“I’ve only just recently started reading your blog and website, and have been hooked since. It is such a valuable resource to a young aspiring composer/orchestrator like myself.
I am very interested by your studio setup, as it is very much built around pen and paper, and just had a question or two that I was hoping you could answer. What are those great big boards over both pianos, where you put your sheets? Are they home made, or can one buy something similar? Also, do you use the keyboard hooked up to the computer to the same extent as the real piano?
I’m just wondering because I have a piano, but want to invest in a keyboard to input into Sibelius quicker, and help with composing. Do you think a small 2 – 4 octave keyboard would suffice for this?
I would be extremely grateful if you had a spare moment to lend me some advice.
Hi Niall, thanks for writing and for accepting that I answer on the blog instead of privately.
The boards I built myself and they are both very simple. I am not a handy man in any way, which I’ll blame on being brought up by a single mother.
For the board on the piano I simply bought a board and got it cut the dimensions I wanted, and then added a rounded wooden piece to hold the paper which was hammered in using finishing nails. Simple. And the board just rests on the piano and the wall and it works great.
What you don’t see in this picture is that where the cello is I have now added a drafting table.
The board on the workstation desk is the same idea, but it is not meant to write on, just to read, so it is propped up on a metal mesh book holder. I put a little Ikea halogen lamp underneath the lower shelf to light up with a warm light. Over the piano I am using a natural light fluorescent and I like that a lot.
The other question is if I use the MIDI controller keyboard as much as the main piano? The answer is yes, but I find I have a different mindset when I sit at one or the other. The MIDI controller is hooked up to a sequencer of course, so I will make use of samples more, whereas at the piano I will use my inner ear more and that often leads to better music. And when working on the drafting table of course itâ€™s even more internal. I do freely jump from one to the other during the course of composition to make use of the different mindsets and the advantages to all three writing â€˜stationsâ€™.
Get an 88 key keyboard. No doubt. I lived for years using a smaller keyboard for sequencing and I think now what an idiot I was to not have invested into an 88 key controller earlier. I first had the M-Audio 88es and enjoyed it very much (until it died) and it is not expensive, so no reason to suffer needlessly.
Hope that helps.
If anyone else has any questions don’t hesitate to ask.