Audeze speaks to keyboardist Jordan Rudess

April 15, 2023

Jordan Rudess, keyboardist with the prog metal band, Dream Theater, technologist and app creator will present his physical modeling-based app GeoShred as a way to open dialogue about the advancements in technology-based expressive musical instruments. Voted "Best Keyboardist of All Time" by Music Radar Magazine, Rudess is best known as the keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire for platinum-selling Grammy-winning prog rock band, Dream Theater. A classical prodigy who began his studies at the Juilliard School of Music at the age of 10, Jordan’s music is a unique blend of classical and rock influences. In addition to playing in Dream Theater and Liquid Tension Experiment, Jordan has worked with a wide range of artists including Deep Purple, David Bowie, Steven Wilson, Jan Hammer, Enrique Iglesias, the Paul Winter Consort, Annie Haslam, LMR (his side project with Tony Levin and Marco Minneman), Blackfield, Aviv Geffen, the Dixie Dregs, Rod Morgenstein and Tony Williams among others. Jordan’s interest in state-of-the-art keyboard controllers and music apps are another area of his career in which he has achieved success. Jordan owns the successful iOs app development company Wizdom Music, creators of award-winning apps such as MorphWiz, SampleWiz, and Geo Synthesizer. Wizdom Music’s latest app GeoShred, was created in collaboration with moForte, founding members of Stanford University’s Sondius team. In addition, Jordan is Artist in Residence at Stanford University’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics.

Jordan Rudess in the studio with his Audeze LCD-X headphones

"I’ve never owned headphones before that are this magnificent. Not enough words to describe their majesty. Go try some!"  - Jordan Rudess
Here's our chat with Jordan:
Can you pick out any highlights from your work that you're particularly proud of?

My musical life has been filled with many different kinds of activities. Everything from Dream Theater and LTE to many various solo albums and concerts.

You will find things like "A Chapter In Time" which is an introspective piano based album recorded during the Covid pandemic lockdown, "Explorations for Keyboard and Orchestra” which is a progressive rock meets classical extravaganza as well as my Rock solo albums like "Feeding the Wheel", "Wired For Madness" and "Rhythm of Time"...

How would you define your main role on most of the projects you work on these days?

My role is primarily as keyboardist and composer own most everything I do. On my solo albums you will find a vocal here and there as well!

I’m also a music technologist that is very involved in the expressive music mission in the instruments we use! GeoShred is a good example of that and is now available on the iOS app store!

How did you get started in music? What kind of music did you listen to while growing up and how has that progressed?

I started in second grade. I would play the piano in the classroom. At home we didn’t have a piano so it was quite surprising to my parents when the teacher called and said I’ve been playing “beautifully.”

I was passionate about music from the beginning of my journey and at age 9 was admitted to the Juilliard School of Music in New York City.

Although I've always improvised and played different types of music-as a young person I was very focused on classical music. The Beatles really are the ones who exposed me to Rock music and then when I was 19 I left Juilliard to play my Mini Moog and dive deeply into Progressive Rock and Electronic music.

Can you name any factors that influenced the course of your musical life? Heroes, role models, moments, interactions, etc?

My favorite classical composers are Chopin, Bach, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, Debussy. In Rock I lean to the Progressive genre. Emerson Lake and Palmer, King Crimson, Genesis, Floyd type stuff!

Keith Emerson, Patrick Moraz and Rick Wakeman were my keyboard heroes!

Can you briefly describe a moment of frustration from your past work, and what you may have done to overcome the obstacles? Would you approach it differently now?

My life is filled with a variety of activities that lead me down very different roads. Coming back from a tour any being gone for two months can help to create a very frustrating situation on the return in terms of my work... Losing the groove of studio activities and even how everything works in general. It’s too easy to forget things like key commands and user operation of your gear!

The main thing to learn and way to overcome the frustration is to give yourself some space and take time getting everything back to a solid state. It will happen but learning that it doesn’t need to be rushed is very helpful indeed.

Is there any gear you find yourself turning to most when working on a project? What are some of your favorite tools/instruments recently?

Recently I have fallen completely in love with my Expressive E Osmose keyboard. A total game changer of an instrument You can think of it as an Augmented keyboard playing experience which offers new gestures for added expression to a normal keyboard. It basically turns the keyboard into a continuous instrument like a violin or a wind instrument or even a voice. Amazing gear.

I also am a big Logic X user and it is my platform for all my working the studio these days.

Do you have any words of wisdom for people who might aspire toward a similar path for their own careers?

I’m a believer in doing what you love. I started doing that and never gave up. I’m so passionate about what I do that I end up working/playing all the time.

It's a great way to go through life!

Do you have any additional comments or stories you want to share?

There was the time down in Mexico when my tilting keyboard stand was all the way down facing the audience and when I went to bring it back to the straight position it failed.

Sadly it was only 20 minutes into the show and could not be fixed. I played the whole show leaning far over and when I got off the stage let's just say my posture was very odd!!

How have your Audeze headphones affected your work? Can you tell us what you've been working on with them recently?

Audeze headphones are phenomenal! Wow- words cannot describe the experience of listening and working with this audio technology. I can’t believe I ever lived without them. I’m extremely grateful to have found them in my life!

I have been working on a piece to celebrate the 40th anniversary of MIDI at NAMM 2023.

I’ve never owned headphones before that are this magnificent. Not enough words to describe their majesty. Go try some!

Jordan Rudess's Audeze LCD-X headphones