This morning I was trying to remember my first post ever. Even before I had WordPress installed, which has been my CMS for many years now. It was on January 24th, 2007 something about SACEM (The French ASCAP), the complexity of its royalties system and how it was making it difficult for us to play contemporary music. The blog was then bilingual (French and.. Frenglish?). I was so proud of publishing something for the first time! 7 years and several hundreds posts later, here I am; a completely different musician and man in a completely different place.
In a way, blogging saved me: it forced me to evolve and get out of my comfort zone. The psycho-therapeutic effect was undeniable: I could get out anything that was bothering me, it was a place to express views that I knew I couldn’t express otherwise, try out ideas. I would say that it has worked better than a shrink in difficult times. It stimulated my thinking, helped me organize my ideas and define myself.
Thanks to this blog, I met fantastic people who energized and influenced me in a positive way. Some of them are now friends or close collaborators, some virtually vanished and others left us for good. It’s probably a good time to thank them for their input, for telling me when I was writing mere bullshits, when I was wrong, when I didn’t think about it enough. Thank you for your support in good times as well as bad ones. Thank you for helping me grow.
Right after I published these three posts last autumn I somehow felt it was the end of the road. In a way, the story of this blog is my transformation from caterpillar to butterfly, from a crawling shy musician to a flying confident pianist. I tried to keep the blog running but it doesn’t feel natural anymore.
My life as a musician has changed tremendously in the last months. I have lots of exciting projects and collaborations piling up, I need to finish what I have started and focus on future projects. I’d like to record more albums each year. There is this book I’d like to finish. There is this first modest documentary film I’d like to produce in a near future. And there is my life outside the musical scope I’d like to enjoy a little more.
I could keep the blog and write occasionally, when I have time. I don’t think it is a good idea: many music blogs end that way, in a long agony of sporadic posts nobody reads anymore. It’s sad. Instead, I’ll publish my pieces elsewhere when I feel the urge to write something short and opinionated about a particular topic.
So what’s next? No, I won’t delete every single post and turn them into an eBook at $2.99. The blog will stay on-line but won’t be updated anymore. It might help some people, and maybe, at some point, I’ll come back to blogging, who knows? The RSS feed will now display webnews items, so keep it in your reader! The better way to get updates (and a bit of my writing too ) is to subscribe to my awesome monthly newsletter: here is the link.
I’m a little sad to let go this blog which has been one of my oldest companion and one of the achievements I’m the most proud of. But at the same time, it’s exciting to turn a page, be involved in great projects and take on new challenges.
Originally posted on
Pierre-Arnaud Dablemont, pianist. Get in touch with Pierre-Arnaud on Twitter, Facebook or Google +. Help him and purchase his latest album Introducing Pierre-Arnaud Dablemont on main online stores.
Pierre-Arnaud will unveil his Beethoven album on July 1st through Resonus Classics.
This second album comes two years after his acclaimed debut album Introducing Pierre-Arnaud Dablemont, which featured Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit and Janacek’s On an overgrown path and In the mists.
The album will be available exclusively through digital media from your usual music sources and in high resolution audio 24-bit/96kHz (FLAC, ALAC, WMA or WAV depending on the site) through Resonus’s site and the following partnering sites: www.theclassicalshop.net, www.linnrecords.com, www.highresaudio.com, www.hdtracks.com, www.qobuz.com, www.eClassical.com .
You already know I’m a fan of Ravel’s work and it’s more than time to feature him in this Listen To This! series. Time to discover THE piece I was singing at the top of my lungs when I was a child. I now thank my parents for their patience: I’ve never been a good singer and my intonation is quite approximate, especially when it comes to singing some very challenging airs from this little gem…
L’enfant et les sortilèges: Fantaisie lyrique en deux parties (The Child and the Spells: A Lyric Fantasy in Two Parts) is an opera in one act, with music from Maurice Ravel and libretto from Colette. It’s Ravel’s second opera (the first being l’Heure Espagnole, described as a musical more than an opera!).
Of course there is great music, and a great story ahead of its time, outlining values like the respect of Nature and Animals, and showing how symbiotic relationships between Nature, Animals and Human Beings can lead to a better world. Very hot topic isn’t it?
As a child, I probably didn’t get that but I did catch Colette’s great story and the importance of not harming animals or trees. And I sang all the songs. And I danced all the dances (Yep, they dance all time, like in American Operettas!).
And for cat lovers, there is a very famous Duo miaulé that raises the hair on the back of my cat
How could you resist?
Here is an excellent version with the RTF orchestra and Lorin Maazel conducting. It includes also l’Heure Espagnole and other pieces. Enjoy!
All students are often asking the same thing: quick fixes to play a certain piece flawlessly. I wasn’t an exception: I wanted from my professors fingerings, exercises that could help me feel absolutely comfortable in certain difficult sections.
Today, I’m so glad my teachers never quite responded to my requests: it pushed me to be creative in my daily practice and I was forced to learn to solve all kinds of technical problems myself. Of course, when I was hitting the wall, they always had a solution to make me shift perspective and get out of trouble.
If I had to teach piano again to long term students I would probably say only 2 things to close the technical chapter: be creative and find a way to feel comfortable every time you play, every bar you play. Along these lines, I would probably develop their constructive thinking.
What does really count is the sound quality and musical result. How we do it doesn’t really matter. Everyone does things differently anyway.
Sorry, but there is no quick fix to magically play better. It is a long, sometimes painful and always careful lifelong education: technique is about understanding your body and how it works.
It has been somehow difficult to write lately. I’ve been staring at a blinking cursor for the past two weeks. It reminded me that when I was a little boy, stage fright looked like this kind of writer’s block. It was very similar to a CPU overload: everything froze, and while staring at the piano without any good reason, a lot of interesting and useful thoughts came through my mind but I was truly unable to take action, and resume playing. As if my brain shut down. Not that I made a mistake or something, it just happened. Probably something triggered that “freeze” but I never found out what.
Fortunately, with time and a certain habit of stages and public playing, it disappeared. I coped with performance stress another way, mostly before performances. Once on stage, I knew I could rely on my brain and fingers enough to be safe.
Dealing with stage fright is something very personal but I can give you two hints to try to overcome it. Well, live with it would be more accurate, as you never really get rid of it. But you can transform its energy into something beneficial.
I know some of my colleagues are suffering from a form of performance anxiety even while recording. Fortunately enough I don’t (or I do, but I’m not aware of it!), I even feel very comfortable there. Almost like at home.
And here it is: I wrote a full blog post and didn’t waste a couple hours staring at the blinking cursor again! I hope my little advice will be useful to some of you. Feel free to give us your tricks to overcome stage fright in the comments below, other readers could benefit from your experience!
Pierre-Arnaud is happy to announce his partnership with Resonus Classics for the release of the first album of his project “Beethoven – Evolutions”.
Based in London and launched in the Spring of 2011 by Adam Binks & Jonathan Manners, Resonus Classics is the world’s first solely digital classical label, which offers high quality classical recordings exclusively through electronic media.
In Resonus Classics, Pierre-Arnaud has found a fair partner supporting his artistic goals and looking to the future.
A release date will be disclosed very soon, stay tuned!
Not so long ago, I was convinced that professional (and excellent) productions were necessarily expensive ones involving a lot of highly capable people with fancy gears. I was absolutely sure the only way to get high quality work was throwing money in every direction to get the “best”.
But the “best” of what? Even if the contrary used to be heavily marketed at some point, more expensive doesn’t always equal better quality.
In the filmmaking world, von Trier and Vinterberg tried to prove it with Dogme 95 : creativity, quality and budgets aren’t related.
I tend to agree with that too: I made some (not commercially available ) recordings on a very tight budget, on location with relatively cheap gears a decade ago. But I had a nice piano, a good room, a serious amount of ideas and plenty of time to record, edit and master them. It turns out that nearly ten years after, I still find them very interesting and of high quality. Even if the total budget was lower than $1000 (gears included).
Of course, with a higher budget, it would have been certainly quicker and easier, but I wouldn’t have learned everything I learned through this process.
So no, budgets don’t define quality. You do. Especially in this digital era where knowledge is so easily accessible and equipment costs a mere fraction of what it cost in the 90’s.
I literally have dozens of interpretations of these Diabelli Variations. This is of course a masterpiece and Beethoven’s last large-scale piece for piano. Only a genius like Beethoven could turn this banal Waltz by Diabelli in a breathtaking piece like this.
It took me three solid years to fancy his new version of these variations. I didn’t know the 1968 version so I wasn’t expecting anything from this one, and frankly, my first thought when listening to it was: What the heck happened to him? And the album went back to its box. I probably put it in the player once a year, with always the same strange feeling.
Not so long ago, I made one more trial, I got one of these aha moments, and it suddenly made sense to my hears. So far, my listening with these variations had been so very uptight and conservative that it kind of ruined the whole thing. My views on Beethoven have changed a lot during the last years, and I certainly needed this maturation period to appreciate it
Truth is that it won’t probably please people who like a classical, very conservative and almost religious approach of Beethoven. Nevertheless, I’m glad I could find the right time for me to listen to this recording and it has become now one of my favorite versions! Happy listening!
I am always curious about practice spaces and I noticed that people often talk about the instrument they own and how carefully they chose it and absolutely never, never speak about the space they put it in.
However, no matter how carefully you choose a piano, you can’t fully predict how it will sound in your own room. And the room acoustics have a tremendous effect on how you play and how you practice. (IRCAM made several experiments with pianists about that in Espace de projection – a variable acoustics hall – sadly unpublished, but results were funny!)
After practicing quite a while in an overly reverberative room, I had to record in a very dry studio. I played like in the practice room and, well, it sounded like … crap. What sounded very precise, elegant and clear in the practice room was muddy and sloppy in the studio.
Of course, these were extreme conditions and fortunately I was experienced enough to adapt to the dry environment quite quickly. But my point is that practicing in an acoustically speaking “bad” environment altered my playing as I couldn’t hear what was really going on (an environment with a lot of reverberation tends to hide problems and make all sound “better”). I didn’t practice well, felt satisfied with something that was well under my standards of precision and developed a few bad habits it took me a while to get rid of.
Conclusion: The room acoustics affect your practice much more than you think: at least as much as the piano you’re practicing on. Try to practice in a relatively dry room to avoid surprises (acoustic treatments are your friends).
Does not exist.
Everyone wishes the opposite, it would be so convenient. Recipe, cooking and voilà, success for everyone!
But people have different goals, different stories and success has many definitions.
Every musician has her/his own audience with its own characteristics and its own behavior on social media.
It’s your task to write the ultimate guide to your success, nobody can do it for you.
Just be yourself, it’s the best way to keep it interesting and coherent.
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