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The Birds of Selenia

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The Birds of Selenia The Making of... "The Birds of Selenia"

Originally released in 1988, "The Birds of Selenia" was, at the time, a musical hybrid. The combination of several musical genres gives it that "just produced last week" quality of timelessness that belies its true age.

I can't have any discussion about the making of "The Birds of Selenia" without mentioning how I was honored by the Helena Film Society's Grant to Artist Program with a grant to produce the album. Having an organization willing to "write a check" for thecreation of my first album was a profound endorsement that had a powerfully positive effect on my career as a composer and a performer.

When we decided to reissue "The Birds of Selenia" there were two big questions that had to be answered. Was the quality of the music and production values equal to something I might produce today? And was the album dated stylistically? We were very surprised to hear a timelessness that belies the actual age of the album and a sonic and musical style relevant to today. After we reviewed the original master tapes, we decided not to include two songs (for technical reasons) from the original release. We added three recently composed pieces:

(Transacid Express, Irish Spring and Summer's End) that underscored the original "Birds feel" and insured the over-all musical integrity of this new version of the album.

I really appreciate the work Gwen did on the new cover. The birds flying over the "Isle of Selenia" all in abstract just the way I always envisioned it.

Of Technical Interest...

"Birds" was a product of the times. Utilizing what was then "the cutting edge" Emulator 2+ digital sampling keyboard for most of the instrumental sounds. (I became an E-MU dealer in 1986.) The real-time keyboard performances (no midi) were recorded directly to analog (2 inch tape) multi track recorder running at 30 inches per second from a Neotek Series One console. Then mixed to a Nachamichi pcm digital/beta recorder and finally transferred to two analog master tapes.

Of course the soprano and alto saxophones are real. The flute on Irish Spring is also real. To underscore how far music technology has come since "Birds" was first released in 1988, the trumpet on Transacid Express and the lead guitar on Summer's End were performed using a Yamaha WX5 "wind controller."

If you have any other questions about the making of "The Birds of Selenia" please feel free to email me at:Bob Baran

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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.