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compressed piano sounds


Dana.

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What are some "classic" songs (any genre) that use a noticeably compressed piano sound? All I'm looking for is the name of the song and the artist. For example: "Maiden Voyage," Herbie Hancock. No personal opinion is needed. I don't care if you think a compressed piano sounds like angels singing or the devil's ass after a three-day Taco Bell bender. I know it's arduous for you all to make a post without giving your opinion, but I'm confident you can do it. :thu:
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Almost all recordings of piano I believe use some form of compression, especially ensemble recordings, to limit the dynamic range and fit it nicely into the mix.

 

The trouble is playing a piano sound which is already compressed feels like shit and very un-inspiring to play. Compression is added in the mixing process, but I doubt the performer is being monitored the compressed sound while recording.

Ian Benhamou

Keyboards/Guitar/Vocals

 

[url:https://www.facebook.com/OfficialTheMusicalBox/]The Musical Box[/url]

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The trouble is playing a piano sound which is already compressed feels like shit and very un-inspiring to play. Compression is added in the mixing process, but I doubt the performer is being monitored the compressed sound while recording.

 

Huh??? :rolleyes:

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The trouble is playing a piano sound which is already compressed feels like shit and very un-inspiring to play. Compression is added in the mixing process, but I doubt the performer is being monitored the compressed sound while recording.

 

Huh??? :rolleyes:

 

What I mean is, playing a piano sound that is compressed takes away the natural dynamic response of a piano.

 

At least the experiences I've had, that is, where I was playing a piano sound live or in the studio and what I was hearing in my monitors or in the headset was compressed. It took away all natural piano playing instincts.

Ian Benhamou

Keyboards/Guitar/Vocals

 

[url:https://www.facebook.com/OfficialTheMusicalBox/]The Musical Box[/url]

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Any piano you hear on record is compressed, even in classical music, although the level of compression is obviously variable. Certainly in rock and pop music, the piano is always compressed fairly heavily.

 

The piano in Don't Stop Believin by Journey is pretty compressed. Just heard it on the radio, so it's in my head. It's not straight piano though.

 

Rocket Man by Elton John too.

 

Like I said, though, really pick any rock/pop song with piano and you should be able to hear the compression.

 

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The piano in Don't Stop Believin by Journey is pretty compressed. Just heard it on the radio, so it's in my head. It's not straight piano though.
I wouldn't necessarily gauge compression by what you hear on the radio. Radio signals, particularly in the commercial end of the dial, are brick wall limited to ensure the volume doesn't vary from track to track. While this practice isn't necessary on classical stations where dynamic range is expected and desired, it's totally necessary on "modern" music stations.
A ROMpler is just a polyphonic turntable.
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BTW, why the question? I'm curious.

I like piano sounds that have character to them.

I do too. While I generally dislike the sound of compression, particularly extreme compression, there are definite examples where it's a vital effect adding to the vibe of a sound.

 

Another example of character in a piano sound - the Band song Whispering Pines was written, at least the music, by Richard Manuel on a piano that had a minor tuning irregularity or two right in the meat of the piano part. They spent quite a bit of time detuning the piano in the studio to achieve that same effect so it sounded 'right' to Richard. I dig it.

A ROMpler is just a polyphonic turntable.
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The piano in Don't Stop Believin by Journey is pretty compressed. Just heard it on the radio, so it's in my head. It's not straight piano though.
I wouldn't necessarily gauge compression by what you hear on the radio. Radio signals, particularly in the commercial end of the dial, are brick wall limited to ensure the volume doesn't vary from track to track. While this practice isn't necessary on classical stations where dynamic range is expected and desired, it's totally necessary on "modern" music stations.

 

Well, yeah. Hearing it on the radio is just why the song was in my head. The piano on the original is compressed heavily.

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The Stone's She's a Rainbow would be one example that immediately comes to mind

 

One thing is comp, but I think maybe they turned down the speed on the taperecorder when they recorded the piano as well...? If you record on tape you can turn down the speed (and the pitch) while you record to make it easier to play fast runs... This also changes the timbre of the recorded sound...

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- The half-speed piano solo in the Beatles' "In My Life"

- Todd's "Hello It's Me"

- Ben Folds' "One Angry Dwarf And 200 Solemn Faces"

- Bruce's "Backstreets"

- the opening of Firth of Fifth

- Joe Jackson's "One to One"

 

Not-very-compressed (at least to my ears)

- Keith Jarrett

- Steve Hamilton on Bruford's Earthworks' "Footloose and Fancy Free"

..
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Here's a different take on compression. Recorded VERY early on (late 1970s, early 1980s) in the world of digital audio on a 3M digital tape machine; Tom Yung the engineer. Back then, if you can believe it, they thought the digital audio revolution would be about EXPANDING the dynamic range. :laugh: What are bunch of idiots!

 

[video:youtube]

 

Busch.

 

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I like piano sounds that have character to them. Do you know the band Spoon? I wish they would reveal the secret to their piano sound, it's fantastic.

 

Are there particular Spoon songs you're referring to? Most of their stuff is more guitar centric isn't it? The little piano I noticed seems mostly that old hang one mike a few feet away-mono thing that's so popular with indie engineers. Sort of a poor man's nod to George Martin. Although I did hear one thing that sounded like they did the old one mike thing and then double tracked it so there was one mono track in one speaker and another mono performance in the other.

 

I have to admit, I'm tempted to hijack this thread into a discussion of compression and why so many people seem comfortable with "across the bow" statements like "I hate compression" or "should never be used in tracking". I'm always baffled by these extreme opinions because I think they are frequently misguided.

But, I'll be good.

 

As for examples of records with piano compression, I agree there are few records in the last 40 years without compression on the piano. Much of it is beautifully done and perhaps not even noticeable to most listeners.

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I'm always baffled by these extreme opinions because I think they are frequently misguided.

 

I'm baffled by ANY extreme opinions for the same reason.

9 Moog things, 3 Roland things, 2 Hammond things and a computer with stuff on it

 

 

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Steve, here are two examples of Spoon songs:

 

"The Way We Get By"

 

"Written In Reverse"

 

Well I can't swear to it, bot both of those examples sound like exactly what I was talking about. Mono, one mike, off miked by a few feet and possibly an actual upright. The second one has some chorusing applied. Probably a plug (which we all know is meant to make whatever piano it is sound even more like an old, in need of tuning, upright).

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Well, Abba song come to mind as compressed:

 

[video:youtube]

 

Of course compression is for two, maybe three main reasons, possibly for limiting (as in live performance where the max power or dB level mustn't be crossed), mainly the sound is supposed to work good n many radios, record/cassette/8track/tape/mp3/wav players on consumer type of amp/soeaker systems, where the dynamic range of instruments like the piano, especially combined with the fullrange properties of the sound (transients, resonances and bass notes) makes it hard to simply put on in splendor the acoustic piano sound as pure hifi.

 

The second main reason is the "made"- sound: the compression will take some of those average-soundsystem (and pro pa's as well of course) limitations a bit away, as well as that the compressed sound can be made to be more likable, and probably a bandsound as a whole will often be compressed and thus therefore the piano too.

 

I suppose the main other component of the question would be the compressed character of the piano itself, coming from all kinds of non-linear processes (saturation of the sounding board, prefered standing waves), and possibly that compares with taking compressed piano samples (horrible; polyphonic playing will expose this as total hoax: the process of compression is non-linear) or making the real piano sound work (pretty darn hard at any rate).

 

Maybe a pointer at a DSP news list posting I did last week:

 

http://old.nabble.com/Linux-audio---Mathematical-Synthesis-Compression-experiment-tc27714342.html

 

That's about making musical sounds.

 

Theo Verelst

 

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