My debut CD, UnCaged Toy Piano, was recently reviewed in the All Music Guide,a comprehensive online music review site. This is the first time my CD was praised for its production sensibility, which I’m proud to say was done in my apartment by my partner, Rob.
I recorded the CD at the Bunker Studio in Brooklyn over the span of 3 half-day sessions. The versatility that Dave Lewis praises in this review is partially the result of the toy pianos I chose to use for the recording. I used three toy pianos for my CD and one of them was not even mine. On my first recording day, the engineers told me that they found a toy piano (very similar to mine) on the street side in Williamsburg. The toy piano was a 2 and a half octave baby grand piano (one where the lid doesn’t open) and has a really sweet ringing tone for that model. I recorded The Memoirist part 1 on this piano because I thought the sound would go well with the music box. To record this piece, we had to put saran wrap around the microphone next to the frying pan. Aaron, the recording engineer, wanted to get a close mic on the frying of the egg, but also wanted to protect the microphone. Apparently some engineers use condoms as a protection for their microphones in situations like this.
The other two toy pianos used were my upright Schoenhut and my 3-octave grand that is so beat up now, I use it only as a prepared toy piano. Rob and I spent about 2 days re-mastering the tracks. It was interesting to ponder what a controlled environment a recording studio has become–it is just an imaginary space for music. There are no music halls that would sound like it and are capable of shifting spaces from piece to piece. For example, I wanted the John Cage suite to sound closely mic-ed, almost as if the listener was inside of the toy piano, but I wanted Mirabella to be heard farther away in a small-sized concert hall. Now with recording technology, the “hall” is really reflected in a lot of the re-mastering stage and also the quality of your headphones or sound system.