Dreaming in sound… Step inside the wonderful world of Delicate Droids with Richard D Ruttenberg.
My Studio – Delicate Droids
My name is Richard D Ruttenberg. I often dream in sound. Sometimes, the music is so clear in my head that I’m able to stop it, rewind, hear it again and again, and once it’s fixed in my dream and I can recall it at will, I’ll run to the piano and spend the next few hours figuring out the progressions, melody, etc. That is the only way I can explain it. At the same time, I’m still relying on my education from the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. I remember the rules of composition, music theory, arranging and harmony. Trust me, I’m going out of my way to break every single one of those rules. Let’s move on to my next series of instruments and I’ll explain how…
Kawai Baby Grand Piano
My most expensive instrument is a Kawai baby grand piano. I have it professionally tuned twice a year to keep the tonality perfectly in place. This is crucial because all of my ideas are born from my time on this piano. This exquisite instrument is a perfect fit for me because the keys are long and heavily weighted, just the way I like it. You see, I have a very delicate touch, and this piano responds beautifully. You can hear me play piano on a track called ‘Wicked Indigo’, released on StarkFutures on an album I wrote of the same name. You can also hear me on piano on the album Whispers Between Worlds.
My Computer Setup and How I Begin Work…
I have a late 2015 Apple iMac. In addition, I use Logic Pro X music software. It comes with a library of all sorts of instruments and loops. In the beginning, I relied upon loops, but I quickly realised it was better to stay far away from them because why use what other cats rely upon? They all sound alike and it sucks ultimately. Better to be original and create your own music. I do however have a custom sound library that I’ve created over the years. I’m most proud of this library because the sounds within are unique to my music and helped me immeasurably in being able to produce film score-style music as well as my own jazz fusion artistry.
Once Logic is up and running, I create a “skeleton score” in the mixer x section and immediately go to a master output of -6 dB and a stereo out of around 0 dB. I’ll then go back to my staff paper and make sure I have the right harmonic ‘equations’ in place. Sometimes, off the top of my head I’ll insert, let’s say a V7 of the V7 chord, followed by a bizarre series of harmonic shifts that offend every notion of what my professors might have scoffed at in grading my compositions, but secretly tapped their feet once the ensemble band played back the charts and the sound was ‘felt’.
I’ll refer to my custom sound library where I’ll choose from a multitude of, for example, Fender Rhodes keyboard sounds. You see, to me, it does not get any better than that old funky, smooth, jazzed-out Rhodes sound. I’ll record a line… double it, triple it with other keyboard sounds, and start manipulating each line until the blend is just right. This is where one’s own unique style is critical to the process. Harmonic blending is my thing. Arranging is also my thing. Barry Finnerty calls me the king of atmosphere. I like that a lot. Barry has played on several of my recordings and I’m forever grateful.
I spend a lot of time using Logic Pro X with my custom sound library, Cerwin-Vega speakers, M Audio headphones, an ARP Odyssey, a Korg microKEY, and an Elektron Analog Keys. Everything runs through a Focusrite Scarlett. I’ve also found a funky way to run the Odyssey through the Analog Keys, and this really sets up a perfect storm of CRAZY sounds and blending.
The ARP Odyssey is a wicked instrument and it is invaluable when creating stuff for the Delicate Droids music. It’s there in just about every song but, like sugar on a pear, it’s sweet but hidden within the taste of the music.
Elektron Analog Keys
The Elektron Analog Keys is another story. It’s got some fat-ass sound to it, but whoever wrote the instruction manual is a complete schoolboy prat! The instructions are atrocious and this makes the learning curve almost impossible. They should fire that dude immediately and get someone in there that knows how to teach! That is my biggest complaint about the state of audio equipment today. A well written instruction manual that spells things out exactly the way it needs to be is of paramount importance, especially if one is to invest their hard-earned money into buying future advantages. Shame on them for putting out such fine equipment but failing to communicate its value… Why?
As for the future of the Delicate Droids, I can surely say that I am confident in my counterpart’s own creative style to the point where I’ll send him, and have sent him, all of my stems to work off of and give him complete carte blanch to make music that all people can dig and dance to once their feet hit the floor! Peter Dutch is an amazing artist and I am extremely proud to be with him on these grand experiments! Hit it, baby!