Back in October, we invited you to send in your questions for world renowned keyboardist and Ivory pianos fan Jordan Rudess. We were overwhelmed by the number of questions that flooded in which made it very difficult to shortlist the ten finalists! After much deliberation in the Time+Space office, we are pleased to produce the following interview featuring the ten winning questions.
Jordan selected Dave Noel's question as his favourite so a fantastic package of all three of Synthogy's Ivory titles plus a signed copy of Jordan's album Notes on a Dream (recorded entirely with Ivory virtual instruments) will be winging its way 'across the pond' to Dave in Canada. The nine runners up will each receive Time+Space discounts. Thanks to everyone who took the time to send in their questions and congratulations to the ten finalists – we hope you enjoy what Jordan had to say...
It is obvious you have mastered your techniques and chops that dazzle and excite people's ears in the audio spectrum. I was wondering what 'emotions' do you hope to transmit directly into the psyches of your listeners when you are writing.... Do you have them in mind, or do you just like to be a Pied Piper so to speak and hope they just come along for the trip and enjoy the fruits of your labor and vision. Dave Noel, Ontario, Canada
Taking them on a trip is a good way to put it. I like to create music that can take the listener on a journey. As a composer, the whole emotional spectrum is fair play. In Dream Theater I'm often called upon for example to come up with music that stirs particular emotions. John Petrucci will say to me: "Jordan, play the saddest melody possible." Sometimes (although not that often) I want to generate music that feels like pure evil, while other times (more often) I want to create music that goes straight to your heart. Writing music for me is like delving into my own emotional world. If the listener can come along with me on the ride and relate to what I am feeling then that is a wonderful thing!
After learning the piano and playing classical and jazz music, what inspired you to want to get a synth? Camden Margolies, Palm Beach County, USA
When I was in high school I had some friends that decided they wanted me to experience a synthesizer. They literally brought a Moog Sonic 6 to the front door of my house for me to play. I think it was in the moment of turning the first knob that I realized that my world was never going to be the same.
Many musicians listen to contrasting genres of music as a retreat from their own everyday style… examples are: Steve Vai, who enjoys relaxing to a very contrasting Stevie Wonder and rumours are that Paul Gilbert even listens to the Spice Girls as a "getaway"! Do you have any surprising albums you listen to whilst taking time 'off duty'? Thomas Daish, Hampshire
My favorite album lately is Imogen Heap's Ellipse album. I'm very drawn to it. I'm also a huge fan of Electronic music. Artists like Autechre and Richard Devine really inspire me.
I have always wondered how you come up with titles for instrumental tracks. How do you go about naming certain tracks such as "Shifting Sands" to the more obscurely titled "Insectsamongus?" Could it be that you have an image in your head, and the music you create is merely your harmonic interpretation of that image? The Snowman, New York
Titles for instrumental tracks are indeed mysterious and they come about it all different types of ways! Insectsamongus was a thought that came about from one of the timbres I used for the main melody in that song. It was very buzzy and insect like to me so in a flash of inspiration the title was born! Shifting Sands for example was more a mood thing where the name seemed to have a sound or feel to it that resonated with me and the music I created. Biaxident, which is an LTE song was created because it was inspired by the name of a medication Petrucci was taking around the time of our composing it!
Whenever you perform, especially in Dream Theater, there are many 'extras' in the music, like the birds and the bells in The Answer Lies Within from the album Octavarium, to the thunderstorm and car crash in A Nightmare to Remember from your latest CD, Black Clouds and Silver Linings. Are you the one who plays these extras? Is it up to you to have these programmed into your equipment and to play them at the right time? Brian Hong, Virginia, USA
Very often I will be the one triggering the sound effects. In some cases, the sound effects are triggered from the sound engineer. Usually FX that play at the very top of a song or at the ending will be triggered by the sound man and FX that happen during the song will be my responsibility! A good example would be the car crash sound in Nightmare To Remember. In this example, I have that sound assigned to the lowest A on my keyboard and hit it at the just the right moment.
Another example might be in the same song where I am triggering the voice of the therapist! A further example would be in verse of A Rite of Passage. I'm triggering all the spacey vocal sounds that happen around James' main vocal.
Rick Wakeman put his old keys into storage and then resurrected them for the Retro and Retro II albums. Other keyboardists sell them or give them away, complaining about the amount of space they take up. Do you have a closet full of keys, boxes, and other toys of the trade? Or is your home studio full to the rafters with old gear, wired into submission and forced to speak the language of MIDI, DAT, and digital code? Brian Stanko, Alberta, Canada
I don't generally keep a lot of old gear around. For that matter, even my beloved MiniMoog is up for sale and I will replace it with a newer MiniMoog Old School synth. That being said, I do have a precious Rhodes bass E. Piano that was given to me by Harold Rhodes Jr. I also own a Hammond Organ but it lives with my assistant at the moment. I love technology and especially modern day instruments that push the boundaries as we know them such as the Tenori-On, or the Axis-64. So my room of course is filled with keyboards but I also have a lot of interesting new toys laying around!
Why did you record your recent solo album 'Notes on a Dream' entirely by using pianos from Synthogy Ivory? Why does it become your choice to use Ivory instead of using your rig of the fabulous Korg OASYS? Irwan Besar
Playing the Ivory piano software is an incredibly satisfying musical experience. It's rare that playing any type of digital recreation of a piano would provide a high-level musical experience, but the team at Synthogy has created an instrument that is beautiful, organic and natural to play and to listen to. That's why I recorded the entire solo piano album with their software instrument.
Jim Morrison was once asked about the future of music and technology and prophetically said that future musicians would use a series of tape style machines and be able to play all the parts/instruments themselves without a band, electronically. I'd love to know.. What's your big tip for the future of music and technology?´Shaun Britton, Hampshire
I believe the ultimate goal of technology is creating tools that allow the human spirit to be expressed in the most organic way possible. I'm very enthusiastic about touchscreen technology and the way people are thinking about the correlation between graphics and music.
The more technology advances, it seems like we get closer to an understanding of how these art forms really do merge as one.
The iPhone is a great tool for expanding peoples awareness. Apps like Bloom and Trope (both Eno related) getting out to the general public has to have a strong effect on the consciousness of our planet.
How often are you recognized on the street and what's been your weirdest moment with a fan? Nils Joakim H. Reichelt, Norway
I love going for walks and running into fans on the street. Every now and then I will meet somebody I think is really cool and then make a new friend. Dream Theater fans are in general an interesting and nice bunch of people. In that way, I am very lucky! As far as weird moments go - I am mostly drawn to thinking and remembering the positive sides of the interactions!
As a pioneer in the world of music synthesis, do you find yourself eagerly anticipating the release of the next big thing that expands on the current technology in ways never done before, or are you planning to play a more influential role in the invention of these new technologies like you have done with the new iPhone application? Steven Gizzi
I would say that I am doing both! I absolutely love being aware of the current technology and do eagerly await news about new developments in musical instruments and creative tools! I also enjoy being an active participant! Over the years, I have had very satisfying involvement with many of the instruments that people use today. These days, I'm quite involved for example with a whole community of cool people doing great things with the iPhone/iPod touch platform.
People call me when new instruments are being developed and if I am interested and have the time it's certainly a passion of mine to be involved!
Time+Space would like to say a big thank you to Synthogy and particularly Jordan Rudess for their time and contributions to this competition!