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Jordan Rudess (born Jordan Charles Rudes on November 4, 1956) is a progressive rock keyboardist best known as a member of the progressive metal band Dream Theater.


Rudess was born in 1956 into a Jewish family. He was recognized by his 2nd grade teacher for his piano playing and was immediately given professional tuition. At nine, he entered the Juilliard School of Musicmarker Pre-College Division for classical piano training, but by his late teens he had grown increasingly interested in synthesizers and progressive rock music. Against the counsel of his parents and tutors, he turned away from classical piano and tried his hand as a solo prog rock keyboardist.

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 five 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, and 2009's Black Clouds & Silver Linings. In addition, he has appeared on the live albums Live Scenes From New York, Live at Budokan, Score and Chaos in Motion.

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.

Rudess says his influences as a keyboardist are Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman and Patrick Moraz.. His favorite bands include Gentle Giant, Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, King Crimson, Jimi Hendrix, Autechre, and Aphex Twin..

Use of technology

While many keyboard players in progressive rock tend towards bringing numerous keyboards on stage, Rudess took full advantage of the possibilities offered by the Kurzweil K2600xs during his usage from the 1990s to 2004. Often sampling sounds from other keyboards, Rudess creates a series of setups, each of which maps 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 one at a time with a control pedal.

While Rudess' physical method of changing live setups will more than likely remain the same, his choice of hardware to implement this changed as of 2005. Citing a need for better tour support and more current technologies (his Kurzweil 2600's maximum sample memory of 128 MB had become insufficient for his touring needs), Rudess switched keyboard endorsements from Kurzweil to Korg's new flagship Korg Oasys workstation (which supports up to 2 GB of sample memory ), 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 Modular. Rudess is the first well known keyboardist to bring a Haken Continuum on to a live stage.

On Dream Theater's 2007-2008 "Chaos in Motion" world tour, Rudess expanded his live setup with the addition of a Korg Radias, a Manikin Memotron , and a Zen Riffer keytar. Rudess stopped using his modular after the European leg of the tour due to its size and weight. 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, Jordan introduced the Applemarker iPod Touch on stage, running an application called Bebot Robot Synth. He plays it during A Rite of Passage - both studio album and live versions of the song - and frequently uses it for improvised solos, like in Hollow Years' intro and during a new instrumental section on Solitary Shell.


Studio Equipment

Virtual Instruments
  • MOTU MachFive
  • MOTU MX4 Soft Synth
  • Korg Legacy Collection
  • Spectrasonics Omnisphere
  • Spectrasonics Atmosphere
  • Spectrasonics Trilogy
  • Spectrasonics Stylus
  • Native Instruments Komplete 2
  • Native Instruments Absynth
  • Native Instruments B4 Organ
  • Native Instruments Guitar Rig
  • Native Instruments FM7
  • Native Instruments Pro 53
  • Synthogy Ivory
  • Bebot Robot Synth for iPhone

Live Rig
  • Korg OASYS (88 keys) Dream Theater
  • Korg Triton Extreme (88 keys) solo project
  • Roland Fantom-G8 Liquid Tension Experiment
  • Freehand Systems Music Pad Pro
  • Muse Receptor
  • 2x Roland V-Synth XT
  • Lap steel guitar
  • Haken Continuum Fingerboard
  • Zen Riffer ZR2
  • Apple Inc.marker iPod Touch
  • Mackie 1604VLZ Pro Mixer
  • APS Power backup
  • Glyph and Iomega Hard drives
  • Korg Kaoss Pad 3
  • Manikin Memotron
  • Korg Radias
  • Custom Modular Synth currently retired


Solo albums

Dream Theater

Project albums

Liquid Tension Experiment

Guest appearances



  3. Stefanis, J. "Interview with Jordan Rudess", Get Ready to ROCK!, 2004
  4. "Dream Theater FAQ"
  5. | Who are Jordan's influences?
  6. Jordan
  7. Sonic State - News (Video Item) Korg Expand and Update OASYS for Free, New STR-1 EXi instrument and OS 1.10
  8. manikin electronic - elektronische Musikmaschinen aus Berlin
  9. Rudess Meets Bebot

External links

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