Bespoke Piano Recording
When a client comes to me wanting a piece of bespoke piano recording, they will usually provide me with a video clip or recording to work from. (I prefer to work from an original recording rather than a bad youtube clip of some teenager in their bedroom playing it wrong!) I will soak up the piece for a while - maybe take it away with me and listen to it in the car, so I can get my head around it. Then, I make a simple crib sheet which details any twiddly bits and the chords and arrangement, and then, referencing the original recording, I play the song/piece in a pianistic way that best befits the original style, or if the client has asked for something different, I will alter how I play it.
I luckily have perfect pitch and am able to pick out melodies, chords and harmonies from recordings (smartarse, I hear you say), and it's always a challenge to try out new genres and styles. I recently recorded versions of David Bowie's 'Heat' and Bowie and Goldie's 'Truth' which were synth/sound designy type pieces.
Other bespoke piano recording pieces I have done recently included: Stevie Wonder 'They Won't Go When I Go', Mansun 'Six', Muse - 'Unnatural Selection', Royal Blood - 'Blood Hands' and 'Out of the Black', and The Anchoress 'What Comes around'
Often, the sheet music provided for music is transcribed by someone not in the original artist's circle, and for the more unusual music, it is invariably wrong! I bought the sheet music to the Prelude from Psycho once from a well-known sheet music site, and I had to spend about an hour going through it with the original film recording and changing all the notes!
Generally, bespoke piano recordings of pre-existing tracks (i.e. songs written by other people used for backing tracks or cover versions), I will first do using my MIDI set up, and use a lovely Steinway B sample library or one of the amazing sample libraries from companies like Sonic Couture. Check out this fantastic new Grand Piano they have released, called 'The Hammersmith' - which I recently invested in - absolutely jaw droppingly good! Most times, this is actually enough for a client, but I can re-record the piece on a real piano if you so wish. However, It makes it a lot easier to make changes or tweaks by doing it via MIDI.
Here is a short snippet of a piece recorded using the Steinway B sample library, and the corresponding midi file. This was learned and played by ear.
I will then produce and audio mix of the finished piece - very simple with no effects processing (other than perhaps a very subtle limiter) and can also provide the original MIDI file.