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Do you play at the acoustics at all

Theo Verelst

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Apart from perfect pitch, sample accurate controllers and musician minds, and pro sound systems, I mean: do you feel the acoustics of a room or a concert hall as part of the playing experience ?


Not as the say "do you play ball" or are you an experienced live drummer, but more: is that piano against the wall making you play your prelude different than you digital keyboard for instance ? When I was learning (for years) to be rhythmic accurate when I wanted to be using drum computer and a practice regime, there was the fight between natural rhythmic components, which were mainly "wrong" or at least mostly unintentional, and the proper feels, simple main patterns and specific rhythms, including fixed amount of swing and such. Once that's mastered to some degree, how do you use that ability became a question. I for instance didn't like to play in a dead room or with headphones, without at least a serious artificial reverberation to check my notes out against. Singers feel that way about pitch, but I felt dry synth and drum sample notes where lifeless without a (partially confirmed) meaning to the timing.


So I for sure do play at acoustics and partials from the main acoustical elements (first reflections, sounding board, major room modes, generalities about reverb tails, and importantly: deadly loud modes that may not get amplified), I can't play without some preconception of whirling those notes against currently present or generally occurring acoustic games. So for instance, a piano in a small room with pronounced modes will play good at a certain volume, but also with a certain rhythmic feel or conception of how to place the notes against the main rhythm meter.


Maybe people want pure rhythmic accuracy and super dry sound in a acoustically dead room .. or ?



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Yes, absolutely. Every room I play in is different, and I hear those differences and they effect my playing.


F'Instance: at the last soul band gig, I was stuck over in a corner. The PA and the room were such that a single note from the singer resonated in my corner, making that one note much louder than everything else coming from the singer. This made me want to play quieter, and I found myself sometimes going with it and sometimes fighting it.


And I always feel most comfortable at the piano in my studio, where the sound is as familiar and as comfortable as an old slipper.

J.S. Bach Well Tempered Klavier

The collected works of Scott Joplin

Ray Charles Genius plus Soul

Charlie Parker Omnibook

Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life

Weather Report Mr. Gone


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Same here. There's a wonderfully alive performance space which I play at frequently. They have a Model L Steinway which plays like the one I have at home. But this room .... It's a combination of brick walls and high ceilings but the acoustics are damped just a tad by a perfect combination of draperies. It's one of those places where the fast notes are not indistinct but the slow notes ring out, and they have enough acoustic space to breathe. It's makes it really easy to play in such settings. You just hold down a chord and the piano sings ...
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