In the Hands
Paul Cantrell’s music
blog & podcast
Piano music old and new from a devoted amateur,
all free to listen to, download, and share.

Category: Whatnot

The Broken Mirror of Memory on Kickstarter

Astute readers of this blog will notice that it’s been a really, really long time since I’ve posted a new recording. I have not been musically idle, however! Oh no. I have been working my little pianist tusch off.

One of the projects I’ve been working on, years in the making, is now finally coming to fruition. It is a composition for bass clarinet and piano called The Broken Mirror of Memory. Here’s my attempt to describe the piece, from the score’s performance notes:

Entanglement, soliloquy, tango, flight: each movement poses a problem from which the…

Exciting! New! Read all about it!

I’ve added a two new things to my web site that may be of interest:

New Music-Only Podcast

For those of you not up on all the tech-y stuff, this site has a “podcast” — a feature that lets your computer automatically download the music and save it to your music library or portable music player.

Until now, the podcast has featured a spoken version of the written commentary that goes with each piece. This works well for people listening, say, at the gym or in their car. However, while you might want to listen to the music over and over, I really doubt you…

A new audio logo!

Sorry for the long hiatus. It’s been a busy time: my latest sabbatical is running to its end, I’m broke, and back to job hunting. So I’ve been having to put aside the music and be all practical lately.

Still, I have not left In the Hands completely neglected. Listening to some other podcasts — and some of those old school … what are they called? … oh yes, radio shows — I noticed what a difference a really nice audio logo or theme song makes. It functions as an announcement, of course: “Pay attention! Your show is on!” And it’s a cue to get in the right frame of mind to enjoy…

In the Hands around the web

The latest episode of the always-excellent Bowed Radio features a movement of The Broken Mirror of Memory. The whole episode is quite wonderful, well worth hearing (listen) — and the great sound of the other selections really makes me wish I had a higher-quality recording of Diana’s nice work on Mirror! Adrian graciously describes In the Hands as a “must-listen” for piano lovers, and gets big bonus points for pronouncing…

Not piano music, but worth your time!

All right, I admit that it’s not exactly directly related to piano music, but I have to share what my dad is up to. He’s a psychologist who (roughly speaking) deals with learning, with helping people learn how to learn, and has written what I think is quite a marvelous book about raising intelligent children — not in the narrow and fairly silly Mensa sense of “intelligent,” but in a broad, practical, rich sense of the word that might challenge some ideas you have about what intelligence really is. His writing is full of wisdom, optimism, and just plain good advice; it is a wonderful…

New! Improved! Lemming-proof!

Ladies and gentlemen, I think we have a new mastering process.

I spent a great afternoon with Mike Olson in his wonderful studio earlier this week, and I think we finally nailed the source of a rumble in the bass that was bugging me. (Nick noticed it too.)

He also got me to completely redo the reverb, and it’s much more transparent now under his direction — the sound is smooth, you don’t hear my room, unpedaled notes…

Mastering Experiments, Part 2: EQ & Imaging

This is the second half of the thrilling chronicles of my attempts at mastering the piano recordings. (Here’s part one.)

I’m constantly changing things — I’ve tweaked the process since my last post, and even while making the explanation, I suddenly noticed a new EQ adjustement. It never ends. These experiments are now coming up against the limits of my ears, the point where I spiral endlessly varying some parameter or other, eventually unable to tell whether the result sounds better…

Mastering Experiments, Part 1: Reverb

Loyal readers of In the Hands might reasonably ask: “Paul! Where the heck are you? What have you been up to?” Well, there are many answers to that — preparing my McKnight fellowship application and visiting my parents in Colorado among them — but the piano recordings have not been neglected. I just purchased a round of new software to really try to get my mastering process right. (“Mastering,” for those of you not in on the audio tech speak, is the process of finessing the sound quality of a recording after it’s made.)

Today’s recording is first in a two-part audio explanation…

How I make recordings

Several people had expressed an interest in how I make my recordings — so I posted an explanation of my methods that includes far, far more detail than anybody actually wanted.

I’ve tried to include enough technical detail to make it genuinely useful to others setting out to record pianos and/or set up home studios, but I also tried to keep the discussion at least semi-approachable to the casually interested but not technically inclined. Whichever of those categories you fall into, I hope you’ll find it interesting.

How can I keep this project afloat?

As any of you who have ever learned a piece of music or made a recording know, what I’m doing here is a lot of work. It’s amazing how much time it takes to post two recordings a week. Just the mechanics of recording, editing and mastering are a chore for single person — even a simple improv ends up taking at least an hour or two of work to record, prepare and post. The compositions of others often take many dozens, hundreds of hours to learn, polish, and get a good take; my own compositions take many hundreds of hours more to write before I even start learning to play them…

How to bring joy to Paul's life

There’s been a general lack of comments in this blog lately — and I know it’s not because nobody’s listening, so I want to put out a special appeal to all of you out there to share your thoughts. Sure, part of the point of this blog is to get my music out there on its own in the big world, but I hope for communication in the other direction as well.

So, how do feel about the music you’ve heard here? Is it interesting? beautiful? puzzling? thought-provoking? disturbing? just plain weird? I guess I’m aiming for a little of all of those, so tell me what you think. Even if you just…

In the Hands around the net

What are the cool kids going these days? Podcasting: it’s the new skateboarding! And what, you might ask, is this “podcasting?” I didn’t know myself until Dan Steeves clued me in.

Here’s the idea: You have a portable digital music player (e.g. an iPod). You find some blogs to your liking that include audio (e.g. this one!). Such a blog is called a “podcast” — and yes, people use this word with a straight face. Then you get a program (e.g. iPodder) that automatically downloads new entries from the audio…

Slower updates from the vagabond

I’m on the road now, visiting my brother and many old friends on the East Coast: New Haven, NYC, upstate NY, New Brunswick, Philly, DC! I prepared a few simple recordings before I left, but they’re not enough to support the whole three weeks of my trip. So I’ll be posting only Tuesdays until Dec 11.

I'm not dead!

…nor have aliens taken me to a distant world where they keep me in a cage for the amusement of their unwashed masses. No, the reasons for the blog silence are much more mundane: the combination of lots of election volunteering and having all five of my wisdom teeth out hasn’t left me in great shape for posting new recordings. (Yes, five wisdom teeth. I am a mutant.) But fear not! I’ll be back in the saddle soon. And if I return the piano slightly less wise, I will at least now have the life experience of tooth extraction to draw upon in my music — an experience which I assure you is as fascinating…

First post!

As part of my general mission to increase the flow of bits hither and thither (and, from time to time, yon) across the Internet, I’m starting a music blog. (That would be this.)

My initial goal is to post new recordings twice a week (!), every…oh, let’s say Tuesday and Saturday. Sometimes they’ll be recordings of compositions I’ve been learning (and, in some cases, writing), and the rest of the time, they’ll be pure improvisation. Hopefully the variety of old/new and polished/spontaneous will be enough to keep things interesting.

And yes, for the time being, it will all be piano…