Archive for the ‘Piano’ Category

Tonight I went to go see a Russian pianist performing a complete recital of Chopin. It was absolutely brilliant, his technique was incredible and all the pieces were extraordinary. As much as I would love to discuss piano technique and performance characteristics of tonight, instead I’m going to talk about my thoughts on it in relation to composing, particularly for film. It’s often common practice to just use a high quality MIDI plugin to emulate the strings, and provided you write good enough music, this will do divinely. But whilst listening to this performer I thought about how no matter what you do with a machine, it’s doubted the result will be as moving as a real performance, obviously recordings generally still aren’t as powerful as a live performance, but still more powerful than MIDI. However, recording an entire orchestra for a film score is a very long, difficult and stressful process, as I know from talking to a friend of mine who worked on the recording and composed some of the music for a new Hollywood zombie movie called ‘Christmas With The Dead.’ And still wasn’t overly happy with the result. But then you have the great film scores of Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Jaws, ET, Jurassic Park, and many more written by John Williams and recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra, these are easily some of the most notable film sound tracks and the reason for this is both the score and the incredible sound of the recording/talent of the orchestra. This is the most extreme of the best, however, the music for Pirates of the Caribbean, another epic film score that is very notable and gripping, was recorded with a group of musicians later given the name The Hollywood Studio Symphony, over the course of 4 days.

All the orchestral music I compose, I compose with MIDI, but the one piece I have had performed was only performed by the Tasmanian Youth Orchestra, and even with my best synthestrated scored, that performance will always be more memorable. Which means if a youth orchestra can capture the emotion of a piece well enough to surpass a MIDI recording, that means the main struggle lies in the recording, which is no big surprise. People generally don’t get much experience recording orchestras, its so complicated and time consuming you’d have to be crazy to want to, but as John Williams has showed us, with the right stuff, the hard way is definitely worth it.

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