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Sound Paintings

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The Making of.. "Sound Paintings"

This is my most personal music. As I sit down at the piano I have no preconceived notions as to what exactly I am going to play. I let the feeling of the moment guide my hands over the keyboard. It's as if I'm along for the ride.

Over time I have learned to surrender more fully to this "quantum consciousness*" approach to playing..."Sound Paintings" is the first in a series of albums featuring this unique style of instantaneous composition. *(also know as "stream of consciousness")

When I first started playing the piano this way, the result was less than soothing! It was more like a moment of piano bliss followed by a moment of confusion then bliss again. The moments of bliss are what kept me going. I knew I was on to something because I kept surprising myself with musical moments that seemed as if someone other than myself was actually playing...Which of course means I/ego was the one stumbling and confused trying to pigeonhole the musical bliss.

The major breakthrough occurred when I came to understand that instead of left-brain "organization," I needed left-brain "foundation" or what I came to refer to as "flow." This is one of the major secrets of this style of music.

"Flow" is the glue which connects the moments of bliss into one continuous musical form. I learned to achieve greater flow as I allowed myself to simply "let go." Big surprise! The same process of "surrendering to the moment" was also the recipe for greater "flow." Should I say I'm just learning how to get out of my own way?

"Sound Paintings" is a collection of live studio recordings of solo piano. All quantum consciousness compositions, created in the very moment they were being recorded. I chose to include a variety of styles rather than present an album with one particular mood. Flight of the Eagle is a quantum consciousness composition with the addition of the Yamaha WX5 wind synthesizer and keyboard strings. I thought it would help to round-out the solo piano offerings.

My greatest joy is performing quantum consciousness piano in front of an audience. It's like an adventure we take together. Our live concerts have now evolved into "multi-timberal" musical events we call "The Martian Experience." We literally bring the recording studio to the concert venue! With a high resolution sound system, my fellow performers and I perform and combine the best of quantum consciousness piano plus the sounds and ambiance of the music of Mars. Hope to see you at our next concert.

Of Technical Interest...

I'm playing a K. Kawai RX6 grand piano in Sound Painter Recording Studio's 1200 square foot acoustic recording room. This room has a 16 foot high ceiling and oak floor and a 12 foot high picture window that overlooks the Elkhorn Mountain range in beautiful southwestern Montana.

All raw tracks were recorded at 96 kHz 24 bit as a 2-mic (Sure KSM32's) stereo direct digital recording. All of the tracks in "Sound Paintings" were unedited live performances except for "intro" fade-ins and "end" fade outs.

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The Making of... "Escape Music ® A New Dawn"

"My jaw dropped when Baran told me I wasn't listening to a live recording of his acoustic grand piano"...Rich Meyers, City Editor, Helena Independent Record

The art of recording is the ability to use all available technologies, to capture as transparently as possible those aspects of a live performance which are necessary to suspend disbelief and allow the listener to experience the emotional impact of that performance at a time and place of his or her choosing. 

My musicianship has always served as a mechanism to give voice to that which initiates, shapes and tempers the creative flow inside me.  So am I a composer or am I a musician?   In my case they are one and the same. Everything I do musically is a direct effect of my compositional process.  I will do whatever I am capable of which enhances and supports my creative process. I guess you could say I will go anywhere musically and technologically and do anything artistically which has the potential of inspiring me to achieve a more perfect musical connection with my creative flow.

For many years I struggled with capturing the perfect live piano recording.  I wanted to make a recording that would allow me to hear the individual notes, feel the dynamic changes and experience the visceral emotional impact, the energy and intensity of the original performance.  I just want to  close my eyes and be there in the room with the piano...And I've invested thousands of dollars and hours into learning what to do and what not to do in my quest to achieve this.

A most fortuitous event has recently transpired in world of instrument technology which made me rethink my performance recording process. What if I had at my disposal a "perfect" 9 ft Steinway grand piano. Always in tune, always perfectly mic'd.  All I would have to do is sit down and play. Never again distracted by any part of the recording process.  Think of it!  All I would have to do is "lose myself" playing...

This long time fantasy of mine was suddenly made possible with the recent introduction of Synthogy's "Ivory German Steinway D Concert Grand Piano". This technological breakthrough has made it possible for me to spontaneously compose on the piano at a level of personal fulfillment I had here to fore not been able to achieve. Keeping true to my established "unedited live performance" and stream of consciousness criteria as well as utilizing proprietary recording and mastering techniques, I believe I have created a new personal benchmark of Artistic accomplishment... And a truly beautiful solo piano recording with "A New Dawn", the first CD to be released in the "Escape Music®" series.

About The Creative Process...

The freedom this instrument  has provided to me has allowed a more complete surrender, without distraction to the creative process. I find that when I become more fully immersed I am barely conscious of the last three or four seconds of what I have played and just ahead of what I am actually playing.  I become an audience of one in this state, each note being an amplification of an emotional flavor I may be locked into at that very instant.  It's a sublime trance like state that is the most personally satisfying and produces the most surprising musical results.  

I believe I am able to achieve a disconnect from my left-brain conscious filtering mechanisms and slip into a right-brain unconscious feeling state. It's like getting rid of baggage that colors and modifies the real essence of the music.  What's interesting is that I believe there is a constant swinging back and forth between these two mind states during any given performance.  This might be what creates the "charged" state of anticipation I sometimes feel when I play...And the immediate joy I feel as I resolve the challenges that come from constantly jumping off the cliff and finding new ways to land on my feet.

Now here's an interesting point: As the balance between these two states (left-brain and right-brain) shifts towards a more fully right-brain state, a feeling of relaxed knowingness overtakes me and I cease to anticipate what's coming next. Thus I release myself from the charged inner tension and I seem to go much further musically taking more risks yet with a much, smoother execution and with much greater flow. It's like getting inside the music and intrinsically knowing how the different ideas naturally fit together and having this experience instantaneously. This is the most surprising and exciting place for me.  "A New Dawn" is the most fully right-brain state I have yet achieved in a live performance.  I hope you enjoy this album.

-Bob Baran

Sound Painter Deep Image High Definition MasteringThis album was recorded at Sound Painter Recording Studios on June 25, 2006 and July 6, 2006.  It was mastered using the proprietary "Sound Painter Deep Image High Definition Mastering" process.