Heh heh…wow…it’s certainly been awhile since I paid attention to kevinselby.com.
So today I used the Way Back Machine (see: http://archive.org/web/) to go find all the content I used to have “back in the day” that described my various albums throughout the years. What a trip down memory lane. Some of the technology I used was wack! I mean seriously…an EMU Proformance Plus piano module! That thing was awesome (for its time).
Well…the really great news is that technology has progressed at a huge (yuuuuge) rate and I am now working on a new solo piano album (still don’t know what to call it yet…maybe “In My Own Dang House” (er…without the “Dang”)). Anyway…I will probably use XLN Audio Addictive Keys Studio Grand (see: https://www.xlnaudio.com/products/instrument/studio_grand) because it’s reasonably priced, it’s a Steinway D, you can adjust many many parameters to get what you want, and it just sounds great! As a keyboard player, when you want to “express yourself”, you really have to find not only a piano library (like the Addictive Keys Studio Grand, and many other similar libraries), but you *also* have to find a “controller” keyboard that you really “bond” with. I will probably use a Casio CDP-120 that I stole from a friend. It’s an 88-key weighted controller that just seems to “fit” my particular needs right now.
It’s funny…while researching the exact keyboard controller (and accompanying piano library) to use, my poor messy home studio was filled to the brim with various keyboards as I tried them ALL.
Here are the various models of keyboard controller I tried and why I discarded them (or kept it in the case of the Casio CDP-120):
- Yamaha DGX-640: I’m just going to say it: I hate this keyboard’s “feel”. It’s using Yamaha’s GHS keybed and to my tired fingers, it’s just TOO stiff. I can’t get away with the rapid fire keyboard notes that I need to on certain of my songs. So nope.
- Yamaha DGX-305: this is a keyboard I used for many many years (especially with the Baja Blues Band) and while I still love the keyboard, it’s only 76 keys and they are pretty light (i.e., unweighted) and therefore you have the opposite problem from the DGX-640: you tend to sound sloppier than you are because the keys are so lightly weighted (or not weighted at all) that your fingers spill over onto keys that you didn’t intend. Also…I’m finding that some of the tunes I plan on recording actually make use of more keys than 76. Much as I luv ya DGX-305, you’re out.
- Yamaha DGX-505: this is the bigger brother to the DGX-305 and therefore it’s basically an 88-key version. Same problems (lightly or un-weighted keys) apply. Interestingly enough…I maaaay use this sucker for live performance because I tend to not care as much about slop during live performance (I know…I should care…but I really don’t!). Stay tuned on this particular keyboard. It could be GREAT for live performance (because it won’t tire out my poor old hands).
- M-Audio Keystation 88 MKII: I mainly bought this because it came with the Sonivox Eighty-Eight ensemble grand piano library. It’s based on a Steinway D and sounds absolutely stellar. Unfortunately the library doesn’t behave as well as XLN Audio’s Studio Grand on my various computer systems. We shall see. Regarding the keybed itself: blech. The velocity values that the keyboard sends to the computer seem to be very inconsistent such that certain notes will jump out at you while other notes will be too quiet. This will not do for a studio solo piano album where I want to “sing” using solo piano.
- Yamaha Tyros 5: only 76 keys. However, if this dang thing had 88 keys I probably would use it because I actually like the action sliiightly better than the Casio CDP-120.
- Casio CDP-120: At first blush I thought this keybed would be too stiff, but the more I pounded on it and got used to the feel, the more I realized that I really can “sing” via solo piano on this particular board. So…until further notice (and I reserve the right to change my mind multiple times!), I will probably use this particular keyboard to control a software piano library.
Oh…before I forget…I had it in my head for the last 10 years or so that if I was going to produce another solo piano album it HAD to be using the Yamaha grand piano sound. I really do like the “sparkly” and brighter sound that Yamaha gets (especially in live performance where it cuts through a mix very nicely). However, I’m not convinced anymore that I really want that. The more I listen to various Steinway libraries, the more I like the warm, “woody” sound of the Steinway. Plus, using a Steinway sends me back mentally to college at Washington State University (WSU) where I played on many many different Steinway’s, but *especially* the mahogany Steinway baby grand in Regents Hall where I met that cute (still!) girl named Kathy from Brier, WA.
So anyway…there you have it. My musings so far. Let’s hope I can make the time to get these songs out of my brain and into Sonar and out to you!