April 30, 2008
I'm going to sneak in just one more entry here at the end of the month. I was
listening back to one of my older CDs the other night and was blown away by
the harmony part a woman was singing on a track called
Under African Skies.
It surprised me to learn (but then again, it wasn't really surprising) that that
woman was Linda Ronstadt.
The album Graceland was released in 1986. To put it into perspective, that's
20 years after Revolver, so
at the time it seemed as if the art of recording had reached an ultimate peak.
Maybe it had. There's a sense of things ending with this record, and of things turning. Los
Lobos provides the last song on the record, which in a way presages their subsequent rise.
Yet there's the lovely vocal of Ms. Ronstadt to connect it with the
past ten years. An amazing record- a controversial record- from a long time ago. And
it still sounds great.
April 27, 2008
Anyone know this one? Kidz, this is something we called a cassette tape, it's like
a CD only cooler. I
found this one in a cut-out bin years ago. It's a sequence of live recordings from
a famous brit blues band, the John Mayall Band. It was something I had pretty much
forgotten about, but have a look at it- I must have played the shit out of it.
I dint remember side 01 so well (cassettes are like CD's, only cooler, and you have to
flip them by hand to hear the other "side") but side 02 is amazing. Everything I think
I know about playing lead guitar may be found in Mick Taylor's lead on I Can't Quit You Babe.
This guy has
noticed something interesting. Watching less tv gives people more time to do other things.
More than that, he runs the numbers and figures out how much less tv in society as a whole equals how much more
other things, and when you think of it like that it can be significant.
Yesterday I heard the distant sound of a
somewhere in the neighborhood, so I grabbed the
portable digital recorder and went off to find it. An hour later I had some nice ambience
material, mostly traffic noise with steam calliope fading in and out. My favorite part was
about 8 blocks away from it, where I overheard a young kid say to his dad "It was a big truck with whistles. Yellow.
And that's where that sound was coming from". He's got a future as a recording engineer, I think.
April 25, 2008
There are new "deviations" up on the Pooleside gallery.
Mostly not cute lil' bunnies.
I recorded some egg-shake on Come What May last night. I couldn't play the
part I wanted on real egg-shakers because the shakes always come in pairs with 'em and
I needed a triplet. I'm sure someone can play these things that way, but for now
it's much quicker if I use the computer. I did play the part live, only not on shakers-
I played it on a film can (if anyone knows what those are!) that I have rigged up
to trigger my drum machine, which has a nice egg-shake sample.
And that's how it goes here. I made the trigger for the drum machine about three years ago,
and never actually used it until now. I've had the drum machine since the early part of
the century- it's high resolution, with expandable sound banks, and it's no longer made or
factory serviced. But that's typical, because the
computer I used to record and edit the drum pattern is a Mac Plus from sometime back
in the mid 1980's. It's got a whopping 20M external hard drive that screams like
an F-15 on takeoff.
April 24, 2008
Yeah, I'm happy with the mix for Monkey Tree now. There are not many songs that
I will listen to repeatedly, but this has been one of them.
I really like the one section- it reminds me of part of Sea of Joy by Blind Faith.
Sponsors, you know where to find it.
April 21, 2008
Back to the Old Time Liberation Front. I started a mix of one
called Monkey Tree which might actually be the title track for the
CD project. Jordy sings this one and it's angry, but then it turns around 180 degrees.
It goes back and forth. I think it's a battle here.
I may have a decent mix tonight.
Here's a blast from the past. Big Red doing Hokey Spoons is the featured song.
April 18, 2008
There's a song that starts like this: "Round". After that it talks about a lot of
round things, and of things that go around. No, it isn't On a Carousel by The Hollies.
Dusty Springfield sang a version of it a long time ago. Dusty did some
really great songs in her time- I think Son of a Preacherman is my favorite,
because it was from her Dusty in Memphis album, and I love the playing and
the production on that one.
So I picked up my ears when I heard that someone named Shelby Lynne had a
record out that was inspired by Dusty Springfield. I figure, what the heck, and I
found her website. It's a good website-
there's a song player that comes on when you go there, but otherwise it's not too
flashed-up. Shelby has a definite Dusty look going on at the moment.
She's also nailed a couple of songs- we'd call them standards now, I guess. Melody
has a way of coming back around every so often, maybe this is a good time for it again.
There are several entries in a "blog" there that it looks like she got tired of
dealing with, but still interesting- about how she prefers to record to tape and
about how the album, Just a Little Lovin' came about.
So, apart from that, I've started thinking about how to arrange and record a
Steam Powered version of that song that starts Round...
April 13, 2008
Interesting. Last month
I ran a collage of photos of an unusual type of attic window
that I see on my daily commute. Most of those 20 photos were taken on one
street within a couple of blocks of each other. Somehow I missed this one in the same area.
Somebody had a sense of humor.
As you can see, it will soon be too leafy out to get a good look at these
windows. I've already begun my yearly battle with the carpenter bees living in my carport.
This year I'm sealing their bore holes with construction adhesive. Take that, bore bees!
Musically, I've done a fairly nice mix of Empty Prayer. It gets a thumbs up
from the resident music critic, whose opinion I greatly respect. The local cat just
wants to sing along.
Here, we'll rotate the featured song today. It's Dr. Mo.
Now, it's about time somebody gave that Spons-O-Meter a bump. I haven't had
a nibble since I installed the new, high-reading unit. What with the interesting
discussion I'm having over at Just Plain Folks
about sponsorship, I could use a little help making my point!
April 12, 2008
I spent some time last night working on a mix for Empty Prayer, another
song with vocals from the Old Time Liberation Front. I'm using the same technique
as before to separate the various instruments, which were all recorded playing
live in the same room. It went well last night, I can see the clearing ahead.
One nice thing about this piece is the way singer Jordan Rast's voice
blends with the string instruments. The song is over six minutes long, however, so
it's taking a while for me to learn it well enough to know how to mix it.
April 10, 2008
I worked on Come What May again tonight. I like last night's mix- the bass
is solid and punchy, the vocal comes through clearly... then I thought of another
part to add. In the bridge to the chorus I imagined a big fat harmonic patch.
Something to set that section apart.
Tonight I remembered that I had a software synthesizer available on my computer, if I could
make it go. It took a while to figure out, and at one point I wanted to put a fist through the
computer screen, but eventually I made it go. Then it was fun to play with.
The part I ended up with wasn't anything like what I had imagined it was going to be.
It might be better, in the sense of more interesting. I have been listening to a
lot of Radiohead lately...
April 06, 2008
Sometimes they let me out.
Last month I made a reference to a longish newsgroup post by David Barrett about
his ideas for a voluntary music payment system. It's really too long to post on this page, but it's so very well
written and thought-out that I took the liberty of creating a web page for it
a look, leave a comment. In my opinion it's the best plan yet for the future of
online music. Here's one highlight:
This plan recognizes that every fan has a different idea of what is or is not fair, and fully empowers him to act upon that notion. Even the old system that is rapidly dying wasn't "fair", it's merely "what was". This plan does not attempt to blindly copy what was, nor invent some new notion of "fair" and mandate that all fans obey it under threat of force. So in this sense, it is arguably the most fair of all.
April 04, 2008
Here's that O.T.L.F. tune, Untitled, as the featured song. The instrumentation is
violin, violin, viola, cello, guitar and guitar. I think I've got the strings coming
through clearly as individual instruments now.
The Old Timers have also got a page on
Myspace with a couple of
their other songs. Go wish them good luck- they're looking for a return engagement
at the Appalachian String Band Music Festival.
April 03, 2008
(warning- geek stuff follows)
I've been working on getting a "sound" for the Old Time Liberation Front
recordings. There are several levels to this.
Right off the bat is the level where you just push all the faders even- you just
make all the tracks play back at about the same level that they were recorded at.
It might seem like the best way to get a natural sound but in reality it makes
everything sound like mush. Oh, so you can use panning to separate the instruments
in a stereo field, right? This helps a little, but in the real world sound sources
are not only separated by space, they are separated by time. Any recording that uses more
than one microphone (or a stereo pair) destroys the original time differences, because
the mics are filtering out the delay.
Modern multitrack recordings typically don't care- all the different instruments have
been recorded at different times, so the time relationships between them are purely
arbitrary. But that isn't true for this recording- everyone was playing at once
and sounds were being picked up by all the mics (although at reduced levels) all the time.
It is possible to untangle this knotted ball of sound. I used a technique I had learned
from the Blind Joe Death at the Roundhouse recordings (but didn't use at that
time). So far I've got one song about 90% straightened out- it was like breaking through
into a jungle clearing last night!
April 01, 2008
This is possibly the least hip mp3 player I've ever seen.
But I broke my nearly-hip Mu-Vo and I needed a replacement. It has to be
a "thumb drive" for me. The convenience of having a way to carry digital words and pictures
around, and plug into a usb port, is as important to me as playing music.
This thing almost looks Japanesy enough to be cool, but it just misses.
Maybe it's the way the lanyard attaches, or maybe it's the grey plug on the earbuds.
I got it because it was cheap. 2 gig for around $15, $5 shipping, from New Egg
Tell 'em Pooleside sent ya.