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Barry Baker RECORDING YOUR VOICE (AND OTHER INSTRUMENTS)
TO KAWAI'S CD DRIVE

As educational and rewarding as your piano's "internal" recording is--that is, pressing the piano's record button, playing, then listening back--you are limited to recording only the sounds within your instrument.

This means that if you introduce other instruments to your performance--like when you plug a microphone into the piano and sing, or play along with a drummer or guitarist--you will not be recording these acoustic sounds.

Your piano's internal recording function recognizes only the sounds that emanate from pressing the instrument's keys or panel buttons. All other "outside" sounds will vanish into the thin air from which they were produced, never to be heard again with the piano.

Now, enter the world of the recordable CD: The CD drive that is standard on four Kawai models (the two console pianos CP137 and CP177, and the two grands, CP187 and CP207) is an exciting means of recording. Exciting, not only for the obvious reasons of terrific digital audio quality and compatibility with playback on a regular CD player, but for your ability to sing or play an additional instrument while a microphone (plugged into the Kawai piano) captures the whole mix onto a recordable CD. (By the way, you can plug your electric guitar or bass directly into the piano's microphone jack so that you wouldn't even need a microphone to record!) This concept is like having a mini-recording studio tucked away in your piano! What a musically enriching prospect: awakening the outside world of acoustic sound to your Kawai CD drive!

Let the party begin!

Here are some words of exploration to enlighten your journey: First, plug a microphone (with a 1/4" jack) into the front left side of the piano, below the keyboard. The connection you are seeking is the third and last input jack from the left side. (The first two inputs are for headphones.) Some microphones may require converting to a 1/4" jack, which can be solved with the use of an adapter.

Now, here's a tip for which your ears will thank you: Before plugging the microphone into your piano (from here on out, I'll shorten it to "mic"...I may even personify it from time to time by dubbing it, "Mike!"), make sure that the mic input volume knob--which is directly to the left of the input jack--is turned down all the way. That is, all the way counterclockwise. Then, after your mic is plugged in, adjust that volume knob by gradually turning it clockwise until a comfortable level has been reached.

The reason your ears will be appreciative of this cautious manner of adjustment is that you'll avoid the dreaded shriek of feedback that can occur from having "Mike's" volume cranked at too high a level. Feedback is unpleasant and not a musical ally.

Now, onto an artistic tip: To enrich the sound quality of your vocals (for a "pro" studio edge), press the "Mic Effect" button on the right side of the panel, just beneath the 3 1/2" diskette drive. This button will add the warmth of reverberation to every sound that goes into the microphone.

You may further embellish your vocals by pressing the button to the left of "Mic Effect," labeled, "Mic Harmony." Pressing this button will add harmony to anything you sing or speak through the microphone, based on the notes you play on the keyboard. It's an impressive harmonizing effect: It replicates the sound quality of your voice and assigns it to the harmonies you're playing on the keyboard in real time. Thus, it multiplies your voice to achieve the effect of a duo, trio, quartet, or quintet. And it'll all be recorded onto CD!

As a solo act, you can harmonize like The Andrews Sisters, The Oak Ridge Boys, The Pointer Sisters, or the Chipmunks! It's pretty amazing technology--try it!

At this point, with your vocal chords warmed up or your violin out of its case, you'll be ready to record any sound that enters the microphone.

Think of the wondrous application this has for recording duets with an unlimited variety of instrumentalists! Or its usefulness for teachers who want to record their students' lessons, then send them home with a review of everything that transpired within the lesson on CD--including the teacher's commentary, by way of the microphone.

Church music directors can send their choir members home with a practice CD of their tricky tenor part, for instance. Then, on Sunday, the entire choral performance can be recorded onto CD! All it takes is a microphone plugged into the piano.

Or you could be at home, having the time of your life with just your piano and a microphone--and with the addition of a boom mic stand, you'll be accompanying your vocals as a one person "duet."

To begin recording, just press the blue "CD" button on the far right side of the panel, after having placed a CD-R (the type of CD that is recordable) or CD-RW (a recordable CD that allows for deleting and re-recording) into the drive. Then, press the corresponding button for the "Record" option displayed in the screen.

Two more buttons: Press the button beneath the red dot (bottom of the screen). You'll see the screen prompt, "Rec Ready." Lastly, press the button beneath the forward arrow (also at the bottom of the screen). The screen indicates, "Recording." You are now a recording artist! And you have one hour and 20 minutes on most CDs to savor this recording experience.

Keep in mind that the capacity of your recordable CD is measured in minutes. Therefore, you could record one incredibly long song, or many short ones (stopping the CD between songs), or any combination thereof.

Sean O'Shea, Kawai's immensely talented digital piano clinician, has recorded a sample of the phenomenal results achieved from plugging a microphone into a Kawai CP177 model. In this audio clip, he accompanied himself singing his reflective composition, "I Said Goodbye to Nashville." (Click here to listen.)

As a fun contrast in style, here's another excerpt of vocals recorded with the Kawai CP177. This time, a rhythmic style backs up the lively and whimsical song, "When Did I Become My Mother?" (click here to listen), composed and sung by Laurie O'Shea.

Now, a final consideration: After completing your CD recording, you may want to "close" the CD if you want the ability to listen to it on a regular CD player. Selecting the "Menu" option at the lower left corner of the screen reveals the "Close CD" option in the screen. If you select this option, the prompt in the screen details important information that you'll want to review before proceeding.

Now it's time for you to have some first-hand CD fun, which means we'll revisit our closing motif...remember our signature sign-off from previous blog entries?

In "bloguage" (an unofficial portmanteau for blog language!), it's IYWKP. ("Indulge yourself in the wonders of your Kawai piano!")

Barry Baker

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