How being musically genre-fluid affected my confidence

Being genre-fluid and challenging conventions about musical manners can only be a good thing but it can be difficult to find the confidence to play music in your own authentic voice, especially across more than one genre. We live in a mimetic society and the style gatekeepers guard norms ferociously. But for music to truly entertain, move and inspire listeners, artists must find the courage to be 100% expressively honest.

Impromptu in E flat – unplanned improvisation

In this short improvised piece, Phil explores romantic impressionism, with some jazz influences in the harmonies. The feeling is tender with a certain urgency that resolves into warmth with a hint of melancholy by the end.

Rachmaninov Prelude in G op. 32 no. 5

The irregular and cross rhythms of this exquisitely beautiful Prelude sound so natural and uncontrived. The music flows with a gloriously liquid, impressionistic, harmonious quality evoking feelings of sweet sadness and a sense of pastoral beauty.

Resisting the urge to change presets too much

The presets in Pianoteq and Waves that I use are designed by highly skilled people. So I resist the temptation to fiddle too much with them as they work very well out of the box. A few subtle adjustments are often all that is needed to find just the sound you’re after.

Volume settings like a concert grand using Pianoteq

To recreate a realistic-sounding piano recording using Pianoteq, the experience must be very much the same. A concert grand piano is loud. To generate the same experience of playing one, we need to set the volume higher than normal listening.

How I make a classical recording using Pianoteq

To make a very plausible classical piano recording, I take the NY Steinway D Classical Recording but play it with the stereo width set to default (0), the mics in the player position and the reverb mix set to default (0). To make the recording, I revert back to the original preset and add subtle mastering dynamics using Waves C6 and L1.

2 velocity curves for Pianoteq’s Steinway B Gentle

Different velocity curves can bring out different playing characteristics. This video features the same basic preset with drastically different velocity curves and a few other changes to generate very different playing experiences.