Eric Hirsh

pianist, composer, producer

Listen to a track from Silence Fiction, The Beast’s debut album

September 14, 2009 by Eric | 0 comments

Silence Fiction cover

I am thrilled to announce the release of The Beast’s self-produced debut album, Silence Fiction, on October 16th, 2009 with a killer release party at Duke Coffeehouse in Durham that same day.  Here is a link to the press release about the album.  I feel like I’m having my first baby (except that it’s a 4-way collaborative birthing process, and it did take nine months from rehearsing/tracking to mastering/album art).  Silence Fiction is my first experience co-producing and releasing a full-length album on a significant scale (indie budget, professional studios, robust sales plan, etc.) and as such I will post a few articles over the coming weeks reflecting on what I’ve learned in the process and what you can expect to hear when you purchase the album.

As a teaser, here is “Translation,” the lead single from Silence Fiction.  Featured on the track is my other major project, Orquesta GarDel.  Pierce’s lyrics are inspired by the true story of when he took Raphael Saadiq to see a GarDel show after his own concert at DPAC.  Methinks there are more hip hop/salsa collaborations in my future…

I hope you enjoy the track, let me know what you think!

“Rachmaninof Plays Rachmaninoff” drops on September 22nd

September 14, 2009 by Eric | 0 comments


Back in April, I introduced you to Zenph’s third project, the original works and transcriptions of Sergei Rachmaninoff.  At that time we had just finished our re-performance analysis and were producing the recording session with Sony and giving a live recital at Peace College in Raleigh.  One set of album art, liner notes, advance reviews, and a killer press event later, we are weeks away from the September 22nd US release of the album through Sony Masterworks.  You’ll be able to find it at retailers nationwide, as well as Amazon and other online stores.  As always, I strongly recommend purchasing the CD over iTunes.  Our team spent days of piano and mic positioning to bring you what we believe to be the most sonically pristine piano recording yet.  The reward comes in listening to uncompressed audio files on a nice system, not bit-crushed mp3s on your iPhone.

On Monday September 21st, there will be a press event at Steinway Hall in New York with a special performance by violin superstar Joshua Bell (yes, the guy who played at a DC Metro stop and no one stopped to listen). Zenph has given him the opportunity to have Rachmaninoff accompany him on a Grieg sonata, and now it’s one of his favorite things to do (I wouldn’t blame him!).  In fact, this track will be released on a Joshua Bell album days later, also by Sony Masterworks.  Here is the link to purchase that.

One of my favorite things about the Rachmaninoff album is that it reveals years and years of misinterpretation by classical pianists.  Somehow or another, it came to be that the “right” way to play a Rachmaninoff piece was to pound the crap out of the piano in a display of athleticism.  And indeed, those pieces sound “badass” when performed that way.  Extreme example?  The Prelude in C# minor, Op 3 No 2.  Exhibit A?  YouTube.  But what Zenph discovered in its analysis is that Rachmaninoff’s own touch was much more dynamic and gentle than was previously thought.  His own interpretation of the C# minor Prelude is ever so subtle and creepy, instantly becoming my favorite version.  That’s what I love about this company: it’s honest musical archeology, truth-seeking through data analysis.

New album, Piano Starts Here: Live at the Shrine now available!

June 4, 2008 by Eric | 1 Comment

copyright Sony BMG and Zenph Studios

Hey all, Zenph Studios has just reached another great milestone: Our second album with Sony BMG hits the streets today. This album marks the first time Zenph Studios has analyzed and re-performed a jazz artist, and not just any jazz artist. the legendary pianist Art Tatum.

From the press release:

Art Tatum’s “Piano Starts Here” album contains material that has been in print for more than 50 years. Yet the original, an incomparable jazz album that highlights the mastery of this singular musician, had been marred by nominal sound quality and other imperfections — until now.

Zenph’s unique technique turns audio recordings into live performances that precisely replicate the original recording, but offer vastly improved sound quality. Listeners are transported back to the moment of creation and experience Tatum’s playing as if they were in the room when the original recordings were made.

Last year, Sony BMG and Zenph Studios re-recorded Tatum’s 1949 concert at The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. They placed the piano on the same stage in the same spot that Tatum played and recorded a flawless re-performance on modern equipment before a live audience.

SONY BMG’s new disc is a hybrid surround-sound SACD/CD disc, which plays on all traditional CD players and sounds magnificent on Super Audio (SACD) players. It also includes a binaural version of the re-performance that provides an immersive experience. When listened to with headphones, it replicates what Tatum would have heard while he sat on the piano bench.

The Zenph re-performance also corrects several problems with the original album. For one thing, playback speed was too slow on 12 of the 13 tracks, so after Zenph fixed the tempo, you hear that Tatum actually played faster than has been thought.

And, thanks to Tatum discographer Arnold Laubich, Zenph has restored about two minutes of lost material. The original album omits excerpts from Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess,” which Tatum performed at the concert during the track now titled “The Man I Love.”

I have had the privilege of working on this album from start to finish: it has been an intense and insightful process involving the cutting edge of both computer algorithms and musicology. My name is in the credits for the research and production team, so technically, this is my major label debut :-).

You can purchase the album at Zenph’s online store, iTunes, or any major music retailer. Please comment back and let me know what you think of the new album, or if you have any questions about the Zenph re-performance process. Enjoy!