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Chant for a Lost Spring
Last post Fri, Jan 14 2022 by Pier-V, 7 replies.
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Posted on Mon, Jan 03 2022 09:27
by Pier-V
Joined on Mon, Feb 18 2013, Posts 5

This is another solo piece for piano (once again, Yamaha CFX). It's a minimalist composition characterized by a constant shifting between tonality and modality. No live playing, no keyboard at all actually: it's all programmed with mouse, including pedal and tempo automation.

The Youtube version includes a score animation made with Music Animation Machine, developed by Stephen Malinowski, while the Soundcloud link includes a different version transposed and slowed down two and a half times.

Thanks for listening!

Chant for a Lost Spring (Youtube)

Chan for a Lost Sping, Alt. (Soundcloud)

Posted on Tue, Jan 04 2022 19:19
by tchampe
Joined on Wed, Apr 25 2018, Posts 92

Very nice tune. For me, the brighter tempo/higher key felt better. I listened to the slow version first and enjoyed it but hearing the original was a revelation. It felt lighter, more complex and flowing. Your technique of programming your MIDI without a keyboard gives me hope! I have no keyboard chops whatsoever so I will need to use your method of pains-takingly sculpting every phrase. I know that most of my favorite composers here are wonderful pianists, able to play the lines in real time, baking much of the musical nuance right into the recording. Your work proves that this is not an absolutely necessary skill (although it would certainly be nice to have!). Thank you for sharing. I will check out more of your work on SoundCloud and YouTube.


PS: Well, after listening to more of your music, I find myself with a question: since you are a virtuoso pianist, why did you chose to create Chant for a Lost Spring without using the keyboard? Lots of wonderful music, BTW

Posted on Thu, Jan 06 2022 21:35
by jsg
Joined on Thu, Jan 19 2006, San Francisco, CA USA, Posts 344

Very nice piece, I enjoyed listening, Thanks for posting.


Posted on Sat, Jan 08 2022 19:55
Joined on Tue, May 22 2012, Posts 456
I love the music, I love the programming, I love the sound of the Yamaha in de space.
Posted on Fri, Jan 14 2022 21:03
by Pier-V
Joined on Mon, Feb 18 2013, Posts 5

Today I checked the forum and I was really surprised. I honestly did not expect to receive so many replies! To apologise for being so late, I'll try to answer as many questions as possible.

Tom, thank you for the detailed feedback. The slower version was a "happy accident", so to speak: usually I'm very careful when composing a piece and I try to get the right balance between emotional impact and cohesiveness. If you allow me to make a bad joke, I'd say 49,9% the former and 50,1% the latter. However, this time I decided to experiment with a more improvisational approach, and I "discovered" the slower version while I was analyzing the composition after the fact, in particular while I was listening to the lydian variation of the main theme at the beginning. Probably some parts suffer a bit from being played so slowly, but in the end I decided to include the alternative version nonetheless, mainly because it suggest a very different atmosphere.

About the question at the end, well the answer is simple: I'm not a virtuoso pianist at all! Everything you listened to on my Soundcloud is programmed in the exact same way, that is with mouse only. I admit that sometimes editing every single note can be frustrating, but it is always compensated by the satisfaction of seeing the composition and the performance slowly taking shape as a whole and enhancing each other. These are, in my opinion, the three most important tips I can share (also, this is just my personal view on the subject):

- When choosing the velocities for a group of notes, separate them into different voices, then treat those voices as melodic instruments. Generally speaking, don't be afraid of using very low velocities in the accompaniment compared to the melody, and intermediate velocity in the bassline. Even at fortissimo, velocity from 100 onwards should be used carefully because they have a huge impact that can easily become overwhelming. Lastly, if a line contains a section of repeated notes and is not playing a crescendo, it's better to lower progressively the velocity of all the repeated notes;

- This piece is based on pedal so it doesn't apply here, but for example for fugato phrasing it's extremely important to account for note lenght (thankfully, the Synchron series has some of the best release trails I've ever heard in a piano Vst).  It may seem redundant at first, but differentiating between legato, semi-legato, tenuto, staccato and staccatissimo makes all the difference in the world for counterpoint clarity especially, and helps the listener distinguishing between different voices;

- Last but not least, the most important touch for realism: tempo automation. I split tempo automation in three different layers: random fluctuations (sort of a "noise", if you will), accelerando/ritardando and rubato. The first two are pretty much self explanatory, but rubato is a bit tricky and requires special attention. I prefer to think of rubato in terms of subtracting and I never add in previous section to compensate - usually, all the automations for rubato are done in the last 1/8th or 1/16th of a melodic phrase, depending on the context.

Finally, thank you for checking my other compositions. I'm glad you found them interesting, it keeps me motivated to do my best and to find new ways to improve.

Posted on Fri, Jan 14 2022 21:08
by Pier-V
Joined on Mon, Feb 18 2013, Posts 5

Jerry, thanks for listening to my piece, I really appreciate it. I find the way you use electronics and orchestra together very inspiring, and I hope to be able to do something similiar in the future. It will be a challenge for sure, but I love challenges!

Posted on Fri, Jan 14 2022 21:25
by Pier-V
Joined on Mon, Feb 18 2013, Posts 5

MMKA, I'm glad to see so much enthusiasm haha. I love the sound of both the Yamaha and the studio, too!

I own the Standard version only, and for this piece in particular I decided to use the decca tree as my main mic, followed by the close mic and the mid mic. The decca tree mic in the Yamaha is naturally panned to the right, though, so using it for a solo performance was a bit of a challenge. The method I used to place it at the center is not perfect by any means, but this is how I solved the problem: pretty simple actually, I lowered the volume of the right cannel around 1-2 Db down, then I applied a small delay to the right channel of around 2 milliseconds after measuring the stereo delay on the waveform of a middle C staccato for reference. 2 milliseconds may seem a lot but a decca tree is fairly large, so it should make sense in theory I guess.

I decided not to use any reverb (the studio is quite big and has a beautiful tone, so it felt unnecessary), and I also widened the stereo field a bit. I'm not an audio engineer, so I'm constantly doing more research to find new ways to improve my mixing techniques - this is not much but I hope it helps a bit.

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