Saturday, September 22, 2007

Big Blue Sun (Remix)

big blue sun (remix)
volume 4 number 6

to write at the piano is such a departure from writing on the guitar. whereas on the guitar I know what I'm doing and have developed areas I can rely on, on the piano I'm nearly lost. on guitar there are things I have to stop myself from doing; on piano I'm actually more free by not knowing what to do. when I write on piano I do so by visualization, literally saying to myself, "now if I move the middle finger down one note I get this, but if I move the bass note up two notes at the same time it's this..."
because of the logic of the keyboard's layout and my lack of formal training, I approach piano from an architectural point of view. shapes and patterns of movement. consequently if I went over to Howard the piano right now to play big blue sun it would take a few minutes to figure out the physical logic of why the notes change the way they do. then I could play the song again.

fully half of the songs for inner revolution are love songs fueled by the intensely powerful romance martha and I had in the early 90's. if we had a dollar for every time we heard "get a room" back then we could have retired. it was a wonderful time of "walking on air", that amazing sensation of finding true love, where nothing else mattered. I remember working out the phase "a strand of stars sparkle in the night" while talking on the phone with her one night. martha was in florida getting her master's degree; I was in the cottage on the lake.

as with most of my piano songs I played big blue sun a hundred times over before recording it. that's the way I teach my fingers to remember, by rote and repetition. in krimson we call it "getting it in the body". it's the same method I use for writing a guitar part in one time signature and singing in another. I get the guitar part "in the body" so it becomes almost automatic allowing me to concentrate on the singing.

for the string quartet in big blue sun I worked with my friend Al Jewer (who helped design and build the Refrigerator (see the duck funk symphony blog from february 19) to play the string parts. we brought in four local school teachers (including Al's wife Alison) to play the parts.

so how does a "self-taught non-reader" write parts for a string section?
I'll reveal my method with next week's download.

piano and vocals: adrian
violin: alison jewer
violin: jean dickinson
viola: lizbeth getman
cello: martha pickart
string arrangement: al jewer and adrian
engineer: rich denhart
assistant: dan harjung
recorded at Royal Recorders in Lake Geneva, Wis.
on September 3, 1991
length: 2:54


  1. Hi Adrian,
    The Inner Revolution period was truly magical - your inner fire was burning ever so brilliantly, and it came through loud and clear throughout your wonderful compositions, instruments, and especially your beautiful voice...

    Which leads me to ask, especially after having heard today's incredibly moving love song to your beloved Martha...have you ever had professional vocal training or lessons?

    I find this topic particularily interesting, considering your recent posts regarding your choice of microphone.... The numerous different ways you use your voice - depending on the song, and the many various settings in which you are using it (KC, The Bears, your solo albums)... do you use different techniques to create or enhance a particular feel? I remember you mentioning recently about manipulating the sounds of the words to fit into the piece in a particular way.... I am sure that it is all way to much to discuss here, but maybe you could pick up this thread, and expand upon it, in upcoming posts?



  2. I love this album. It never fails to put a happy, optimistic feeling in my heart, and that's no mean feat.

    I think I originally got my CD as a "selection of the month" from a record club. Although I was already a KC fan, I was fairly fresh out of high school and fixated on the notion that "good songs" had to go through multiple time signatures. So when I heard the disc I was like "uh, what's a member of KC doing recording POP music?"

    Ah, sweet, stupid youth!

  3. Adrian,

    Inner Revolution is my favorite of your solo albums. There's such a stereotype out there of the tortured musician creating his greatest work - I'm glad to see it was just the opposite for you.

    By the way, I attended the ProgDay festival in North Carolina earlier this month, and I heard they tried to book you as a headliner, but it didn't work out. That's too bad. It would have been great to see the trio again. ProgDay has a real nice relaxed vibe, and it's my favorite of the annual progressive/art rock festivals. It's located near the Cat's Cradle in Carrboro, NC. Maybe some other year.


  4. As the huge wall of a guitar intro filled the simultaneously freshly-lit hall of The Vic in Chicago that year, I experienced the greatest opening number of any concert ever or since. 'Shake it up baby!'

  5. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  6. I am very into piano. It is my favorite instrument. I have the time to learn to play it. But I am looking for great albums and this one sounds pretty interesting.