Recording a nice Steinway (and an a very talented McFerrin)

When Madison Mcferrin wrote one of her newest songs, Know You Better (linked here), she took a little break from stacking live vocals & loops, and she wrote a soulful jazz tune at the piano. Since this song deserved a proper acoustic piano recording, she reached out for a little help; asking if I had some ideas on how best to record herself playing & singing, live.

As much as I applaud any artist’s desire to expand their technical abilities, I also was excited by the chance to do some good old fashioned recording… Just tracking a real live performance without having to edit together takes, later. Knowing that she had access to a beautiful Steinway grand piano, and feeling confident that she was going to be able to nail a great take relatively easily, we made plans to have the house relatively empty & devoid of distractions for the day. The session took all of 90 minutes, we got a few great takes, and settled on one “keeper” after just a few listens.

Given that this song was a fairly open arrangement, with lots of nuance, I also treated this as an opportunity to do some hi-res recording. Tracking through some super-nice API mic preamps, and capturing at 192Khz into Logic Pro X. After a trip home, I threw together a nice mix, which she approved the next day.

Now, don’t get me wrong — I love heavy production projects with lots of tracks / overdubbing / editing & clever trickery, but capturing just 3 tracks of a really talented performer who’s doing it live is a real treat… Especially when it sounds this good.