Hey…it’s me again (“Hi, me!”).

First, check out the Cabin Medley on SoundCloud (g’head…I’ll wait), then come back and read about it.

YouTube Video:

So on that fateful day, Thursday, October 6th, 2022, my wife and I had spent 5 weekends trying to record Into the Green (fairly unsuccessfully) and it was late afternoon heading into evening. We actually WERE NOT planning on knocking out Into the Green that particular day.

We pounded out Londonderry Aire (see this post), as a test of the systems (cameras, laptop, etc.) and my hands, heart, and spirit were feeling pretty good, so we knocked out what I call the “Cabin Medley” which is shown above.

Let’s see…I’ll have to go back a-ways in this story to tell you how all this crazy stuff came together. Hmmm…you have enough time to listen to me blather? Yes? Good!

So sometime after we sold our dream house and left the so-called American dream behind and moved into an apartment, I was blessed with the purchase of the Yamaha CP88, a truly amazing and fantastic machine. I have literally waited all my life for something like this. I remember pestering the poor folks at Ted Brown Music in Kennewick by coming in multiple days in a row and pounding the DICKENS out of the CP88 they had on display (which I ended up buying).

During the first week I had the CP88, I began to explore all of the grand pianos hidden inside it. Many keyboard players will tell you that they have many “medleys” of songs they play to warm up, or to test out new keyboards(!) and for other purposes. As I spent maybe 1-2 hours per day playing this fantastic instrument, I began to develop a plan and vision for how I might “tell the story” of this great machine to the world. The first song that shows off the CP88 was Londonderry Aire. I then put together a medley of songs from At My Father’s Cabin and between these two performances, I then began playing them against every single grand piano in the CP88. I soon narrowed down my favorites to FOUR grand pianos (the Hamburg, the Imperial, the S700, and the CFX). I then hatched a plan that still has not come to fruition: why not play Londonderry Aire and Cabin Medley on ALL FOUR of these grand pianos and record them all? I mean WHY NOT?! So I began practicing 1-2 hours per day (sometimes more!) playing these two songs on those 4 grand pianos over and over and over AND OVER. Oh…I should mention that I hatched this plan to not only someday use them to showcase the CP88, but ALSO so that I could fully understand every possible nuance of those 4 grand pianos. While this approach worked, (and believe me, I know those 4 grand pianos very intimately at this point, which is what I was after), when it came time to record the songs, even though the plan was to record them on all 4 pianos, the limitations of time led me to simply pick the Hamburg (Steinway) and record just on that particular grand piano. I *may* record these two songs on the other 3 grand pianos some day and post them on SoundCloud…we shall see.

Okay…so back to the story at hand: we knocked out Londonderry Aire and I was feeling good! So we knocked out Cabin Medley as well. Hmmm…I was STILL feeling good (heart, mind, spirit, and especially my HANDS were feeling great). Sooooo…with not much daylight left, we threw all caution to the wind and simply knocked out Into the Green. How cool is that?! Most of the tunes were one-takes. How cool is THAT (fellow musicians are vigorously nodding their heads in agreement!).

Moral of the story: if you’re feeling good and in the moment, you might as well knock out an entire album and getter done. So we did! It’s funny to me how much time and effort went into the previous FIVE weekends (which resulted in NO album done) and then when the time was right, about 2 hours was all it took to knock out Londonderry Aire, Cabin Medley, and the entire Into the Green album. Life is weird man.

By the by: there were various reasons the previous 5 weekends didn’t work out for Into the Green:

  1. The first few weekends we felt the songs were “rushed” and not representative of what we were after.
    • This forced Kevin to go back into the studio and find a decent tempo for each song and then we recorded each song out in the forest to the tempo we came up with in the studio (which was slower than if we didn’t use a metronome). This actually affected our workflow in the forest because now we had the metronome blaring out the speakers while recording. Also when you record “free form” solo piano tunes to a metronome, there are certain sections of the song where Kevin dramatically slows down…yeah…try playing a soulful slow-down with a metronome banging away…not fun…but we did it. If we do this again, I will probably ditch recording to a metronome for the final recording.
  2. Also, we hadn’t perfected the “rover” cam yet. Believe me we tried all kinds of craziness. We had the two GoPro’s mounted to two trees near where the keyboard sat. We borrowed a third GoPro and tried using it as the “rover” and it absolutely did not work. NOT a good method for rover cam. GoPro screen too small for Kath to adequately see what she was recording. Plus its smoothing algorithm is NOT as good as the iPhone. Interesting, no?
  3. We bought a simple gimbal for an iPhone 13 and Kath was in business! Plenty of screen to see what she was doing and it felt nice and simple in her hands to use. At this point I now want an army of iPhones on gimbals to attack this stuff. Heh heh.
  4. Multiple tests of speaker configuration and Zoom H4N Pro placement.
  5. Discovering that the iPhone 13, by default, has HDR (High Dynamic Range) automatically turned on and if you don’t know that, then when you pull that video into Final Cut Pro it looks like an acid-trip gone wrong. Blown out lighting and the video just looks weird. While there is supposedly a filter in Final Cut Pro to deal with this, Kevin wants simplicity…so we figured out how to turn that OFF on the iPhone.
    • (that said…the iPhone 13 takes FANTASTIC video and on a simple non-balancing gimbal, the smoothing algorithm on the iPhone is plenty good enough to create really nice video…so yeah)
  6. I’m probably forgetting all the other things we learned on this journey (oh yeah…hide the tarps covering the wood piles, park the truck AWAY from the forest so it’s not in the shot, charge EVERYTHING before starting recording, turn off ALL noise-making things in the vicinity, don’t be tired or cranky or hungry, etc.), but the takeaway here is that the 5 weekends were necessary to get the quality we were after. Hopefully the YouTube video that is coming will show that. We shall see.

So there ya go…waaaaay more detail than you wanted, but now you know more about what it took to do all this.

Until next time,

Kevin B. Selby

1 thought on “Cabin Medley released

Comments are closed.