Space And Time
(Keith Gehle)


One of the rising artists in 21st century contemporary instrumental music, Georgia-based Keith Gehle released his CD, Space and Time in 2016. Although he’s best known as a classical guitarist, on Space and Time, Keith flexes his musical muscle as a composer first and foremost, keeping the music as the central focus. The artist's fifth solo album, Space and Time is dedicated to his late brother Ken. The sound is superbly captured for CD by album mastering engineer Tom Eaton. Keith plays a range of nylon and steel string guitars and proof of his one man band sound means that there's plenty of other sonic colors from assorted instruments such as cello, piano, synths and more. Describing his approach to the arranging and recording of his music on Space and Time, Keith tells, “With regard to how the pieces on Space and Time were written, they were initially conceived as solos but with some time and reflection I found a desire to add some other instrument sounds. The musical lines accompanying the guitar are mostly simple things like piano octaves, drawn out keyboard strings or pads, and synthesized virtual instruments like oboe, cello, and flute. I would say that in many cases the music just sort of cried out for another melody to be heard on an instrument besides the guitar.” To appreciate Keith Gehle as a guitarist and multi-instrumentalist you are first captured by his unique compositions, which are neoclassical in scope yet created with a modern day soundtrack and ambient music appeal. Fans of Tom Eaton’s recent albums and the Windham Hill sound in general will find much to applaud about Keith Gehle’s Space and Time. / presents an interview with

: Can you tell us where you’re from originally and where you live now and what you like best about it?

Keith Gehle: I grew up in Augusta, Georgia from the age of five although my parents are originally from the northeast. I lived in Athens while I was a student at the University of Georgia studying classical guitar performance then returned to Augusta after graduation in 1990 to work as a freelance musician and teacher. In 1997, I moved to Atlanta where I currently reside and work performing and teaching. I like living in Atlanta because of the many opportunities to make a living playing live music but sometimes miss the thriving art and music scenes you find in places like Athens and Augusta.

mwe3: How would you compare your 2016 album Space and Time with your other albums and how has your sound and vision evolved over the years, both as a guitarist and as a composer? Would you say that Space and Time is your definitive musical statement to date?

Keith Gehle: I definitely believe that Space and Time is my best work and certainly different from my earlier albums. My previous albums were solo guitar recordings and in most cases featured music by other composers. However, my 2001 release, Winter Song contained all original compositions similar to the music on Space and Time. With all of my recording projects I try to have a musical theme for the album. Original works, Romantic Period music, and Christmas classics are examples of themes I’ve presented in my recordings. Sadly, the theme for Space and Time was a response to the tragedy of my brother Ken’s untimely death in January of 2010. And although I tried to make an album with elements of hope, there is still, at times, an underlying sadness in the music. Each piece on the recording has a story behind it that relates in some way to his life and passions or our lives together as brothers.

With regard to how the pieces on Space and Time were written, they were initially conceived as solos but with some time and reflection I found a desire to add some other instrument sounds. The musical lines accompanying the guitar are mostly simple things like piano octaves, drawn out keyboard strings or pads, and synthesized virtual instruments like oboe, cello, and flute. I would say that in many cases the music just sort of cried out for another melody to be heard on an instrument besides the guitar. For example, the opening track on the album, “Waiting For The Sun”, has a cello line that begins around the middle of the piece. That point in the music signifies to me the appearance of the sun at dawn as the sound shifts to the relative major key after a fairly long stretch in minor. Once I found that melody to accompany the guitar, I knew the recording was complete. There were moments like that with almost all of the pieces during the process of arranging and recording the album.

mwe3: Did you create Space and Time as a soundtrack to an imaginary movie and how does the music on the CD make the most of your compositional style? Also, what do you think about the soundtrack aspect as your music is so cinemagraphic?

Keith Gehle: I’ve always loved film music and enjoy arranging pieces from my favorite movies for solo guitar. In 2012 I had the privilege of producing the score for a short film by David Field entitled Caterpillar. It’s a beautiful work that won a number of awards at film festivals that year. The music serves a significant role as the film has no dialogue, just scenes with two female actors representing the same woman in youth and old age. It was a lot of fun working with David and composing the music and something I hope to do again someday.

I must add that I really appreciate your description of the album as cinemagraphic as I’m always deliberately attaching images to my music and have a deep appreciation for photography and camera work in film. My late brother Ken was a professional photographer and there are a number of pieces on the CD that were inspired by his beautiful landscape photos. Probably the best example is again, track one “Waiting for the Sun.” Ken took a photo of the sun rising on the side of a mountain in Death Valley, California many years ago and that became the inspiration for the music. As the piece came together I imagined him and his wife Tamara waiting in the cold, dark desert with an abundance of stars in the sky—perhaps sipping coffee and talking about the simple things of life. It was in moments like that that he seemed most at peace and something I tried to convey in sound.

Another example of a song being inspired by a photo, in this case a photo of mine, the album cover, is the title track “Tone Poem No. 6 (Space and Time)”. I took the picture from a mountain top in the brief moments while the sun set over the horizon on Thanksgiving Day in 2013. It was one of the most amazing sunsets I’ve ever seen. The color and contrast were simply breathtaking. I’m certain the high vantage point helped to enhance the experience, but on another level it felt like a gift from my brother. In many ways that was the defining moment for the concept of the recording. The tragedy in January of 2010 and many events before and after have helped me to understand “time” mostly as a series of sequenced moments within “space”. Each moment is unique, but there are some that stand out as sacred and seem to transcend the boundaries of earthly time.

mwe3: Tell us about what guitars you played and recorded on Space and Time and did you use some special microphone techniques to enhance the guitar sound in the recording process? What was your studio setup like for the making of the CD and what are your favorite keyboards and which keyboards did you use on the new CD?

Keith Gehle: The two guitars I used to record the album, one steel string and the other nylon, were both built by Kent Everett. The nylon string/classical guitar is my main instrument, the one I typically play for concerts and events. I don’t usually play steel string live, but I really appreciate the sound of steel and found it to be the right choice for certain pieces on the record. As far as my approach to microphones, I usually fall back to the safe approach for recording guitars, the technique known as XY stereo. I use a matched pair of small diaphragm Schoeps condenser microphones, an Avalon solid state pre-amp, and an RME interface.

My goal is to attempt to capture the pure, uncolored sound of my guitar. On one of the tracks, “Lavender Sky”, I experimented with a miking technique called mid side stereo, but only for that track. My keyboard set up is pretty much a simple Yamaha with built in sounds, functioning in most cases as a controller for the MIDI software I used. For the cello and oboe sounds, I used the Vienna Instruments software which I really love. I must confess to being quite the novice on the keyboard, but by layering the sounds on various tracks, I think I was able to come up with some interesting textures in the end.

mwe3: What did engineer Tom Eaton bring to the sound during the mastering stage? Have you heard Tom’s music and I was thinking how much Windham Hill fans would like your Space and Time album. Were you also influenced by the ‘Windham Hill’ sound and who are some of your other favorite artists, then and now?

Keith Gehle: I’ve been following Tom Eaton’s work since around the middle of 2016 when I reached out to William Ackerman at Imaginary Road Studios about preparing the master for Space and Time. To my ear Tom is an amazing composer/arranger, producer, and recording engineer. And I imagine the only thing better than having Tom master my CD would be to have him engineer and produce it. He’s doing some terrific work with Ackerman at Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont and in his own studio north of Boston. I was very pleased to have one my tracks featured last October on a Journeyscapes Radio playlist entitled “Autumn Musings”. My piece “The Escaping Light” opened the playlist while Tom’s exceptional track “The Raven”, from his latest album closed it. As for what he brought to my recording, he definitely improved it both in overall tone and flow of the tracks. He knew instinctively where to place extra time between tracks and gave me great advice on the mixing and final song selection.

Regarding Windham Hill’s recordings I would have to say that the label’s influence on my musical journey has been substantial. My daughter was born with A Winter’s Solstice II playing in the hospital room. No kidding! My first purchase of a Windham Hill recording (in the mid 80’s) was ironically the first “A Winter’s Solstice” album. With that album I was at first struck by the beautiful image on the front cover and the simple white background and light gray text on the back. I was intrigued by the wintry cover image but moved even more by the incredible music. And it was with that recording that I heard my first William Ackerman composition, a piece entitled “New England Morning”. I was hooked and have been a fan of his ever since.

I appreciate all of the music from the Windham Hill Artists but particularly Ackerman, George Winston, Shadowfax and everyone on the Guitar Sampler CD. That was a big record for me. Danny Heines’ recording of “Sun And Water” from that album is so amazing! In full disclosure I should confess that I have many other influences in various genres of music including the Beatles, REM, Andrew York, Christopher Parkening and John Sutherland, my teacher at The University of Georgia.

mwe3: With Space and Time recently released, what plans do you have for your music this coming year in 2017 and how about other plans that you’re developing as far as music writing, performances, gigs and recording?

Keith Gehle: I’m definitely excited for 2017. With 40 plus original works composed and ready to be recorded, I hope to release at least one new album by the end of the year, maybe two… Another exciting bit of news is that three of my compositions will be published by Mel Bay in March as part of a book entitled Music Of The Americas. Two of the three compositions in the book are from the Space and Time CD (“Cooper’s Creek” and “Waiting For The Sun”) which will be another avenue for people to discover the recording. I’ll stay busy as always playing music for events as well as some teaching and I may dive back into the concert scene in an effort to further promote my recordings. We’ll see how the future unfolds. Above all else, I hope my music gives the world a measure of light and hope.


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