Brian KennedyA higher level
with Piano V

Brian KennedyA higher level
with Piano V

Cali-based Brian Kennedy has spent the best part of 20 years making a name for himself as an award-winning producer and songwriter to the stars. Like many of his peers, he often relies on his primary instrument - in this case, the piano.

But the piano is more than just Kennedy’s instrument; it’s an emotional outlet and a borderline-spiritual companion. So for him to put his trust in a virtual instrument - Piano V - must mean that it’s doing something right…

Bring me what you got

Whether it’s crafting a song or playing at the piano, music is Kennedy’s expression. His instruments are an extension of himself, his musical output is a sonic reflection of his character. This personal relationship with music has bore plenty of fruit; he’s now a 4-time Grammy Award winner, with numerous credits with the likes of Rihanna, Rascal Flatts, Kelly Clarkson, Ciara, and more.

His work on Jennifer Hudson’s 2008 self-titled record earned him his first Grammy, proving he had what it took to find success in the industry. It was that same year that he crossed paths with Rihanna while on piano duties in the studio. With absolute confidence, he pitched her some new song ideas - a chance encounter would lead to them collaborating on her seminal album 'Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded'.

Later that night I got an email from her. ‘Brian it’s Rhi, I think your energy was great, your music was incredible. Bring me what you got. Tomorrow.

Art is spiritual

Kennedy is committed to finding deeper meaning when it comes to making music. The technical aspects - articulation, scales, chord voicings, harmonic rhythm - are just means to an end. Tools of the trade. Ultimately, Kennedy sees music as his opportunity, in his own words, to communicate on a higher level.

I think music is a reflection of true emotion. Art imitates life, life imitates art, it’s the same thing. For me that’s just my way of communicating on a higher level. Every time I play the piano I feel like I’m having a conversation with God.

While many of the mechanical aspects of a piano are consistent from one model to the next, each one has its own character. As a composer and player with a passion for all things piano, Kennedy is keen to hone in on what makes each one special and unique. He makes the most of his own collection, using each project as an opportunity to tell part of his pianos' stories.

I’m a piano collector. Each piano has its own ghost in it, that’s how I feel about it. The fact that I have so many pianos right there - it’s insane to me.

Though he's a piano man at heart, Kennedy embraces the flexibility of virtual instruments. This led him to Arturia back in the day, and finding success with those sounds meant that he stuck with them for good. He gestures to a number of the records on his walls, noting which Arturia instruments featured where.

I use Arturia literally all over - the Kelly Clarkson record, Mr Know It All, I used some sounds on there. I used Arturia on the Jennifer Hudson record that got a Grammy. Then the Mellotron on the Weeknd’s new album, some of those leads are the Mellotron. Which is fire.

Meeting Piano V

During our time in Kennedy's studio, he spent some time absorbed in the various models of Piano V. The visual aspects of the instrument proved to be useful prompts; he'd often switch model and immediately conjure up a musical motif or movement that matched the vibe of the 'room' the piano was in.

It puts you in a place. Just to see something different is inspiring. Look at that bar over there! It’s happy hour somewhere right?

Part of the beauty of Piano V's flexibility is being able to adjust and customize your instrument further than you'd be able to with a real piano. Kennedy takes a favorite plugin and quickly starts adjusting the details - the hammer position, stretch tuning, pedal noises - and he fires up his newly-constructed custom piano in seconds with a beautiful chord movement.

One of my favorite ones on here is the Dr. Crucial - it feels like somewhere between a classical piano concert and being in the studio at the same time. For me that’s not an easy feeling to capture…the fact that I can tweak so much with this gives me so much flexibility.

Like his piano studio at home, each model within Piano V has a space, a vibe, a soul of its own. Hearing Kenney move between models and subsequently play with ideas that match them is a real-time demonstration of how Piano V has been able to capture the character of these instruments - some authentic, some totally new.

It actually inspires you based on what space you’re in to play a certain way. For me as a pianist, I don’t have just one space.

Here we go again

Witnessing a piano aficionado like Brian Kennedy finding his own sweet spots and becoming engrossed in the workings of Piano V is evidence that this virtual instrument isn't just the closest you'll come to a real piano in your DAW - but a piano experience that can surpass even the real thing.

Overall this is a complete Disneyland for piano players and any producers. Anyone inspired to do this.

"It sounds incredible. I feel like I was at a hall today, playing piano here."

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