Time to Record

The Grand Doodle

I’ve been slowly putting together a digital audio workstation so I can start working on my own recordings. I’m using Cubase 4, a Presonus Firebox audio interface, a Presonus Faderport controller, Steinberg’s The Grand for my piano virtual instrument, and a Korg SP-250 keyboard. I just purchased some NHT M-00 active studio monitors (and the NHT S-20 sub) which I’ve heard great things about, but FedEx isn’t due to deliver them until sometime next week. So, for now I’m still using headphones, which actually work pretty well.

It’s pretty exciting to see this all coming together. I’ve been tossing it around in my mind for about 4 years now, not sure whether I should make the investment in time and money. Lots of people continue to ask me for my CD, as if I just have one. Sessions at a studio are pretty expensive, although I got a pretty decent price from Brightwater Digital in SC (they record a bunch of stuff for Majesty Music). Still, I liked the thought of being able to record songs over time, without the need to get an entire album’s worth practiced up to perfection. Oh, and speaking of perfection… it doesn’t really exist when I’m at the piano, so I dreaded the thought of endless takes as I tried to get a song perfect. So, I became interested in MIDI recording.

MIDI recording allows me to play something on the keyboard and simply records each one of my keystrokes as an event. The brilliant thing is that if I make a simple mistake, I can often just go into the MIDI track and delete or move the erroneous note. No need to record another take! The actual sound of the piano is being generated by the computer, using The Grand virtual instrument. The Grand is essentially a massive collection of recordings of an actual piano. Each note was recorded at various velocities and then cataloged into a complete sampling of that instrument. So now my MIDI recording, which is essentially just a stream of commands to play various notes at various velocities, triggers the recorded sounds in The Grand, producing a remarkably authentic-sounding recording.

Yeah, yeah, I know. This is all boring technical stuff, and if it works, that’s cool, but it’s not like the rest of the world needs to read about it. OK, fine. If a picture is a thousand words, then what’s a recording worth? I’ll spare you the words, and just let you listen to a sample of some doodling I did a while back as I tested all this stuff.

I think it sounds pretty convincing, myself… and I’m a pianist! I’d love to hear what you think.

The Grand Doodle

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