The day before the piano came I wrote something very quickly in anticipation of the beast’s arrival. I started playing a few simple chords I liked, came up with two lines, left it alone, and then a few verses came pouring out in about three minutes and there was the song.
I have a lot of piano songs I’ve been waiting to record until I had a real piano at my disposal, but for some reason I wanted to try something different. So yesterday I thought I’d take a crack at this new one and experiment with the best way to record the instrument.
Turned out I didn’t have to do much experimenting. I moved the two KM184s from the “guitar area” over to what’s now the “piano area”, propped open the lid, messed around for a few minutes with placement, and then I got a sound I liked and away we went. I know people on Gearslutz and elsewhere bash these mics a lot, but they’ve worked well on everything I’ve thrown at them, and I can’t see myself ever wanting to use anything else to record this piano. Maybe I’d feel differently if I had the chance to use an original Neumann KM84 at some point, but I haven’t…so I don’t.
Of course, everyone’s ears are different. Different strokes for different cowpokes.
It’s a pretty simple song and the lyrics don’t make a whole lot of sense, but I kind of like the way it came out, even with a bit of a flubbed drum fill late in the song and the occasional sound of me moving around on the piano bench. I did a quick mix yesterday I was pretty happy with. Then I found myself thinking the glockenspiel sounded a little garish. And then Milan suggested a more stripped down mix might be interesting, and I thought, “That might be a good idea.” So here’s a pretty naked mix of the song that lets the piano breathe some more.
In this context I like the glockenspiel, so I left it in. Over on Spyspace is a “full band” mix, minus most of the glock.
I’m not sure which mix I like better or which one will show up on a CD, but I keep listening to both mixes and thinking about how surreal it is to hear a real live piano in one of my songs. I never thought I’d see the day. As strange as it might sound, I’m kind of glad it isn’t a grand piano after all. There’s so much depth in the sound of this upright.
Hopefully it’ll hold its tuning for a little while as the new strings stretch their legs, because I’d like to be able to do some more recording with the thing before I have it tuned a few weeks from now. I really like just playing chords and letting them hang there, sustaining and decaying. There’s so much happening to the notes as they fade away. You don’t ever get to hear that from any digital piano, no matter how good it is. There’s a richness to it. It sounds organic. Alive.
And hey, maybe there’s something to be said for sending a CD to a radio station along with a somewhat caustic letter typed on an old manual typewriter with a ribbon so old the ink smears when you touch the page. I got an email a few days back from someone at CBC Radio 3 inviting me to sign up over at the NMC (New Music Canada) section of their site. So I did that just for fun and put a song up there.
The next day I got an email telling me another one of my songs had been added by someone who isn’t me. If they’re putting my music up there themselves, that makes me think maybe they’ve actually listened to the stuff and plan on giving it some airplay someday.
Whatever the case may be, I think it’s pretty hilarious that they stuck “Blue Cheese Necklace” in the bluegrass category. I’d change the genre to “fermented alternative” or something, but I kind of like it, silly as it is.
Thank God I’m a country boy.