February 23, 1970

On a cool, sunny afternoon in Littleton, Colorado, a 9-year-old boy walks home on his way back from his first piano lesson. As he walks along, he recalls the melody of one of his piano assignments playing in his head.

As the boy’s mental musical playback progresses, an image of a piano keyboard unexpectedly comes to mind. Suddenly, almost subconsciously, not only can the boy recall exactly how the music should sound, but he can also see the piece being played.

In this joining of sound and sight, where the notes the boy hears in his head correspond to the piano keys that he imagines, the youngster realizes that he’s just memorized the piece.

This moment of musical epiphany becomes the catalyst for a long and varied relationship between the boy and his music – a relationship which still continues today.

That little boy was me.

I’m Dave Dandurand, and these are some of my musical highlights, with a featured live performance, and some of my more recent virtual efforts.

Live piano

In early 2003, after creating and producing a number of CD’s for relatives, friends, and a local elementary school, my accumulated CD experience allowed me to embark on a very ambitious project. I wanted to try my hand at creating a CD for public sale.

The music I had in mind was one of my favorite compositions to listen to growing up, a seven movement suite called “The Planets”. This composition is usually heard in its orchestral form, but I was able to find an amazing piano arrangement, authored by Gustav Holst, the original composer. But in this case, the arrangement was for two pianos.

On one of my prior “personal” CD compilations, I had done a little experiment to learn how to perform and record – and most importantly synchronize – an arrangement for two pianos. Each piano part is recorded separately, and then the recordings are combined, using sound editing software I designed and wrote myself.

A year earlier, I had just purchased a new (to me) Mason & Hamlin grand piano to play the music on. I created the predecessor to this website, with online payment to sell the CD’s. I learned about copyright law, so I knew how to protect my work. I used an outside graphic designer and print house, rather than create and print all of my own label graphics as I had done for my “personal” CD’s. Expensive, but the results looked so much more professional than anything I could have done myself, as it replaced the labels I had been using with an image printed directly onto the disk.

The recording and production took several months, but it’s one of my best live performances. Visit my Planets page and listen for yourself.

Virtual Music

I count the teachers of my music classes as some of the most influential in my life experience. In junior high and high school, I took advantage of all the music classes that those schools had to offer. Two of my favorite hobbies growing up were music and electronics, and it is during those years of the mid-1970’s that electronic music started to become mainstream. I was particularly impressed by the work of electronic/space music pioneer Isao Tomita. His innovative interpretations of well-known classical music compositions brought a new perspective to my favorite music genre. Tomita’s renditions would often be note-for-note transcriptions, but nearly as often, Tomita would add other elements – sounds and themes which might be described today as “inspired by…”. My dream at the time was to someday be able to do what Tomita had done – apply technology in my own reinterpretations of my favorite classical music.

After high school, came a long career at Hewlett-Packard, during which I learned about CD technology. I studied the technical details of how audio data works by writing my own audio mixing software. I started experimenting with mixing different instrument snippets together to create primitive tracks of electronic music, often with vocal accompaniment. But this music still sounded like it was made by a computer toy (because it was). My dream of using real instruments to create new interpretations of my classical music favorites was not yet realized…

It wasn’t until 2015 that I discovered the Vienna Symphonic Library. This company sells libraries of recorded sounds for a variety of instruments. To help organize these sound library samples into a playable musical score, I used Sibelius 7 First software. I wrote out and recorded the part for each instrument separately, and combined the results using the audio mixing software I had written previously. The Virtual page on this website has three examples of classical pieces that I have transcribed for percussion and varying numbers of pianos using this technique.