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7 STARTER DIGITAL PIANOS COMPARED
JUNE 2009
A NEWBAY MEDIA
PUBL I C AT I ON
King Roc
Ivory
Upright
Pianos
iZotope
Ozone 4
Arturia
Origin
Ryksopp
Michael Bearden
Rocks the Inauguration
PLAY
MGMT TIME TO PRETEND
MARIAH CAREY HERO
EMBRACE YOUR BASS
WITH SINE WAVES
TIEMPO LIBRE
BACH GOES TO CUBA
Eric Daniels
Shines with Mariah
Ray Chew
Masterminds the Neighborhood Ball
STAGEPAS 500 Yamahas newest
ultra-compact PA system follows closely
in the footsteps of its smaller, market-
leading counterpart, STAGEPAS 300.
The differences, you ask? Higher power,
more channels, additional features, and
even greater sonic performance, for those
more demanding applications.
Get the biggest possible sound out of the
smallest possible system. Take STAGEPAS 500
along for the ride and lets go places together.
10-input stereo powered mixer
Dual 250W amplifiers
10 two-way loudspeakers
Titanium high-frequency drivers
Two input compressor/limiters
Phantom power
System weight under 57lbs
2009 Yamaha Corporation of America. All rights reserved.
www.yamaha.com
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itm
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m
ise
These are diff cult tim
es for our country. And when the econom
y is struggling, as it is now, it would be easy for us to fall
into fear and negative thinking and to cut back on the services and support we provide, in order to save a few dollars. But
thats not the Am
erican way, and it has never been part of Sweetwaters approach.
Thirty years ago, I founded Sweetwater based on one philosophy: to provide m
y friends and custom
ers with the kind of
service and support that I looked for
but never found
when I was m
aking gear purchases for m
y own recording
studio. As we celebrate our 30th anniversary as a com
pany this year, Im
proud to say that we have stood by that
com
m
itm
ent, and we will continue to stand by it.
Thats why were doing everything we can to m
ove forward in these diff cult tim
es. You deserve the very best whenever you
m
ake a m
usic or pro audio gear purchase. Were com
m
itted to providing you all of the great extras youve com
e to expect
from
us: free shipping, free lifetim
e technical support, the quality of our award-winning service departm
ent, and the
training and effort we put into ensuring that our Sales Engineers are the m
ost knowledgeable and experienced in the
industry.
And were not stopping there. Were adding even m
ore extras to m
ake sure you receive unrivaled value for your gear
purchase dollars, such as our free Total Conf dence Coverage
TM
warranty to protect the gear you purchase from
us,
and our upcom
ing GearFest Pro Audio and Music Expo
which will be the highlight of our 30th-anniversary
celebration and the m
ust-attend pro audio/m
usic event of the year!
So, despite the econom
y, were going to continue to provide you with the best m
usic and pro audio gear value
available. Our 30-year com
m
itm
ent to our custom
ers, our industry, and the value of m
usic rem
ains unchanged,
and we are optim
istic about the future!
Id like to express our gratitude for your support and your business. We know that without you and your conf dence in us,
we wouldnt be here. On behalf of the entire com
pany, thank you!
Chuck Surack
President, Sweetwater
f
s to faall
Id like to express our gratitude for your support
and your business. We know that without you and your
condence in us, we wouldnt be here.
Chuck Surack
President of Sweetwater Sound

You Could Buy Your Music Gear Anywhere
(800) 222-4700 www.sweetwater.com
1 9 7 9 1 9 7 9 2 0 0 9 2 0 0 9
FREE Shipping FREE 2-year Warranty FREE Tech Support FREE Professional Advice
Sound Construction
Rolands Piano
Component Object
Sound Modeling
Synthesis technology
recreates the sound-
making characteristics
of the acoustic
piano and all the
complex interactions
between them.
Vintage Piano
The Vintage piano
models give you
detailed control over
single note tuning,
hammer hardness
and more, so you
can make the V-Piano
sound and behave
like the most beloved
acoustic pianos on
the planet.
Vanguard Piano
Enter a new dimension
of creativity and
construct a dream
piano. Adjust
resonances, set up
triple strings on every
key, tweak voicing
individually for each
register, and
much more.
Grand Feel
Sure to suit the most
demanding pianist,
the PHA III Ivory Feel
keyboard provides
the authentic playing
touch and feel of
a real acoustic
grand, with its high
repetition action
and ability to learn
your touch.
The revolutionary new V-Piano

represents a giant leap forward in digital technology. Gone are the tonal and polyphony
issues of the past inside this breakthrough instrument is a living piano engine that recreates every nuance of an
acoustic piano, and then some. For the first time in a digital keyboard, the V-Piano puts the entire range of the acoustic
pianos sound and natural expression under your fingertips, with no sampling, no looping and no velocity switching.
34 POP
Want to play Mariah Careys Hero note for note, as her keyboardist Eric Daniels performed it
for the Presidents inaugural Neighborhood Ball? Dig into the full transcription here.
36 ROCK
Learn the addictive synth riffs that define MGMTs Time To Pretend and play along to the
radio blockbuster.
38 JAZZ
Cluster chords can add nuance and richness to your piano work. Andy LaVerne shows you how
to thicken your voicings tastefully.
PLAY IT!
10 ARTISTS
TIEMPO LIBRE
JEANNE ARLAND PETERSON
KING ROC
BLACK GOLD
UNSIGNED ARTIST OF THE MONTH
ADVICE
SESSION SENSEI
CAREER COUNSELOR
ASK MIKE
COMMUNITY
CD REVIEWS
GO SEE
TAKE THE KEYBOARD CHALLENGE
WEEKEND WARRIOR
JUNE 2009
30
KEYSPACE
20 ALL THE PRESIDENTS SIDEMEN
Barack Obamas inauguration was the most musical in U.S.
history, thanks largely to three master keyboardists
Michael Bearden, Ray Chew, and Eric Daniels. Read
their stories, tips, and survival strategies here.
30 RYKSOPP
Learn electro-pop production secrets from the Norse
Gods of Synth.
FEATURES
20
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CONTENTS
5 0 6 . 2 0 0 9 K E Y B O A R D
JUNE 2009
40 SOFT SYNTHS
MGMTS TIME TO PRETEND SYNTH LEAD
Recreate the sound thats dominating the airwaves.
42 DANCE MIX
SINE OF THE TIMES
Layer in sine waves to beef up your bass lines.
44 PRODUCTION
EFFECTS LOOP BASICS IN PRO TOOLS
An insert isnt the only way to add effects. Learn how to set up a
send-based effects loop here.
DO IT!
LINKS
GEEK OUT
8 FROM THE
EDITOR
18 NEW GEAR
70 PRODUCT
SPOTLIGHT
71 CLASSIFIED
ADS
72 Get the scoop on Michael Beardens
B-3-powered inaugural rig.
ON THE WEB
INAUGURATION ONLINE
The story of those momentous musical
days in January doesnt end when you
close the magazine. Head online for more
exclusive stories and advice from Michael,
Ray, and Eric.
CREATIVE COMPING WITH
DANILO PEREZ
In our April 09 issue, we went deep into
Latin pianist Danilo Perezs harmonic
comping innovations. Now, Senior Editor
Michael Gallant walks you through the
lesson on video. Watch it at
keyboardmag.com/play.
@keyboardmag.com
GEAR
46 ROUNDUP:
THE STARTER PIANO
Seven digital pianos that focus on low
cost and portability.
54 ARTURIA ORIGIN
60 IZOTOPE OZONE 4
64 ANALYSIS PLUS
YELLOW OVAL CABLES
69 SYNTHOGY
IVORY UPRIGHT PIANOS
54
60
Cover photo by Nathan East
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6 K E Y B O A R D 0 6 . 2 0 0 9
CONTENTS
GearFest 09
Dont Miss
The Nations BIGGEST
Pro Audio and Music Expo!
Thousands of pieces of gear under gigantic tents
Exclusive on-site GearFest deals
Scores of manufacturer exhibits
GearFest Master Classes (Friday) and dozens
of additional workshops and seminars (Saturday)
All absolutely FREE!
GearFest 09 Is Bigger and Better Than Ever!
You dont want to miss this one! Join thousands of musicians, engineers, and all-out gear
fanatics at GearFest 09! Its Sweetwaters 30th anniversary, and to celebrate, weve made this
years festival bigger than ever. Friday is power packed with in-depth GearFest Master Classes
on subjects such as Pro Tools, sound for houses of worship, studio acoustic treatment, and
more. Saturday features performances, workshops, and appearances by some of the hottest
players and experts in the business and its all FREE! Call your Sales Engineer today
or go to sweetwater.com/gearfest to fnd out more!
1 9 7 9 1 9 7 9 2 0 0 9 2 0 0 9
sweetwater.com/gearfest (800) 222-4700
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GearFest 09 Highlights!
Friday, June 26
12:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Saturday, June 27
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Pro Tools Master Classes
Miking techniques for
houses of worship
Acoustics for the Home
Studio by renowned
acoustician Russ Berger
Mixing The Best of Both
Worlds by mix engineer
Fab Dupont (J. Lo, Queen
Latifah, etc.)
Live performances and
appearances by industry
legends and experts
Workshops on subjects
such as wireless mics;
desktop music production;
and miking techniques for
guitar, drums, and vocals
...and a whole lot more!
Imagine that anthropology students from
another planet have been observing us since,
oh, this past January. Their term papers might
begin something like: Earthlings are known for
music festivals such as Coachella, South by
Southwest, CMJ, Bonnaroo, and Inauguration.
This last one is curious, as the leader of one of
their largest countries takes office during the
intermission. An understandable confusion
and the exact reason Keyboard was there. Past
Inaugurations have certainly seen famous acts
perform, but this was a whole other level.
As the events showcased on a grand scale,
music can bring very different people together.
Ive formed friendships with people where
fisticuffs would have resulted if we were arguing
politics in a bar instead of gigging in one. Study
after study has shown that early music educa-
tion makes kids more socially adjusted, not to
mention better at math and science. And more
of us than not have had a coworker we just
couldnt stand, then learned they played an
instrument and thought, Hmm, they cant be all
that bad. These examples show musics power
to solo what makes us the same and pull the
fader down on what makes us different. Thats
why if the Other Guy had won and the festivities
been anywhere near this musical, wed have
rushed to cover them, and Id be writing the
exact same editors letter right now.
Speaking of togetherness, weve moved the
Letters page to cyberspace in response to your
feedback. Go to keyboardmag.com, click on
Forum, and youll find two forums. The Keyboard
Corner is where you can interact with fellow musi-
cians from all over the world. Keyboard Editors
Office is exactly what it sounds like, and our digi-
tal door is always open to your questions, sugges-
tions, compliments, and complaints. You can also
email us at the address at right if you prefer private
correspondence. If you miss the printed Letters
page, let us know enough feedback to that
effect, and well bring it back.
Now, in the interest of balanced music cover-
age, how about recording a piano CD, Condi?
OUR PARTY?
THE ONE WITH
LIVE MUSIC
VOL. 35, NO. 6 #399 JUNE 2009
eyboard
EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Stephen Fortner
SENIOR EDITOR: Michael Gallant
MANAGING EDITOR: Debbie Greenberg
EDITOR AT LARGE: Craig Anderton
INTERN: Rajneil Singh
ART DIRECTOR: Patrick Wong
MUSIC COPYIST: Elizabeth Ledgerwood
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PRODUCTION MANAGER: Amy Santana
MUSIC PLAYER NETWORK
VICE PRESIDENT: John Pledger
EDITORIAL DIRECTOR: Michael Molenda
SENIOR FINANCIAL ANALYST: Bob Jenkins
PRODUCTION DEPARTMENT MANAGER:
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DIRECTOR OF SALES OPERATIONS:
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WEB DIRECTOR: Max Sidman
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Publisher assumes no responsibility for return of
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KEYBOARD (ISSN 0730-0158) is published monthly
by NewBay Media, LLC 1111 Bayhill Drive, Suite 125,
San Bruno, CA 94066. All material published in KEY-
BOARD is copyrighted 2009 by NewBay Media. All
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Periodicals Postage Paid at San Bruno, CA and at
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#40612608. Canada Returns to be sent to Bleuchip
International, P.O. Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2.
Stephen Fortner
EXECUTIVE EDITOR
FROM THE EDI TOR
Name: Mike McKnight
Currently: Engineer for
Mariah Carey.
In this issue: Cover story
(page 20), Ask Mike (page 15).
Website: mcknightsoundinc.com
Name: Jim Aikin
Originally: One of the
founding editors at
Keyboard.
Currently: Renowned music technology
guru, electric cellist, and sci-fi author.
In this issue: Arturia Origin review
(page 54).
Website: musicwords.net
Name: David Franz
Currently: Instructor at
Berklee College of Music.
Book: Producing in the
Home Studio with Pro Tools.
In this issue: Pro Tools effects tutorial
(page 44).
Website: davidfranz.berkleemusic
blogs.com
Three contributors
you should know!
LETS HEAR FROM YOU
Contact the editors
keyboard@musicplayer.com
Keyboard Magazine
1111 Bayhill Dr., Suite 125
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8 K E Y B O A R D 0 6 . 2 0 0 9
Get
Vertical.
WHAT IVORY DID FOR VIRTUAL GRANDS,
IT NOW DOES FOR VIRTUAL UPRIGHTS!
Synthogy, the leader in virtual pianos, brings the authentic,
emotive sound of Upright Pianos to your Indie Rock, Pop,
Crossover, and Vintage tracks.
synthogy.com
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ARTI STS, ADVI CE, COMMUNI TY KEYSPACE
Bach is back with a vengeance. And
in the hands of power pianist Jorge Gomez
and his Grammy-nominated Cuban timba
group Tiempo Libre, you can be sure that
there will be dancing in the streets.
With an all-star cast (including saxo-
phonists Paquito DRivera and Yosvany
Terry) and a cascading collision of musi-
cal styles, Gomez and company reinvigo-
rate Bachs repertoire on their new Sony
release, Bach In Havana. Its been the
deft direction of Gomez that has guided
the group since day one. We put a lot of
different styles of Cuban music on this
album, Gomez tells me from his home in
Miami, as he prepares for the new
albums release. Like danzn, cha-cha-
cha, rumba, and guaguanc. But its all
about Johann Sebastian Bachs music
the sonata, the minuet, the prelude with
a Cuban touch.
The son of a musicologist mother and
a renowned classical pianist father,
Gomez grew up with a healthy dose of
traditional Cuban music, intertwined with
the sounds of his father practicing Bach
in the family home. Later, Gomez would
study at Cubas premier music conserva-
tory, the ENA (Escuela Nacional de Arte).
All of us studied classical music in Cuba
for 15 years, he continues. For me, Bach
was the best of all. I learned so much
from him the rhythm, the harmony, the
melody. With him, everything is perfect.
Especially with the rhythms on this CD,
you see how perfect they are, because
Bachs music is so mathematical. Its not
lyrical like Chopin or Liszt.
Gomez would eventually escape Cuba
in pursuit of personal and musical freedom,
traveling at first to Guatemala in 1995,
where he worked as an arranger and pro-
ducer, and in 2000, to Miami. It was there,
in 2001, that he would form Tiempo Libre
with other like-minded Cuban musicians
who had a desire to blend seemingly
opposite musical styles into a sound all
their own. At the beginning, we played
only jazz, Gomez continues. Then timba.
Then jazz, timba, classical, everything. We
also do musical theatre too. Its all the time
something new.
With the release of Bach In Havana,
Gomez masterfully merges a fierce, seem-
ingly limitless piano technique with jazz
colors, classical forms, and Cuban dance
figures. With a mixed bag of sounds like
that, its little wonder hes eager to hit the
road in support of the new album. I cant
wait to see the reaction of people, he
says. Its going to be the first time youll
see people listening to Bachs music, and
at the same time dancing a conga! Jon Regen
For more on Jorge and Tiempo Libre, visit tiempo
libremusic.com and myspace.com/tiempolibremusic.
TIEMPO LIBRE
Jorge Gomez Brings
Bach to Cuba
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Ever been to Tonic, the now-defunct haven of avant-garde
musical brilliance in New Yorks East Village? If so, youll get
Electric Brew in a heartbeat and wish you could see its
elegantly experimental music performed live on that well-trod-
den stage. Composer Bob Gluck combines lithe piano play-
ing with processed shofar (rams horn) and a wide variety of
computer-sourced sonics to create an engaging tapestry of
living sound; the title track reinvents themes from Miles Davis
Bitches Brew with the help of algorithmically-generated
piano motifs, for example, while In the Bushes builds on
samples of speeches given by Americas 43rd President and
triggered by notes of the piano. Electric Brew is a welcome
reminder of what magic can happen when rules are not so
much broken, but taken out of the equation completely.
Highly recommended. Michael Gallant
electricsongs.com
MORE ON KEYBOARDMAG. COM KEYSPACE
Jeanne Peterson is not your everyday
octogenarian. The 87-year-old fierce-fin-
gered pianist presides over a Minneapolis
musical dynasty that spans three genera-
tions, and extends into every conceivable
musical niche. Her late husband Willie was
a much-heralded jazz pianist, and played
organ for the Minnesota Twins. Sons Ricky
(keyboards), Billy (bass), and Paul (guitar)
have worked with virtually every power
player in the music pantheon, from David
Sanborn and Prince to Steve Miller and
Bonnie Raitt. Daughters Patty and Linda
are accomplished singers, pianists, and
songwriters as well, and grandchildren
Jason, Isaac, and Vanessa play saxophone,
drums, and sing, respectively.
Peterson grew up a child prodigy, pick-
ing out melodies and chords on the piano
at the early age of three. My mentors were
Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, and Bud Pow-
ell, Peterson tells me. And my education
was listening and copying. At the age of
15, her older brother, saxophonist Donald
Pouliot, convinced her to audition for her
first professional job as a singer. When the
pianist didnt know one of her selected
songs, Peterson simply replied, Thats
okay, Ill play it for myself. And the rest is
Minneapolis musical history.
Peterson would go on to become a sta-
ple of the Twin Cities broadcast circuit,
anchoring famed radio station WCCO as a
staff pianist and singer for 22 years, all
while simultaneously applying her musical
gifts to a plethora of performance and
recording work. That work continues to go
strong, including recent albums My Calen-
dar and Young And Foolish.
Petersons marriage to Willie would set
in motion a sonic training ground of sorts,
with each of her now-acclaimed children
growing up immersed in music. We had
rehearsals in the basement, and there was
always music going on in the house, she
tells me. My five kids heard all of this, and
thought every household was like that. The
kids would say to their friends, What does
your dad play?
More than 70 years after landing her
first gig, Peterson continues at full speed,
with touring and recording dates booked
well through this year and beyond. Im
happy to say that I am still busy, she tells
me. What advice can she offer to aspiring
musical hopefuls? Besides learning
chords and reading lead lines, I would say
listen to the great players. My education
was listening and learning. Jon Regen
For more on Jeanne Arland Peterson,
visit jeannejazz.com.
JEANNE ARLAND PETERSON
Jazz Matriarch of Minneapolis
Unsigned Artist of the Month
ELECTRIC BREW
0 6 . 2 0 0 9 K E Y B O A R D 11
Webpage: myspace.com/blackgold
Early inspiration: It all started with my
father who is a very talented musician.
When I was as young as I can remember, I
used to sit next to him at the piano and
sing songs with him. I was so amazed by
what he could do that I started to beg for
piano lessons when I was five.
Most influential records early on: I
grew up listening to a lot of the Beatles,
Elton John, and Billy Joel. Those were prob-
ably the first records that really taught me
how to play rock music on the piano.
Play by ear or sight-read: I can read
pretty well, but at this point I learn most
music by ear. I find its the best way for me
to memorize a song. If I just read the music
from the page, my brain doesnt retain all
the changes.
Practice regimen: I spend a lot of time
everyday at the piano, but Id hardly call it
practicing. I spend most of my time just
learning new songs and writing.
Songwriting inspiration: Sometimes its
something that happened to me or a close
friend. Other times it comes from a ran-
dom stranger on the street who fascinates
me. Inspiration can come at any time, so I
try to just be patient and let it happen. The
real trick is to nurture it as soon as it
1comes. If you put it on hold even for a
minute, it can disappear.
Touring rig: Ive been touring with a Wurl-
itzer 200A for quite a while now. Unfortu-
nately, its extremely difficult to keep running
properly. She can be quite a fickle girl, so I
also bring a Nord Stage 88 with me in case
the Wurly goes down. The Nord is the clos-
est to the real thing that I have been able to
find, and its been really reliable.
Gear wish list: I would love to see some-
body re-issue the Wurlitzer 200A. They did
a pretty great job on the Rhodes re-issue,
but I would love to get my hands on a
brand new Wurly. Maybe a newly-
constructed one would hold up a little bet-
ter than the 40-year-old one that I have.
Words of wisdom: Just learn to play all
the songs you love and always write music,
no matter how much of a beginner you are.
Nothing will teach you more than learning
from your idols. Robbie Gennet
ARTI STS, ADVI CE, COMMUNI TY KEYSPACE
The music: Deep tech and progressive house, with intelligent
flourishes of ambient and experimental electronica.
Webpage: kingroc.com and mutualsocietymusic.com
Favorite gear: First and foremost, my Mac, but I also love my
Korg Kaossilator and JazzMutant Lemur.
Favorite songs: Bloc Party, Halo; Jeff Buckley, Grace.
Influences: Heres a sampling of whats been on my iPod lately:
Alif Tree, Alex Smoke, Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, Aphex
Twin, Bloc Party, Blondie, Bob Marley, Camille, Editors, Feist, Jeff
Buckley, the Kills, Leftfield, Massive Attack, Michael Jackson, Nina
Simone, Pearl Jam, Rage Against The Machine, Red Hot Chili
Peppers, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Sigur Rs, Smashing Pumpkins.
Play by ear or sight-read: By ear, mostly. I do have some train-
ing in how to read music, but I trust my feelings more than I trust
my training.
Newest project: Putting my live show together using elements
of the album songs and also remixes and EP tracks Ive done.
Also, Im about to work on some new Two Armadillos remixes and
original productions.
Practice regimen: Work hard during the week and play hard
during the weekend.
Words of wisdom: You get what you give, but never give in
order to get. Francis Preve
BLACK GOLD
Eric Ronicks Piano Rock
MARTIN DAWSON
Electronica with King Roc
and Two Armadillos
12 K E Y B O A R D 0 6 . 2 0 0 9
KEYSPACE ARTI STS, ADVI CE, COMMUNI TY
Good work, musical or otherwise, can
be scarce these days, so the more things
you can do well, the better chance you
have of continuing to make music your sole
profession. Whether youre a hired gun
whos a household name, or a sideman or
bandleader looking for better exposure,
now is the time to get your musical and
social skills together. Theyre not giving
gigs away when you open a checking
account you have to earn them one mas-
terful step at a time.
1. Know the music. I dont care if
youre funnier than Chris Rock or have
chops for days. Dont show up to an
audition, rehearsal, or gig without
knowing the material inside and out.
2. Play it, dont say it. Leaders
hire sidemen for one reason only: to
play the hell out of their music. Theyll
hear everything they need to know
through the notes you play, so let your
groove do the talking.
3. Re-musicize yourself.
Thinking you know it all is your fast
track to obsolescence.
Make this the year to
expand your musical
palate. Learn a new
instrument in addition to
your primary axe, update
your technical skills, and
delve into new musical
genres.
4. Dress for
success. Research
the visual vibe of the
artist youre working with
to ensure a stylistic and a
musical fit. Looking the
part is sometimes just as
important as playing it.
5. Positive power. Nothing, not
even bad musicianship, is as debilitating
as negativity. Make a resolution to exude
positive vibes this year. In my own bands,
I look for players that elevate the mood as
well as the music. Getting the gig often
involves getting a reputation as someone
who people want to be around, on
and off the concert stage.
6. Ask and you shall
receive. Navigating the peaks and
valleys of the music business involves
a cunning combination of discipline
and drive. Some of the most heralded
players succeed because they are
constantly on the prowl for the next
gig. Sometimes that next great gig is
just an inquiry away ask and you just
may receive!
Career Counselor
Six Tips for Being a
Better Sideman
Ive had a strange month. By the time
you read this Ill be a full-time L.A. resident,
playing nightly on the new Tonight Show
with Conan OBrien, and hopefully doing
some interesting gigging and session work
like Ive been doing here in New York. For
the last few months, Ive been in a weird
in-between-the-coasts limbo.
When I call people on the phone, they
say, Hows L.A.? or Arent you gone
yet? When I answer the phone its like . . .
well, nothing because the phone hasnt
been ringing! In a business where perception
is everything, the perception is that Ive
already left New York, ironically, at a point
when Im unemployed and could really
use a few gigs!
Which got me thinking. How does one
make the phone ring? How am I going to
make the phone ring in a new town? Its a
useful exercise to ask yourself: Why do I get
the calls I get? Is it because of my reputa-
tion? Is it because I already have the gig, or
because Im a tireless self-promoter?
As I said, perception is everything. If its
your reputation that gets them calling, then
make sure you live up to it. If you already have
the gig, then own the gig and never rest on
your laurels. Practice, take lessons, and con-
stantly raise your standards. And if its your
style, kick up the social and professional net-
working. Are you good with Facebook? Are
you on LinkedIn? Remember, Craigslist isnt
just for personal ads and selling old gear. And
if youre a tireless self-promoter, then I salute
you, because I cant do that. Keep it up.
People hire people they know, respect,
and think theyll enjoy working with. It also
helps if they think youre still in town.
by Jon Regen, recording artist of critically acclaimed album, Let It Go
Session Sensei
Cross-Country Blues by Scott Healy, keyboardist for The Tonight Show with Conan OBrian
Jon with his sidemen.
14 K E Y B O A R D 0 6 . 2 0 0 9
When Mariah Carey was asked to sing
Hero at the Neighborhood Ball in Wash-
ington, DC, to celebrate the Inauguration of
Barack Obama, I was absolutely thrilled to
be a part of it! Heres a peek behind the
scenes at this presidential affair.
Because we were going to be using a
house band, most of the usual Mariah Carey
band members were not able to come. We
were able to bring our background singers
and Mariahs usual MD, Eric Daniels. Eric
had to transcribe the music for the house
band and chart it out; see page 34 of this
issue to play the exact piano part Eric
used. Ray Chew was the MD for the event
itself, and the house band did a great job
with Hero as well as the rest of the stars
they played behind at the Neighborhood Ball.
Of course, security was very tight. We
each had to send a photo, and copies of
all of our identification, for the Secret
Service to thoroughly clear us to be in the
Neighborhood Ball. Since I was going to
be backstage at the same time as the
President, I underwent even more
scrutiny, and once the show began, I
wasnt allowed to leave my station until
the President and Vice President left the
ball. I was impressed with the profession-
alism and skill of the Secret Service. I had
a chance to speak to a couple of them,
and made a point of saying, Take care of
him, okay? One of the agents actually
got a little emotional and told me, Of
course. Hes our President too. That
really got to me.
We had a few hours the day before the
show to rehearse and camera-block with
Ray and the house band. There were two
stages in the room, one for the house
band and various artists, and the other
stage for Stevie Wonder and the other
artists doing Signed, Sealed, Delivered
Maroon 5, Jay-Z, and several others.
Rehearsal went fine, and then we got in
the vans to go back to our hotel in Falls
Church, Virginia, since everything in town
was booked. The DC police were in the
process of closing down most of the
streets for the Inauguration, so while the
trip in took 20 minutes, it took almost
three hours to get back out.
On Inauguration day, we were told that
once we got in the building where we were
playing, we couldnt leave; I was
disappointed not to be able to see the
inauguration in person. We did get to the
gig in time to watch it all on TV, though.
The show was broadcast on ABC, and
theres nothing like being on live TV to get
the old nerves going. Thankfully, nothing
went wrong and Mariah was happy. Back-
stage, I was about ten feet away from the
President. What a great night! This was
one of those times when I cant believe I
actually get paid to do this.
by Mike McKnight, music technology wizard for Mariah Carey
and others.
MORE ON KEYBOARDMAG. COM KEYSPACE
Ask Mike
All levels of questions are welcome and we promise to keep your surname and email confidential.
To ask Mike a question, visit mcknightsoundsinc.com.
On page 20, I was honored to write
about Michael Bearden, keyboardist
at the We Are One concert in front of
the Lincoln Memorial on Martin Luther
King Jr. Day broadcast on HBO; Ray
Chew, musical director at the Neigh-
borhood Ball on ABC live; and my
good friend Eric Daniels, Mariahs
musical director who played piano
and transcribed the song Hero for
this event. I think youll all enjoy their
insights and advice.
The Neighborhood Ball in Washington, DC, which celebrated the Inauguration of President Obama.
Mike McKnight mans the computers for Mariah
Carey, backstage at the Neighborhood Ball.
15 0 6 . 2 0 0 9 K E Y B O A R D
ARTI STS, ADVI CE, COMMUNI TY KEYSPACE
MELODY GARDOT
MY ONE AND ONLY THRILL
Singer, songwriter, and
multi-instrumentalist
Melody Gardot made
headlines in 2007 with the
release of her debut album
Worrisome Heart on Verve. Two years later,
she returns with the haunting My One And
Only Thrill, which masterfully mixes jazz,
pop, and Latin textures into a sound all her
own. With lush string arrangements by the
gifted Vince Mendoza and ace production
by Larry Klein, the album frames Gardots
gorgeous voice (and stellar songwriting)
amidst a varied soundscape that includes
Brazilian beats, Sinatra-style strings, and
Ellington-flavored trumpet interludes. On
The Rain, she draws you in amidst a bed
of piano chords that ring out like a muted
lovers lament. And on Your Heart Is As
Black As Night, she tells the tale of love
gone wrong, while a swirling Hammond
organ echoes her battle cry. Surely to be
one of 2009s most heralded releases,
My One And Only Thrill is a sonic thrill
indeed. Jon Regen
(Verve, vervemusicgroup.com)
JULIE MCKEE
WHAT A WOMAN SHOULDNT DO
This is a vintage keyboard
enthusiasts dream. The
London-based singer-
songwriter heaps on a
healthy dose of piano,
electric piano, and Hammond organ
throughout this 11-song opus to love, loss,
and life. McKee has a penchant for gritty
Wurlitzer grooves check out infectious
tunes like Nobodys Farm and All About
You to sample her knack for writing memo-
rable riffs on the Wurly. Framed by a funk-
infused band (featuring Rob Gentry on
organ and Joe Leach on synths), McKee
shines both on uptempo, dancified tracks,
and torchy ballads like Carousel and Sum-
mer Weather in My Heart. Whatever it is a
woman shouldnt do, McKee does everything
she should on this impressive release. Jon Regen
(Shrewd Records, shrewdmusic.net)
FRED HERSCH
POCKET
ORCHESTRA
LIVE AT JAZZ STANDARD
Fred Hersch has been qui-
etly rewriting the rules of
jazz piano for the last three
decades so its no sur-
prise that he does so again
on Live at Jazz Standard, his stellar new
quartet recording on the Sunnyside label.
With the hushed touch of a Zen master, and
the guts to frame his poignant piano work in
a quartet that trades the traditional bass
chair for a female vocalist, Hersch shines on
the albums ten original tracks. Stuttering,
the sly opener, combines a Monk-esque
melody (performed in perfect unison by
Hersch, Ralph Alessi on trumpet, and the
nimble-voiced Jo Lawry singing), with a
metrically modulating drum beat, courtesy of
Richie Barshay. And on Childs Song,
Herschs plaintive piano is affecting for its
stark and supple sound. Live at Jazz Stan-
dard is another winner in Herschs already
impressive recorded catalogue. Jon Regen
(Sunnyside, sunnysiderecords.com)
BARNEY MCCALL
FLASHBACKS
The latest by Australian
expat keyboardist and com-
poser Barney McCall is one
wild musical ride. Equal
parts jazz, world, and experi-
mental, it mutates the very minute you think
youve figured it out. Elequa Dictate, the
opener, ropes you in with the sneaky sound of
Rhodes and syncopated horn stabs then
lets loose on a journey to the center of 70s-
era, Herbie Hancock-inspired fusion. The title
track is a Pat Metheny Group-meets-free jazz
exploration with a shifting, bebop-inspired
melody. McCall is a fluid improviser, his piano
lines effortlessly navigating the rapidly chang-
ing chordscape with eloquence and ease.
Other standouts include guitarist Ben Mon-
der, drummer Henry Cole, and the urgent
tenor saxophone work of Billy Harper. Guar-
anteed to sound like nothing youve heard in a
long time, Flashbacks is worth the trip. Jon Regen
(Extra-Celestial/Scrootable Labs,
barneymccall.com)
CD
REVIEWS
Take the KEYBOARD CHALLENGE
Keyboard Challenge, May 09
Depeche Mode [our cover story in last months issue] has done a great job of staying relevant through 29 years of musi-
cal shifts. What do you think is the single biggest key to maintaining a successful career that spans decades?
80s-LZ: Short and simple write good songs. Depeche Mode has always tapped into the latest technology for interesting sounds.
Unique and interesting sounds create that instant appeal that gets peoples attention in the short term, but to have staying power, there
is no substitute for a well-written song. Many bands come and go because they rely too heavily on the current fad or latest technology,
which eventually becomes obsolete.
For all the answers to this and previous Challenges, visit keyboardmag.com and click on Forum.
16 K E Y B O A R D 0 6 . 2 0 0 9
MORE ON KEYBOARDMAG. COM
Go
See
Marcia Ball
marciaball.com
Amanda Palmer
amandapalmer.net
Booker T.
bookert.com
Black Eyed Peas
blackeyedpeas.com
Metric
ilovemetric.com
Check out these
keyboard-heavy acts,
on tour this month.
Webpage: touchofclasstx.com
Day job: Im retiring from a 25-
year software career to join the
local college accounting faculty in
the fall. I think accounting, software,
and keyboards have a lot in com-
mon logic and orderliness, with
some flashes of creativity.
How I got started: As a kid in the
50s, I started with accordion,
and tried drums. But I found I
could get gigs playing keys. In
high school, I loved Ray Manzarek,
bought a Rhodes Piano Bass,
and stayed employed by replac-
ing two players. I gigged for
nearly ten years until burnout set
in. I quit for 18 years to raise a
family and get an education. In 98
I joined a company
garage band as a
Christmas party gag. It
rekindled the fire. I built
a recording studio in the
house, started acquir-
ing gear, and hooked
up with some local
musicians.
Band: Temple, Texas-
based Touch of Class is a great
cover band playing 60s and 70s
standards. The whole band is my
age, equally experienced, and
almost impossible to stump. We
play everything from Iron Butterfly
to Patsy Cline. On Sunday morn-
ings, my wife and I run a praise
team at our church.
Influences: The Rascals, the
Doors, Three Dog Night, and
Tower of Power. I also think Bruce
Hornsby is the best.
I play because: Its fun. I was
born to do this. Ive been
successful in business and aca-
demics but still think of myself as
a displaced musician. Ed Coury
KIRK FISCHER
WEEKEND WARRIOR
My Yamaha Tyros 2 blows away everyone who hears it, says Kirk. It goes to every gig. My Roland
VK-7 organ, combined with a Motion Sound KBR-3D rotary speaker amp, is my favorite toy and makes
most gigs. I add the Yamaha P80 for the 88 keys if the stage has room.
Tower Of Power,
Back to Oakland
(Warner Bros, Wea)
Weekend warrior Kirk Fischer admires the legendary horn-based soul band Tower of Power. My favorite
organ solo of all time is Chester Thompsons tour de force, Squib Cakes, on the album Back to Oakland
from 1974, he says.
KEYSPACE
17 0 6 . 2 0 0 9 K E Y B O A R D
NEW GEAR
Want to check out the same press releases that we see about new gear, as soon as we receive them?
Go to keyboardmag.com/this-month/latest-news
M-AUDIO STUDIOPHILE DSM3
TWO WOOFERS ARE BETTER THAN ONE
THE PITCHM-Audios highest-end studio monitor, co-
developed with sister company Digidesign.
THE BIG DEAL Dual
midwoofer design pumps
out as much bass as a larger
single woofer, while widen-
ing the sweet spot in which
you can hear your mix accu-
rately. Onboard DSP con-
trols the crossover and tunes
the speaker to the room.
WE THINK M-Audios
dual-woofer EX66 blew us
away in Nov. 07, so were
anxious to see if this takes
the idea to the next level.
$899.95 each, m-audio.com
NOVATION SL MK. II
PREMIUM CONTROLLERS RELOADED
THE PITCHNovation checks off the wish list of many a
loyal ReMote SL user.
THE BIG DEAL Touch-sensitive knobs and faders
mean you dont need to move a control to see what it does.
Backlit buttons. Improved feel and response of drum pads.
Automap 3 Pro software instantly maps controls to apps
and plug-ins, and lets you use multiple Novation controllers
including the Nocturn and older ReMotes.
THE SIZES 25, 49, or 61 keys, plus the keyless Zero
model, which adds longer faders and a DJ crossfader.
$TBA, novationmusic.com
by Stephen Fortner
TC-HELICON VOICETONE SYNTH
WE HEAR VOICES. THEY SAY, PROCESS ME!
THE PITCHThe most in-demand, dramatic vocal effects from
todays music, all in one stompbox.
THE BIG DEAL HardTune does that pitch-jumping that urban
R&B and Chers Believe have in common. Massive Band vocoder
handles everything from vintage emulation to highly articulate robot
voices. Voice-controlled synth mode lets you get the robot sound
solely by singing no keyboard needed!
WE THINK Whether you fine these effects to be essential or
clichd, getting them has never been easier especially live.
$395, tc-helicon.com
AKAI MINIAK
ATOM-SIZED AND POSITIVELY CHARGED
THE PITCHAkais drum and sequencing prowess
plus Alesis virtual analog chops, rolled into a small
but mighty performance synth.
THE BIG DEAL Three oscillators for fat sound.
Eight-way multitimbral. Built-in sequencer with realtime
and MPC-like step modes. Separate rhythm sequencer for
drum sounds. Can process external audio through synth filters
and effects. Vocoder with included gooseneck mic.
WE THINK For this price, it looks like a monster.
$499.99, akaipro.com
18 K E Y B O A R D 0 6 . 2 0 0 9
MIXOSAURUS DAW DRUMS
HARD DRIVIN DRUMS
THE PITCHUltimate sampled acoustic drums for
computer-based studios.
THE BIG DEAL Mixosaurus sampled a single drum kit,
played as if recording a song, for cohesive sound. Huge
122GB sample set plus deep Kontakt Player 2 implementation
enables ultra-realistic articulations and mixing. Comes on its
own hard drive so theres no install time.
WE THINK The audio demos weve heard are extremely
impressive.
$799, mixosaurus.com
BOSE L1 COMPACT
MOST PORTABLE BOSE PA YET
THE PITCHThe premium sound of the L1 Model II
(reviewed Feb. 08) just got easier to carry and afford.
THE BIG DEAL Subwoofer is integrated into base,
unlike larger L1 systems. Can be set up with mid-high speak-
ers atop the column or in tighter quarters, collapsed into the
base as shown.
WE THINK The ability to leave it in collapsed mode and
carry it one-handed just might make it the ultimate
keyboardists gig amp.
$999, bose.com/livesound
NEW GEAR
CLAVIA NORD C2
PLAY TWO MANUALS,
CARRY UNDER ONE ARM
THE PITCHSuccessor to the ultralight Nord C1
clonewheel organ.
THE BIG DEAL Firmer action than C1. Drawbar buttons double as stops
for new pipe organ sounds. Output routing can send B-3 sounds to the 11-pin
Leslie and 1/4" hi-level jacks while all other sounds go out the main stereo pair. Key click
level is now adjustable.
WE THINK We loved the portability and sound of the C1 (see Keyboard, May 07), and we cant
wait to review the C2.
$TBA, nordkeyboards.com
CAKEWALK SONAR V-STUDIO 100
V-STUDIO TO GO
THE PITCHRecord multitrack audio to a PC using included Sonar VS
software, or record in stereo without a computer to the onboard SD card slot.
THE BIG DEAL Audio interface/control box has touch-sensitive,
motorized 100mm fader and Sonars Active Controller technology.
Enough inputs for two mics, a guitar, and a stereo keyboard, plus RCA
inputs for an iPod or similar player. Can be a standalone digital mixer with hard-
ware-powered EQ, compression, and reverb.
WE THINK This little hybrid is a great way to take the capabilities of the V-Studio 700
(reviewed Apr. 09) on the road and the price is lower than we expected.
$699, sonarvstudio.com
19 0 6 . 2 0 0 9 K E Y B O A R D
20 K E Y B O A R D 0 6 . 2 0 0 9
At the Lincoln Memorial two days before the Inauguration, the Obamas and Bidens (far left) enjoy the
We Are One finale as Beyonc sings America the Beautiful at center stage, with Stevie Wonder on
harmonica. At bottom right, Michael Bearden mans Hammond B-3 organ and synths see page 72 for
more on his keyboard rig. Behind Beyonc are all the stars who performed music or historical readings
at We Are One visit keyboardmag.com to learn who they all are.
21 0 6 . 2 0 0 9 K E Y B O A R D
that the Inauguration of the 44th President of the United States was a truly historic musical event, as well as a political one. Imagine
getting the call to be one of the key musicians. What does it take to prepare for and do a gig of this magnitude? Whats it like to
look out over one keyboard stack at an endless crowd, and over another at the President? How do you accompany one major star
after another, when keeping just one happy is no small feat? How do you reach a level where this could happen to you? Keyboard
talked with three master players who know firsthand: Michael Bearden (page 24), Ray Chew (page 25), and Eric Daniels (page 26).
Name Michael
Bearden
Ray
Chew
Eric
Daniels
Big Break
Hired to play with Whitney
Houston in 1990.
Became musical director for
Ashford and Simpson at
age 19.
Became touring keyboardist
for funk legends Graham
Central Station at age 18.
Past Gigs
Sting, Ray Charles, Queen,
Aretha Franklin, Rod Stewart,
Mary J. Blige, Usher, Brian
McKnight, Lionel Richie, John
Mayer, Liza Minelli, Ricky Mar-
tin, Boz Scaggs, Christina
Aguilera, Herbie Hancock.
Has been musical director for
DAngelo, Jennifer Lopez,
and Madonna.
Donnie Hathaway, Roberta
Flack, Melba Moore, Diana
Ross, Chaka Khan, Saturday
Night Live band, BET, The
Singing Bee on NBC, Miss
Universe pageant, and the
2008 Democratic National
Convention.
Janet Jackson, Boney James,
Backstreet Boys, George
Duke, Brandy, TLC, Michael
Bolton, Rachelle Ferrelle, The
Gap Band, ConFunkShun,
Ray Parker Jr., Live 8 in Lon-
don, American Idol, Oprah,
48th Grammy Awards.
Current Gig Just hired as musical director
for Michael Jackson.
Musical director and producer
at the Apollo Theater.
Keyboardist and musical
director for Mariah Carey.
Role at
Inauguration
Keyboardist for HBOs We
Are One concert at the
Lincoln Memorial.
Musical director of
Neighborhood Ball.
Pianist as Carey sang Hero
for the First Couple.
Webpage myspace.com/michaelbearden raychew.com ericdanielsmusic.com
Whatever your politics, theres no denying
Background Check
22 K E Y B O A R D 0 6 . 2 0 0 9

As a glance at his credits proves, Michael
Bearden was the guy every keyboardist
wants to be, even before he got the call to
play in the house band for the pre-inaugural
We Are One concert that aired on HBO.
Tell us about your training and discovery
of music.
Michael Bearden: I started playing piano
around age five and drums not long after. I
attended conservatories and had extensive
classical instruction coming up, but most of
my training is on-the-job. Some of my earli-
est mentors include Ramsey Lewis, Herbie
Hancock, and Stevie Wonder, all of whom I
met or worked with while still a teenager.
Growing up on the south side of Chicago
was great. We listened to and played every-
thing from the Jackson Five to Curtis Mayfield
to Led Zeppelin to Elton John to the Doobie
Brothers it was all just music to us. I had
no idea I was being trained for the eclectic
mix of gigs I would do later in life.
How did you get the inaugural gig?
For the last seven years or so, Ive
performed at the Kennedy Center Honors. I
also play the annual Christmas In Washing-
ton telecast in DC. Those two shows are
produced by George and Michael Stevens.
In the green room at Christmas In Wash-
ington, I happened to ask Michael, Are you
guys doing anything for the Inauguration?
At the time, there were a million rumors, but
everything early on was secretive. Michael
told me to wait by the phone for a few days,
but couldnt say anything more. Turns out
he and George were producing We Are
One. Sure enough, when I got home to L.A.
a few days later, I got a call from Rob
Mathes. He said, Are you sitting down? Ive
been asked to direct the show at the Lin-
coln Memorial. Please tell me youre avail-
able so I can breathe a little easier. I said,
Absolutely, whatever you need!
What did he look for in hiring
musicians?
As for most televised gigs, you need to be
able to play any style at a moments notice.
However, the main and sometimes
overlooked issue is simple: Are you a team
player? Are you fun or a drag to be around in
a pressure-filled situation? The MD is already
under tremendous pressure to bring many
elements of the show together:
arrangements, key changes for different
artists, timings for TV, several choirs, sound
for the broadcast truck, front-of-house sound,
lighting cues, gear, egos, entourages, and
everything that goes with a big show.
Is reading music mandatory?
Yes, for every musician, no way around it. In
my opinion, though, the biggest commodity
is big ears. You have to listen very actively
to everything around you. Even stars get
nervous, even top musicians forget, even
good gear malfunctions, and things always
change. There are no do-overs in a live situ-
ation, so always remember its not the
mistake, its the recovery!
Did you get charts, or just basic mixes
to learn the songs for all the stars you
played with that day?
Rob did most of the arranging and had two
great copyists/arrangers, Mike Casteel and
Jamsheid Sharif. We didnt see any sheet
music until the first day of rehearsal, which
was also a day of making pre-recordings
for the artists and director to work from.
This great Pro Tools engineer, Dave
ODonnell, was with us at every moment.
All of the songs chosen for this event had a
common theme: America as the unity of
different kinds of people. Since we all knew
these songs, we didnt have basic mixes to
learn from. We just added our soul to
Robs new arrangement.
You and the house band played live,
but what about the orchestra? Some
of the violinists were wearing gloves.
Since something always goes a bit differ-
ently than rehearsed, playing live lets us
react more quickly to mistakes. Besides,
unless youre doing shows like Top Of The
Pops or Soul Train, playing to a track looks
ridiculous, and I felt that Obama deserved
the very best show we could give him.
On the other hand, pre-recordings
were necessary for the orchestra. Most
orchestras wont perform outside if its
below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Their
instruments are rare and vintage, the cold
affects the tuning, and insurance doesnt
cover cold-related damage. They were
provided some futuristic-looking graphite
instruments to mime what theyd
recorded at this big hall at Fort Meyers
Army Base. They recorded and mimed
each arrangement flawlessly!
How does it work when youre in that
kind of cold for that long?
Cold isnt the word more like Arctic!
Bassist Nathan East and guitarists Shane
Fontayne and Keith Robinson had it the
worst bare fingers on strings in minus-
two-degree wind chill as we rehearsed for
camera blocking. The rest of us could at
least try to play with gloves on. Some horns
froze up to the point of being unplayable.
Bono of U2 told me hed never been that
cold in his life!
It was an honor to be there, though, so
we got through it. I had the crew install
heaters from Target around my rig a trick I
borrowed from Paul Shaffer. One for the B-3,
one for the Leslie, one by my Motif/NeKo
MICHAEL
BEARDEN
Presidential Props: Barack Obama greets keyboardist Michael Bearden just after
HBOs We Are One concert at the Lincoln Memorial. See keyboardmag.com for
an online extra about Michael meeting the President and First Lady.
N
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H
A
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A
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24 K E Y B O A R D 0 6 . 2 0 0 9
What was it like to play with . . .
James Taylor: A few days before he was to be in DC with us for rehearsal,
he had a fall that busted up his left eye pretty badly and required stitches, but
he was determined to be at the Inauguration. He sounded amazing, and hes a
consummate professional. I dont think theres a nicer human being on the
planet than James.
Stevie Wonder: After we worked out this syncopated ending for Higher
Ground, Stevie was satisfied, so we started jamming. A few of us had played
with Stevie before, so we know that he loves to break into Coltranes Giant
Steps. He also treated us to a song nobody ever heard before. We jammed
along as best we could with the amazing changes on this bossa nova-like tune
he was singing. Everyone was trying to figure out which album it was from.
Later, we found out hed just made it up. That kind of stuff is priceless!
Herbie Hancock: I was influenced by Herbie from a very young age. I had his
album covers taped to my wall. Working with him is akin to an alto sax player
working with Charlie Parker. Herbies influence is more than just musical. He always says that youre a human being in the world
first, and you just happen to play music.
Garth Brooks: We rehearsed a medley of three songs, American Pie, Shout, and We Shall Be Free, in a heated tent. There
was a big choir and the band all packed in there, then Garth comes in with enough energy to heat DC. The way he works is to
have you put yourself into the songs the way you feel them he dictates nothing.
Bruce Springsteen: Bruce originally wanted to add the full band to The Rising about mid-song. But as he worked with just the
choir and his acoustic guitar, magic happened. We never rehearsed it or played it onstage, because Bruce loved the version theyd
created. I dont know if the producers envisioned this huge show opening with an acoustic/vocal arrangement, but Bruce made a
smart move if you ask me. I dont think he wanted people to see a bunch of A-list ringers up there with him instead of the band
thats been with him his whole career. Plus, musically, it worked! Michael Bearden
stand to warm the keys and my hands, one
for my feet, and one near the keyboard
bench. [See page 72 for a diagram of
Michaels Inauguration rig. Ed.] It was still
freezing. I had to swap out the B-3 onstage
for the one in the tent because the cold put
the tonewheel generator out of tune. The
orchestra got heaters as well, and we had
to add an extra AC circuit just for all the
heaters. Thankfully, show day made it into
the upper 30s it felt like Hawaii!
What issues that affect musicians
would you like to see Obamas
administration address?
Quincy Jones has distributed a petition to
send to congress and the President,
encouraging the creation of a position
called Secretary of Arts and Culture. A lot
of countries have something similar, so why
not us? He has the ear of quite a few rep-
resentatives and senators, and assures
me something is brewing. [View and sign
this petition at petitiononline.com/
esnyc/petition.html. Ed.]
If you were in that position, what issue
would you tackle first?
Music and art should be on equal footing
with math, science, reading, and other fun-
damentals. It shouldnt be just some after-
school activity for a privileged few. Music
education is the main reason Ive accom-
plished everything in my life. If music can
take a kid like me from the south side of
Chicago to performing at the Inauguration
of the President, it can do something just
as profound for every kid whos serious
about making it. I am not special. We just
have to make sure the same opportunities
are there for all who wish to pursue them.
After the swearing-in, the Neighborhood
Ball made history for being open to the
public, unlike almost every past inaugural
gala. As with the We Are One concert,
logistics required paring down to a single
house band, as opposed to the full bands
of the different headlining artists. Ray
Chew was the lucky guy who got to keep
all those stars happy.
How did you get into music?
Ray Chew: My formal training came from
every musical institution in New York City!
[Laughs.] Starting at age five, then La Guardia
High School of Music and Art, then Manhattan
School of Music. I had great mentors such as
Merl Saunders and Coleridge-Taylor Perkin-
son. When I was a kid, Merl would take me
around to his gigs with Miles Davis and Lionel
Hampton. I even got to sit in with Hamp on
vibes! Perk would be around cats like Max
Roach and Dizzy Gillespie. I was that kid
always hanging around, waiting to play.
As MD, did you get to handpick who
was in the Neighborhood Ball band?
I usually decide on all of the people on my
RAY
CHEW
Herbie Hancock (left) and Michael Bearden
(right) had worked together on Herbies
CD/DVD of duets, Possibilities.
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25 0 6 . 2 0 0 9 K E Y B O A R D
team: musicians, arrangers, copyists,
assistants, coordinators, and contractors.
In this case, the producers and the inaugu-
ral staff requested the same personnel Id
picked for the Democratic Convention,
because they liked the results, and every-
one had already been cleared by the
Secret Service.
What qualities did you look for in hir-
ing musicians?
Reading music is essential, because we
have a lot to learn in a short time. Also, the
standards are those of artists such as Sting,
Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige, and Mariah Carey.
Musicians like these are used to their own
bands and everything being just right, so I
need to deliver the same level of comfort. I
look for a high skill level on your instrument,
and an overall professional presentation of
yourself. A good personality can carry you a
long way in this business.
How did you meet the varied expecta-
tions of so many star performers?
Lots of preparation! It started with several
conference calls with producers and
artists managers, to determine the final
song choices. I then talked with the artists
themselves to go over their personal
wishes for the performance, keys of songs,
and arrangements.
Did you do the charts yourself?
Im an arranger by craft, but with all of the
artist relations and managerial tasks that
are part of my MD job, I dont have time to
write all of the charts. So, top-notch
arrangers and copyists are the MVPs of
my music prep team. The arrangers are
take-down specialists wholl dissect a
recording note-for-note, and sometimes
contribute their own ideas.
Keyboardists always seem to be the
ones who interface with the audio
guys to get the sound right. What was
that like at this gig?
As to the politics of dealing with audio
guys, I tell them what Im looking for, then
let them do their job without me stepping
on toes or micro-managing. Fortunately, the
cats who worked the Ball are the best in
the business. I show respect to all techni-
cians, because we all have the same goal:
a great show.
What gear were you playing?
A Yamaha Motif ES8 and a Korg Triton,
plus a rackmount Motif. There was lot to
pay attention to in the production, so my
setup needed to be simple. In my in-ear
monitors, I had the artists, musicians, and
backup singers, plus the director calling
cues to me. So I had to partition my
brain to concentrate on playing the
music, being mindful of the artist onstage,
watching the stage manager, and operat-
ing my keyboard rig.
Any advice for musicians who want to
reach your level?
Do whatevers necessary to be ready for
anything when your time comes. Prepara-
tion is the constant, opportunity is the vari-
able, and preparation plus opportunity
equals success. I define success as
achieving short-term goals over a lifetime
span of pursuing your dreams.
PLAY BY PLAY
WITH ERIC DANIELS
by Eric Daniels, as told to Mike McKnight
The world is watching. Mariah Carey is
about to sing a huge hit for the President
and First Lady. Sitting at a grand piano,
youre only a little less front-and-center than
she is, and youve run the tune with the
house band just three times. No pressure.
The Song
Hero is a classic pop piano ballad with
major chords throughout. For this event, I
kept it simple, staying true to [writer] Wal-
ter Afanasieffs original form, and chose
specific spots to add my own touch.
A lot of my musician friends ask me,
Why do you play so simply? Or more
often, How do musicians know youre
really good if youre playing like that?
Sure, I could play rings around the original
arrangement to prove Im an ultra-bad
mofo. Thatd ruin the vibe, upstage the
artist, and most likely, lose me the gig.
The Day Before
We arrive at the Washington Convention
Center for the rehearsal as Mary J. Blige is
wrapping up her segment; Beyonc is up
next. I ask Mike McKnight to print the
Hero charts Id just finished. (I use
Sibelius software for notation, which has
always been flexible and intuitive for me.)
Learn to Play Hero, as per-
formed by Mariah Carey and Eric
Daniels at the inaugural
Neighborhood Ball, on page 34.
Ray Chew with Yamaha Motif ES8 and Korg Triton Pro, as the First Couple hit the stage for
their inaugural dance.
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26 K E Y B O A R D 0 6 . 2 0 0 9
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I think well get to run Hero a couple
times before Mariah arrives. Im wrong! She
shows up almost immediately and wants to
run it to nail down camera blocking, light-
ing, and other important cues. Who can
blame her? Ray Chew (see page 25) and I
have a quick huddle. I check with Mike,
whos on headset with Mariah. A minute
later we count off the song. We play it all
the way through with Mariah singing.
After she answers some technical
questions for the director, Mariah says very
nicely that she notices some unfamiliar
chords and notes. Thats a diplomatic way
of saying, Play it right! I dont think she
knew that the band and I were playing
together for the first time. I pass out the
charts, and it sounds much better the sec-
ond time. The guys are on it the drum-
mer even catches the ritard at the end of
the bridge perfectly. She has no comment
after this pass. Yes!
Mariah leaves, we run it once more, and
thats it. After playing it just three times, wed
perform it on worldwide broadcast the next day.
Inauguration Day
I wake up to inaugural coverage on every
channel, which adds to my anticipation of
performing for the new President and First
Lady that night. We leave at 9 A.M. to beat
the massive traffic thatll be coming into
DC. We arrive at the Convention Center to
a tight security screening courtesy of the
Secret Service.
In dress rehearsal, theres rarely the
opportunity to perform your segment twice,
so its your last chance to get it right.
Because MOTU Digital Performer is running
additional orchestral tracks, I wear in-ear
monitors and play to a click. The count-in
and click are loud enough for rehearsal, but
add the microphone ambience of a scream-
ing crowd, and itll bury the click. So after
our run, I have the monitor engineer crank it
up somewhere between an extra 2dB and
Ouch! Mike McKnight, whose count-in
voice is recorded in DP, gives me an addi-
tional 4dB boost. At such an historic gig, I
sure dont want to be remembered as the
dude who didnt come in on time!
Showtime
Were ushered upstairs to a dimly-lit and
unusually large curtained area, where all the
celebrities and their bands wait together for
their cue to go on. Unlike awards shows
where everyone would be off in their sepa-
rate dressing rooms, this is a great time to
meet people from other bands and run into
old friends. You can feel the electricity.
Before we go on, I tell Mariah I actually
have butterflies. Not stage fright, but a
physical sense of anticipation and wanting
to get it right. Ive only had them one other
time at my very first big concert, also in
DC, in front of 19,000 people, some 20
years ago! Believe me, once you hear the
screams of a large crowd, the nervous
feeling just evaporates and youll most likely
give them everything they came for and more.
While Maroon 5 plays on the other
stage, production rolls my Yamaha grand
onto our stage; Alicia Keys would play it
later. I walk on, acknowledge Ray and our
band with handshakes and nods, settle
onto the piano bench, adjust my clothes,
and put in my in-ear monitors.
Mariah walks to her mic looking stun-
ning. We wait for the stage managers
countdown for coming back from commer-
cial break. Actor/rapper Nick Cannon [also
Mariahs husband], who was the MC and
DJ, introduces her.
The next moment is the most difficult for
me. In my ears I hear Nicks voice, the stage
managers countdown for the cameras, and
the click and count-in for the song. Think
about it: One voice is counting forward,
another is counting backward, and theres
dialogue mixed in all at once! Lose it here,
and theres no fixing it. Man, I love my job.
I mentally zero in on Mike McKnights
count-in and try to relax into its rhythm. I
dont know how I manage this. I just do. . . .
I nail the intro and continue into the song.
All along Im listening to Mariah and the
click and keeping my dance between the
two invisible to the audience. Im absorbing
every facet of the performance now; the
bass and drums are my secondary focus as
Mariah is the first. Its flowing beautifully and
I relax more. We reach the bridge and Im in
fifth gear. We reach the outro and Im as
relaxed as ever. The band and backup
singers are flawless. I hit the final arpeggio
and smile like a kid who just got handed an
ice cream cone.
Visit PimpMyMPC.com, where Eric Daniels creates
custom samples for Akai MPC, Propellerhead
Reason, and Native Instruments Battery.
More words and pictures from gigging at
the Inauguration are at keyboardmag.com!
Eric Daniels at his Yamaha grand piano preparing
for the big moment: Mariah Carey singing Hero
at the inaugural Neighborhood Ball.
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28 K E Y B O A R D 0 6 . 2 0 0 9
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30 K E Y B O A R D 0 6 . 2 0 0 9
Norse Gods of Synth
Back when Norwegian friends Svein
Berge and Torbjrn Brundtland were 12
and 13 years old, respectively, they
bought their first synths, a Korg MS-
20 and a Roland Juno-106. Their
dedication to vintage synths turned
out to be one of the best and
cheapest investments they ever
made. Years later, after releasing
three fantastic electro-pop albums
as Ryksopp (including their latest,
Junior), those synths are still hold-
ing court as reigning kings of the
duos sound but theyve cer-
tainly picked up a few more tricks
and gadgets along the way.
Here, Berge and Brundtland talk
to Keyboard while visiting Amsterdam
(with Berge nearly being run down by a
tram while on the phone) about layering
sounds, holding onto the magic of an origi-
nal idea, and working with some of Scandi-
navias best singers.
On Junior, you worked with vocalists
with very distinctive voices. How do
you decide which vocalist is right for a
particular song?
Svein Berge: Well, for instance, Lykke Li
she has a very sensual, percussive voice,
which we thought would be in tune with
what we wanted to present in the track
Miss It So Much, which was to be a
romantic view without sounding too nos-
talgic on missing analog in a digital
world. So selecting voices is the same
process as selecting which sound should
play the lead, which sounds should play the
chords, the bass kick, and so on.
You guys wrote the basic idea for a
track on The Understanding at a
party to prove to some girls that
you write your own music. Do you
generally work out ideas together or
separately?
Torbjrn Brundtland: We split it mainly
into two ways. One is the more easy and
fun way to do it: We meet up, hang out,
listen to music, find some nice sounds,
start playing with them, follow intuition,
and record the bits that sound good and
scrap what doesnt. The other way is
where you have an image in your head,
and you try to make it become reality.
Thats always much harder.
Hip-hop producer Just Blaze once said
when songwriters are so emotionally
attached to a demo version of a song
that theyre never happy with the final
version, he calls it demo-itis. Have
you experienced that?
TB: Im flabbergasted that someone actu-
ally made a word out of that. Its ingenious
and should go straight into the dictionary,
because I think everyone who has been
involved in music at some stage knows
about that. I think thats a very personal
thing that can lead to a lot of potential argu-
ments between musicians because if you
record something, there will always be one
who has a preference for a better recording,
and another who has a preference for a
better expression. I remember reading inter-
views with Portishead in their heyday, and
they talked about the importance of keeping
the original expression without re-recording,
even though the original recording didnt
even have the right lyrics. So I think that if
youre able to find the right balance, then
you are at the point where you want to be,
because an early version is going to be
flawed, and if you clean it up too much, the
magic has disappeared.
How do you keep the magic?
TB: Lets say there are some crackles in a
recording that somehow sound unwanted,
but at the same time, you like it. You can go
into micro detail and say, I like these
crackles here because they serve a pur-
pose, but the crackles where the chorus is
coming in just sound plain unprofessional,
so lets remove those and keep the ones
that I react emotionally to.
How much do you still use the Korg
MS-20 and Roland Juno-106 synths?
SB: We still have them and use them for all
by Kylee Swenson
Photographs by Stian Andersen
31 0 6 . 2 0 0 9 K E Y B O A R D
theyre worth. But at the same time, we try to
conceal to some extent when we use them
because we dont want the synths to be too
easily recognizable. The Junos sound in
particular is very distinctive. To conceal
them, you can layer them with other synths.
If, for instance, you want a pad, like a string
sound from the Juno, you can just add a dif-
ferent pad or string sound from another key-
board and let them play the same thing. And
you can patch sounds through the MS-20
and use the filters to mess around with it. Or
you can put some things through guitar ped-
als, and there are so many plug-ins that can
alter sounds in many ways.
In order to make what some people
refer to as warmth, we tend to send sounds
through old tube compressors. We have a
few Chandler Limited TG1 Abbey Road
compressors because were so fond of
them, and we have a very cheap, old,
eight-channel Boss mixer. When we send
stuff through that, it sounds like its been
through a tape recorder 20 times.
What was the process for creating
The Girl and the Robot with Swedish
singer Robyn?
32 K E Y B O A R D 0 6 . 2 0 0 9
Ryksopp
SB: We spoke a little about Lykke Li with
her sensual, percussive voice, whereas
Robyn has the more traditional pop voice.
Its very clear and versatile. So we asked
her whether shed be willing to play with
two shabby idiots in a cupboard in Bergen,
Norway. Shes easy to trick, so she said
yes. We had already made a few ideas for
the song, and I think we had at least four
different ways we could take it. At one
point we had something that was more
orchestral with lots of strings. It was a bit
more pompous, and slower. We decided to
go for the more uptempo, energetic take on
it. We wrote the lyrics together and also
shaped the main body of the melody of
what she sings.
As for the production, theres a bit of
the orchestral synth, which is like the crown
jewel for any train-spotter in terms of key-
board fetish: the Vako Orchestron. Its
favored by the likes of Florian Schneider of
Kraftwerk, especially on their album, Radio-
Activity. So we used the Orchestron mixed
with the choir from the Roland VP-330
Vocoder, mixed with our singing. We sing
on top of these two synth sounds, the
exact same chords, but it just makes a
whole thick, rich thing. Its very low in the
mix, but it adds dimension to the whole
sound. Plus theres a very nice kick, which
is sidechained by compressors into the
chords, so that it sort of eats into the
music, which is a common way of making
things pump. [See our Dec. 08 issue or
keyboardmag.com for a tutorial on making
your tracks pump using sidechains. Ed.]
There are a lot of intertwining
keyboards, as on Vision One. When
do you know youve got enough going
on or when you should cut back?
SB: Thats the brain damage we have to
us, its never enough! We like it to be a bit
wrong. Dub music, for example, is great
when its lo-fi and a bit wrong. You can
hear the hissing and the distortion. And you
can hear that some instruments might be
out of tune, and they might miss the beat.
When it all becomes a bit stupid and off,
thats something that we love. In terms of
building a crescendo, as we do towards
the end of Vision One, we just keep on
going. But you dont want it to be a
cacophony of melodies trying to kill each
other. As soon as you start with your fifth
melody, and you go, Okay, now this is
turning into a guitar solo, you have to back
off and rethink.
For more of our interview, visit
keyboardmag.com/features.
RYKSOPP SAMPLING SECRETS
Samplers: Akai S series, including the
S3200XL. In addition, we mess
around with the audio in an editing pro-
gram [mostly Steinberg WaveLab]
Berge says. We sample vinyl, CD,
field recordings, or we just record
things onto tapes, send them through
our gear, and re-record it again.
The not-so-secret sample: Happy
Up Here has a sample from
Parliaments track, Do That Stuff.
Vinyl noise: Were suckers for the
vinyl sound, Berge says. Theres no
hiding that, and we dont try to. If any-
thing, we deliberately try to make it
sound more vinyl-y by adding a crackle
sound and ground sound, which you
can hear toward at the end of Silver
Cruiser. Theres lots of humming and
hissing, and thats all put in there delib-
erately to create the vinyl feel.
Proven Improvement Find out why the planets
top musicians and audiophiles all over the world
make Analysis Plus cables part of their system, visit
www.analysis-plus.com
a level of sonic
reproduction I never
thought I could achieve.
Joshua Fineberg, PhD
Composer of contemporary
classical music and a Professor
of Music at Harvard
33 0 6 . 2 0 0 9 K E Y B O A R D
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HERO
AS PERFORMED AT THE NEIGHBORHOOD BALL
by Mariah Carey and Walter Afanasieff
transcribed by Eric Daniels
To go backstage at the Inauguration performance of Hero, read
our cover feature on page 20. For more on the keyboards behind
the Inauguration, flip to page 72 and visit keyboardmag.com.
Hero, words and music by Walter Afanasieff and Mariah Carey. 1993 WB MUSIC CORP., WALLYWORLD MUSIC, SONGS OF UNIVERSAL, INC. and RYE SONGS.
All Rights for WALLYWORLD MUSIC Administered by WB MUSIC CORP. All Rights for RYE SONGS Administered by SONGS OF UNIVERSAL, INC.
Used by Permission of ALFRED PUBLISHING CO., INC. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted by Permission of Hal Leonard Corporation.
34 K E Y B O A R D 0 6 . 2 0 0 9
PLAY I T! POP
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ritard.
35 0 6 . 2 0 0 9 K E Y B O A R D
PLAY I T!
PLAY I T! ROCK
Ex. 1. On the recording, the intro figure is split between one synth sound
panned to the right speaker, and a guitar (or guitar-like synth patch) in the
left speaker. In their live performances, MGMT plays this part on guitar, but it
also lends itself well to the keyboard. Place your left hand on the keyboard as
illustrated in Ex. 1a, and youll be in the correct D major finger position. The
riff is played by alternating finger 5 with fingers 1, 2, and 3, as shown in 1b.
Note the F# in the key signature of D major.
Ex. 2. The right-hand synth melody that follows is based on the same hand
position in A major; see 2a. The line descends from finger 5 on E down to A
(dont forget the C# in the key signature of D major). Note that after you get
to A, finger 5 reaches up to the F# (see Ex. 2b for the traditional notation).
2 1 5 4 3
2 5 1 3
Middle C =
by Tom Brislin
MGMTS
TIME TO PRETEND
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5 1 5 5 2 3 5 5 2 1 5 5 2 3 5 5 2 3
1. 2.
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5 5 4 3 2 1 5 5
Emerging from a sea of bubbling
analog synth textures, MGMTs Time To
Pretend is a pop voyage. Textures and
melodies float above an undeniable
groove, guiding the track from section to
section and adding flavor throughout.
Here, well look at the songs intro and
its signature synth riff.
For both sections, the parts are easily
played when you nail the correct hand
positions. In other words, if you place each
hand over the proper group of five consec-
utive notes, the parts practically play them-
selves. Well play the intro with the left
hand and the riff with the right hand. You
dont have to play them simultaneously at
first, but once youve got them in your fin-
gers, test your coordination!
Learn how to reproduce MGMTs Time To Pretend
synth sound on page 40.
Hear this lesson with audio examples
at keyboardmag.com/play.
Time To Pretend, written by: Andrew VanWyngarden
and Benjamin Goldwasser. Sadguitarius Music and
Old Man Future. All Rights for Sadguitarius and Old
Man Future Controlled and Administered by Third Spirit
Music (SESAC). International Copyright Secured. All
Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.
a)
b)
a)
b)
36 K E Y B O A R D 0 6 . 2 0 0 9
Also known as tone clusters, cluster
chords usually consist of at least three con-
secutive tones in a scale, played simultane-
ously. Some of the early proponents of
cluster chords were composers Henry
Cowell, Charles Ives, Bela Bartok, and
Karlheinz Stockhausen. Jazz musicians
known for their use of clusters include rag-
time pianists Jelly Roll Morton and Scott
Joplin and more recent players like Thelo-
nious Monk, Horace Silver, Cecil Taylor,
Herbie Hancock, and Chick Corea.
While some cluster chords are meant
to be dissonant and disturbing, others are
of consonant construction, and quite soni-
cally pleasing. Here are some ideas to
get you started on the road to thicker,
richer chords.
PLAY I T! JAZZ
j

Em7 5 a) b) c)

Gm maj7


A7 9 , A7sus4 ,
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A 7sus4 B dim/F A dim/F A m7/F B dim/F A dim/F A m7/F , , , , , , ,
,
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D /F D7alt A 7add11 Cm11 , ,

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Cm7 A7 9 ,
a) b) c)

Ex. 2. Heres a cluster derived from the A Mixolydian mode. Notice the scale cluster in the left hand, and the major triad in the right hand. This is also an excellent struc-
ture to move around in parallel as a means of harmonizing melodies. The two clusters in 2b are derived from the G melodic minor scale, and can be used for the follow-
ing chords: Gm(maj7), A7sus4b9, Bbmaj7#5, C7#11, D7b13, Em7b5, and F#7alt. Measure 2c shows a wider cluster for use on A7b9, derived from the A dominant
diminished scale.
Ex. 3. Perhaps one of the most compelling intros ever played by Herbie Hancock is on the classic Wayne Shorter composition
Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum from the CD Speak No Evil. Herbie played cluster voicings, but the music presented here adds even more
notes to create richer, thicker voicings.
Ex. 1. This example explores one of the most dissonant and powerful clusters in the chromatic scale. Measure 1a has both the left and right hands playing five con-
secutive chromatic scale tones. The first configuration in 1b has a Cm7 chord in the left hand and a Dm7 chord in the right hand; as you can see, playing clusters can
get the fingers from both hands intertwined. By playing these two minor-seventh chords together, youre actually playing all the notes of the C Dorian mode. You can use
this as a Cm7 chord, or any of the other chords derived from the Bb major parent scale. The second configuration can be used for the same chords, but the distribution
of notes has the clusters isolated in each hand. In 1c, use the left hand to play Gdim7 and the right hand to play Adim7. Putting these two diminished seventh chords
together yields all the notes of the G diminished scale. The second configuration distributes the notes into two groups of diminished scale clusters. Either way, you can
play these for any of the chords derived from this diminished scale (Gdim7, Bbdim7, Dbdim7, Edim7, A7, C7, Eb7, and Gb7).
CLUSTER CHORDS
by Andy LaVerne
Listen to some great cluster chords
on Wayne Shorters Speak No Evil
(Blue Note) and Charles Lloyds
Forest Flower (Atlantic).
38 K E Y B O A R D 0 6 . 2 0 0 9
New York duo MGMT has struck gold
with their electro anthems Time To Pre-
tend and Kids, proving that a hooky
melody always wins. Of course, a slick
retro synth patch to play it on doesnt
hurt. To cook up the Time To Pretend
lead, well use Way Out Wares
TimewARP 2600, which faithfully emu-
lates the classic ARP 2600 semi-modular
analog synth. TimewARP 2600 is what
the highly technical refer to as a pretty
honkin synth it has tons of parameters
and routing options. Well use it in a
straightforward way, though, so just
about any virtual analog will work. The
patch itself is only half the secret here
there are some key effects well bring in
afterwards.
1. This patch only uses one oscillator, set
to a sawtooth wave. In TimewARP
2600, run a virtual patch cord from the
sawtooth jack to the VCO 1 input in
the VCF audio mixer section.
2. Using a lowpass filter (in four-pole or
24db-per-octave mode), set the cutoff
about 75 percent open and resonance
at 20 percent. The exact cutoff
frequency on TimewARP 2600 is
2,764Hz.
3. Make the amplitude envelope a simple
on/off type: attack, decay and release at
zero and sustain all the way up.
4. On TimewARP 2600, turn up the
Audio/VCF slider and Control/ADSR
slider in the VCA mixer section, and
finally, turn up the VCA slider all the way
at the right in the Mixer section.
5. Now we have a bland sawtooth
patch. We spice it up by adding vibrato.
Most synths call the relevant setting
something like LFO depth or pitch
mod amount. In TimewARP 2600, any
of the three oscillators can be switched
to low-frequency (LF) mode, so I
used oscillator 2 (VCO 2) to generate
vibrato.
6. Then, I turned up the VCO 2 slider (the
one in the VCO 1 section) to modulate
VCO 1s frequency. Use a sine or trian-
gle wave set to about 7.3Hz with depth
set pretty deep.
Now well add some plug-in effects in the
DAW. I used a subtle amount of Logics
Bitcrusher to make the tone a little more in
your face. Then I added EQ with a steep
low shelf rolloff from 440Hz down, an 8dB
peak at 1,300Hz to emphasize the nasal
honk, and a high shelf at 6,500Hz to
dampen highs thatd make things sound too
hi-fi otherwise. Finally, I added a medium
amount of large, dark room reverb for sonic
space you can hear a similar one in the
intro of the original MGMT track.
Learn to play the key licks from Time To Pretend
on page 36.
DO I T! SOFT SYNTHS
MGMTS
TIME TO PRETEND
SYNTH LEAD
by Mitchell Sigman
The original ARP 2600 didnt have oscilla-
tor wave selector switches. Instead, each
oscillator had a default waveform that
you could override by plugging in patch
cords. Here Ive patched a sawtooth wave
from VCO 1 into the filters VCO 1 input.
Go to keyboardmag.com/how-to or celebutantemusic.com/keybmag for this story with audio examples.
You can also download the Time To Pretend patch for Way Out Wares TimewARP 2600 soft synth.
1
5
6
2
3
4
40 K E Y B O A R D 0 6 . 2 0 0 9
Getting the most bombast from your
bass synths can be a bit of a chore. EQ
is one way to do it, but the results can be
uneven if your bass line covers a range of
more than one octave. Sub-harmonic
enhancement, either via plug-ins or hard-
ware, is another way, but it can introduce
muddy low-end artifacts if a producer
isnt careful.
A few years back, I stumbled upon a
trick thats infinitely more precise than
either of the above approaches, and is
blissfully simple: Just add a sine wave.
Ableton users may notice preset instru-
ments that include a macro knob labeled
Body. This knob mixes in a sine wave
either at the fundamental frequency or an
octave below. With this approach, we can
emphasize only the frequencies present in
our bass line, without introducing mud, dis-
tortion, or unwanted overtones to the sur-
rounding frequency ranges.
Simply duplicate the entire bass track.
On the copied track, replace the original
synth with a single sine wave oscillator,
then mix copied and original tracks to taste.
Most soft synths include sines as a wave-
form option, but if for some reason none of
yours do, a triangle wave will work. Though
its not quite as clean, adding a lowpass
filter to mute the triangles harmonics will
help it blend better.
Below are three examples using Pro-
pellerhead Reasons Subtractor synth,
and the process is really straightforward.
Use oscillator 1 as your primary waveform,
then use oscillator 2 to slowly add the
sine wave.
One note of caution: Its easy to get
carried away with the sine wave approach
and add too much low-end to your bass
line. When in doubt, compare your mix to a
few commercial releases to ensure that
youre bangin, not boomy. A little goes a
long way!
DO I T! DANCE MI X
SINE OF THE TIMES
by Francis Preve
Ex. 1. Heres the initial patch: a single-oscillator sawtooth (oscillator
2 is turned off) with the filter cutoff about 75 percent open.
Ex. 2. Now, we turn on the second oscillator, which is generating a
sine wave at the fundamental frequency only. For demonstration
purposes, the sine is mixed a tad loud in the audio example at
keyboardmag.com/how-to, so you can hear its effect.
Ex. 3. For even more bottomy goodness, heres the same patch with
the sine wave tuned one octave lower than in Example 2. Again, its
mixed in strongly for demonstration purposes.
Read this story online at
keyboardmag.com/how-to for audio examples.
42 K E Y B O A R D 0 6 . 2 0 0 9
Inspired by the past - built for the future
In the beginning, synthesizers werent about presets and using the same sounds as everyone else. They
werent even about creating your own sounds. They were about creating your own original synthesis system.
Origin takes the concept of analog modular instruments of the past to a new level using cutting edge digital
technology. As a system housing several synthesizers, Origin goes far beyond what you can imagine. Some
of these synths come from the past, such as the Minimoog, some are totally new and innovative. The end
result is a sound that both honors the classics of the past while taking your music into the future. Be Original.
www.arturia.com
One of the most powerful features of
Digidesign Pro Tools is its ability to route any
audio signal to anywhere within or outside of
the Pro Tools environment. If youre engineer-
ing a recording session, the producer might
say, for example, Bus the Rhodes track to
the reverb plug-in and return it to an aux track
named Reverb Return. More likely, theyll
skip anything that specific and say, Set up
a reverb effects loop for the Rhodes. Pro
Tools uses common audio terms to describe
the components involved in signal routing,
but those terms might not be so common if
youre just getting your feet wet, so see
Jargon Jockey below to clarify them. Then,
to build your own effects loop, follow these
simple steps:
1. After youve recorded some audio
tracks, create one stereo aux input track,
and one stereo master fader track. All
track outputs should be set to your main
audio interface outs (e.g., Analog 1-2).
2. In the menu bar at the top of Pro Tools
Mix window, choose View > Mix Win-
dow > Sends A-E then View > Sends
A-E > Send A.
3. Activate Send A on one of the audio
tracks by clicking the little a button
and selecting Bus 1-2. This assign-
ment routes a copy of the audio track
from the send onto the bus. Be sure to
turn up the volume and adjust the pan-
ning of the send as necessary. Repeat
this for the other audio tracks.
4. Set the input of the stereo aux track to
Bus 1-2 as well. This completes the
loop by letting the aux track receive the
signal from that bus. Insert your desired
effects plug-in on the aux track. Bring
up the volume fader on the aux track
and bam youve got yourself an
effects loop.
DO I T! PRODUCTI ON
EFFECTS LOOP BASICS
IN PRO TOOLS
by David Franz
JARGON JOCKEY
Bus: A pipeline that carries a
signal somewhere other than
directly to the master output,
usually carrying several sig-
nals to one place.
Send: A knob or fader that
decides how much of a signal
goes down the bus. Think of this
as the faucet to the pipeline.
Aux: An auxiliary input track.
This is the destination of the
bus, and acts like an audio
track it has a fader, and you
can pan it and put effects on it.
Return: The output of the aux-
iliary track, or end of the
pipeline. In our example, it
feeds the main master output
(Analog 1-2).
3
1
4
Control the volumes of the unaffected or dry signals with
the audio (blue) tracks big faders, adjust how much signal is
routed to the effect with the little send fader on each audio
track, and control the overall reverb effect amount with the
aux (green) tracks fader.
2
David Franz wrote the book Producing in the Home Studio
with Pro Tools (Berklee Press) and teaches online courses in
music production at Berkleemusic.com.
44 K E Y B O A R D 0 6 . 2 0 0 9
R
O
U
N
D
U
P
If I get one question more than any
other from folks who might not be the
major keyboard geek Ive been for the
past 25 years its Hey, youre a
keyboard guy. Whats the best digital
piano if Im just getting started?
Keyboard asked manufacturers the same
question, and they sent their favorite spec-
imens to compare. Ease of use, portability,
and low price were paramount, but other
than that, we let them infer their own
answers to the inevitable follow-up ques-
tion: Getting started doing what? This
yielded seven candidates that, as youll
see, had different strengths, but all with
beginner-friendliness and exceptional
value in common.
Five of the pianos in this roundup
the Casio Privia PX-320, Kawai EP3,
Roland FP-4, and Yamaha NP-30 and
P85 have built-in speakers, which
makes them ideal for households that
want to keep it simple and not add further
amps or speakers. With the proper adap-
tor cables, though, any piano in this
roundup could be amplified through a
home theater or stereo system.
The two entries without speakers
the M-Audio ProKeys 88sx and ProKeys
Sono 88 are starter pianos for a differ-
ent sort of musician: the budding gig-
player or desktop music producer. The
88sx is an ultra-light stage piano (and
MIDI controller) for pro gigging, and does
such a good job at this that it won our
Key Buy award in May 06. The Sono 88
adds a 16-bit/44.1kHz audio interface, so
its all you need to play soft synths from a
computer or record audio to one. Of
course, it wouldnt be in this roundup if it
wasnt also a digital piano you can play
without a computer.
PORTABILITY AND
AESTHETICS
The Yamaha NP-30 is the keyboard
equivalent of the campfire guitar. Just 12
pounds, its the only keyboard in this
group that runs on batteries (six AA). This
makes it a perfect vacation companion for
spontaneous jams. On a family trip to the
beach, I easily wrapped it in a towel and
put it across the luggage in the back of
the car. Recessed channels on the bot-
tom provide easy grip points.
At 25 pounds, the Yamaha P85 has
the second-smallest weight and footprint
of the pianos with built-in speakers. Like
the NP-30, recessed grooves on the bot-
tom ease carrying. However, the under-
side isnt entirely flat theres a convex
bulge in the middle. This is no problem if
using the optional, furniture-style L85
stand, or any other that supports the P85
at either end. On a regular X-type stand,
whether the P85 sits flat or wobbles
depends on where each side of the X
touches it, which depends on the height
the stand is set to. The P85 will sit flat on
a desk or similar flat surface.
The Casio Privia PX-320 is closest in
size and weight to the P85, and also has
good grab spots underneath. I have minor
concerns over how well the fabric
stretched over the speaker grilles might
stand up to high-energy children or lots of
weekend bar gigs. As always, supervision
and keeping it covered when not in use
go a long way in both settings. The Privia
PX-120 ($699.99 list/approx. $499
street) is almost identical in size and
weight to the PX-320, and features the
same built-in speaker system.
At 33 pounds, the Roland FP-4 is the
next heaviest in the group, but the modest
weight gain is made up for by the sleek
and sturdy chassis. The rugged steel con-
struction should stand up to weekend
gigs; at the same time, the pebbled black
finish is equally at home in a well-heeled
living room.
Both M-Audio pianos are near-iden-
tical in size, though the Sono 88 is
seven pounds heavier than the ProKeys
88sx. This is partially due to the extra
parts involved in the Sonos USB audio
GEAR
by Eric Lawson
THE STARTER PI ANO
THE
STARTER
PIANO
We rounded up seven of todays
latest digital pianos that emphasize
portability and low cost.
Is one of them right for you?
46 K E Y B O A R D 0 6 . 2 0 0 9
R
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U
N
D
U
P
GEAR
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47 0 6 . 2 0 0 9 K E Y B O A R D
R
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GEAR THE STARTER PI ANO
interface. Both are extremely compact,
and are the tiniest 88-note keyboards Ive
seen that include pitchbend and modula-
tion wheels, and the only ones in this
roundup that have them. Either ProKeys
piano is so portable as to be the ideal
lives in the car stage piano, with the
Sono being the choice if some of your
sounds come from your laptop.
The Kawai EP3 is the largest piano we
tested, and at 46 pounds, the heaviest.
Its larger speaker system contributes to
this, but also to room-filling sound. Make
no mistake, this is a gorgeous beast, with
a shiny black steel finish that exudes
class. Between this and the nicely under-
stated control panel, the EP3 is a great
aesthetic choice if you need a digital
piano that doesnt look technological,
but lack the space or budget for a model
designed to look like an acoustic upright
or baby grand.
KEYBOARD FEEL
If traditional piano lessons are part of the
plan, you want to get as close as possible
to the weight and resistance of an
acoustic piano any teacher will insist
that practicing on a synth-like action wont
build the finger strength that translates to
a real piano when its time for that recital.
If youre playing for the fun of picking up
tunes, or even doing weekend gigs, action
becomes more of a matter of taste.
The Yamaha NP-30s action is techni-
cally semi-weighted: extremely light com-
pared to a real piano, but meatier than
your basic synth or Costco-bought
portable keyboard, and with keys shaped
like pianos. One of the NP-30s conces-
sions to portability is that it has 76 keys
(E to G) instead of the ususal 88.
The Yamaha P85s fully-weighted action
is also graded, meaning its slightly heavier
at the bass end and lighter towards the
treble, like an acoustic piano. Even though
the keys have a shiny plastic surface,
theyre easy to dig into, and Yamahas sig-
nature bright piano sounds really come
alive under these black n whites.
The Roland FP-4s keyboard is fully-
weighted and graded. To my fingers, it felt
much lighter than the Yamaha P85 and
Casio Privia actions, but still weighty
enough to feel like a real piano. It has a
pleasant woody quality, with a matte
finish on the keys to control slipperiness.
Its quick key return allows for fast classi-
cal runs and two-fisted rock and blues
playing alike, without tiring out the hands.
The semi-weighted keys on both M-
Audio pianos aim for the golden mean
between pianists and synth players, and
are about 1/2" shorter front-to-back than
those on the other pianos. Like the
Yamaha NP-30, the keys are shaped like
a pianos as opposed to a synths.
Of the two, I preferred the Sonos
shiny-surfaced action; it felt a bit lighter
and more fluid than the 88sx. While the
88sx has a slip-proof matte finish on the
keys, the heavier-sprung resistance felt a
bit unnatural on acoustic piano sounds.
On other internal sounds, such as the
EPs and Clav, it felt better. You could
dig into it all night with little or no finger
fatigue. Executive editor Stephen Fortner
observed of both actions, They remind
me of the Keystation 88es MIDI
controller, which I like for all-around use
because the keys are chunky enough to
play piano like you mean it, but springy
enough for organ and synth leads.
Those who want a weighted hammer
action combined with more extensive
MIDI controller abilities than the starter
pianos in this roundup offer should
check out M-Audios full-size ProKeys
88 (reviewed July 05).
I was pleasantly surprised by the
Sonos non-piano sounds the vocal and
string pads are especially nice when lay-
ered with the pianos. The clonewheel
organ has a tasty bit of authentic chorus
that reminded me of my real Hammond
organ, and the Clavs and EPs made Fort-
ner say, Id feel fine playing these in a
band of serious funk guys.
The Casio Privia PX-320 action is prob-
ably the heaviest of all the pianos in this
roundup and while I liked how it played, I
could see it being tiresome on the hands
Kawai EP3
Casio Privia PX-320
48 K E Y B O A R D 0 6 . 2 0 0 9
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GEAR
during a long gig. For practicing hand
exercises and first-year classical pieces,
though, itd be a piano teachers darling.
Subjectively, it had a similar feel to the
P85, but with heavier resistance starting at
the low end of the keyboard. The PX-120s
action is identical to the PX-320.
The action on the Kawai EP3 is quite
similar to the Roland FP-4: fully-weighted,
graded, and very pianistic, but with lighter
weight than the Privia or P85, and a
pleasant non-slip matte finish on the keys.
I could hardly differentiate these two
actions in a blind test.
EASE OF USE
Playing the Yamaha NP-30 couldnt be
any easier. However, changing sounds
requires you to press a function button,
then hit one of the keyboard keys.
Seven neighborhood kids on spring
break all loved playing the NP-30, but
none of them figured out how to change
sounds from the default Piano 1 with-
out adult guidance. Likewise, to layer
sounds, you press the function button,
then the two keys for the sounds you
want together sound names are easily
readable above the keys. Other extra
features (such as metronome tempo
and time signature) are also accessed
this way.
The Yamaha P85 has dedicated but-
tons for each sound type, so choosing
sounds is extremely easy. I was pleas-
antly surprised that, along with some of
the other pianos tested, it does tone
remain (see chart on page 47). This lets
you change to a new sound while sustain-
ing notes (by holding keys or the sustain
pedal) from the old sound. Many modern
keyboards, pro synths among them, cut
off sustained notes as soon as you hit a
new sound button. Layering sounds on
the P85 is a piece of cake simply press
two buttons at once.
Either M-Audio piano is immensely
useful for the aspiring pro who needs 88
keys for songwriting or otherwise working
in the studio or onstage. On the Sono, its
a cinch to layer sounds and adjust their
balance with the Voice Volume Knob. I
hooked up both M-Audios via USB to my
Macbook Pro running Logic and Main-
stage, and they worked plug and play as
controllers for my soft synths way cool.
The Casio Privia PX-320 and PX-120
are extremely easy to use, with all sounds
and features clearly labeled. Sound names
are silkscreened above the panel buttons;
functions underneath. On the PX-120, you
select the two main piano sounds with
dedicated buttons, and others in the man-
ner of the Yamaha NP-30 press a tone
button, then a keyboard key. Other things
are accessed in this way as well, but the
keys alternate functions are clearly labeled
on the fallboard just above each key.
The Kawai EP3 is straightforward,
with similar operation to the P85. Its sim-
ple to set up splits and layers just hold
two buttons together and all the func-
tions are easily accessed in a minimalist
fashion. This is an elegant user interface.
SOUNDS
The Yamaha NP-30s piano sounds
remind me of much more expensive
Yamaha digital pianos. They respond well
to touch, considering the light action. Its
not hard to play softly and darkly, or very
brightly, depending on if you caress the
keys or really lay into them. Theres a pair
of electric pianos: a DX7-style reminis-
cent of the 80s and a more traditional
Rhodes that barks nicely under pressure.
Rounding out the sounds are two
churchy pipe organs, a string section,
and a harpsichord. Sounds can be lay-
ered, a nice plus for such an inexpensive
keyboard. With 32-voice polyphony,
some voice-stealing is apparent when
playing a lot of notes with the sustain
pedal down.
To my ears, the P85s sounds
seemed identical to the NP-30s. I did
feel like I was getting more detail and
dynamic levels from the P85, though,
most likely due to the enhanced response
of its weighted action. So I tried playing
the NP-30 via MIDI from the P85s key-
board and could not discern any differ-
ence other than the P85 having twice
the polyphony.
The Roland FP-4 is chock full of
great sounds (333 total, including the
General MIDI bank). The bulk of non-
piano sounds are accessed through a
pair of +/- buttons, though, and its
laborious to scroll through them all.
Thankfully, the frequently-used sounds
get their own buttons, and layering or
splitting sounds is a matter of pushing
two buttons at once. A really cool fea-
ture is a knob for balancing two sounds
in a layer or split. The only other keyboard
in this roundup with such a balance
M-Audio ProKeys Sono 88
M-Audio
ProKeys 88sx
49 0 6 . 2 0 0 9 K E Y B O A R D
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knob is the M-Audio ProKeys Sono 88.
The FP-4s main piano sounds are
sourced from a more expensive pro
cousin, the RD-700SX. The default piano
has clarity and a satisfying sustain, and
you get enough variations not to get
bored. The variations accentuate different
parts of the EQ spectrum, providing
classical- and modern-sounding pianos at
the push of a button.
Each M-Audio has a similar batch of
sounds, with the Sono edging out the
88sx in versatility, as it has a better B-3
organ sound, strings and choirs, plus an
onboard General MIDI bank. The electric
pianos and Clavs in the 88sx are funky
and authentic, though. The core acoustic
piano sounds in these boards are very
good, especially for the price, and Id use
them for rehearsing and combo gigs. The
Sono can also layer two sounds.
The Casio PX-320s piano sounds
were, in my opinion, the most instantly
gratifying at first play. The sense of
immersion in a rich stereo field has
impact from the moment you dig in to the
initial offerings of classical, modern, and
rock piano variations. I think this is due to
how Casio aimed their onboard speakers
they have a bit more tilt and therefore
project at the player aggressively. I
couldnt make the Privias pianos sound
bad. The PX-320s alternate sounds run
the gamut from solid electric pianos,
strings, pads, and synths to a full bank of
General MIDI sounds. For its lower price,
the PX-120 gives you
11 sounds, but
these include two of
the same grand
pianos as in the PX-
320. Surprsingly, the
less expensive PX-
120 doesnt skimp
on polyphony; it has
128 voices like its
bigger brother.
The Kawai EP3s
core piano sound
evokes a classical
tone, and reminded
me of an old Stein-
way or Bsendorfer (though of course
its sampled from a Kawai concert
grand). Somewhat dark and woody, this
piano sound works well for solo perform-
ances. The onboard speakers did won-
ders for creating a sense of space. In
fact, the Kawais speakers win the prize
for the most realistic sounds like a real
piano in the room illusion.
BELLS AND WHISTLES
The NP-30 is a straight-ahead portable
piano with no drum rhythms, song
recording, or arranger features just
some built-in demo songs. Given its
extreme portability and affordability,
thats neither surprising nor objection-
able. It does have a metronome thatll
keep time in 4/4, plus 3/4 for waltzes or
5/4 if youre mad about Brubeck. The
NP-30 has a single headphone jack
where all other pianos in this
roundup have two. Two
jacks let teacher and
student, or parent
and child, play
together without dis-
turbing anyone.
The P85 has a
basic MIDI recorder
that captures one
single-track song a
nice way to sketch out
and remember a tune
if inspiration strikes, or
to record a practiced
piece for later evalua-
tion by a teacher.
The Roland FP-4 is the Rolls Royce in
terms of extra features. Session Partner is
an addictive auto-accompaniment system
with drum beats, chords, and bass lines
that follow your playing. Its really fun to
jam along to the 80 onboard styles. The
FP-4 also boasts a three-track song
recorder and effects: adjustable reverb,
one selectable multi-effect, and Sound
Control (Rolands name for preset EQ),
available simultaneously. Theres a
respectable Leslie simulation, with a
selectable slow and fast rotary switch;
the FP-4 is the only starter piano with
this feature. Left and right 1/4" audio
inputs let you hear another keyboard or
an iPod, CD player, or other source of
music youd like to learn through the
FP-4s built-in speakers.
Both M-Audio ProKeys units are the
only entries with pitch and modulation
wheels, making them more flexible for use
with a computer and soft synths. The
88sx includes an AC adaptor, but thats
an optional accessory for the USB-
powered Sono. As mentioned before, the
Sono is unique in this roundup because
its also a USB computer audio interface
with an XLR mic and 1/4" instrument
(guitar) inputs, plus stereo RCA line-level
inputs. Given that it comes with Ableton
Live Lite, its a starter music production
system as well as a digital piano just
add computer.
The Casio PX-320 is the only
keyboard in this lineup with an SD Card
slot, for saving song data from the built-in
two-track recorder in addition to sound
Roland FP-4
Yamaha P-85
50 K E Y B O A R D 0 6 . 2 0 0 9
registrations. The PX-320 also features
1/4" stereo inputs for playing other key-
boards (or MP3 players) through its
speakers. Similar to Rolands Session
Partner, the PX-320 has a cool auto-
accompaniment feature with 70 rhythm
patterns. I had a lot of fun with Casios
one-man band, and the only thing the
FP-4 had that the PX-320 didnt was a
visual chord readout. You get similar
auto-band features on the PX-120, but
with 20 styles instead of 70. Both Priviae
have basic reverb and chorus effects,
which can be used together.
The Kawai EP3 has a two-track song
recorder and stereo line inputs. Theres
also a hidden feature called Four
Hands. You trigger it by pressing the
Split button along with the Damper
pedal. This splits the keyboard, with the
lower end transposed up two octaves,
and the top transposed down two
octaves. This lets two pairs of hands
play in the same range, so a teacher
and student could play the same notes.
CONCLUSIONS
After playing all these contenders through
onboard speakers as well comparing
their sounds through a pair of ADAM
A7 studio monitors, Im convinced that
piano sounds are highly subjective, and
how good we think they are is influ-
enced clouded, even by our per-
sonal exposure to piano in certain
genres. You can read more about how
each piano sounded through studio
monitors as well as keyboard amps, at
keyboardmag.com.
Having said that, all pianos with
onboard speakers delivered respectable
sound on their own, with the Yamaha
NP-30 on the entry level of the volume
and bass spectrum (still plenty if your
jam-mates are playing acoustic guitars
and bongos), and the Kawai EP3 win-
ning the Carnegie Hall award for filling
a room. In the middle, the Privia PX-320,
Roland FP-4, and Yamaha P85 were
evenly matched as to how their internal
speakers projected sound.
We need to call out the Casio Privia
PX-320 for bang-for-buck. At a street price
of around $700, it delivers the most
polyphony, the most sounds, and the most
GEAR
THE STARTER PI ANO
When we asked major keyboard
companies, Send us your lightest
and most affordable digital pianos for
a roundup, Korg being the
straight-shooters they are
graciously declined, saying, Well,
weve got the SP-250, but its 42
pounds. Then, two things happened.
Kawai sent us the impressive (and 45-
pound) EP3, and just as we went to press, the street price of the Korg SP-250
dropped to around $700. So weve gotta give it a shout out. Our full review
from the May 06 issue is linked to the online version of this roundup at
keyboardmag.com. Stephen Fortner
Yamaha NP-30
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52 K E Y B O A R D 0 6 . 2 0 0 9
pianistic keyboard feel in its price range.
In fact, itll toe-to-toe with digital pianos
that cost two or three times as much. If
its price is still too high, the PX-120
gives you the same sound, feel, and form
factor, and a few of the fun-add features,
for about $200 less.
The Yamaha NP-30 is the ultimate
beach party keyboard with its tiny size,
solid sounds, and battery power. Also,
the price is so low that its a great choice
if youre feeling non-committal, say,
because youre worried your kids wont
stick with it or that theyll beat the living
daylights out of whatever you buy.
I rate the Kawai EP3 as most built like
a tank, with Rolands FP-4 a close sec-
ond. This is a subjective call, but the
EP3s playing experience seemed more
classical and upper-crusty than the
other pianos in this roundup (in particu-
lar the brighter Yamahas and Casio).
With its robust speakers and the
tuxedo-like black finish, its a great
acoustic piano replacement for a for-
mal setting the kind where the host
would otherwise be embarrassed
about a musical instrument having a
power cord.
With its moderate price, simple
operation, great sounds, and relative
portability, Id recommend the Yamaha P85
as best for overall use by the whole family.
The Roland FP-4 would be my choice if you
needed a family piano to do double-duty
at weekend gigs, given its sturdy build
quality, superb sounds, and action that
wont tire your hands over a long night.
The M-Audio ProKeys duo are an
exceptional value if, beginning or budget-
conscious though you may be, more of
your musical aspirations happen after dark
than after school. Their portability makes
them equally useful for seasoned players
who always want 88 keys at the ready for
working out tunes. With the Sonos audio
interfacing, youve got a tight little
recording solution for keyboard-playing
songwriters on the move. Given their more
pro audio look and orientation, theyre
also most likely to succeed at holding the
interest of any musically-inclined teenager
for whom living room digital pianos just
arent hip enough.
53 0 6 . 2 0 0 9 K E Y B O A R D
Arturia has had great success with
their V line of soft synths that look and
sound like the classic cars of the synth
world: the Moog Modular and Minimoog,
Yamaha CS-80, Roland Jupiter-8, Sequen-
tial Circuits Prophet-5 and Prophet-VS, and
ARP 2600. What could be cooler than to
bundle these together in a single hardware
box with lots of knobs, a step sequencer,
and some modern goodies?
Thats Origin, but it isnt just a hardware
version of Arturias existing software. Its a
full-fledged modular synth in its own right.
You can run Moog and Jupiter oscillators
through ARP and CS-80 filters, for
instance. Although its capable of some
edgy, digital-era patches, Origin is mainly
about huge analog sound.
FACTORY SOUNDS
Can you say big? Can you say mon-
strously big? I knew you could. When it
comes to amazing sounds, Origin gets
full marks. Youll find fat 80s synth-pop
pads like City Lights, analog strings
and choir such as JP Strings and
Memory Voices, greasy basses such as
Zyzz Bass, and Dancin in L.A., trancy
GEAR
by Jim Aikin
PROS
Monstrously huge sound. Lots of knobs.
Interactive step sequencer. Highly
patchable, quite like a modular synth.
Four-part multitimbral with aux outs.
Numerous modules emulate vintage
synth components.
CONS
Limited polyphony. Several important
features not yet implemented. No com-
pare button for patch edits. Manual
contains some minor errors and could
be clearer.
INFO
$3,200 list/approx. $2,500 street,
arturia.com
ARTURI A ORI GI N
ARTURIA ORIGIN
The Synth Freaks Dream Realizer
For an audio clip of a composition Jim Aikin recorded
using only Origin sounds, plus expanded coverage of its
synth engine, go to keyboardmag.com/audition.
1
3
2
4
10
11
7
8 6
5
9
54 K E Y B O A R D 0 6 . 2 0 0 9
arpeggio patterns like Fluid Arpeggio
and Arpturia, light leads (7tease), cut-
ting leads (Feedback), a Joe Zawinul-
esque multi called FerretKing,
meat-and-potatoes comping fodder
from jazz guitar to synth strings to
electric piano, and much more.
Stylistically, more of Origins factory
patches lean toward a Euro-techno vibe
than toward the warm, natural analog
sounds youd hear on mainstream tracks
out of L.A. Having spent a few weeks with
Origin himself, Executive Editor Stephen
Fortner observed, Factory sounds can
have a lot of bells and whistles because
the designers want to show off everything
their new baby can do. With Origin, I found
that getting more complex patches to
sound old-school was often a matter of
dialing back the effects and removing a
modulation or two.
Factory sounds are in no particular
order, but two category search fields at the
top of the screen let you find what you need
quickly. When saving your own patches,
you can give them a project name, then
search by project as well as by type (lead,
keyboard, etc.), sound designer, and so on.
MULTI MODE
The truly massive sounds are found in multi
mode. Factory multis like The Score layer
brass with strings and a filter sweep, while
Dark Side 80s and Wavestation com-
bine a pad with a pulsing arpeggio. When I
played the multis, the polyphony limits
became apparent. Normally Origin is a 32-
voice synth, but the actual number of notes
will be smaller, and will depend on CPU
usage in a way that you can only figure out
by listening. With some of the thicker mul-
tis, Origin will play only three or four notes
before running out of voices.
Origin provides 100 factory multi
patches plus 156 empty locations for
your own. A multi has four parts. Each part
can be set to its own key zone, so you
can do splits and layers, but you cant do
velocity- or knob-controlled splitting. Each
part can be set to its own MIDI channel
for sequencing, and the outputs of the
four parts appear in stereo at the eight aux
HANDS-ON
Input for putting external audio through Origins
synth engine and effects gets its own front panel
knob with LED meters.
The joystick can access up to three pairs of
settings for groovy realtime tweaking.
The white knob in each of these sections selects
which oscillator, filter, LFO, or envelope in a
patch is controlled by the gray knobs.
Its not a touchscreen, but the hi-res color LCD
provides plenty of detail.
Buttons below the LCD provide one-click access to
the main pages.
The numeric keypad is strictly for calling up
sounds, not for entering parameter values when
programming sounds.
Press this wheel in (its also a button) to enter
and exit data entry mode.
The mixer section gives you instant control over
the layers in a patch or patches in a multi.
These knobs are effect returns when effects are
routed in parallel, and wet/dry controls when the
effects are in series. Bypass individual effects, and
call them up for editing, with the buttons.
Using this row of 16 knobs and the backlit buttons
below them, you can interact with a sequence
seamlessly as it plays.
Wood side panels and curved lip at the bottom can
be removed for rackmounting.
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GEAR
The long row of 1/4" jacks around back includes left and right audio inputs, main audio outs, eight aux audio outs, footswitch and sweep pedal inputs, and the head-
phone out, which has its own level knob on the front panel. You also get S/PDIF digital audio out and USB.
NEED TO KNOW
What is it? A hardware synth with
high-quality digital models of the oscil-
lators and filters from several classic
analog synths.
What classic synths? Oscillator and
filter models based on the Minimoog,
Roland Jupiter-8, Yamaha CS-80, and
ARP 2600.
How many notes will it play at
once? As many as 32 notes with sim-
ple patches, about 12 with moderately
complex patches, and as few as three
or four in multi-patch layers.
How easy is it to program sounds
on the built-in LCD? If you under-
stand modular synthesis, its very easy.
If youre new to this type of program-
ming, theres a learning curve.
Can I use it on external audio?
Yes. Stereo audio inputs on the rear
panel can be routed through the filters
and effect modules.
What are Arturias future plans for
Origin? More pre-configured
templates of classic instruments. MIDI
transmission of knob and joystick
moves. A data readout onscreen for
the knobs. Multichannel USB audio
output to computer.
55 0 6 . 2 0 0 9 K E Y B O A R D
GEAR ARTURI A ORI GI N
outputs part 1 left, part 1 right, part 2
left, and so on. You can transpose each
part up to two octaves higher or lower in
half-step increments, but theres no fine-
tuning beyond the half-steps.
HARDWARE CONTROLS
Thirteen of the 54 knobs (the 12 white
ones plus the main data wheel) are also
buttons turning one selects something
and pressing it brings that thing up for edit-
ing. The white knobs down either side of
the screen are programmable per patch.
You can assign a single parameter, but not
several at once, to each of these by high-
lighting the thing you want and pressing
the knob.
The other knobs are grouped accord-
ing to synth section. In the envelope sec-
tion, for instance, you turn the white knob
until you see the envelope you want in a
brief pop-up in the display. Now the gray
knobs affect that envelope. Within a sec-
tion, one knob can control multiple settings
via a macro option. Spin the white filter
knob to macro filter, for instance, and the
cutoff and resonance knobs will sweep
every filter in the patch at once. Itd be bet-
ter still if you could handpick any parame-
ters and assign your own macros to the
screenside knobs, as in soft synths that do
scenes or patch morphing. Put that on
our wish list for a future OS update.
Not to diminish the coolness of multiple
envelopes and filters per patch, but tweak-
ing them isnt as intuitive as it could be,
because a glance gives no clear indication
of which oscillator, filter, LFO, or envelope a
given bunch of knobs currently controls
you have to move a knob to get the pop-up
that tells you what it does. However, Ori-
gins system is logical and easy enough to
learn, and if you get in the habit of assigning
the eight screenside knobs to things youre
going to use, you wont have to fish for the
right oscillator or filter when performing.
I also found it tough to get used to the
data entry method. The large data wheel
does two things besides the usual scrolling
through patches: First, it moves the editing
highlight (a black outline around the current
module or parameter) onscreen; the four
cursor buttons below it do the same thing.
When you press the wheel (or Enter but-
ton), the black outline turns red to indicate
that the wheel now changes the value of
the highlighted thing but the cursor dia-
mond becomes inactive. I often meant to
edit a parameter and wound up moving the
editing highlight instead. My suggestion:
Make the wheel strictly for data entry and
the cursor diamond strictly for navigation.
With most parameters, turning the wheel
(or a knob) doesnt display the current
value. Arturia plans to add this amenity in a
future OS update.
The first two units we evaluated were
among the first to roll off the assembly line,
and both had some hardware problems,
such as the screen occasionally being dark
on power-up. We alerted Arturia to the
issues, and a third unit, which we received a
couple of months later, tested out perfectly.
PATCHING THE MODULES
With 400 great factory sounds to choose
from, it may be a while before you start pro-
gramming your own to fill the 600 empty
slots. When you do, youll find a very deep,
flexible modular synth. For a true synth
geeks discussion of the modules and
patching system, go to keyboardmag.com
for this articles online version, which has
an extra section called More on the Mod-
ules. Heres a quick overview.
A patch can have up to 20 modules in
any combination. The available modules
include a two-dimensional vector envelope
reminiscent of the original Prophet-VS, and
a crazy triple LFO called Galaxy, which we
first encountered in Jupiter-8V (reviewed
Jun. 07). The number of inputs and outputs
available per module isnt fixed you can
stack them as needed.
Oscillators and filters include Minimoog,
Jupiter, CS-80, and ARP (but no Prophet)
types, which emulate the character of each
historic synth. Then theres the Origin
oscillator and filter: generic types that use
less DSP power. Finally, the Wavetable
oscillator produces the same glassy, gritty,
digital waveforms as the Prophet-VS. Using
SOFT SYNTHS IN HARDWARE
There are two ways to design sounds in the Origin. You can call up a soft synth-like template or freely patch together modules based on Arturias well-known soft synths.
At press time, the Minimoog (left) is the only full template, but components from Minimoog V, Jupiter-8V, ARP 2600V, and CS-80V (such as the CS-80 type oscillator
shown at right) are all onboard, so you can patch together, say, a virtual Jupiter-8.
56 K E Y B O A R D 0 6 . 2 0 0 9
GEAR
Origins joystick, you can emulate how the
VS joystick crossfaded between its digital
oscillators Bode Pad (patch 0193) is
one example.
Arturias oscillators are free of aliasing,
but when you send an oscillator through a
filter, the filter adds some aliasing. Its
extremely low-level, if audible at all. Fortner
commented, If I octave-shift up and play in
the top two octaves of a 61-key controller, I
can hear just a little. Overall, though, Origin
sounds as smooth as any virtual analog
machine gets.
Theres no Compare button for patch
edits, and no undo. If you press any of the
Sound Select buttons (on the numeric key-
pad) during an edit session, your edits will
be lost, because theres no Are you sure?
before exiting edit mode.
Arturia plans to offer pre-patched tem-
plates for four classic synths (see Soft
Synths in Hardware on page 56). The only
template in version 1.0, however, is the Mini-
moog V. It adds matrix modulation and an
extra LFO to the original Mini configuration.
ORIGINS SEQUENCER
Tech, trance, and house musicians, and fans of old-school synths, will love Origins step sequencer.
Sequences can be up to 32 steps long, and you can set odd lengths such as 19 or 25 steps. You can store 128
of your own sequences, each of which contains three sub-sequences (rows) with accent and slide functions.
Buttons let you select which sub-sequence Origins row of 16 knobs and lighted buttons controls; the buttons
here can also choose different sequencer patterns.
Normally, youd use sub-sequences to change the filter cutoff, panning, and/or loudness of steps, but its
easy to make them do three-note chords. Playing your MIDI keyboard gates the sequencer, unless the Hold
button is lit, which keeps it running when you let off the keys. The sequence transposes with your playing,
and if you hold a chord, several instances run in parallel. Origin also has a standard arpeggiator.
57 0 6 . 2 0 0 9 K E Y B O A R D
GEAR ARTURI A ORI GI N
EFFECTS
Origin has three independent effects
processors and five types: reverb, stereo
delay, chorus, distortion, and dual phaser.
Only one of each type can be active in a
patch. The effects can run in series or par-
allel; in parallel, each of the four output
modules in a patch has its own sends for
the three effects, so you can do tricks like
putting only delay on one oscillator/filter
combo while putting only distortion on
another. The effects parameters arent
fancy, but I was very pleased to find that
the distortions drive knob is gain-compen-
sated: You can turn it up or down without
altering the output volume.
COMPUTER CONNECTION
The manual mentions a capability thats
planned but not yet implemented: multi-
channel USB audio between Origin and
your computer. At present, USB is
strictly for MIDI and for communicating
with the included librarian software.
That software isnt an editor, but given
the luxurious hardware controls, you
hardly need one.
When I hooked Origin up to my PC and
tried it with Steinberg Cubase, I found that
its sequencer would sync to incoming MIDI
clock as long as I started the Cubase
transport a few beats before the first note
Cubase transmitted (to gate Origins
sequencer). If I quantized a note to a bar
line then started playback right on that
note, Origin would take a fraction of a sec-
ond to get going, which put it out of sync
until it received another (quantized) note.
Once it locked up to the second note-on, it
stayed in sync.
At present, Origin cant transmit MIDI
from its own knobs or joystick, either via
USB or the regular MIDI output jack.
Arturia plans to add this in a future OS
update. Parameters can receive MIDI con-
trol messages so you can automate, say,
a filter cutoff by drawing a curve in a MIDI
track on your DAW but itd be nicer if you
could record that automation by turning the
knob on Origin itself.
CONCLUSIONS
Origin is an ambitious instrument. Im
bowled over by the sound, and excited
because what we have here is effectively
a virtual modular synth. I can live without
the other vintage synth templates,
because the oscillators and filters that
would make them up are already in there.
When they get here, though, theyll be
welcomed by anyone who wants ready-
to-play, hardware-powered versions of
Arturia soft synths. Normally, either the
just like a classic or the totally open-
ended aspect dominates a synth, adds
editor Stephen Fortner. To get either of
them, youre usually talking software.
Balancing both aspects, and doing it in
standalone hardware, is pretty
audacious. That Origin does it so well
proves the audacity paid off.
If you want powerhouse analog sound,
the flexibility of soft synths, the zero latency
and no-hassle factor of hardware, and a
panel full of knobs to tweak, Origin just
may be your dream machine.
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58 K E Y B O A R D 0 6 . 2 0 0 9
As a DJ who routinely tests new
remixes-in-progress at my gigs, having a
top-notch mastering tool isnt just a would
be nice, but rather an absolute essential.
Few things are more embarrassing than
being up in front of a crowd, fading out of a
commercial release and into your own lat-
est gem, and having it sounding small and
amateurish by comparison.
For years, Id subsisted on the factory
effects that came with my DAWs bundled
CD mastering software package. At the
beginning it was fine, but as the stakes got
higher, I started to wonder why even my
students tracks were sounding so big. I
asked around and one answer kept coming
back: iZotope Ozone.
So last summer, I made the switch to
Ozone 3 and fell in love. This multipur-
pose mastering plug-in made even one-
day demos sound like finished releases.
Thats absolutely no exaggeration. When
Ozone 4 arrived, I was eager to dig
deeper into its new features. Is version 4 a
ho-hum semi-improvement or a full-on
game changer?
GEAR
by Francis Preve
PROS
Learn function takes guesswork out of
multiband mastering. Mid-side process-
ing adjusts center and edges of stereo
field separately. Macros and global slid-
ers are extremely easy to use for broad
adjustments. Transparent and powerful
loudness maximizer.
CONS
With all of its processes running simul-
taneously, Ozone is a tad CPU hungry.
INFO
$249.99 list/approx. $200 street
izotope.com
I ZOTOPE OZONE 4
IZOTOPE OZONE 4
Masterful Mastering
1
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4
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5
60 K E Y B O A R D 0 6 . 2 0 0 9
THE OZONE COLLECTION
Ozone comes with pretty much every mas-
tering device required for delivering profes-
sional results. Paragraphic EQ, multiband
dynamics, loudness maximization, satura-
tors, exciters, and stereo imaging tools are
all present and accounted for, along with
additional amenities like reverb and multiple
dithering options for making your tune
sound ideal in the usual 16-bit listening
formats. The nifty thing about how Ozones
implements these tools is that many of
them the harmonic exciter and stereo
imager included are multiband-enabled.
This means you can use just one or two
frequency ranges of (for instance) the
exciter to gently give the upper mids some
presence without shredding the highs.
Another example is that you could really
widen the stereo field of the high-end air
in your tracks while leaving the lows
untouched.
The six-band paragraphic EQ is also a
standout, with both an analog mode
and digital linear phase correction. It also
has a matching tool, which lets it sam-
ple the frequency curve of a reference
recording and apply that curve to the sig-
nal to be mastered. While other applica-
tions also include this type of spectrum
matching, its particularly well-suited to
the mastering stage, and Ozones imple-
mentation is solid. With thoughtful track
matching done by Ozones premium EQs,
the results can be impressive.
For many producers, the true test of a
mastering software suite is how much and
how transparently it maximizes loudness.
For the uninitiated, loudness maximization
is a process that elevates the technical
principles of limiting to high art, letting pro-
ducers squash a mix into a solid brick of
full-assault audio. Good loudness
maximization maintains the illusion of
dynamic differences between loud and soft
passages in the music. Apple Logics
Adaptive Limiter is an example of this tech-
nology, as is Waves legendary L1 and its
successors. Im here to tell you that Ive
tried the majority of the tools out there
both included with a DAW app and third-
party and Ozones loudness maximizer is
the among the best Ive ever used. Its
Character slider and Intelligent release
modes make it possible to compress the
bejeezus out of a track while keeping it big
and punchy. Elven magic, methinks.
STANDOUT FEATURES
At the highest level, Ozone 4 is easier to
use than any other mastering tool thats
graced my hard drive. With its Macro
HANDS-ON
Cosmetically, Ozone 4s main user interface takes
its predecessors look up a few notches its
prettier than ever.
As with Ozone 3, the dynamics, stereo imaging,
and exciter do up to four discrete bands, so you
can tailor the amount of each effect to specific
frequency ranges.
In addition to displaying the crossover points for
the multiband processing, the upper display
includes realtime spectrum analysis.
New mid-side processing lets you apply effects
like exciters and reverb to either the center or the
edges of your songs stereo field.
Each processor now has its own slider for chang-
ing the overall amount of a given effect, rather
than digging into the individual parameters.
A Global Amount slider serves as a macro for all
effects in a given preset at once, so new users can
make sonic changes first and learn the ingredients
that go into them later.
1
2
3
4
5
6
GEAR
NEED TO KNOW
What is it? A full suite of high-end
mastering tools in a single plug-in.
What tools are included? Loudness
Maximizer, Paragraphic EQ, Multiband
Dynamics, Multiband Stereo Imaging,
Harmonic Exciter, Mastering Reverb,
and Dithering.
How good are the factory presets?
They cover a lot more than mere mas-
tering applications, with well-designed
reverbs, plus EQ that delivers both
linear-phase accuracy and analog
coziness.
Sound compared to Ozone 3?
Bigger, wider, and much more
precisely controlled.
What does it run on? Power PC or
Intel Mac with OS 10.4 or later; Win-
dows XP, x64 or Vista. AU, DX, MAS,
RTAS (Pro Tools), and VST plug-in
formats.
Is it worth upgrading? Absolutely.
The macro-based global and module
amount controls allow even non-engi-
neers to quickly customize complex
presets to suit the needs of almost any
track and the mid/side stereo func-
tions deliver some very clever new
mastering options youll be hard
pressed to find elsewhere.
OZONES PRESET WINDOW
Ozones preset panel is now detachable, so you switch between previewing presets and editing them with fewer
mouse clicks. Each preset now has its own set of relevant macros in plain English for working quickly. At the
bottom of the panel, you can see which processors are active for each preset.
61 0 6 . 2 0 0 9 K E Y B O A R D
GEAR I ZOTOPE OZONE 4
Presets feature, single sliders control sev-
eral settings at once, so new users can
shape overall EQ, dynamics, and stereo
character basically skating over Ozones
surface while keeping the option open to
customize its presets, thanks to Ozones
easy-to-grasp terminology. One level
deeper are Module Amount Control sliders
that let you increase or decrease the gen-
eral depth of any active processor. Lets
say you love a preset, but want to widen
the stereo field a bit more, then back off a
touch on the loudness maximizing. Just
nudge each modules slider accordingly.
Even for seasoned engineers, this can
measurably speed up mastering workflow.
On the opposite end of the program-
ming spectrum, Ozone 4 includes some
really deep new features for massaging just
about any mix into something really special.
Probably the coolest new amenity is mid-
side processing in several of Ozones tools,
specifically the EQ, harmonic exciter, mas-
tering reverb, and multiband dynamics. If
youre new to the concept, mid-side pro-
cessing can apply different amounts of an
effect to the center and edges of the
stereo field.
For example, using the exciter, you
might add a bit of tube warmth to the low-
mids in the center of your mix, while making
the highs sizzle only at the far left and right
sides of the stereo picture. If the descrip-
tion sounds incredible to you, wait until you
hear it in action. Speaking of analog
warmth, in addition to Ozone 3s tube, tape
and retro modes, Ozone 4s exciter now
sports a warm mode, which performs sort
of like a blend of the three.
The crossovers in each of the multiband-
enabled tools have also improved in subtle
yet nifty ways. While iZotopes website
touts Ozone 4s new Hybrid Crossover as
combining analog character with perfect
reconstruction characteristics, the Learn
function is the upgrade that caught my
attention. If youve ever wrestled with
selecting frequency ranges for a given
track, wrestle no more. Just feed Ozone
your mix, right-click the bands, and select
Learn. From there, you can watch each
band resize automatically as it analyzes the
signal for the perfect crossover points in
real time. Its a great-looking animation, and
best of all, it does a darned good job at
making the right decisions for you, so your
ears can stay focused.
OTHER AMENITIES
In addition to the above highlights, Ozone
4 includes a slew of little touches that go a
long way toward improving the overall
mastering process. Theres an exhaustive
list on iZotopes website, but here are the
improvements that directly helped my
workflow.
What used to be the mute function on
each crossover band is now a solo control,
which makes infinitely more sense in the
context of setting up a multiband exciter or
compressor. The new mid-side processes
are similarly solo-enabled, so you can iso-
late specific processes within the stereo
field for meticulous tweaks.
The Automatic Bypass Gain function
transparently adjusts the relative volume of
the unprocessed signal when comparing,
so A/Bing a track doesnt constantly
require having a finger on your master vol-
ume fader.
Many of the tools, such as the EQ and
crossover functions, include CPU optimiza-
tions, which I definitely noticed when work-
ing on my 2GHz Core2 Duo MacBook
not a slowpoke, but not Vin Diesels street
racer either. These optimizations arent made
across the board with every effect, so the
amount of performance boost depends on
what youre using at a given time. Speaking
of the EQ, you can now drag multiple
nodes simultaneously. While admittedly
minor, once you get used to this, youll
wonder why everyone doesnt implement it.
THE GREAT RESTORATION
Being an Ozone fan, I already knew how
great it sounded on modern productions,
so as I was kicking the tires, I decided to
unearth a few old demos from 2002 to see
how much Ozone could improve them
while keeping everything sounding
relatively natural. Since the original material
was end-to-end digital, this was a perfect
opportunity to tinker with Ozone 4s
exciters saturation options without adding
obvious distortion.
I started by boosting the lows slightly
with the paragraphic EQ. Nothing major,
just a dB or so, centered at 80Hz with a
wide Q (bandwidth), using Ozones ana-
log mode, which I generally prefer. From
there I activated the multiband dynamics,
then used the Learn function to optimize the
crossover points. Since the track evolved
over time, I selected a dense part of the
arrangement to analyze. I simply cannot
overemphasize how genuinely useful this
feature is. Previously, I had to dial through
presets until I found something that was
close, then tinker from there. Now I just
click, enjoy the animation, then adjust the
dynamics of each band until Im satisfied.
From there, I applied a touch of multi-
band exciter in mid-side mode. Using the
exciters tape mode, I warmed up the
midrange in mono, then added a bit of siz-
zle to the edges of the top frequencies. It
sounded great, so I moved on to the multi-
band stereo imaging, narrowing the width
of the lows, then spreading the upper mids
slightly and the highs significantly.
Finally, I slapped on Ozones loudness
maximizer in Intelligent II mode, lowering
the threshold until I could hear the effect
kicking in, then backing off a tiny bit so as
not to overdo it.
I was quite pleased with the results until
I A/Bed the track with the original and real-
ized that the harmonic excitement was a
tad extreme. Rather than go back to the
exciters editing panel, I decided to simply
use that processors global slider to back it
off. A few moments later, I compared the
two versions again and was surprised by
how much Ozone was able to improve
the mix without making it sound
overprocessed.
CONCLUSIONS
I generally dont gush unless a product
truly blows me away. Last year, Ozone 3
became a staple of my production process,
and I was completely satisfied with it in its
previous iteration. Now, its indispensable,
and includes a great-sounding reverb to
boot. If youre in the market for mastering
tools that deliver professional results for a
street price of about $200, then youve
found a Key Buy-winning solution.
62 K E Y B O A R D 0 6 . 2 0 0 9
GEAR ANALYSI S PLUS YELLOW OVAL
Ive always been a high-end cable
skeptic. I dont buy the cheapest stuff in
the store, but triple digits for a single run?
Maybe for connecting rare guitars to rarer
amps, Id think, But for keyboards, its
gotta be overkill.
Analysis Plus got my attention by say-
ing, Well send you some, and if you dont
hear a difference, no sweat. I got a pair of
their standard Yellow Ovals (shown), plus a
balanced pair with skinnier straight barrels
than the ones in the picture. Since the jacks
on many keyboards, mixers, and audio
interfaces are very close together, the
regular fat barrels often pushed laterally
against each other when I ran stereo; the
right-angle and skinny barrels (which you
can specify when you order) fit fine.
Running the output of a modern synth
into my mixer and studio monitors didnt
seem to do anything immediately. I heard
the first improvement as tracks began to
stack up in a multitrack test recording it
had less of that 1995 workstation demo
quality that can crop up when you use the
same keyboard for every sound. I also
began to feel as though the microscopic
time between pressed key and heard note
was shorter: less latency, which paid off in
the form of better groove as I overdubbed.
No way can an audio cable do this, I
thought. So I repeated the experiment a few
times, and if I trust my senses, yes, it can.
This was most pronounced with vintage
keys such as real Clav and Rhodes Stage.
Its not like there was a problem with the
cables I normally use, but swapping in the
Analysis Plus took a veil off the sound, and
in terms of perceived latency, was almost
like turning the buffer on your audio inter-
face down a setting.
Im still skeptical about a lot of things that
claim to improve your sound, but the Yellow
Ovals have become my go-to cables for
recording and important gigs, and make a
more tangible improvement than higher-priced
premium cables Ive tried. Perhaps theyre
something you buy after youve paid off the
credit card for other musical essentials, but
once you do, you wont look back.
by Stephen Fortner
ANALYSIS PLUS
YELLOW OVAL
Premium Audio Cables
PROS
Definite improvement to sound quality
and latency. Best ruggedness and build
quality weve seen in a cable.
CONS
Expensive.
INFO
10': $119 list/approx. $109 street;
15': $164 list/approx. $154 street,
analysis-plus.com
64 K E Y B O A R D 0 6 . 2 0 0 9
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Michael Duff is a singer/songwriter/producer living in Los Angeles and is the former lead singer/songwriter of Chalk FarM
Apple Logic Studio, Mac Pro & MacBook Pro Euphonix MC Mix controller Apogee Duet audio interface
Avalon VT-737SP processor M-Audio Axiom 61 USB keyboard Zoom H2 recorder Digidesign 002 Rack with Pro Tools LE
Line 6 Pod & Bass Pod Pro Marshall Electronics MXL V77 tube mic Fender & Taylor guitars Tannoy speakers
To locate an Apple Pro Audi o Resel l er near you,
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Wi t h t hei r exper t knowl edge, product sel ect i on and passi on f or musi c,
Apple Pro Audio Resellers are the perfect destination to build your dream studio.
2009 EUPHONI X INC. ALL RI GHTS RESERVED. MC MI X I S A TRADEMARK OF EUPHONI X INC.
APPLE, LOGI C STUDI O, MAC PRO AND MACBOOK PRO ARE TRADEMARKS OF APPLE INC.
ALL OTHER TRADEMARKS ARE PROPERTY OF THEI R RESPECTI VE OWNERS.
Studio Solutions
for creative musicians everywhere
Synthogy Ivory raised the bar for
high-quality sampled grand pianos. Ivory
Upright Pianos is an equally ambitious sequel,
weighing in at roughly 50GB with over 5,000
samples and up to ten velocity layers.
Ivory Uprights fills a great void in the
high-end sampled piano world. In the past,
Ive slapped EQ and effects on grand
piano sounds to emulate uprights, but that
only goes so far. Bass strings are shorter
and thicker on an upright, requiring a
greater degree of stretch tuning, as well
as producing more inharmonicity and faster
decay of high harmonics. The soundboard
of an upright is also smaller and the iron
frame is lighter, creating a different tonal
character. These arent characteristics you
can easily duplicate with effects.
The four uprights on hand (see Need
To Know at right) give you a high degree
of variety, which is only increased by the
excellent sculpting abilities in the Ivory
interface and included presets. Read this
review at keyboardmag.com for info on the
new Creaks & Clunks (piano noises) lay-
ers and the upright soundboard models.
I liked the Modern Yamaha best for
most uses. Its fun to play, and like many
Yamaha upright and grand pianos, its bright,
dynamic sound sits well in pop and rock
mixes. However, it also has less character
than the other models, which are just right
for less run-of-the-mill circumstances. The
1915 Packard model was custom-detuned
just enough to create an authentic barroom
sound, but not so much as to sound like a
honky tonk ROMpler preset. The tack
piano is less detuned, but equally loaded
with personality, brighter than the Packard,
and just the thing for scoring gritty film cues.
The 1914 Hume (which is not detuned)
offers another vintage flavor warmer than
the Yamaha, but less like a grand in sound.
Next to the Yamaha, Id be most likely to use
this piano. In some rock contexts, I like it
even better, as its perfect for lending instant
indie attitude to a song think Ben Folds or
Coldplay before they got huge.
While its hard to argue that everyone
needs a premium virtual upright the way
everyone needs a good virtual grand, it is
about time a developer put the care into
the former that weve come to expect from
the latter. If any of your piano tracks have
wanted for a certain intimacy and grit that
your grands havent quite delivered, Ivory
Uprights should be your first listen.
by Geoff Grace
PROS
Totally authentic upright pianos. Distinct
personalities of vintage and current
models. Lots of editing flexibility.
CONS
Required iLok key is not included.
INFO
$299 list/approx. $279 street,
synthogy.com
NEED TO KNOW
What pianos are in it? Modern is
a new Yamaha U5, Vintage is a 1914
A. M. Hume, Barroom is a 1915
Packard, and Tack Piano has metal
tacks in the hammer felts.
Do I need a fast computer? On
Mac or PC, you need a 7200rpm or
faster hard drive and at least 1GB of
RAM. See synthogy.com for detailed
system and OS requirements.
Plug-in formats: AU, RTAS, VST, and
standalone mode.
Why sample an upright instead of
a grand? Uprights often have more
character and period vibe. Think
speakeasies, ragtime, vintage jazz, or
rocking out on the only piano your
school didnt keep locked.
Do I need the original Ivory to use
this? Nope Ivory Uprights stands on
its own as a virtual instrument.
SYNTHOGY IVORY
UPRIGHT PIANOS
Upright Done Right
GEAR SYNTHOGY I VORY UPRI GHT PI ANOS
Original audio examples and expanded
coverage of Ivory Uprights features are
at keyboardmag.com/audition.
69 0 6 . 2 0 0 9 K E Y B O A R D
To advertise in this section contact; Allison Smith at 650-238-0296 or asmith@musicplayer.com
Strum Electric GS-1 Electric Guitar
Applied Acoustics Systems
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SonicPrint TM Acoustical Panels
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Demystifying B3 Drawbars/NI B4II &
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Join two of the greatest B3 keyboardists of all
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SRP: $24.95 (B3) & $19.95 (Axiom)
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TUBE DELAY, SPRING REVERB, and
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From the team behind the acclaimed Vintage
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SRP: $199.99 (street)
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70 K E Y B O A R D 0 6 . 2 0 0 9
PRODUCT SPOTLI GHT
Special Advertising Section
- Talent and Employement
- Accessories
- Education & Tutorial
- Mixing and Mastering
- Pianos & Organs
- Acoustic Products & Services
- Sounds, Sequences, & Software
- Studio Furnishings
Categories
Acoustic Products & Services
www.b3hammond.com. Buy/Sell MINT
Hammonds, Leslies. Wordwide sales.
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Education & Tutorial
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Short Cuts to playing Blues, Jazz, Rock, Gospel,
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Sounds, Sequences & Software
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Dopest Hiphop/R&b sound kits & Turorial
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71 0 6 . 2 0 0 9 K E Y B O A R D
CLASSI FI EDS
I played the bulk of the We Are One
show on Hammond B-3, one of my favorite
instruments; I used a B-3 modified by Trek
II. My other go-to keyboard was the Open
Labs NeKo. They were kind enough to pro-
vide me with their LX5 model before any-
one else had one. As for the soft synths I
run on it, I have just about everything out
there a bunch of Giga stuff, Spectra-
sonics, Native Instruments, ProjectSAM,
Synthogy Ivory, Ilio Origins, MOTU Mach
Five, the list goes on.
Ive used NeKos on many TV gigs
the Oscars, the Emmys, the Grammys. I
showed it to Herbie Hancock and Stevie
Wonder. They flipped out. They have
every keyboard known, so it was cool to
have something they didnt. [Laughs.] Im
sure the next time I go to Herbies, hell
have three of em! I also used a Yamaha
Motif ES8 and a Korg Triton Extreme. I
can pretty much cover everything with all
of those.
As to the stage sound, I mixed every-
thing through a Mackie 12-channel mixer
that lived next to the Leslie [See photo on
page 21. Ed.], but splits were taken before
that for the front-of-house. I had in-ear mon-
itors, and also a wedge which was mainly
to hear the Leslie properly. Michael Bearden
RI GHTEOUS ROAD RI GS
GEEK OUT
Leslie 122
out to Leslie
Hammond B-3
Korg Triton Extreme 76
left mic right mic
upper left mic in
Left Audio
Right Audio
upper right mic in
bottom mic in
Yamaha Motif ES8
Open Labs NeKo
Mackie 1201VLZ 3
Mixer
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MICHAEL BEARDENS
INAUGURATION RIG
For up-close photos of this keyboard rig on the steps
of the Lincoln Memorial, visit keyboardmag.com. See
our cover story on this historic gig on page 20.
72 K E Y B O A R D 0 6 . 2 0 0 9
Steinberg is a registered trademark of Steinberg Media Technologies GmbH.
Yamaha Corporation of America is the exclusive distributor for Steinberg in the United States.
2009 Yamaha Corporation of America. All rights reserved.