Rick Beato’s Jordan Rudess Interview Summary

This post contains my summary notes from Rick Beato’s interview with Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess.

In this conversation Jordan and Rick discuss early Prog Rock influences, playing with Dream Theater, developing a keyboard sound, and perfect pitch.

Summary Notes

Early prog rock influences (1:30)

Started to get exposed in high school, one of the first albums was “Tarkus” by ELP.

Rick Wakeman’s “The Six Wives of Henry VIII” inspired him to pursue playing on a synth.

The solo in the song “Someday” by the band Refugee, played by Patrick Moraz.

Influence of Yes and Genesis (6:15)

The influence of Yes was the spirit of the music, a glorious vibe.

Genesis was a bit more influential from the harmonic ideas.

In those days I wouldn’t so much try to learn a particular song, but I would hear the harmony and I would be interested in learning what’s making that sound. So I would go to the piano and figure it out…”

He had a music teacher at the time who would encourage him to write a piece of music around a concept he had learned. So if he picked up a technique or idea from a Genesis song, he would write a piece of music using that idea.

I kept that concept, whenever I would hear or learn about new music, I’d figure out what it is, and then I try to write something with that, or a little exercise, so I get used to where those sounds are on the keyboard…”

Gentle Giant and Bach are also big influences.

Finding space in the mix (17:30)

If playing a rich pad sound, will use EQ to remove the low-end as it’s not needed in the mix with a full band. Bring out the frequencies that matter, get rid of the ones the listener wouldn’t hear anyway. Don’t want to muddy up the mix.

In ear mix for Dream Theater shows (25:00)

My mix is very similar to the album, except the keyboard is a bit louder on top of the mix, and the vocals are lower…”

Note: contrast this to the in ear mix of Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci.

Jordan’s keyboard tech will adjust the mix live at shows, so for sections where it’s just keyboard and vocals the vocal mix will be increased in order to clearly hear them.

Other music he enjoys (36:30)

Moody things to take a break from the heaviness of Prog Metal, Sigur Rós, Tangerine Dream, Steven Wilson

I generally like to listen to things that are calmer, spacier, mellow…”

Rick shares music he played for his son with perfect pitch (45:30)

Jordan raised how impressed he was by the video of Rick’s son calling out the notes of a chord.

Rick: “I played really complex modern classical and modern jazz improvisation for him when he was in utero, I did that through her entire pregnancy. And everyday from the time he was born until he was two, I would interact with him all the time. Dance with him, play with him, sing with him…”

Jordan: “People wonder when you have an ear like that, what do you do? How does it happen…”

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