Today I was digging through my recording archives and came across a nice example of me running my Rhodes through a wah wah pedal with a little overdrive on it. So not being one to leave well enough alone, I sequenced the recording into a short phrase at 90 bpm.
I started by pitching a couple of the chords to create a progression, then added some delay and reverb to give it a nice cinematic ambiance. Perhaps I’ll build a track out it at some point. It reminds me of something from the soundtrack for the Fantastic Planet. By the way, the image is a photo of one of my Rhodes electric pianos. I own three of these very special instruments. Two of them I use for live performances, while the suitcase model in the photo stays put in my studio.
So, what do I do with all these samples of different mallets on piano strings, and other areas of the instrument? How about putting them all into a drum machine? Better yet, a virtual drum machine, like Ableton’s Impulse. In this example I have selected some percussive sounds as well as some tonal samples and tuned everything to work together, then created a simple beat with the samples. Key parameters in setting up Impulse included, pitch, decay, filter, frequency, resonance and mode.
Here’s another example of using a mallet to get sounds out of my piano. In this case, instead of striking the main part of the string, I let the mallet bounce on the small piece of string after the bridge. This part of the piano is traditionally not used to create sound and the pitches are quite high and not tuned, similar to the area between the tuning pegs and the nut of a guitar.
The result is a microtonal collection of tones that just slightly vary in pitch as I drag the mallet across the strings. There is also a warm low frequency ambiance to the recording created by the natural resonance of the piano.
This dissonant phrase of piano was created by using a metal mallet to gently taps the stings on the piano in the upper register. I’ve been experimenting with getting some unique sounds out of my piano by not using the keyboard.
Not all of these recordings are dissonant or unsettling, but these kind of techniques lend themselves to creating nice suspenseful or disturbing passages. Eventually I’ll post some excerpts of some pieces I have created using these sounds.
I always liked the sound this old spring door stop makes when accidentally kicked, but never recorded it until now. I think the fact that its attached to a one hundred two year old wooden door gives is some nice resonance.
This is a basic mono recording originally at 48kHz and 24bit. I plugged my favorite large diaphragm condenser into my M-Audio Firewire 410 with the phantom power enabled. I’m not sure what I might use it for. Perhaps it will make up some percussion in a future track.