A while ago I posted a few photos of my lovely old baby grand piano, which I prepared after being inspired by seeing Fred Frith playing guitar….. At the time I said I would post a few recordings from it & here I am, finally getting around to it!
The best thing with a prepared piano is that every note sounds entirely unique & is malleable in a way that softsynth programmers can only dream of…. I have purposefully left the highest & lowest octaves untouched, but there are some beautiful sounds to be found between…
I especially enjoy the look on peoples faces when they sit down & try to play it like a normal piano! Technically the piano is a percussion instrument but with a bit of physical alteration that aspect becomes accentuated ie I can’t help but find rhythmic loops on it, inevitably destined for slicing & re-ordering but trance/dry mouth inducing loops nonetheless….
This bit of the keyboard I started calling my Thomas Newman suburb, as somehow an alligator clip or three was creating semi-dischordant harmonies, even when playing a single note:
And this is like i dont know what – scrapey abrasive tones?
Apart from sifting through the recordings for samples (rich pickings indeed!) I have also been playing around processsing it with one of my favourite (and free!) sample processing improv tools; the fantastic GLEETCHLAB (Mac OSX only)
If you have a hankering for experimentation it is VERY worth your download (& if you enjoy it, please make a donation to the author – he has even gone to the trouble of providing a PDF manual which you will need – I played with it for a half hour before I managed to get any sound out of it)
An important key to getting started with GleetchLab is understanding the routing matrix, which if you have ever played with a Synthi it will be intuitive, but for anyone else its a bit like that kids game Battleship… so RTFM first on that bit ok?
Anyway here are some pieces of prepared piano, processed via random buffer playback in GleetchLab…
algorhythmic improv 1
algorhythmic improv 2
improv loop 1
improv loop 2