Not Even the Rain / Sound Check

“Not Even the Rain” is the first piece I tried composing for a piano and string instrument, and quickly developed from a simple duet into a series of sound manipulations. The original score was prepared for Linda Wogulis to play bass and accompany myself on the piano, though these sounds together were later recorded separately and isolated.

Audacity’s Paulstretch proved helpful some time in the past at making an ambient drone backing for a piano improvisation I recorded months ago but never released. After spending some recent time listening to Danny Norbury, I became interested in emphasizing strings as the primary instrument rather than an instrument composed to simply accompany the piano.

The first four minutes are divided between time dedicated to the bass and piano separately to create a slowly evolving soundscape that gives the impression of a string instrument playing a note indefinitely. Different tracks of Linda playing different notes are layered to harmonize. What is curious about these sounds is that they are slowed down considerably using Audacity’s Paulstretch effect. When coupled with a significant amount of digital reverb, additional sounds and tones that might not otherwise be evident play a more noticeable role as the music develops.

Linda’s bass is gradually replaced by a track of piano resonance, isolated after playing a series of chords in the key of G major. This resonance is then isolated, stretched, and reversed, such that the intensity of the sound builds as time develops. (It should be noted that the bass was stretched and layered only; it was not reversed).

Call the first part of the piece “Not Even the Rain” (a line from a cummings poem). The second part that occupies the last minute-and-a-half, “Sound Check,” makes use of a synthesizer (Korg MS-20 Mini), drum machine (Korg Volca Beats), and upright piano. These tracks also benefit from a significant amount of digital reverb, and the lower frequencies — particularly from the rhythm machine — are emphasized.

Because the synthesizer is attached to a delay pedal, their signals are divided between the stereo channel. The synthesizer is played somewhat traditionally, though the peak settings on the lowpass and highpass filters are raised for the “overdrive” sound that characterizes the synthesizer’s part.

Special thanks, once again, to Linda Wogulis.

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