All music composed and performed by Jeff Pittson
2. Roads Less Taken
3. Promenade I
4. Blue Notion
6. Goin’ Somewhere
7. John Fahey’s Blues
9. Memories in a Photo
10. I’m Yours
11. Promenade II
12. Roy Batty
13. Silent Grotto
Jeff Pittson: Una Corda, sound design
Jeff Pittson Publishing BMI
Recorded by Jeff Pittson, June–October 2021
Produced by Jeff Pittson
Additional sound design by Evan Pittson
Mixing and mastering by Evan Pittson
Graphic design by Evan Pittson
AWAKE has its origins within the night. Many of its pieces were recorded or composed in the night and the prevailing mood is that of the night or the very early morning. The psychological/physical esthetic for the music, its eclectic influences, playing a new instrument, all converge in the music of AWAKE.
Our modern concert grand piano is a marvel of great power and projection born of its high string tension, heavy cast iron frame and large soundboard. David Klavins introduced the Una Corda in June 2014 as a single string per note keyboard instrument possessing a warm purity of tone. Pianos are designed with multiple unison strings for greater volume and, with shifts in humidity, temperature along with daily use, are in a continual state of detuning themselves, thus creating beats in the sound. You’ve heard those beats forever as the sound of a honky tonk piano, or a beaten up rehearsal hall spinet. With no such internal string beating with the purity of one string per note, Una Corda is further enhanced by a variety of interchangeable fabrics, such as felt, cotton or silk, that act like acoustic filters to enhance, accentuate or subtract from the attack and decay characteristics of the instrument. The software used in this album, is scrupulously-sampled from a specially-commissioned 88-note Una Corda and presents a highly musical and expressive replica of the physical keyboard with a vast collection of processing options not available with the original.
Attracted as I was to the crystalline beauty of Una Corda, it took me a little over two years to fully come to terms with the tone, feel and general color of the instrument which I had first envisioned in an ensemble, a jazz trio setting or larger. I began to realize that Una Corda was more of a modern day analog parallel to the older clavichord and, similarly, possessing a smaller sound which can be obscured by noise. I realized the strength of Una Corda lies in its introspective and intimate tone. With single strings and a lighter weight soundboard, it’s sonic signature is more pure and transparent than the modern day piano and is ideal as a solo instrument.
Growing up in San Francisco during the iconic 1967 Summer of Love, I discovered KMPX, a sort of pirate/counterculture FM station, highly eclectic in programming, broadcasting music from all genres, from psychedelia, to ethnic musics, to Delta Blues, and beyond. In the evening, after my parents were asleep, with a trusty Longines Symphonette radio and a pair of mono earbuds, I first heard performers such as Denny Zeitlin, John Fahey, Charles Lloyd, BB King, Harvey Mandel, Henk Badings with his electronic masterpiece “Evolutions Ballet Suite,” Johnny Keating’s “Brave New World,” and more, more, more! It was this never-before-heard music in the night that brought joy and excitement. Imagine the shock of hearing the Balinese Monkey Chant for the first time! KMPX’s programming was dangerous, subversive, intoxicating and marvelous.
The atmosphere of night, slow and languid compared to the bustle of day, has been seized upon by many composers… Mozart, Schumann, Chopin, Bartok, Elliott Carter, Takemitsu… it’s a long list. Towards night, as daily life winds down, the rhythm and distractions of the day are replaced by the gradually descending cool, a time of reflection, recharging, molecules moving slower with the setting of the sun, less buzz, less tumult, and more introspection. San Francisco’s nightfall was frequently visited by rolling waves of thick, grey fog, accompanied by a serenade of fog horns protectively echoing, reverberating over the bay, into the neighborhoods and muting the sounds of the city, a moisture laden blanket covering houses, hills and streets. Sometimes, in the Sunset District, the sound of storm surf was audible from Ocean Beach as well as howling Siamangs from the Zoo. Music was all around us.
Another tale of the night: J.S. Bach penned his immortal “Goldberg Variations” for the former Russian ambassador to the electoral court of Saxony, Count Kaiserling who was often ill and suffered from insomnia. His young harpsichordist Johann Gottlieb Goldberg spent many nights in an antechamber adjacent to the Counts bedroom from where he would call out, “Dear Goldberg, do play me one of my variations.” From our vantage point today, the harpsichord seems an unlikely soporific with its bright tone and sharp plucked attack. Not so with Una Corda which seems ideally suited to quiet reverie in early morning hours. It is my hope that AWAKE will gently move one’s consciousness towards a more relaxed state, whatever the time.
My deepest thanks to the musicians, those performers, composers and teachers who helped me to appreciate music as an immense field of vibration and possibility. With dedicated work, we can move our egos out of the way, letting music flow outward to the world. Special thanks to my son, Evan, for his musical expertise, technical knowledge, spiritual encouragement, timely suggestions, and tasteful design skills. He continues to be a constant inspiration.
For your consideration… AWAKE
Dobbs Ferry, NY
July 24, 2022