Turntable in motion

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Imprompt (ambient piano)

Imprompt is a small ambient piano piece recorded on a prepared and muted piano, pairing well with In the Trees, Music for Clogged Sinks and Playing a Used Piano, which were also recorded in Sacramento like Imprompt.

The piano itself was miked with a studio pair close to the hammers and preparations, with the unintended but welcome consequence of also picking up the sounds of my feet depressing the sustain pedal and the sounds of the action hitting the wood at the bottom of the piano.

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Percussion Instruments

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I was skeptical drums and piano alone could accompany each other until I started playing with a dear friend of mine, Charlie Passarell, a few months ago. Percussion Instruments is our most recent collaboration. The title is, of course, a reminder not only of the obviously percussive qualities of a drum kit, but the fact that a piano is a percussion instrument as well.

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Found Sounds

Found Sounds is an album of recordings I made over the last several months, most of them during the winter of 2017. These are small projects that eventually led to others, but still faithfully executed in miniature. Due to the experimental nature of many of these recordings I apparently decided not to release them at the time, but the several I enjoyed revisiting are collected here.

One recording I’d like to write about in particular is the second, 2:24:17, 8:37 AM:

This was executed one morning after finding a simple arpeggiation pattern and recording the surrounding noise with a microphone plugged into an interface that was on the fritz, hence the electronic sounds and hums and interference. The piano sounds are software samples and constructed from two VSTs layered on top of each other, the second of which is eventually stereo delayed.

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Dogs on beach

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Voices

Voices contains two sound pieces played on an analog synthesizer, both of which explore methods of gradually developing atmospheric soundscapes from single and sustained tones. In many ways these two pieces — Nocturne and Vexation — continue to pursue sounds and textures similar to those found in Snowfall, 3.13, Mandolin, and New York, New York. Unlike the previous three, however, Nocturne and Vexation are not manipulated beyond their original execution on the synthesizer.

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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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