1988 "Connelly Chapel" Baldwin Grand
Currently in production…
The 2nd piano presented in our Baldwin series will be a 6'3" model "L" piano, dating back to 1988, before Baldwin/Gibson outsourced piano manufacturing overseas. It's called the "Connelly Chapel" grand because the piano was sampled on location in a chapel on DeSales University campus, and the ambiance provided by the chapel plays a big role in the sound of the instrument. I rented the chapel for five days (and nights) to gather all the samples I needed. To the left, you can see the mechanical striking mechanism I built for the session.
The piano will feature…
a minimum of 13 velocity levels per key
legato & una corda layers
convolution reverbs built from the the piano’s response
convolution reverbs built from the chapel’s acoustic space
the addition of a “room tone” layer
and all the bells & whistles the ‘54 Baldwin Grand has - eq, compression, etc.
(I did record staccato samples, but while working with them, I realized that because of the very lively ambiance of the chapel, they really wouldn’t be any more useful than simply using the legato samples and a decent key release layers.)
Recording on location presented its own challenges, and even though the acoustic space inside the church was absolutely beautiful, the stained glass windows allowed for a certain amount of outside sound to get in. It was summer, school was out, and the campus was a very quiet place. But once mics were in place, the chapel suddenly seemed alive with unwanted sounds. The hum of outdoor AC compressors, the buzz of a far-off lawn mower, a construction worker's hammer, a rumbling paving company truck, the opening and closing of a door in the adjacent dance studio; all sounds that went blissfully unnoticed before mics were live suddenly leaped to the forefront! On closer inspection, what I had initially perceived to be a serene hush in the chapel turned out to be positively crackling with sound.
So, recording at night, sometimes as late as 3:00 a.m., allowed me the most productive quiet time, and during the day I recorded in between the trucks, hammer strikes, lawn mower passes and door slams. The dim hum of distant AC units could be lifted from the tracks pretty painlessly, and careful use of Wavelab’s spectral editor could unobtrusively lift out the occasional undesirable pop or click from the building’s structure as it reacted to sun and wind.
But the actual still, quiet tone of the room itself, with it's huge vaulted ceiling and non-parallel walls created a remarkable background noise ambiance, so I decided to add a "room tone" dial to the instrument so the user could dial up that presence.
The piano itself has been a favorite of mine since I first played it only a year or two after the college had first bought it. Love at first sight. It stuck in my mind for years as one of the most enjoyable pianos I'd ever played, and I was happy to reunite with the thing in 2017, mics in hand!
Below are some quickie demo tracks. Adjustments yet to be made, but this will give you an idea of the sound.