Recording Acoustic Pianos

Until about 20 years ago I made recordings right after having my grand tuned and regulated, in the evening. I set up microphones and open reel recorders and did all the editing myself.  It was also hot, since I had to turn of air conditioning while recording. Finally, I had to make sure that I recorded at a time when there were no interruptions and no neighbors would be bothered. It was wonderful when it worked, but more often it was stressful and frustrating.

To this very moment there are people who consider any recording not made on an acoustic instrument as inferior. Period. They are doing roughly what I used to do, although recording equipment is improving all the time.

It’s important to mention briefly that while recordings of very fine players being recorded on superb acoustic pianos are wonderful, it’s a very impractical thing for people with limited space and limited funds. Acoustic pianos used for performance must be treated a bit like a fine race car. They are marvelous instruments, but they need continual attention. This includes regulation, tuning, voicing of hammers, replacement of broken strings and many other things of that nature too extensive and too technical to go into here. All of this is quite expensive.

Recording Digital Pianos

Music is my number one passion and has been my entire life. Sharing what I know about music with others or just exchanging knowledge is the kind of conversation I enjoy most. Although I teach many students, fives days a week, I participate in forums almost every night to share my experience with people around the world and to continue to get new ideas.

I have been much more interested in recording than in playing live since about age 30. Although live performances are wonderful, they don’t reach many people. I believe it is a reasonable statement to say that many if not most of us have experienced far more live concerts through recordings or videos of them than through the experience of being present for the live performances themselves, in the audience. In short, recordings are terribly important. Without them, most of the music people hear would not be available.
I continued recording after I stopped making live performances, and for about 10 years I made recordings on a Yamaha grand, my own instrument. That instrument was destroyed in a fire, and the amount of space available to me since then would not have given me any place to put it, even if it were still in perfect condition. In short, although I do miss playing on a grand, as I did in the past, I no longer have room for one, and this has forced me to concentrate on how people with limited space and privacy may continue to feel free to practice and record in spite of small spaces, neighbors, families, and unusual hours.
Learning a new composition or re-working an old one with the goal of producing the best possible result remains “ultimate game” for me. From about 1990 through to 2000, digital recordings were a very important outlet for me, long after I had given up live performances and no longer had the time, money or space to continue making acoustic recordings. The first digital keyboards were crude, but they soon improved. Newer sound standards emerged, sampled sounds became increasingly realistic, and more and more people began to take recordings of digital pianos seriously.
Any recordings featured here are from that time period.
I continue to believe that digital pianos are equalizers for those of us who live in small spaces, work long hours and have limited privacy. We can play at odd times using earphones, record and edit ourselves, send the results to other people, all with the touch of a few buttons or a few mouse clicks. It’s not a perfect solution, and I am the first to agree that nothing will ever replace a fine acoustic instrument. However, a good digital piano is an exceptable second choice, and many people may prefer playing one to playing an inferior acoustic instrument, for the reasons I have suggested above.
I do.
As newer sound standards emerge, as sampled sounds become increasingly realistic, and the actions of digital instruments continue to be improved, it is my belief that more and more people will consider them an important new way to practice, to record, and to compose music.