Kawai Baby Grand
Recently I had the opportunity to make it back to my hometown and play keys for our church there. It’s always been something I found great joy in doing, and also something that would keep me waking up on time every week too.
A project I’d always wanted to do but never really made the effort to organize was to sample the Kawai KG-1D Baby Grand piano we had on stage there, so this time I finally set out to do it. Coming in a couple hours early one morning before playing, I sampled the piano as follows:
Notes: Quartal, 5-8 velocity layers
Releases: Quartal, 3 velocity layers
Sustains: Octave, 3 velocity layers
Pedal: Single hits, single velocity
2 Microphone positions:
AKG C414 mono just above the opening near an otherwise closed lid
AKG P170 stereo pair, AB at player position (head height)
Running through a Behringer UPHORIA UMC404HD into Logic
I love this piano to bits and associate many fond memories and people with it. It reminds me of my not too distant but still far away youth, and the timbre has this gorgeous, forest-like woody and mellow but bright sound you often get with many Japanese grand pianos (as it is one).
I’ve written a novel below, but before I send you down the rabbit hole I would just like to thank the team at my church for allowing me to do this and for being important figures to me personally – even though this was my personal project, without them it would not have been possible.
Here’s their site: https://www.cccdaytona.org/
Be Warned, It’s a long one.
Geeky Sampling stuff and some thoughts to maybe carry into the forums:
I learned quite a bit from this sampling venture.
For one thing I find that this method took up very little time actually spent recording for the milage I got with the samples (About 40 minutes recorded). Depending on the scale of the project in the future, I will follow a similar model. Had I a bit more time, I would’ve first opted for a second layer of note round-robins, and then moved to alternating thirds from quartal, and then maybe past that a few more velocity layers.
I’ve noticed that on many pianos not each and every note needs the same number of velocity layers, as it can be quite difficult to coax the same amount of volume nuance for example in the highest keys, than those in the midrange. It is of course nice to provide an instrument with a large degree of detail when possible, but performance is also an important concern for the instrument builder. These resources could be better spent in my opinion on creating a more convincing and engaging mid range for example, where most of the play time on the instrument is actually spent.
I also think this sort of contributes to the romance of playing a sampled instrument compared to a real one, I think its our job in some regard to bring forth a little authenticity as well as magic, just as a musician may when crafting a piece with these tools.
One issue I have with a lot of pianos on this site is the overaccumlation of many “soft piano clones”, where they have this pretty, low-velocity sound that’s intimate and close and quiet. That is not a bad thing, but there are so many of them at this point that I would rather not download a new piano when I see one in order to save disk space, because at the end of the day I have a few that I know and love and its quicker to grab them.
Not that these contributions aren’t worth anything, but I think something that would be awesome to see is more bright and cheery or big and warm or nasty and out of tune pianos. I urge anyone who can give us more than just the 2 or 3 velocity layers to do so because it really brings some extra life into actually playing many of these instruments, and a characteristic sound that we don’t get too often. My first actual piano project was the loud piano and I was aiming for that detuned homely bright upright sound, and now this project aims to fill the bright and poppy baby grand piano sound.
Sort of a tangent so my apologies, but a few more remarks.
There are definitely improvements I plan to make next time I work on a project like this. One thing that needs huge work after listening to this for me is mic placement. I had rough ideas on where I wanted to place the mics, but I really wish I had planned out just a little further in advance the actual method I was going to use. On their own I think the two mic positions sound alright but for me the don’t play together as nicely as they ideally would. Any critique on this is always welcome in the forums, but I will definitely be doing more experimenting and research before coming back to a large piano.
Another thing that could use some work is my actual “performance” on the piano. I think some of the playing could use a little more consistency but also care.
Anyways that’s all for this round, I quite like writing these long paragraphs so maybe more will come in the future, but until then
P.S. I somehow did not manage to take any pictures of this piano so I found some from the church website / yelp of it and thus the GUI and included images are quite funny. Do look up the thing on google images if you are curious, its very pretty.
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