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James Scott - 'Quality Dimples'

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by wiser_guy, Mar 19, 2010.

  1. wiser_guy

    wiser_guy Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    James Scott's collection on Piano Society is extremely limited and I thought a couple of additions would be welcome. Scott is considered as one of the three 'kings of ragtime' (btw Joseph Lamb is totally absent which is quite a pity).
    His style is more energetic and involving than Joplin's and generally his music is more difficult to cope with efficiently.

    "Dixie Dimples" is essentially a fox trot. The publisher declared it as a 'novelty rag' to avoid the dismay of hardcore rag fans, but its 4/4 time and apparent influences of the mainstream dance craze, give it away. Still, James Scott's patterns and brilliant ideas especially at the closing measures of each part, are a pleasure to listen to and play.

    "Quality (a High Class Rag)" was written in 1911. It is not considered particularly popular but to me, this is a fine example of Scott's style. A real pain to study, as form and shapes appear only when close to final speed.

    Enjoy the music.

    Scott - Dixie Dimples

    Scott - Quality (a High Class Rag)
     
  2. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    These are up, Pantelis. Sounded great! You really are a superb rag player!!
    Your piano sounded a little different to me. Did you change pianos?
     
  3. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Yes, splendid playing again ! I admire the dedication you lavish on a minor composer like this. I can't help finding not much substance in this music. But if it has to be played at all, let it be by you ! :D
     
  4. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Pantelis, what a great era in American music, before sound in movies came along and sidelined all these great musicians from a financial standpoint. You play rag music with great stylistic swagger and period interpretation. Indeed, these pieces are played extremely well... BTW, I hope the photography is going well too!

    George
     
  5. RSPIll

    RSPIll New Member

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    Pantelis,

    Those two rags certainly brightened my day. People so often forget that there are other fine ragtime composers than Mr. Joplin.

    Scott
     
  6. Nicole

    Nicole New Member

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    These both sound nice! As soon as I hear the first few notes of either, my mind wanders into an old movie -- specifically a dusty saloon where the pianist is up against the wall playing a tall upright, the bartender is polishing the glasses, and the patrons are happy. I see myself wearing an oversized hat, fancy dress and gloves and........well ok, flirting with all of the men. :D

    So yes, these brightened my day too!
     
  7. wiser_guy

    wiser_guy Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    @pianolady
    Thanks for putting these up, Monica. No, piano is the same but I always like to play around with EQ and microphone placement. The major change this time is the Bricasti reverbs. I highly recommend them to any serious-about-recording fellow member. Their ambience set is amazing on piano. Try them out.

    @techneut
    Thanks, Chris. You're right, there is not much 'inventio' in this music if you approach it as a classical composition. Its real virtues lie somewhere between groovy patterns and first impressions. Its impact is very strong there. You know how it goes, pianist has fun, everybody does.

    @88man
    I'm glad you liked these Scott rags, George. And thank you for your words.
    Unfortunately, photography is not going at all... I hope during Easter I'll have time for some outdoor action, we'll see.

    @RSPIll & Nicole
    I feel flattered by you both making that same comment about brightening your day. It means a lot to me if I have managed to do so. That's the essence of this whole thing, isn't it?

    You are right Scott, there are indeed many noteworthy ragtime composers. But to be fair, I would say none has showed such consistency and resourcefulness in practically every piece they wrote, except Joplin. Some of them have two or three 'hits' in their work, some even more. But only Joplin IMHO made every piece he wrote a hit, in one way or another. Nevertheless, as you imply, there are notable pieces out there which won't get a fair chance just because they're not Joplin's.

    Nicole, I enjoyed your descriptive sense of a movie scene. :D
     
  8. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    I tried that Briscasti reverb once before but actually could not get it to operate properly on my computer. However, I now have a new computer, a new editing program, and just today bought some new speakers and earphones! I'm very happy, because now I have sound coming from all around and also on both sides of my head (my other earphone had one side that went out and was driving me crazy). So maybe I will try figuring out the reverb thing on my new program again, although it's probably too complicated for me. We'll see....but thanks for the tip.
     
  9. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Pantelis, I am glad to see that you're enjoying the Bricasti M7. It offers the finest hardware reverb on the planet. However, I've been deciding whether it will be worth getting the Bricasti M7 @ $3,700 for my setup?
     
  10. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Pantelis,

    When it comes to the rag genre, you're the man! These two pieces, so stylishly played, give us a slice of Americana from the turn of the last century. The recording quality is great too. Thanks for sharing these pieces.
     
  11. wiser_guy

    wiser_guy Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    @ 88man
    Oh no, no, for heaven's sake, I didn't mean the Bricasti hardware! Sorry George, if I wasn't clear enough. Besides being so expensive, the Bricasti device as a hardware reverb is hardly useful to me since I do all processing 'in the box'.
    I was talking about the excellent impulse set (captured from the actual Bricasti device) offered fro free(!) by the acousticas team. I could give the link if this was ok with the site admins here.
    The most exciting feature of these impulses is the ambience set, with a duration of 1.4 secs for all of them. You can record closely and shape the tone to whatever you desire by adding a level of ambience. This way, you get rid of most of your room's involvement which is hard to get right and it is always the same. Then, you can add a tad of normal reverb as you would normally do.
    For these last recordings I used the 'dark ambience' impulses and a small reverb tail from Space Designer's built in chambers.
    Give them a try.

    @ Rachfan
    Always with an elegant style in your comments, David. Thanks you so much for listening.
    You know, I've always believed these great rag players of the past were extremely great pianists too. My involvement in this music was mostly due to the ambition of chasing the spirit of freedom and fun these players exhibited. I mean, just look at an old video. Nearly all times, the pianist has a big smile while playing, sometimes horribly difficult passages.
     
  12. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Sure, do post that link ! We have no objections to links as long as they are not commercial and not posted by someone with a stake in the business.
     
  13. wiser_guy

    wiser_guy Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Here it goes then: http://www.acousticas.net/World/IRs/AcousticasM7.zip
    The impulses, in theory, can be used by all convolution reverb processors. Unfortunately I can't give any help on installation or usage as every reverb plug-in has its own way of doing things. If it means something, I installed these in just a few seconds for use with Logic's Space Designer. But your mileage may vary.
    Anyway, bottom line is that the specific impulses were captured at 48KHz and are of really high quality. I don't know how they compare to the original device but my guess is that they are close.
     
  14. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you, Pantelis for the link and useful info!... I thought that my next response was going to be to congratulate you on hitting the lottery by getting an M7?! :) Even more practical, you've managed to use the heart of the M7 in your DAW. I am just curious if anything is missing from the hardware unit? The only way I could implement an M7 is to go through my Apogee Ensemble's MIDI Send/Return on the Mac, or my PC's digital I/O in Sonar as a direct digital plug-in.

    I've heard of the Bricasti impulse responses from Acousticas, however, I've never downloaded them into my DAW. Did you load them into LogicPro's Space Designer?... I have LogicPro 8 on the Mac, but don't use it often, as I've been using Lexicon Pantheon in Sonar lately. I haven't done any digital tone shaping on acoustic piano, however it will be interesting to experiment if the results are realistic. When it comes to tonality and timbre, I am fussy to the point where I've actually replaced a few strings to get the right sound on my piano.

    I've actually spoken with the Bricasti co-founder, Casey, (he's the "cas" in Bricasti, and "bri" is Brian, and according to him, "ti" for Italian looks). He's nearby, so I teased him that there were no S/PDIF connections to use on the Ensemble, and the M7 only has AES/XLR connectors. He made a deal with me and said if I buy an M7, then he'll not deliver the digital adapters, but he'll also show me in person the full capability of the M7 on my system. Well, then I'll have a case of beer ready at the end of the session... :D

    But realistically, I am like you, I like to have direct and reliable plug-in capability. Some say that it's "easy" to rout it digitally, but I am not convinced it's going to be 100% compatible as a direct DAW plug-in?...
     
  15. wiser_guy

    wiser_guy Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Hey George,

    IMO if you are not a professional studio relying on outboard gear, then a device like that just for piano would be an overkill. You can do a perfect job with convolution software. But then again, it's how I see it.

    As for tone shaping, I have learned a few things from an expert in the field. Mr Ernest Cholakis does convolution for a living. You can have a look at his site: http://www.numericalsound.com
    He has some exquisite impulses used mainly by movies professionals and others. I had a conversation with him a year ago and he was a firm believer that dry recordings can benefit a lot from convolution ambience.
    His theory is quite simple. Record an instrument as dry as possible (This may sound foreign to our ears which are used to 'wet' sounds even inside small rooms). Then you need to add the proper ambience to put the sound in context. This is the timbre impulse as he calls it. It's where the tone shaping works. Then, you can add any reverb impulse to define a space of some sort. It's a little like Alice in wonderland where the cat disappears but the smile remains. We try to isolate the smile and put it on a different cat!

    The usual problem one faces when trying to apply this theory, is that the recording is not extremely dry and that true ambience impulses are hard to find. For the former, you can record as close as possible being assisted by the fact that the piano is a large sound source. For the latter, you need the Bricasti ambient set! :D
    Ok, I seem a little excited over this and I'm sure there must be other ambience impulses out there. I can't say I haven't found any because I haven't searched hard. But the fact is that usually impulse vendors strive for well known places, halls, churches etc. This is the case with Space Designer also. A lot of fine reverbs but not what I need.

    This is a project in progress for me, as I have discovered many advantages in this technique. But even with my current, limited experience-practice so far, the results are very promising. Next time my piano sound might be completely unrecognisable. 8)
     
  16. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Pantelis, my apologies for not getting back sooner. What an interesting site - amazing possibilities! I have a question whether adding too much bass traps or acoustic panels can alter the recorded tone?... I've also been experimenting with the concept of getting the room dry. I recently added more DIY bass traps to reduce the nearby reflections in my room and it improved the harshness I was getting in my recordings @900Hz and @1.8-1.9kHz. However, to my ears, I found that the piano sounded a bit more nasal in the middle register after I added the 2 additional damping materials. Like you I then added the reverb later in my Sonar's Lexicon Pantheon Reverb. Room=31m, Wet=11%. I made a "work in progress" recording of Albeniz's Asturias with these parameters in Repertoire section.

    I am very curious how your new direction and experimentation will go with tone shaping. You have a great mentor there. Do post more recordings using these new concepts. As far as the Bricasti M7 goes, I am in no rush at the moment. I'd be better off with a good pair of omni SDC mics placed as close as I can get to capture a natural tone, without getting too bright of a timbre.

    Good Luck!
     
  17. wiser_guy

    wiser_guy Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    My turn to apologise for the delayed response, George. I've been away for Easter (best wishes to all, btw). I desperately needed some days off.

    I would be very cautious with room treatment because it's easy to overdo it. You may end up with some kind of anechoic space and your piano will not be happy with it. It may record better, but it also may sound strange or alien to you and this will affect your playing. I think pianos are designed so that space is a part of their sound. Any space for that matter.
    I have two pianos and I have noticed that the smaller one (also newer) is more forgiving with excessive room treatment than the larger one. I have been told that room contribution to the overall sound depends on the piano's make. Pianos with pure tones are affected less by anechoic spaces than pianos with rich overtones. I believe this is nonsense. My pianos are considered to be on the pure tone side but as the room dries, they begin to sound like toys albeit at a different rate each one.
    So, I'm done with room treatment. I prefer to record a dry sound by close miking while at the same time I hear the full monty myself.
    Man, you are right inside my mind. 8) I've also been planning to test with small diaphragm omnis instead of my current large diaphragm cardioids. If I get satisfactory results, I will try to post photos of the setup.
     
  18. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Hi Pantelis,
    I have enjoyed your recordings thoroughly. They are splendid as all your rag-time performances! Keep up the good work!

    This would be very interesting also for me.

    With best regards
    Andreas
     
  19. wiser_guy

    wiser_guy Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Thanks for listening, Andreas.
    Well, you are partly responsible! :) Some of your recent recordings exhibit a kind of closeness and immediateness (for want of a better term) that made me consider small condensers seriously. I may go for the small Neumanns myself, although I will try the 183s which are omnidirectional in small scale AB. We'll see.
     
  20. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    Absolutely. I recently experimented by adding 2 more 2x4ft bass traps to remove any hint of harshness from nearby reflections in the highs. Yikes! The resulting recording had a nasal tone - it actually changed the harmonic content of the sound. Yes, there is a limit, and I may remove those additional panels to regain the original tone of the instrument.

    However, the preexisting corner 2x6ft bass traps and the two 2x4ft bass traps behind me have done wonders to tame any harshness from nearby reflections. It has also improved both recording and listening quality: flatter frequency response, and improved clarity, flutter echo, comb filtering, harshness, boomy bass, etc. I made these bass traps myself - quick, cheap, and looks pro. It's mounted on an H-brace pedestal that can be removed, raised, lowered, or transported. I can remove all the panels when I have guests. The burlap covering the OC-703 fiberglass matches the wall color too, and not that I am getting married anytime soon, it's future-wife-nag-friendly. :p

    Andreas and Pantelis, for my piano in my room, I am leaning toward a pair of Sennheiser MKH-8020. It has a flat frequency response, classy sound, slight "air," matches my DAV and Avalon preamps, and compliments the timbre of my piano. The recording studio standard is Schoeps, but it's very expensive at $3800. For my taste, Neumann KM183 may be too peaky: +8dB @ 10kHz. A hidden gem that also uses interchangeable capsules is MBHO, a small German company started by Dr. Schneider, who learned from Dr. Schoeps!

    If interested in the less expensive MBHO mics, this would be the recommended set up:
    MBP648 body (with transformer)
    MBC KA 100 LK (Linear Omni)

    http://www.mbho.de/t1.htm
    http://www.atlasproaudio.com/mbho.html

    Know the acoustical characteristics of your room and the timbre of your piano before selecting mics. Some mics are brighter, some are darker. Good Luck to All!
     

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