“Your Eyes Are Deep Pools of Wonder”, or How I Attempted to Become a Romantic Pianist in My Spare Time
One of the things I do besides composing is working for CASIO as a product specialist, training sales people at various dealers in my area. When you work as a composer, you have to keep a lot of irons in the fire, because you never know when you’ll need to rely on them to bring in the bacon! So, I write music for a variety of video projects, play piano jobs, arrange and play on albums for artists, etc. I worked in music retail for many years, selling keyboards at Chuck Levins Washington Music Center in Wheaton, MD. I left there a while back, but kept relationships going with folks in the industry. So when the CASIO job came along, I eagerly went for it. I’ve used one of their instruments for years, and it's a great company. Win/win.
I started writing pieces using the CASIO PX-560M keyboard to try to show sales people and potential customers they could use one instrument to cover a number of bases. Often times when someone buys an instrument, they get locked into using a small number of sounds, then later on it's, “I don’t have enough sounds; time for something new!” So, I created some pieces to showcase some of the different aspects of the PX-560M. On most multitrack compositions, I use a variety of instruments. Not so here. The list of pieces has grown; take a listen to my playlist.
One of my compositions, Your Eyes Are Deep Pools of Wonder, got some particularly good feedback, so I thought I’d release it on my Bandcamp page. This time around, I wanted to upgrade the piano sound to something with more acoustic “noises” and more pronounced string resonance. The Casio keyboard has those things, but many of the sample libraries for piano available today have very detailed sounding instruments. These libraries use a lot of memory in the computer, and because of the larger memory (than what would normally be in a digital piano like the Casio), the sonic details of the piano sound are more pronounced. So, I opted for the Native Instruments Maverick piano, and a second instrument, the Gwilym Simcock Felt Piano by Spitfire Audio. The Maverick was sampled from a 1905 grand piano, and the Felt Piano was treated by….you guessed it, felt. I also included a couple of “backwards” piano sections in the piece, which still used the Casio.
Here is a screenshot of the session.
The Maverick Piano track is colored in red, the Felt Piano in teal. The Casio “backwards” piano parts are orange. I edited the Felt Piano track so that it was played very lightly, and the noises of the piano would be more predominate. The major part of the tone of the piano is from the Maverick. The Felt Piano gives it more girth, along with the damper noise and string noise. Another thing of interest here is the appearance of what looks like a bunch of square waves in the bottom of the pic. That is a reverb track. I use Steinberg Cubase, and one of hits reverbs, Roomworks, has a hold button. I automated the hold button so that it would turn on at the beginning of a chord change or progression, then turn off briefly as the tonality changed to something new. The result is a shimmering, ambient bed. I had someone tell me they liked the synthesizer sounds in the piece; no synthesizers here, just a reverb plugin with some aural tricks applied.
Here’s the result; I hope you enjoy it. Till next time!