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Saffron Slumber ¦|¦ Piano Drones 1



     In this experiment, Kevin Stephens, aka Saffron Slumber, coaxed piano strings into sympathetic vibration by impelling them with sine waves. Thankfully he recorded the results.

     Stephens' description of his method:
     The first recording is of a grand piano with dampers up on the a0, d1, a1, d2, a2, and a3 strings. A d2 sine wave, uninentionally set for a constant decay, was played through a monitor situated above the open piano lid, resulting in a subtle drone from the sympathetic vibrations of the d2 string. On touching the string with my fingertip, I found that it brought out all of the overtones of the string. The recording starts slightly after this discovery, and you can hear my using both the pad of my finger and my fingernail. At some point during the recording, I started grabbing various objects from my environment to see what differences in sound they would create when applied to the vibrating string. None of them sounded particularly great, so I abandoned that concept and returned to using my finger. As the sine wave became quieter, it became more and more difficult to "play" the string. The recording ends when it essentially became too difficult to continue.

     The second recording used the same methodology with dampers up on the e1, b1, e2, and b2 strings. When an e2 sine was played loudly through the monitor, the e2 strings were excited to the point that they were constantly colliding with one another, generating a very loud, oscillating drone. Around the eighth minute of the recording, I began experimenting with placing my finger on the e1 string to (successfully) see if I could get it sound as in the first recording.

     In the process of mastering the recordings, equalization was used to reduce the levels of the original sine waves, as they were both over-represented in the recordings and simply quite loud. Also, both pieces begin with a fade-in, which is particularly evident with the long fade-in with the second recording. Both also have very short fade-outs (a couple of seconds in length)."


     Saffron Slumber has been recording ambient and experimental music since 2004. This is a re-release of a recording made in 2010.
Background photograph by Brian Clayton, licensed CC-BY-NC 2.0


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VUZH031
Released November 2011




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