Reflections on piano


Recording and editing a CD has been one of the most revealing experiences we have had. Here are some circumstances and reflections that have arisen during the process:


  • The higher the technological possibilities of a recording studio, the more the imperfections of the instruments and instrumentalists are perceived. For example, when you press the right pedal, the dampers produce an imperceptible sound in a concert hall, but with directional microphones 2 meters from the piano pointing directly at the hammers, these sounds are very present. To avoid this, it is advisable to change how and when you operate the pedal. Also, the wooden sounds of the hammers once they fall after hitting the string are noticeable. It is important to consider these imperfections because they can tarnish a recording for totally extramusical reasons. Equating the instrument with the technological part will be crucial for an optimal result.
  • When editing possibilities improve, a dilemma arises that can greatly affect production. Assuming that almost everything is editable, letting go of an error gives the impression of clumsy editing. When we edit we realize that there are things that cannot be solved with technology without betraying musical coherence and discourse. This is where the artistic direction of production comes into play: what prevails, technical perfection or musicality and artistic discourse?
  • The perception of tempos during a recording is very subjective, especially if one is playing. When a passage needs to be played again to correct a mistake, the tempo relationships can be resented as it is very easy to play another tempo without realizing it. Many post-editing issues arise here in terms of consistency. If you try to cut and paste two segments of the same passage to improve them, the remedy will be worse than the problem if the tempos are different. A very simple tip to avoid this is to calm down: stop, re-listen to the passage, and act accordingly. It is important to avoid entering the vicious circle of recording without first hearing any references.
  • An exponentially growing practice today is editing, not only musically but also visually. A CD of classical music aims to hide the edition so that it is not noticed and sounds natural, but a CD is anything but natural. It should be discussed whether it is ethical not to detail everything that has been done during the edition in the booklet of the dossier. Wouldn’t it be nice to name how many cuts, what equalization, what microphones, what piano, what mixing desk, what effects, etc. have been used? This will show the fairest side of a recording. Just as when we consume a processed product we can see on its packaging what it is made of when we listen to a CD we should also have enough information to avoid entering into a false reality and creating an expectation that can be frustrated in a concert, when the listener expects to hear live the sound of a perfect CD.
  • What does a CD bring? We can often see recordings of composers’ integrals as if they were a collector’s item that allows us to have all the options of a composer or a genre, and so on. But here are some ideas for building a CD out of this collection. One of the most valuable aspects of classical music is its discourse, that it tells a story (without text, if it is not music with voice or other discursive options). So when we build a program a discourse should always prevail, either by connecting the composers or by connecting the pieces. The very nature of music can be reflected in very precise decisions, specifying what and in what order to record pieces. We can also rely on an idea or concept that forms the backbone of the CD, such as women composers or great hits, specific locations, historical periods, or musical forms. Or it is even more interesting to choose internal elements between which we can establish a certain relationship and common discourse. We consider it important to contribute something personal, or something innovative, if you step on virgin snow you can open new horizons. One of the biggest problems with classical music is conservatism in all its aspects, including always recording the same works.

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