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Jordan Rudess

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Jordan Rudess
Rudess in 2007
Rudess in 2007
Background information
Birth nameJordan Charles Rudess
Born (1956-11-04) November 4, 1956 (age 67)
New York, U.S.
  • Musician
  • composer
  • software developer
  • Keyboards
  • guitar
Years active1981–present
Member of
Formerly of

Jordan Rudess (born Jordan Charles Rudes;[1][2] November 4, 1956) is an American keyboardist, composer, and software developer best known as a member of the progressive metal band Dream Theater and the supergroup Liquid Tension Experiment.


Rudess was born in 1956 in New York. He was recognized by his 2nd grade teacher for his piano playing and was immediately given professional instruction. At nine, he entered the Juilliard School of Music Pre-College Division for classical piano training, where his first theory instructor was future collaborator Joseph Lyons.[3] He studied at Juilliard for seven years as a student of Katherine Parker and Adele Marcus.[4] By his late teens, he had grown increasingly interested in synthesizers and progressive rock music, citing his very first experience in the genre as the Hammond playing and distorted stylistic expression of Jon Lord. Against the counsel of his parents and tutors, he turned away from classical piano and tried his hand as a solo progressive rock keyboardist.[5]

After Juilliard, one of his first bands was an "electronic space music band" called Complex. Formed by Rudess and former Juilliard instructor Joseph Lyons, along with Sal Gallina, they began playing college radio and house concerts. In January 1977, the band played at Hansen Galleries in New York City. "This is music of real interest and vitality more rhythmic and popularly appealing than most so‐called “serious” music," said the New York Times of the performance, "yet never so blatantly exploitive as to arouse real cynicism."[6] That spring, the band Ocean Star released an album featuring music by Complex. That summer, Rudess accompanied Lyons for a residency at Lexington Conservatory Theatre in Lexington, NY. Rudess served as assistant musical director, and co-composed scores for the theatre productions with Lyons, including the world premiere of The Prevalance of Mrs. Seale by Otis Bigelow. The duo also performed a series of concerts for the Earful concert series throughout the summer.[7][8][9][10]

When Bleu Ocean was assembling a team of fellow drummers to perform on the song "Bring the Boys Back Home", featured on Pink Floyd's The Wall, he invited Rudess for the sessions, since Rudess had played drums as a child. However, Rudess's performance was rejected by producer Bob Ezrin. At that time, Rudess had already chosen keyboards as his main instrument.[11]

Rudess was part of a studio project assembled by bubblegum pop impresarios Jerry Kasenetz and Jeffry Katz, who were also behind The Ohio Express and The 1910 Fruitgum Company. In 1980, they tried their hand at album-oriented rock with Speedway Boulevard, which also featured touring members of Ram Jam. The group never performed live, and disbanded shortly after the release of the album.

After performing in various projects during the 1980s, he gained international attention in 1994 when he was voted "Best New Talent" in the Keyboard Magazine readers' poll after the release of his Listen solo album. Two of the bands who took notice of Rudess were The Dixie Dregs and Dream Theater, both of whom invited him to join. Rudess chose the Dregs, primarily as being a part-time member of the band would have less of an impact on his young family, a choice he was not given with Dream Theater.

During his time with the Dregs, Rudess formed a "power duo" with drummer Rod Morgenstein. The genesis of this pairing occurred when a power outage caused all of the Dregs' instruments to fail except Rudess', so he and Morgenstein improvised with each other until power was restored and the concert could continue. The chemistry between the two was so strong during this jam that they decided to perform together on a regular basis (under the name Rudess/Morgenstein Project or later RMP) and have since released a studio and a live record.

Rudess encountered Dream Theater once again when he and Morgenstein secured the support slot on one of Dream Theater's North American tours.

In 1997, when Mike Portnoy was asked to form a supergroup by Magna Carta Records, Rudess was chosen to fill the keyboardist spot in the band, which also consisted of Tony Levin and Portnoy's Dream Theater colleague John Petrucci. During the recording of Liquid Tension Experiment's two albums it became evident to Portnoy and Petrucci that Rudess was what Dream Theater needed. They asked Rudess to join the band, and when he accepted they released their then-keyboardist Derek Sherinian to make way for him.

Rudess has been the full-time keyboardist in Dream Theater since the recording of 1999's Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory. He has recorded ten other studio albums with the group: 2002's Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, 2003's Train of Thought, 2005's Octavarium, 2007's Systematic Chaos, 2009's Black Clouds & Silver Linings, 2011's A Dramatic Turn of Events, 2013's Dream Theater, 2016's The Astonishing, 2019's Distance over Time, and 2021's A View from the Top of the World. In addition, he has appeared on the live albums Live Scenes From New York, Live at Budokan, Score, Chaos in Motion, Live at Luna Park, Breaking the Fourth Wall and Distant Memories – Live in London.

Rudess (left) with Dream Theater in 2008

In addition to working with Dream Theater he occasionally records and performs in other contexts, such as a 2001 one-off duo performance with Petrucci (released as the CD An Evening With John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess), as well as backing up Blackfield on their first short US tour in 2005 and playing a solo opening slot for them on their second in 2007. He also contributed to Steven Wilson's albums Grace for Drowning[12] and Insurgentes.

In 2010, Rudess composed "Explorations for Keyboard and Orchestra," his first classical composition. It was premiered in Caracas, Venezuela, on November 19, 2010, by the Chacao Youth Symphony Orchestra and guest conductor Eren Başbuğ. Rudess played all of the keyboard and synthesizer parts.

On July 28, 2011, in a poll conducted by MusicRadar, Rudess was voted the best keyboardist of all time.[13]

Rudess says his influences as a keyboardist are Keith Emerson, Tony Banks, Rick Wakeman and Patrick Moraz.[14] His favorite musical artists and groups include Gentle Giant, Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, King Crimson, Jimi Hendrix, Autechre, and Aphex Twin.[15]

Rudess claims he has perfect pitch.[16][17]

Rudess appeared on the Ayreon album, The Theory of Everything released on October 28, 2013.

Use of technology[edit]

An automated virtual version of Jordan Rudess on a screen during a live performance in Porto Alegre, 2010

While many keyboard players in progressive rock tend towards bringing numerous keyboards on stage, creating large racks of keyboards, Rudess would sample sounds from other keyboards he owned and map them to a single keyboard. Each "setup" assigns different sounds to different layers and key ranges of the keyboard controller; these setups are then arranged in the order they will be required for a gig, and cycled through with a foot switch.

From the 1990s onward, he used a Kurzweil K2600XS during live sets, until switching in 2005 to Korg's Oasys workstation, which he first used on Dream Theater's 2005–2006 20th Anniversary tour, along with a Muse Receptor hardware VST and a Haken Continuum X/Y/Z-plane MIDI instrument triggering a Roland V-Synth XT and a synthesizers.com modular unit designed by Richard Lainhart and Roger Arrick. Influenced by Lainhart, Rudess was the first well known keyboardist to bring a Haken Continuum on to a live stage.[18] Rudess kept the Kurzweil for studio recordings and some of his signature sounds, such as "the pig", which is often played in unison with the guitar or bass guitar.

In 2011 Rudess switched from the Oasys to the new flagship Korg Kronos. He added a Roland Ax-Edge keytar and a Hammond XK-5 to his live setup in 2019 and were used on Dream Theater's 2019 record Distance over Time. His current live rig consists of the Kronos together with a Continuum, a Hammond XK-5, a Roland AX-Edge, a lap steel guitar, a Harpejji, and an iPad.

Since 2001, Rudess has used custom-made swiveling keyboard stands on stage for both Dream Theater and his solo career, which are built by Patrick Slaats from the Netherlands.[2] On Dream Theater's 2007–2008 "Chaos in Motion Tour", Rudess expanded his live setup with the addition of a Korg RADIAS, a Manikin Memotron,[19] and a Zen Riffer keytar. Rudess stopped using his Synthesizers.com modular after the European leg of the tour due to its size and weight. Rudess still owns the synthesizer and keeps it in his home studio.[citation needed] During the Progressive Nation 2008 tour, he introduced on the stage a Kaoss Pad 3 for the closing medley.

For the 2009–2010 tour, in support of Black Clouds & Silver Linings, Rudess introduced the Apple iPhone on stage, running an application called Bebot Robot Synth.[20] Rudess originally used Bebot on the studio recording of "A Rite of Passage". In live performances, he used it on the same song, as well as improvised solos featured in the songs "Hollow Years" and "Solitary Shell".

On September 24, 2010, Rudess released the song "Krump", which was an electronica single, on iTunes. It featured the use of the new Roland Gaia, Roland's more recent keyboard.

Music Educator[edit]

Rudess was constantly asked about private music lessons, but his touring used to keep him busy. He finally wrote a course available with a book and video as 'Keyboard Wizardry' & 'Total Keyboard Wizardry'. He went on to create more series on 'Keyboard Wisdom' and 'Keyboard Madness'. These included lessons on compositional, improvisational, keyboard playing techniques, rhythm and pitch playing, and aural exercises. Some of the courses even dealt with sound designing and the approach to arrangement, style, compose, and record. These courses are available in music stores and some on specific websites./EduSites like YousicPlay,[21] MacProVideo,[22] Part of other benefits at Patreon,[23] Pianote,[24] AskVideo, and many many more along with his very own Online Conservatory.

Apart from having recorded videos, ebooks, hardcopy books, and support materials, Rudess has also been a guest lecturer live on campus and online during the lockdown (or, as he said, when the world stopped... for a while). Though this has been an ongoing process for a long time. He has been a lecturer for the season at many different institutes, music schools, and music colleges. Jordan Rudess taught music, with a particular focus on keyboard techniques, at Berklee Music in the United States and Swarnabhoomi (SAM) in India,[25] Guest Lectures at Stanford.

Software development[edit]

In 2010, Rudess started a software company called Wizdom Music. He paired with artists such as Kevin Chartier, Felipe Peña and Eyal Amir (from Project RnL), creating new types of musical instrumental user interfaces and experiences, sound synthesis, and new ways of recording and performing music, with tablet computers.[26]

Wizdom Music created the following software:

  • SampleWiz – a touch screen enabled sampler and self sampler for the iPhone and iPad[27]
  • MorphWiz – a dynamic touch screen music creation controller for iOS, Android, and Windows 8 enabled touch pads and laptops[28]
  • Geo Synthesizer – a new digital music controller interface, for the iPhone and iPad.[29]
  • HarmonyWiz – a harmonic analysis and generator tool that can create multi-part harmonies, from tracks either played or manually entered in-app.[30]
  • EarWizard – tool to help users recognize the pitch of notes and chords by ear, with progressive difficulty levels.[31]
  • GeoShred – guitar simulator app that can be played on a touch screen and allows various parameters of the instrument (e.g., string type, pick position, body type ) to be varied.[32]


Solo albums[edit]

Dream Theater[edit]

Project albums[edit]

Liquid Tension Experiment[edit]

Guest appearances[edit]


  1. ^ "Nancy Kornfeld Becomes a Bride – New York Times". The New York Times. June 26, 1989. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
  2. ^ "ASCAP ACE – Search". Archived from the original on April 28, 2009. Retrieved May 1, 2009.
  3. ^ "Dream Theater Biographies". Dream Theater Biographies. Retrieved November 23, 2023.
  4. ^ "Playbill: Lexington Conservatory Theatre 1977". archive.org. Retrieved November 22, 2023.
  5. ^ "Get Ready to ROCK! Interview with Jordan Rudess, keyboard player with progressive rock band Dream Theater". Getreadytorock.com. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
  6. ^ Rockwell, John (January 23, 1977). "Pop: Complex Expresses Vitality". New York Times. Retrieved November 23, 2023.
  7. ^ "Playbill: Lexington Conservatory Theatre 1977". archive.org. Retrieved November 22, 2023.
  8. ^ Nova, Mike. "How To Become a Music Artist That is Successful in More Ways Than One". riseupeight.org. Retrieved November 23, 2023.
  9. ^ "Concert Tonight". Kingston Sunday Freeman. June 26, 1977.
  10. ^ "Complex to play at Lexington". Old Dutch Post Star. July 7, 1977.
  11. ^ Ling, Dave (January 4, 2016). "How Jordan Rudess Almost Played On The Wall". Prog. Team Rock. Retrieved January 28, 2016.
  12. ^ "Jordan Rudess' contribution to Grace for Drowning – Jordan Rudess' Community Forums". Jordanrudess.com. Archived from the original on April 15, 2012. Retrieved August 4, 2012.
  13. ^ Scot Solida (July 27, 2011). "The 27 greatest keyboard players of all time | Jordan Rudess | Tech News". MusicRadar. Archived from the original on April 27, 2015. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
  14. ^ [1] Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved June 29, 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "Jordan Rudess Hears ANIMALS AS LEADERS For The First Time🔥". YouTube. Pianote. January 19, 2024. 3:05. Retrieved February 18, 2024.
  17. ^ Ben Rogerson (October 17, 2023). ""Not what I expected at all": here's what happened when Dream Theater's Jordan Rudess was asked to play along to Jay-Z and Alicia Keys' Empire State of Mind, a song he'd never heard before". yahoo!news. Retrieved February 22, 2024.
  18. ^ "Departures: Richard Lainhart". KeyboardMag. February 7, 2012. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
  19. ^ "elektronische Musikmaschinen aus Berlin". manikin electronic. Archived from the original on July 15, 2014. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
  20. ^ "Rudess Meets Bebot". YouTube. February 15, 2009. Archived from the original on December 12, 2021. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
  21. ^ "Jordan Rudess - Course Page - YousicPlay". November 23, 2021. Retrieved January 5, 2024.
  22. ^ "Keyboard Wizdom Tutorial & Online Course - Jordan Rudess Training Video By macProVideo.com". www.macprovideo.com. Retrieved January 5, 2024.
  23. ^ "Jordan Rudess". Patreon. Retrieved January 5, 2024.
  24. ^ "How to Play Scales Fast: The Jordan Rudess Juilliard Method". The Note. December 8, 2023. Retrieved January 5, 2024.
  25. ^ "Jordan Rudess teaching residency at Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music (SAM), Marg Swarnabhoomi,India Oct 15-19, 2012". Jordan Rudess. September 7, 2012. Retrieved January 5, 2024.
  26. ^ "About Us". Wizdom Music. Archived from the original on August 5, 2014. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
  27. ^ "SampleWiz". Wizdom Music. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
  28. ^ "MorphWiz". Wizdom Music. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
  29. ^ "Geo Synthesizer". Wizdom Music. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
  30. ^ "HarmonyWiz – Wizdom Music". Wizdom Music. Retrieved May 9, 2015.
  31. ^ "EarWizard – Wizdom Music". Wizdom Music. Retrieved May 9, 2015.
  32. ^ "Introducing GeoShred!". Wizdom Music.
  33. ^ "Virtual Symmetry – PROGRAM ERROR (we are the virus) Feat Jordan Rudess – lyrics video (Prog Metal)". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 12, 2021.
  34. ^ "Gleb Kolyadin, by Gleb Kolyadin". Glebkolyadin.bandcamp.com.
  35. ^ "The Sea Within". Facebook.com. Archived from the original on February 26, 2022.
  36. ^ "Leonardo MoonJune Pavkovic". Facebook.com. Archived from the original on February 26, 2022.

External links[edit]