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Mike Garson

Artist Info
Mike Garson

Pianist, composer and artist

M-Audio Gear :
Torq Conectiv

Official Website:

Mike Garson is a man of many talents and limitless inspiration. Best known for his impressive skills as a pianist, he is a respected composer and a budding computer artist. Garson's love of improvisation is most evident in the music he has developed under the NOW! MUSIC™ brand. First created in 1995, this innovative approach to classical composing transfers his knowledge of improvisation into the classical realm. In addition to his NOW! MUSIC pieces, Garson has composed by more traditional means. Over the course of his career, Garson has written over 4,000 pieces of music in a variety of genres.

1999 saw the release of the MGM film Stigmata for which Garson co-composed the score with Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins. Garson and Corgan also co-wrote “Identify,” the film’s title track performed by Natalie Imbruglia. (Garson also performed with the Pumpkins during their 1998 Adore tour and their final concerts in 2000).

His versatility and virtuosity have earned Garson a lifetime relationship with David Bowie, with whom he has toured and recorded since 1972. Garson contributed to albums including Earthling, Outside, The Buddha of Suburbia, Black Tie, White Noise, Aladdin Sane, Diamond Dogs, David Live, Pin-Ups, Young Americans and Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture.

Garson’s solid reputation for creativity and quality has motivated many other well-known rock musicians to invite him to record on their albums. Trent Reznor—who first met Garson during David Bowie’s 1996 Outside tour—featured Garson on several tracks of Nine Inch Nails' The Fragile. Garson can also be heard on Seal's Human Being as well as a special bonus track at the end of No Doubt's Return of Saturn album.

He has also recorded twelve solo albums including Admiration, Avant Garson, Gershwin Fantasia, Jazzical, Mystery Man, The Oxnard Sessions, Volumes I and II, Serendipity and Remember Love. For the ABC television movie Liberace, Garson played all the piano pieces in the style of the flamboyant performer. Garson's signature sound can be heard on several television shows and Yamaha Disklavier disks.

Mike Garson
Pianist Mike Garson has performed with many greats, such as The Smashing Pumpkins and David Bowie and has recorded twelve solo albums.

Garson on M-Audio’s EX66 reference monitors: “Since I've gotten the EX66 reference monitors, my musical output has more than doubled—this has to do with the great sounds I’ve been getting through the speakers. The statistics show that I've doubled my output of composing—the sound helps inspire that, because when the sound is right I feel more inspired to compose. I removed my NS10 nearfield monitors, and I put the EX66’s right on my piano—they sound great and I’m really happy with them. I’m writing more, the sound is inspiring me and they are very powerful.

“I've been a happy camper with the EX66’s—I love to blast them loud with a SBX subwoofer also. I have to inspire myself, and the sound is what does it for me. They sound as good as speakers that cost two or three thousand dollars. They're more exciting than my NS10’s, and are more emotional for me. I kept the NS10s on my piano for 23 years—now I’ve retired them and I’m using the EX66’s. They have a very accurate frequency response—when I heard them for the first time, I knew I wanted them.”

Garson on M-Audio’s Sputnik microphone: “I use the Sputnik microphones to get a better recording of my acoustic nine-foot concert grand piano. I have a pair of them in order to record the piano in stereo. I use TAMPA preamps with the Sputniks—they are a really excellent combination. I get a great piano sound using these great products together. As soon as I heard my first piano recording with the Sputnik, I heard that it was 30 to 40 percent better than the prior microphones I was using. The Sputniks are warmer and capture the essence of my sound a lot more accurately. My engineer first hooked them up, and he immediately heard the difference between it and the other microphones that I was using—he really seemed very impressed. I’d say that it gives me a more accurate representation of what I actually played. The combination has allowed me to compose a lot of music and I’ve been putting four or five new songs on my MySpace page each week because I’ve been so inspired.”

On the road with M-Audio: “Last year I sat in with Gwen Stefani and her band during one performance. They brought me up to play on a song with them, and I played it off a ProKeys 88 stage piano, using the internal piano sounds. It was fun playing on it and it sounded great!

“I use the Oxygen 8 v2 and FireWire 410 on the road with my laptop. The Oxygen 8 is for fooling around, composing on the road, and just jamming on the bus to keep me from going bored from country to country. I usually jam on the bus with the Oxygen 8, FireWire 410 and Ableton Live.”

Garson on M-Audio software: “I've been experimenting with the Torq DJ software recently, pulling in different pieces of mine, along with loops, classical pieces and electronic pieces. I manipulate the sounds in the program and record them in real-time. I like to experiment with the software a lot. Some of the songs you'll hear on my MySpace page sound like a rapper or somebody with two vinyl CDs—that's Torq! Recently I’ve done a lot of songs that were a mixture of electronic and jazz with all kinds of wild samples that I used it on. I had all kinds of frequencies going, and they were really delivering the goods to me. I could play it loud and there was no distortion. I’ve been really excited to write all of the types of music, because Torq gives me the opportunity to stretch myself musically.

“I use GForce’s M-Tron, Minimonsta:Melohman and Oddity software synthesizers quite a bit—I like to mix my acoustic piano with all kinds of crazy electronic sounds, including these plug-ins.

Garson on the MicroTrack 24/96: “I love the MicroTrack 24/96—I’ve traveled with it all over the world. I've taken it with me to capture my lectures at different universities, with 30 or 40 hours of lecturing using the MP3 format. When I record my live concerts, I switch over to WAV format to get a higher quality sound. I have a four-GB compact flash card in it, so I can get quite a bit of audio recorded at a high quality. When I performed at the NAMM Show in 2006 and 2007 I put the MicroTrack right on my piano and just let it record the bass, drums and piano from there. I didn't go through the board and it still sounds amazing, even with the built-in microphone.”

Why M-Audio? “M-Audio gear is priced in a way so that people can afford it and still get a high quality product—most of the products could sell for twice as much! I've been working with M-Audio for four or five years now, and I really feel it's a company with a lot of integrity and ethics. They have done some amazing things over the years to build it to where it is now and have always been concerned about making sure that anyone can afford the tools to create their music—a lot of companies don't think that way. The products are very workable, usable, and are priced right.”
Piano virtuoso Mike Garson discusses the process of creating his own ProSessions loop library.