AN ORCHESTRA OF PIANOS: Maxime Le Guil: Recording Vincent Delerm’s Les Amants Parallèles

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Clément Ducol demonstrates some of the techniques used to extract percussive sounds from the grand piano.

Paul Tingen (Sound on Sound magazine) writes .....

Under the guidance of engineer and producer Maxime Le Guil, Vincent Delerm forsook grand orchestration for the humble piano — bowed, plucked and hammered...

We had three principal constraints when making this record,” explains engineer, mixer, and co-producer Maxime Le Guil. “The first was that it was all about a love story told by Vincent Delerm from the beginning to the end. This made  the lyrics and song order very important." The second constraint was that we would only use sounds coming from a piano to suggest the instruments — drums, bass, guitar, strings — and in fact, we used only the piano strings and metal frame, and not the wood.

The third constraint came from the fact that Vincent is passionate about French movies from the 1950s and '60s, and he wanted the album to sound like the soundtracks of those movies, with relatively little low and high end, and all sounds in mono. Following on from this we regularly decided on several more constraints, like recording all the piano sounds using just two Coles 4038 ribbon mics, and recording everything on one Scotch 206 two-inch tape from the 1960s that I found on eBay. These constraints cleared the way for us during the making of the album.”

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