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Piano Notes Vol. 1

Updated: May 1, 2020

This project holds a special place in my heart as it was my debut release and is the first in the Piano Notes series. Although solo piano compositions are not exactly my primary genre I wanted to release this first in order to demonstrate early on that Newah is an alias under which I will be releasing a range of genres.

I wrote Emergence in the summer of 2018, a few months after moving house. My 'studio' at the time was less than ideal as it was half full of unopened boxes from the move, and was therefore rather cramped. The room did however look out onto the garden and I remember writing much of this piece sat at the keyboard looking out. It was also the first solo piano piece I ever finished and I remember at the time being super proud of myself for finishing it. The name came from the fact that it is the first piece on my first release and so therefore I wanted a name that symbolised that.

I don't remember much about writing Reflections other than my intention when writing it was to create a sad piece of music, hence the working title 'Sad Piano Somin'. I vaguely remember it not taking too long to write as by this point I had already worked on a few piano and orchestral pieces and so was beginning to get the hang of it. One big change I made not long before release was to the left hand notes in the climax section. Originally it was playing simple bass notes but I decided to write the crossover melody and a more interesting bass line to add some drama to the ending (and so that it looks cool to play ;).

Mountain Stream was a piece which I started in the summer of 2018 not long after finishing Emergence, but all I wrote initially were the first few bars (which yes is just a repeating ostinato consisting of three notes). It wasn't until about a year later when I was starting to properly work towards Piano Notes Vol. 1 that I came back to the piece and completed it. I struggled to name this piece until my mum mentioned that she thought the fast notes sounded like running water and so Mountain Stream was born.

The final piece on the EP and the last one I wrote was Home, which I composed to sound nostalgic and warm but also uplifting. When I wrote this I had already finished the previous three pieces and had come up with the idea for Piano Notes Vol. 1 and so knew I needed one final piece to complete the project. I was happy to be working towards an end goal and composing with intention but equally I did put an unnecessary amount of pressure on myself as I knew it had to hold up against the other three. I think Home took the most hours to write but in the end I was pleased with how it turned out and think I achieved what I set out to do.

Now all four pieces were complete it was time to mix and master the tracks as well as create some artwork. I was originally planning to record the compositions on a real piano with either myself playing or paying someone else to. I quickly realised however that the pieces would take me a long time to learn, and hiring a musician and studio would be expensive. So I came up with a plan B.

If you don't want your view on Piano Notes Vol. 1 to change forever then stop reading here.

Initial artwork ideas.

My plan B was to not record a real take but instead use virtual instruments. Yes you read that right, the piano you hear on the EP is not real, it is instead the product of dozens of hours sat in front of my laptop maticuaoesly altering the velocity and timing of every individual note as well as the overall project tempo to create a realistic performance. Once I completed all four pieces I then created a piano sound which sounded believable by layering three different virtual pianos together with just enough instrument noise to sound real.

The mix and master stage was relatively straight forward as I wanted the pieces to be dynamic and sound full so I kept the FX to a minimum. I added a touch of room reverb to give more realism and they were ready to go.

The final step was the artwork. I knew I wanted a photo of my piano and the title but getting it right took a while (I'm most certainly not a graphic designer). The images in this blog post were all ideas I came up with but in the end I took a step back, kept it simple and ended up with the image that is now the artwork for the EP. All I did to the image were some basic adjustments, added the text and it was complete.

At the time of writing this blog post I haven't started anymore piano pieces, but at some point in the future I intend to start working towards Piano Notes Vol. 2. I don't know when it will be, but I have no doubt the urge to write piano pieces will return again when I get fed up with producing bangers (lol).

Thank you for reading my first blog post, I intend to write more of these in the future about other releases, music related topics and really anything I feel like writing about so keep an eye out.

Newah x

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