Pianist, techno producer, hybrid performer; Fabrizio Rat fuses his passion for acoustic instrumentation with electronic production for musical experiences that blur lines.
We explore where Augmented GRAND PIANO fits into his creative explorations at 3537, Paris.
The place in between
Fabrizio Rat’s music dwells where the two worlds of classical and electronic music collide. He’s a classically-trained pianist with a passion for contemporary composition, who also happens to be a veteran techno producer and experimental sound designer.
I studied playing the piano from when I was 4. I started playing melodies by ear, then started to study classical music. In my teenage years I started with techno and electronic music… I came to Paris 15 years ago, that’s when I started mixing things.
Fusing essential techno instrumentation like acid basslines and analog drum machines with an experimental approach to the piano produces a refreshing sound that is fascinating on record, but mesmerizing in a live setting; wherever his explorations take him, it’s during performances that his sound truly comes to life.
I play the piano with my right hand, and with the left I mix drum machines, effects, basslines, and samplers.
It doesn’t end with Fabrizio’s solo techno projects like ‘La Machina’ however. Venturing deeper into the no-man's-land between acoustic and electronic, he also performs as part of an ensemble that explores alternative ways to play acoustic instruments.
I also play with a group called Cabaret Contemporain, where we produce electronic music using only acoustic instruments played with different techniques, like prepared piano.
His passion for fusing classical with electronic doesn’t just apply to his performances and compositions; it also extends to sound design, mimicking synthesized sounds on piano or vice versa. This allows him to produce uncanny, unusual sounds to keep listeners guessing.
My approach to prepared piano starts with me thinking of what I can do with an analog synthesizer, and how I can produce a similar sound on the piano.
Indeed, he notes that his primary source of inspiration is taking something familiar and going somewhere new with it. The linear yet highly articulate nature of a piano, played in an experimental manner, can produce results that can totally change a piece of music. Fabrizio has made extensive use of prepared piano techniques, echoing the pioneering sounds of the likes of John Cage before him.
I’d say the most inspiring thing to me is to be with an instrument that I know, but played in a way that I don’t know yet. It’s like a game, experimenting and trying out things… to discover things I couldn't imagine before.
On Augmented GRAND PIANO
It’s only fitting, therefore, that Fabrizio was drawn to Augmented GRAND PIANO, a virtual instrument that doesn’t simply combine sampled piano with synthesis; it morphs them into each other to guarantee exciting and unexpected results, much like his own approach to creating sounds.
I discovered that Augmented GRAND PIANO reproduces my approach to the piano, but inside a plugin.
The fact that Augmented GRAND PIANO already comes with a broad variety of articulations and unique samples that could be considered ‘prepared piano’ provides a huge new sonic foundation for Fabrizio to explore.
There are sounds of ping pong balls bouncing or paper vibrating on the piano strings - this is very similar to noise from a synthesizer.
Seeing an artist like Fabrizio Rat bending Augmented GRAND PIANO to his creative will is inspiring to say the least; someone who’s familiar and passionate about acoustic piano and electronic music, exploring a plugin that reflects this hybrid approach and takes it in exciting new directions. Where will it take you?
You can morph between samples and synthesizer engines, you can select the amount of each layer and parameter… you can really create a variety of sound. It’s very poetic the way you can use it for soundscapes.
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