Silver Lining

In a community college recital hall last Wednesday, I had one of my most incredible, moving, and unusual performances so far.  After four years of being the underaged face of the Music Department, it was my final public appearance.  In a wild ride of a recital, I debuted my two most recent piano compositions, “Equinox” and “Precipice.”

I find that when I perform, I always play my pieces better and with more expression than I do at home, because I’m so in-the-moment.  Does that ever happen to you?

Continue reading “Better Than a Silver Lining”

My First Solo Album: What’s REALLY Involved?

Recently, I’ve decided to release my first-ever solo piano album. In addition to composing and performing every piece on the album, I will be producing and engineering the project myself.  I’m also directing the marketing, promotion, and finances. In other words, I’m doing the whole thing on my own. (Hence, my lack of updates lately.)   I know there are significant advantages to pulling from others’ talents for a project, but at this stage in my career, I’m doing the album by myself to learn.  Am I crazy? Maybe. Am I a control freak? Not exactly. Let me explain… Continue reading “My First Solo Album: What’s REALLY Involved?”

Prime Example of "Over My Head"

Pull the Keyboard Out! – Piano Recording Gone Crazy

If only I didn't need to use the middle pedal!
No recording session should start like this!

There are some recording sessions where whatever can go wrong, does, and none of the problems has a simple fix.  Recently, I had a piano session like that–tracking my composition “Equinox.”  The timing of the session was already a surprise, the setup was a monstrosity, and even the piano itself was having mechanical issues.  But strangely, I walked away from the studio that night sincerely saying, “I can’t wait to do this again!”  The studio is an odd place.

Continue reading “Pull the Keyboard Out! – Piano Recording Gone Crazy”