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cptexas
10-12-2005, 02:39 PM
How is the piano used as an orchestral instrument?
Some composers use it as a non-solo instrument and I just don't get it. How on earth do you use an piano as an orchestral instrument without it sticking out like a sore thumb? And if I treat it as chromatic percussion like I assume most composers do, my piece always ends up sounding like a piano concerto for a couple of bars when the piano is present. I CAN'T MAKE IT WORK!!!!

Have any of y'all used the piano as an orchestral instrument? Care to share mp3's/pdf's?

-Chris

southportJim
10-12-2005, 02:48 PM
If you put the lid down you can bang on it with mallets...it IS considered a percussion intrument isn't it?

;-)

Jeannot Welter
10-12-2005, 02:52 PM
Reduce the volume and put it on a mono track, or narrow the stereo width.

Fabio
10-12-2005, 04:18 PM
About the use, you are right. It is a component of the chromatic percussions family in the modern orchestration, and in early '900 this use was performed with vertical study pianos, instead of grand coda of course.

But if you are working with the electronic environment everything is possible: today best studios have a grand piano inside, but the recording is filtered by every kind of mic positionning, Eq and sound editing, then the result is totally flexible.

You may use your GPO piano in the same way, managing controllers, as Jeannot suggests. The reason is:

- volume:
it must be reduced to go back to an ensamble dimension instead of a solo protagonism.

- stereo pan:
it is designed to give you the feeling of distance between piano's strings, then low notes are panned left, and high notes are panned right, as if you are in front of the keyboard (or the tipical stereo mics positionning in recordings). It doesn't make any sense if you just want to find the right pan positionning for a piano in a concert hall. the best way is to put it on a mono track, and use pan to create the right place in the orchestra. The reverb will be anyway stereo, and it will give back to the sound a stereophonic dimension.

Fabio
10-12-2005, 04:22 PM
If you put the lid down you can bang on it with mallets...it IS considered a percussion intrument isn't it?

;-)

I think you'r right, but you'r perhaps using a very expensive way to create the sound, aren't you?
;)

David_Carter
10-12-2005, 04:43 PM
Prokofiev and Stravinsky both wrote great orchestral piano parts. have a look particualry at Petrushka and Prokofiev 5.

It's often used to add colour to a texture such as very high writing in with high winds and very effectively doubling deep bass lines.

Yes its percussion and for something a bit more modern and freaky (even though written in something like 1908) try Edgar Varese Ionisation.

I think the secret is to remember is to forget it is a solo instrument write for it sparingly as colour with occasional single solo lines, keep the polyphony and density down.

Another excellent example is Messiaen Turangalila symphony - although this is almost a piano concerto there are loads of moments where it is part of the orchestra.

cptexas
10-12-2005, 06:05 PM
About the use, you are right. It is a component of the chromatic percussions family in the modern orchestration, and in early '900 this use was performed with vertical study pianos, instead of grand coda of course.

But if you are working with the electronic environment everything is possible: today best studios have a grand piano inside, but the recording is filtered by every kind of mic positionning, Eq and sound editing, then the result is totally flexible.

You may use your GPO piano in the same way, managing controllers, as Jeannot suggests. The reason is:

- volume:
it must be reduced to go back to an ensamble dimension instead of a solo protagonism.

- stereo pan:
it is designed to give you the feeling of distance between piano's strings, then low notes are panned left, and high notes are panned right, as if you are in front of the keyboard (or the tipical stereo mics positionning in recordings). It doesn't make any sense if you just want to find the right pan positionning for a piano in a concert hall. the best way is to put it on a mono track, and use pan to create the right place in the orchestra. The reverb will be anyway stereo, and it will give back to the sound a stereophonic dimension.
Ahh, yes!
I forgot about the whole stereo/mono thing. I always have to correct that with the GPO timpani, too. Good point.

Thanks, Fabio! :)

-Chris

Skysaw
10-12-2005, 06:40 PM
Have any of y'all used the piano as an orchestral instrument? Care to share mp3's/pdf's?
My demo on the Garritan site A View from Mount Fuji from Edo (http://www.allhands.com/mp3/fuji.mp3) is my best example of "piano as non-solo" in a full orchestral context. There are a few measures here and there where it takes a predominate role, but the same can be said for most of the instruments in this piece.

jesshmusic
10-12-2005, 11:52 PM
Have you heard Appalacian Spring by Copland?

Here is a list of non piano-concertos that include piano: (The trick is to put it half-peg and with the percussion instead of out front. On Gpo, just pan it left and reduce the volume):

Saint-Saens: Organ Symphony
Aaron Copland: Rodeo and Appalacian Spring
Bartok: Music for Celesta, Percussion, and Strings (highly recommend)


A lot of modern composers include the piano now. Especially since every orchestra has one.

Godfrey
10-13-2005, 07:52 AM
The best way I've found to do it (in addition to putting the piano on a mono track) is to use reverb wet/dry proportions to give the piano a bit of distance. It works amazingly well with convolution reverbs. Here's how I would do it using SONAR:

First, create two intermediate busses which send their output to the master bus. Route the piano to one intermediate bus, and the rest of the orchestra to the other one.

On the orchestra bus, apply SIR (http://www.knufinke.de/sir/index_en.html) or PerfectSpace. Load in an appropriate impulse, such as the 1800 seat auditorium from NoiseVault (http://www.noisevault.com/index.php?option=com_remository&Itemid=29&func=selectcat&cat=17). Mute the piano and play the piece, adjusting the reverb settings until it sounds the way I want it.

Now copy the reverb instance over to the piano's bus. Unmute the piano and play the piece, lowering the Dry slider (and possibly raising the Wet slider to compensate for the attenuation of volume) until the piano has gotten the appropriate amount of distance that it sounds like a part of the orchestra instead of a soloist.

Skysaw
10-13-2005, 08:53 AM
Now copy the reverb instance over to the piano's bus. Unmute the piano and play the piece, lowering the Dry slider (and possibly raising the Wet slider to compensate for the attenuation of volume) until the piano has gotten the appropriate amount of distance that it sounds like a part of the orchestra instead of a soloist.

I agree 100% with the intent here, but unless I misunderstand what you are saying, this is not the most efficient use of bussing or CPU.

You can achieve the same results with only one instance of the reverb. Create a single bus for the reverb, and set dry = 0% / wet = 100%. Now on your instances of GPO, use the gain control on the feed to that bus to control how much reverb each instrument gets. You can use the gain input (or output) on the bus itself to control the overall reverb level, and the track bus feeds to control individual levels.

Drumroll
10-13-2005, 02:22 PM
Have any of y'all used the piano as an orchestral instrument? Care to share mp3's/pdf's?

-Chris

Well, fortunately or unfortunately as the case may be, I really like to use the piano with the full orchestra. I try to blend it by having it play the repetitive motion lines that I might assign to the full woodwinds or a section of strings. I feel that it frees up my players for the fun stuff. Sometimes I switch off between them for a color or mood change. Here is my example. I posted it awhile ago as my first GPO piece and have not had a chance to edit it so it still sounds a bit rough, but it will give you an idea of how I use it. Beware! It is seriously tonal and not very advanced compositionally.

http://ia300112.us.archive.org/3/items/Remembering_Home/RememberingHome.mp3

Best,
Paula

cptexas
10-13-2005, 03:08 PM
The best way I've found to do it (in addition to putting the piano on a mono track) is to use reverb wet/dry proportions to give the piano a bit of distance. It works amazingly well with convolution reverbs. Here's how I would do it using SONAR:

First, create two intermediate busses which send their output to the master bus. Route the piano to one intermediate bus, and the rest of the orchestra to the other one.

On the orchestra bus, apply SIR (http://www.knufinke.de/sir/index_en.html) or PerfectSpace. Load in an appropriate impulse, such as the 1800 seat auditorium from NoiseVault (http://www.noisevault.com/index.php?option=com_remository&Itemid=29&func=selectcat&cat=17). Mute the piano and play the piece, adjusting the reverb settings until it sounds the way I want it.

Now copy the reverb instance over to the piano's bus. Unmute the piano and play the piece, lowering the Dry slider (and possibly raising the Wet slider to compensate for the attenuation of volume) until the piano has gotten the appropriate amount of distance that it sounds like a part of the orchestra instead of a soloist.
I use this trick all the time, actually. My favorite reverb (cakewalk FX reverb, yes, I know, not the best but I like it better than the other stuff that came free with Sonar)1 doesn't use much CPU so I just open three instances. On all of them I have 'large room' open, but I adjust the mix level. For the woodwinds and strings it's fairly low for a close sound (the woodwinds end up sounding further back anyway because for some reason the GPO woodwinds sound more ambiant than the GPO strings even with the same reverb settings), the second is a bit higher for brass, and the third is fairly high for the percussion.

Jesse Hopkins
11-14-2005, 12:10 PM
I use the piano to add some brightness and to bring out high woodwinds in orchestral tuttis. It is also good for adding some subliminal aggression to cellos and basses. If you want it to "color" an instrument, you write in the score "'color' cellos" and in performance, the player will know to play a little quieter than the cello section.

cptexas
11-14-2005, 04:41 PM
I use the piano to add some brightness and to bring out high woodwinds in orchestral tuttis. It is also good for adding some subliminal aggression to cellos and basses. If you want it to "color" an instrument, you write in the score "'color' cellos" and in performance, the player will know to play a little quieter than the cello section.
Ooh!!
Good thought!
That would make a great addition to the woodwind parts when appropriate. Good idea with the cello/bass too. The piano has that nice ring on the bottom end.
Thanks!
-Chris

Drumroll
11-15-2005, 06:57 PM
Ooh!!
Good thought!
That would make a great addition to the woodwind parts when appropriate. Good idea with the cello/bass too. The piano has that nice ring on the bottom end.
Thanks!
-Chris

I was just listening to Stravinsky's Petroushka and I think the piano roll is brilliant. You could give it a listen for ideas.

~Paula