Archive

Posts Tagged ‘piano’

Ben and Geoff jazz jam – August 16 2015

August 17th, 2015
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1,106 views

Advice on Home Recording of an Acoustic Piano

November 10th, 2010
4,336 views 1 comment

Here’s a question and answer about home piano recording from a friend on Youtube, which I thought might be useful to others.

Question:

Hey Geoff

How are you doing? Hope all is well in your part of the world. Things here are good! I am writing to ask your advice on something – if you have the time, please could you help me out with this? Would really appreciate it.

Basically I am doing some recordings at home, – for my YouTube, but also for myself. I have made an album of original music which I put up on iTunes etc. It’s okay, but the sound quality is just not very professional, and this is because I have a Mac, and a digital piano (some rubbish Yamaha DGX thing) and basically I record via audio cable, using Garageband. Up until now it’s been fine. But I wanted to take my recordings to the next level!

I have been listening to your efforts quite a lot, because I love your playing. And all of your recordings are super super quality. So, I was wondering, might you have any advice for me as to what I might do to improve my set-up?

I have sort of guessed that I really ought to go the home recording route, i.e. get a couple of microphones, and do it that way, rather than via audio cable. Am I right?

Thing is, I am on something of a budget so that is a consideration. I want to do an album of covers next, and my friend suggested to me that I just go to a recording studio. But they are very expensive in London, and it seems it would make more sense for me to buy the stuff for home use, since I am going to make a lot of use of it.

Sorry for all the waffle, and no worries if you do not have time to reply. But if you had any ideas for me I’d be very grateful. What I wanted to know centrally was, I guess:

a) do I need microphones, and if so, are there any you’d recommend? Is one enough, or must it be two, etc.?

b) do I need a proper piano, or can I get a good quality sound with just a digital/electronic machine, like what I use now?

c) any other info you could share!

Thanks so much for reading this, and best wishes to you
W.

Home recording of an acoustic piano using two SM-57 mics.

Home recording of an acoustic piano using two SM-57 mics.

Answer:

Hi W.,
no problem… here’s some free advice 🙂

I find acoustic pianos always sound better than electric pianos, especially if they are well tuned. There will be no benefit to using external microphones unless you get an acoustic piano… the current way you are doing it is the best that you can do for an electric piano.

For micing my acoustic piano, I open the top and place two mics close to the sound board, to the left and right of center. It’s important to be equal distance from the sound board or else you will get strange stereo phase problems. Pan the left mic all the way to the left and the right mic all the way to the right. I find that the SM-57 mic (made by Shure) is really worth the money you will spend – they are quite affordable considering that they are also used in professional studios. You can always buy a cheaper mic but you’ll likely get a poorer quality recording.

You can also just buy one mic and record in mono, but I find stereo adds another dimension to the sound and is better for making into CD’s.

Regarding mic position, the best way to find a good place to put the mic is to use headphones and try playing keys at various volumes throughout the range. Keep making little adjustments to the positions until you hit the “sweet spot”. Also make sure that the gain isn’t set too high when you play loud or else you will get annoying pops due to clipping.

Check out some tutorials on home recording, I’m sure you can pick up some more tips too.

For an audio interface, you will need some way to plug in the mics into your mac. There are various kinds (I have a MOTU 8-Pre which has fabulous sound and 8 inputs, but this might be overkill for what you need). I’ve also used smaller units made by M-Audio that have only two inputs but excellent sound.

I usually like to apply some sort of Dynamics Compression to the audio. This partly flattens out the dynamic range, and makes the sound clearer and more vibrant. In Logic Pro there are some compressor tools that I play around with, but I am still figuring out how to do this. A good book on mastering audio is called “Mastering Audio” by Bob Katz.

Ok there’s some ideas…. good luck!
Geoff

4,336 views

Geoff Peters performs An Afternoon in Paris (jazz) on solo piano

May 24th, 2010
2,138 views No comments

A couple weeks ago I made a video of myself performing the jazz standard An Afternoon in Paris by John Lewis.

I performed solo piano on my upright acoustic Petrof piano. It’s available below or on Youtube.

Hope you enjoy it!

other links:

  • Listen to different versions of this song at Grooveshark. I especially like the renditions by Sonny Rollins and Cedar Walton.
  • My jazz band in Vancouver, the Geoff Peters Trio, has a new CD which is available for free listening on our website.

2,138 views

Ear Training Lesson – key of C Major and the Diatonic System

May 24th, 2010
2,807 views No comments

My friend Marcus Emmanuel Barnes and I created a new musical ear training video as part of the series of lessons we’re making on EarPractice.com.

This week’s video is about the “Diatonic System” in music, which is where you can play a lot of different types of chords and melodies, all within one key. To keep things simple we stick to the key of C Major.

Hope you enjoy it and find the lesson useful.

Additional links:

2,807 views

Jam session recording: Geoff Peters and Gustavo Lacerda

April 3rd, 2010
2,036 views No comments

I had a music jam today with my friend Gustavo. He is multi-talented and plays many instruments. Today he brought along his violin.

You can grab the Mp3’s we made here, or use the players below!


Minor Swing
(folk music style swing tune with violin and piano)

Upbeat Evil Castle
(violin, synth (i)pad, synth bass, Latin drum samples)

Please note that Upbeat Evil Castle has been agreed on by the composers Gustavo and Geoff to allow Geoff to use the song in his videos on Geoffmobile.com and Youtube.com/geoffmobile.

Tetris Theme played on Violin with piano, and some Gypsy songs improvized.


2,036 views

Giant Steps (Coltrane) piano solo by Geoff Peters

April 3rd, 2010
2,524 views No comments


Last night I recorded myself performing the jazz standard Giant Steps on the piano. In this video I give a 1 minute introduction to the song and then perform it. If you’re interested in the audio only, you can grab the MP3 from here or use the audio player above.


2,524 views

My Foolish Heart (jazz video) – Gio Escueta and Geoff Peters

January 28th, 2010
1,690 views No comments

Last week, vocalist Gio Escueta and I performed at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel in downtown Vancouver BC Canada.

We made a video of one of the songs, My Foolish Heart by Ned Washington and Victor Young. It’s available on Youtube or by using the player below. Hope you enjoy!

1,690 views

Ocean Apart – original composition by Geoff Peters (piano)

December 27th, 2009
1,806 views No comments

Last night I made a video recording of myself performing an original jazz bebop tune on the piano. It’s called Ocean Apart and I wrote it last summer while taking a composition class with New York jazz pianist Misha Piatigorsky.

You can view the video on Youtube, Blip.tv, or use the player below.

The MP3 recording of this performance is available for free here.

1,806 views

Heartbeet – Live improvised synth & acoustic piano with drum samples

December 6th, 2009
1,839 views No comments

My friend Marcus dropped by today for a visit, and we recorded an improvised performance of synthesizer and piano. It’s called Heartbeet. We named it this maybe because we both really like to eat beets, (yum!) and so therefore “heart” them, as well as because we were wanting to play on the concept of the pulsating bass drum that sometimes goes out of time from the piano, much like a heart beat will continue its own rhythm oblivious to the other rhythms around it.


The video is also available on Blip.tv and the Mp3 file for the song is available here.

Visit Marcus’s Knobb.ca music blog for more interesting ideas and videos. Also produced in cooperation with Birds in the House Productions.

1,839 views

Song of the Week – Kurt Elling “Where I Belong”

November 20th, 2009
11,022 views No comments
Kurt Elling, jazz vocalist

Kurt Elling, jazz vocalist (photo credit: Christian Lantry)

One of my all time favorite jazz vocalists is the inimitable Kurt Elling. He has been voted Male Vocalist of the Year for 10 years in a row by critics in Downbeat magazine and for 5 years by the Downbeat readers’ choice awards.

Kurt Elling has done some really incredible recordings, and I am definitely going to go out and try to complete my collection and get all 8 of his albums.

The current JazzPianoCafe song of the week is Kurt Elling’s recording of his very romantic original song, Where I Belong. It’s from his 1998 album This Time It’s Love. Here are the lyrics, courtesy of Kurt Elling’s website:

Lyric by Kurt Elling

I hear the woman like a song / dancing down a long corridor
Reminding me I belong where I am

I see the singing in the rain/ the rhythm at my windowpane
Reminding me I belong where I am

There is a light in the silence of loving things
And when I look in my baby’s hopeful eyes
It’s like the sound just before ever morning horizon
Light comes to life

It’s like a magnet of loving sound / turning me rightside down
Keeping my two feet firmly planted on the ground
Reminding me I belong where I am.

You can listen to the song on iTunes for 99 cents, or listen for free on imeem (free account registration required). You can also purchase the CD or MP3’s online from Amazon.

Kurt Elling - This Time It's Love - Where I Belong

This recording of Where I Belong features the following stellar musicians: Kurt Elling voice, Laurence Hobgood piano, Rob Amster bass, Michael Raynor percussion, Dave Oderdonk guitar, Paul Wertico drums, and Brad Wheeler soprano saxophone.

The track opens with burst of warm sound. A simple riff on the soprano sax is echoed by the piano, accompanied by drums, acoustic bass and guitar. The riff is repeated once and then Kurt Elling enters with his sparkling and luscious baritone. A hypnotizing bossa nova ensues, with an exciting and tasteful soprano sax solo well shaped to a gentle climax before the final vocal melody restatement. The outro is a vamp on the original intro riff, ending with a bit of Kurt Elling’s whistling on the fade out.

Highly recommended! Hope you enjoy this song and check back again next week for another JazzPianoCafe “Song of the Week”.

-Geoff Peters (Birds in the House Productions)


11,022 views