Douglas Lee Music - piano keyboard front view

 

 

8th Piano Recording Update – October 3, 2019, by Douglas Ronald Lee on douglasleemusic.com

October is already here! All 14 songs have been rearranged and rerecorded. However, about half of the early songs need to be rerecorded again. Why? The piano went out of tune with the spring change of weather. Now that fall is here, with early cool temperatures, I need to retune some of the strings again!

The goal this year has been to release the album this fall in time for the Christmas season. Working backwards, I’ll need to do the re-recording, editing, mixing and mastering of EVERYTHING this month of October. That includes preparing the graphics for CD manufacturing too. Can this be done? Thats an average of one song every two days, 100% complete! Very ambitious remaining schedule. Will try…

 

7th Piano Recording Update – August 16, 2019, by Douglas Ronald Lee on douglasleemusic.com

Wow, its been 6 months since I last posted. Currently, 9 out of 14 songs are re-arranged and re-recorded. Still trying to complete these on a two week cycle.

In July, I attended a live taping of CD Baby’s DIY Musician Podcast at the their new Portland, OR headquarters for episode #236: “The 7 most important things to know about distribution in the streaming era.” Here is the link to listen to this podcast. Number two on the list is that you should release a single first before an album. Why? Not only is is easier to release a single before completing an entire album, the single sets up various artists tools and accounts such as on Apple Music and Spotify. Since there are marketing tools there, it is best to get those accounts and profiles set-up ahead of time before releasing the album. And it is only possible to set these up if you have music already released.

This delayed the album recording process slightly, but I have mixed and mastered one song and submitted it to CD Baby on August 16, 2019 for review, approval, and distribution as a single. If it passes all requirements, it will get released to their digital partners such as Apple iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, Google Play, Pandora, YouTube Music, Deezer, Shazam, TIDAL, and many more. Note: there is no guarantee that all of these music services will accept my music. We shall see…..

Still trying for fall 2019 completion and release of the album. Much still needs to be done…..

 

6th Piano Recording Update – February 17, 2019, by Douglas Ronald Lee on douglasleemusic.com

I’ve decided to add 2 more songs to the proposed album. 12 didn’t seem enough!  Draft sample recordings are now posted of songs #13, ‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus, and #14, My Jesus, I Love Thee. Now it is time to prepare final recordings for publishing later this year.

 

5th Piano Recording Update – January 18, 2019, by Douglas Ronald Lee on douglasleemusic.com

Draft sample recordings of songs #11, To God be the Glory, and #12, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, are now posted.

Now it is time to practice, refine, and re-record each song for publishing this year. Actually, I have already revised Amazing Grace; originally this song was planned as track #1 in the playlist because the lyrics sets the stage for the whole album. But that arrangement seemed to be the worst of all the songs (too blah and lacking in feeling), so I moved it into track #2.

However, after former president George H.W. Bush passed away, I recalled that Amazing Grace is often sung or played at memorial services. Remembering him, his character, integrity and life of public service inspired a new version. (In the very 1st presidential election in which I was eligible to vote at age 18, Mr. Bush ran as vice president along with the new-to-national-politics presidential candidate Ronald Reagan). I’m still refining this new version and have posted a sample recording and moved Amazing Grace back into track #1 where it belongs!

 

4th Piano Recording Update – October 30, 2018, by Douglas Ronald Lee on douglasleemusic.com

2 more draft sample recordings are now posted, All Hail the Power of Jesus Name and Fairest Lord Jesus. 9 months have passed since starting this project in February. The result: 10 arrangements and just draft recordings. While the (overly ambitious) goal was to publish the album (with more songs) by October, that didn’t happen. It takes a lot of time and practice to create publishable music. However, I did meet the original goal of providing a CD with recordings for my mom’s birthday, even though they were just imperfect draft recordings. And for that success, I am thankful to God that it was possible. Now it is time to reset goals: finish arranging a few more songs this year, then practice, practice, and more practice to create publishable recordings by summer 2019.

 

3rd Piano Recording Update – August 12, 2018, by Douglas Ronald Lee on douglasleemusic.com

2 more draft sample recordings are now posted. These were supposed to have been done in May, so I’m now 3 months behind and summer is nearly over. There are now 8 posted and these are only draft two minute samples. It would take several months to arrange 8 more. And do final, perfect recordings of all of them. This does not seem feasible with only 2 months to the planned finished goal to allow time for submittals, approvals, uploading, submittal to a CD manufacture, manufacturing time, etc.  Most people have no idea how much is involved to produce an album. A full time musician could probably do this (within 1 calendar year), but since this brings in no income, I have to work several other non-related jobs.

 

2nd Piano Recording Update – May 6, 2018, by Douglas Ronald Lee on douglasleemusic.com

April has already passed. 2 additional songs have been arranged and audio files were posted on this website, today, May 6th. I’m slightly behind due to tax season (1st quarter estimated taxes, and annual for federal, 2 states, tri-county, county, and city, due to multiple businesses in different jurisdictions). Just like in the last two months, the new recordings are only 2 minute draft samples since full length recordings are still not feasible (see below for the reasons). This means either another month or two will be needed this fall or winter to create the final recordings and editting, or I’ll need to accelerate the draft recordings to meet the original fall goal. That seems so far away since spring has sprung, but time flies when you have a lot to do…..

 

1st Piano Recording Update – April 5, 2018, by Douglas Ronald Lee on douglasleemusic.com

February and March have already passed. The goal was 2 complete songs per month: arranged, recorded, edited, and ready for publishing to CD and as downloads. But the result is only a total of 4 draft recorded, imperfect songs. Here were the issues:

  1. It has been nearly impossible to play any song perfectly, without wrong notes, missing notes, a note too loud, a note too soft, tempo off, dynamics off, etc.
  2. Recording issues such as strange noises, excess piano mechanical noise, and loud drive-by vehicle traffic.
  3. The Audacity software has a lot of tools, but I don’t know what all of them do, nor if I need to use certain ones or not. Or tried some and they didn’t seem to do anything. Obviously, there is a learning curve.
  4. Lack of time. More practice is needed but that takes time and I also need to work and earn $ elsewhere.

So I’m beginning to wonder if this is going to be feasible or not this year. How much longer is this going to take? Stay tuned….

Douglas Lee Music logo with cross

Solo Piano Artist

Douglas Ronald Lee

“Obviously, there is a learning curve.”

 

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Piano tuning – the first time in many years!

By Douglas Lee on douglasleemusic.com

 

This piano was from my mom and dad and the last time it was tuned was many years ago!  Its been in our house for probably over 20 years and I never had it tuned since it didn’t seem necessary!  No else was going to hear it!

But if I’m going to record piano music, the first step is to tune the piano because there are several strange twangs, thuds, and screeches that will make you cringe!

I’m not going to blog about how to tune the piano (you can learn all about piano tuning from the internet) but will just share some of my experiences from my 1st attempt at piano tuning.

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These days, who do you turn to first?  The internet!  Sure I could hire a piano tuner for $150, but what a better way to get to know the piano, than to learn to tune it your self. You can buy a decent piano tuning kit for $30, complete with instructions.  So why not try?  I used my sisters Christmas Amazon gift certificate to pay for most of it. Thanks Deb!

I forgot that the top lid of the spinet piano actually opens up since it is hinged!  Whoa!  Lots of dust!   Unlike a grand piano with its horizontal big harp, the spinet piano (a low upright) basically looks like two vertical harps, each with a row of diagonal strings.

Other blog posts and music forums said there could be broken strings or things resting against the strings. But how am I going to reach down below into this massive instrument to find what’s causing all the strange and awful noises? 

“…several paper clips resting against the strings at the bottom of the harp!  They were causing those awful twangy sounds on some piano notes!”

Again, the internet is a valuable resource. I discovered that the front lower panel below the keyboard easily pulls forward and off, revealing a ton of dust, cobwebs, small pieces of paper, and other miscellaneous things. Disappointed, no historical coins or dollar bills.  Time for the vacuum cleaner!

To my surprise, there were several paper clips resting against the strings at the bottom of the harp! They were causing those awful twangy sounds on some piano notes!  Apparently no broken strings!  So thankful!

Now onto tuning…..there are 88 piano notes.  And most of them have 3 strings!  Thats a lot of strings.  Some notes towards the bass end have 2 strings and the lowest notes have only 1 string.  Manually tuning this instrument is going to take some time.

And it did.  And it was not easy. That’s where hiring a professional piano tuner can save you a lot of time.  Most notes were about 1/4 pitch flat, not too bad for not being tuned for many years.

And instead of a traditional tuning fork, these days everything is now electronic. There are small pocket devices that can check the tune of instruments. And someone in a music forum recommended using an iPhone tuning app!  There are several available.  I chose one that has a large, easy-to-read scale with a meter didn’t bounce around so much.

I could only tune 1 octave per day before leaving for work.  It takes a lot of time.  With 3 strings per most of the notes, you tune 1 string with the meter, then move the damper wedges around and then tune the other strings to the 1st string by ear until they sound like just one note.

Tuning the piano resulted in a sore back because I had to lean forward to reach into the piano to place the dampers wedges and rotate the pins with the tuning hammer (lever tool).  At an octave at a time, it took over a week to tune all 88 notes.

This old piano has a nice tone (that may be subjective, since its the piano I grew up with) and it sounds so much better after it was tuned!  The piano has lots of natural reverb sound due to its wooden structure, and from I’ve read, from the adjacent strings too.  In the recordings, it sounds like the piano is in a concert hall!  Its actually in a carpeted living room.

A few weeks later, some notes started to sound flat again. Sure enough, some strings had tightened slightly. I’m not surprised since this is the 1st time in many years.  Another week of a sore back.  Its just like practice which is needed to get better!

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Douglas Lee Music - piano keyboard front view

Why record piano music to a CD?

By Douglas Lee on douglasleemusic.com

Why record piano music to a CD?  I’m not a professional musician and aren’t CD’s becoming obsolete, being replaced by digital downloads and streaming?  As financial coach Dave Ramsey says, for you to succeed (at nearly everything), you need to know your “why”.  So why?

The short answer:

After my mother-in-law’s memorial service, my mom asked me to record some piano music onto a CD for her to listen to while she and my dad travels between Portland, OR and the Oregon Coast.

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The big picture answer:

I’m getting older and shockingly, its a huge number already!  How did that happen?  And more questions arose and soul searching occurred after my mother-in-law’s passing: What am I going to leave behind when I’m gone and graduate to Heaven?  What kind of legacy, if any?  But actually, its not all about me. Instead, will I have done anything to affect, change, or improve people or the world?

It now seems logical, especially with the tools available in this era of the internet, to share my God-given talent of piano music with anyone who wants to listen.  I know there are at least 2 people, my mom and dad.  However, there are millions of other pianists out there, so it’s questionable whether or not this music can compete with the higher quality talent of others.

However, its not a popularity contest about whose music sounds better, but rather about using music to help point people towards God and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ which leads to eternal life in Heaven.  And its about providing music that is comforting and relaxing and continues to remind us of the profound 3 persons of God: God the Father, God the son Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit.

Is this my purpose in this season of life on earth until permanent, eternal life in Heaven?  One way to find out is to try.  And as career coach Ken Coleman says, “Everyone has a sweet spot. Your sweet spot is at the intersection of your greatest talent and your greatest passion.” And as my mother-in-law said, “We all do the best we can.”  So while arranging and recording music for my mom, why not also make the music available to anyone on CDs and as downloads on iTunes and others?  Easier said than done.


“Why not also make the music available to anyone on CDs and as downloads on iTunes and others?”