One Take on Enchantment
March 15, 2012
Looking for Some Action
I was cutting a couple short demo tracks in the recording studio on a wonderfully old-fashioned grand piano. The real thing. But the action on the grand piano was much tougher than the Yamaha YPG-625 baby grand I usually play. “Action” on the piano means the amount of pressure needed to depress the keys and cause the hammers to hit the piano strings to create sound. I know this might sound unbelievable, but old-fashioned non-digital pianos actually have piano strings.
Stinkeroos of the Highest Order
This piano’s action was tough. You had to slug the keys with an anvil to move them. Struggling with the rough hammer action, my demo cuts were harmoniously disagreeable. Stinkeroos of the highest order. Rap with a capital “C” in front. Although the tunes had been carefully composed and practiced before the recording started, nothing clicked – everything was odoriferous.
When recording music – there is no forgiveness. Miss a single note, play a clunker, honk-a-honker or brilliantly play a train wreck and it lives on forever. Recording music demands perfection. That day I had an absolutely perfect record of non-perfection.
Call Me Dis-enchantingly Cheap But…
I got ready to go but still had one minute left of recording time. Call me cheap but … I was going to use it. And I wanted it to ooze enchantment. I also knew fat chance it would happen – given my track record for the day.
The word enchantment – in my feeble mind – evokes a mystical musical imagery. Like a smooth jazz tune. Alluring, mellifluous, melodious, harmonious … almost magical. So I played one last rip-tripping riff on the keys. A simple reverie – an out-take. One take. No thinking. Just riffing. Thought it sounded like a knuckle-dragging nose-honker when I was playing it. I was going to dump it – until I heard the playback.
Though I wasted 24 seconds of my last minute of recording time – the other 36 seconds weren’t bad.
Sometimes it’s better not to think. Just play. Do it. Start. Riff & Roll.