Jordan Rudess recalls recording piano for David Bowie using an “old Brian Eno trick”

Hear it for yourself on David Bowie’s track, Slip Away.

Jordan Rudess

Image: Ivan Romano / Getty

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Jordan Rudess, composer and keyboardist for Dream Theater, once recorded piano for David Bowie using a clever trick of Brian Eno’s.

In the new episode of MusicTech’s My Forever Studio podcast, in partnership with Audient, Rudess said he would need an incredible piano in his dream studio space (makes sense).

He tells of the time he took part in a recording session with Bowie for the track Slip Away, from his 2002 record Heathen, and recalled how a bit of tape and a sustain pedal gave the song its wide and resonant piano sound.

“I did a session with David Bowie years ago, and there was an acoustic piano, a Steinway baby grand, and one of these really tall uprights, and I walked into the studio getting ready to do the piano track that day, and I thought ‘oh, I’m definitely gonna play the Steinway’,” he said.

“When I got in there David said, ‘no, no, no, we want you to play on the upright’. I was like, ‘what? Okay, whatever you want’. So I started to play the upright and then Tony Visconti and David came and said, ‘no, no, it doesn’t quite sound right. Try the other piano’, so I played the baby grand. They came in and said no [again], and I was starting to get self-conscious about what’s going on.”

He continued, “They said ‘okay, we got an idea’, and they move the upright piano right up against the baby grand, and they tape down the sustain pedal on the upright. They put the mics up against the open upright piano, and they said ‘now play’. So what they ended up doing is recording a big part of the resonance from the upright piano, just from my playing on the baby grand. They said it was an old Brian Eno trick, and they were very excited about it.”

Listen to the full episode below:

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