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This Week’s Preset: Piano + BigSky

Classically trained pianist Luca Longobardi creates a marriage between classical piano and contemporary electonic music. Luca has composed music for ballets and films and accompanied installations and experimental art productions (Atelier de Lumières – Paris, Carrière des Lumières – Baux-de-Provence, Kunstkraftwerk – Leipzig). Below Luca shares presets he has used with BigSky on his new release White sky, Small leaves, Blue hands.

How did you decide to incorporate BigSky?

Discovering the BigSky was a true epiphany for me.

I had started exploring both the tone quality and possibilities of upright piano when played with the damper, while investigating the hybridization of classical composition with electronic music.

In this kind of composition, I was looking for something to support the piano during sustain and create the right combination with the synths, in order to describe a sound continuity, and a clear autonomy at the same time.

After exchanging ideas with a producer friend who had been using the BigSky for quite some time, I decided to buy it myself and start experimenting.

In a very short time, I found what is now my voice, my signature sound: something that allows me to underline the distinctive traits of the piano timbre throughout all the repertoire I compose and play.

An example of the versatility of the reverb applied to this music genre can be my last Ep, “White sky, Small leaves, Blue hands“.

In its five tracks, I alternate between solo piano tracks (loosely inspired by jazz technique and impressionism) and electronic tracks (polyphonic sequences filtered through reverb and a gate).

In “White sky” I used the Studio – Hall preset in this set up: (download)

I was looking for a clean, bare sound, in order to recall the quick scales and fast arpeggios in the repertoire I refer to in this track. However, I also wanted a sustain on the tail, something to give depth to the chords and cantabile parts. I recorded the track using only a little bit of sustain pedal and, in the mixing phase, I balanced the unprocessed signal and the reverb so that the latter could sustain the sound during its decay. In this way, the final version of the track turns out to be light in its virtuosic parts, but more present in the expressive ones; it creates a “middle sound”, drawing the typical timbre of modern classical production nearer to a more complex inspiration in harmony and composition.

The same preset was used for “Small leaves”, in which the difference in timbre is given by a variation in the style of composition and a different equalization of the piano.

For the track “Omega”, on the other hand, I used a combination of two presets: Studio Cloud (download) and Studio Nonlinear (download). These are the parameters:

I was looking for a sound with an irregular LFO effect, something that could move every note of the sequence inside it. This was the workflow: in the first place, I recorded the sound of the synth (a Dave Smith Prophet 6), filtering it with the Cloud preset. In this case, having a very high Boost of the mix-minus was paramount, in order to obtain a certain homogeneity of volume between the attack of sound (the clean synth signal) and the sustain obtained from processing the signal through the reverb.

Then I made a clean recording of the same sequence, using the Nonlinear preset, gradually balancing the Decay and the Pre-delay, in order to give some irregularity to the repetitive effect of the attack of the notes in the sequence. When mixing, I arranged the imagine of the two tracks in a dynamic way, in order to have a vivid and constantly moving sound.

The track “Alpha” went through a similar process.

In “Blue hands”, the last track of my new EP, I used the Nonlinear preset on the piano instead, in the configuration described earlier. This allowed me to create some consistency between the purely electronic material of the previous track, which was very deep and thick in its timbre, and the faint sound of the piano in this kind of ‘Andante’ that closes the short musical journey of the album.

I consider the BigSky to be one of the central instruments of my musical production: it often happens that the sound obtained while creating new presets pushes me to compose, create and experiment with very different tracks. In my case, it became essential both in post-production and during live performances, where, on whatever kind of stage, from the intimacy of a house concert to a concert in a theatre, it successfully conveys the imaginary universe of sounds I created and I hold dear.

You can find out more about Luca Longobardi at:


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