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sporting hill ramblers
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In some book I read once someone described their brain as a sort of cigarette vending machine. (must have been written a long time ago) Anyhoo, the thing of it was that the cigarette vending machine has vertical bins where the product is stacked. The brain, says the writer, can only hold so much information. If you want to put something new into it, ya gotta take something out.

So the insight here is that we have to constantly forget stuff as we go along- unless we never put anything new in. But cigarettes get stale over time, so I'm constantly dumping new information in. Inevitably, old information gets pushed out. But what about when we need that old information?

Turns out it's still in there, but you gotta wait for it. When I was experimenting with the singer/songwriter "bib" to keep the vocal mic separated from the guitar mics (see previous post), I totally forgot about the two boundry effect microphones I have in my collection. I knew that reflected sound was making my ordinary mics sound bad when placed next to a baffle (the bib). It took a full day to recall that there is a microphone that love love loves to be placed next to a baffle!

bib top

The orange star is a Crown PZM-6LPB boundry-layer type microphone. Tiny!

bib bottom

The purple star is a Crown PZM-30FS boundry-layer type microphone, taped to the bottom of the bib. A little bigger.

The results of using these mics? Pretty spectacular! I learned that the smaller one has a much brighter sound, and prefered the larger one for both guitar and vocal, so there will be a third pzm in the studio soon. But here's a sample of recording using The Bib...

The Great Ticking Heart

How good is the separation now? Well, on the raw recording I flubbed a chord on the guitar at 1:43. In my recordin' machine I copied the right chord from the guitar track at 1:52 and pasted it over the flubbed one. The vocal leaking into the guitar mic would ordinarily rule out this sort of fix- because I'm singing different words over that chord, the leaked vocal would clash with the main vocal. Normally it would be obvious, but now, unless you know what to listen for and where, you'll never notice it. It's not as good as completely separate guitar and vocal takes, but it's good enough for rock&roll (and for most singer/songwriters). Sigh... I wish I'd had this setup for Mr. Bobby...

I've also dumped a ton of effects on the guitar, and normally that would make the main vocal sound pretty weird as the "effected" leaked vocal munged around with the clean one, but with the bib it's unnoticable. Next? I need to make a stand that can hold a see-through acrylic bib that will be adjustable in height, allow for fine control of mic placement, fold up for storage or double as a table. (hmmm- first I'll need a compact, heavy base...)



Yesterday was a huge news day. One found guilty, one pleads guilty, one investigation launched, one murderer nabbed, one book released, prison strike begins, statue honoring racism pulled down... there's a song in there somewhere!

8 counts times 2

Or at least a T-shirt.

Turns out I wasn't the only one who thought 8/21/18 was a busy news day. YouGov actually ran a poll, with a thousand online respondants, asking what, if anything, they knew about what happened on that day. Turns out we live in a country that deserves whatever it gets...

Today I ran an experiment. I've been considering making a singer/songwriter "bib" for all these guitar wielding singer/songwriters who can't play without singing (and/or sing without playing). It's almost impossible to get a good vocal sound or guitar sound when there's all kinds of leakage between the guitar mics and the vocal mic. It can be done, of course- I believe Gillian and David recorded this way sometimes- but they are exceptional people. They positioned themselves in precisely the spots where everything sounded great, and they could stay there through the song.

Pity the merely human! We twist, we turn, we can't even hold the guitar the same way twice, and we haven't the patience to repeat a song more than a couple of times. As a result, guitars sound muddy, or vocals get thin, there are un-natural vocal phasing noises when we turn our heads to look at our hands... you get the picture. So I thought about building a wall between the vocal mic and the guitar mics. Here's how I tested this idea.


The red star is an Audio-Technica 4041 small body condensor pointed at the 12th fret of the guitar. The green star is an Audio-Technica 4033a large capsule condensor aimed at the guitar body, and the blue star is a cardioid vocal mic that works well for my voice. As you can see, there's a piece of finn ply forming a divider between the guitar mics and the vocal mic. When I recorded, I had my chin over the top of that divider, and there was no direct sound path between it and the guitar mics.

I recorded the same song both with and without the divider in place. The results? There was a significant drop in vocals leaking into the guitar mics, and a somewhat less pronounced drop in guitar leaking into the vocal mic, but when I soloed up the mics to compare the sounds, eeew! With the baffle, the 4033a on the guitar body got particularly dark, losing most of the sparkle and definition of the instrument. The vocal was also made muddier by the divider. This is probably caused by short sound reflections off the board cancelling out high frequencies.

So why not try putting some sound-absorbing material on it? Ultimately this thing has to be transparent. Sound-absorbing material tends not to be, so... back to the drawing board!

Here's a book destined for the compost pit of history...

Chapo Guide

So happy that Barnes and Noble had a copy, today, the day of its release. It's a book store that can't afford to stock books I would buy there, if I were shopping on the spur of the moment, like for the beach or something. You know, books by unknowns like Don DiLillo.

There were two copies of this book there at 4:00 PM. I wonder if I bought the first one today or the second to last.

Looking through old photos, scanning them...


Me and my high school crush. As you can see, she was a beauty!

I had this Polaroid Swinger camera, and I guess I had it for years. It made "instant" photos. In 30 seconds (in warm weather).

Meet the Swinger, Polaroid Swinger... I had won this thing via some contest at Burger King, or somebody in my family won it, anyway, and I latched on to it. Film was very expensive, but just being able to see what you had taken a picture of in less than a week was what hooked me. Of course, then came digital... but not for many years.


My best friend- coolest/funniest person in the world. Worked at the mall.

multi exposure

A while later, and I had my own place, and my own band. You could easily do multiple exposures with the Swinger.

But of all the pictures I'd taken with it, this one was/is the one.

betty lou


Re-wrote the last verse of Town Full of Sand while cleaning out gutters yesterday. Talk about life imitating art!

Town Full of Sand v.3

I've got some place-holder electric guitar parts in there for now, but that isn't exactly the sound I'm going for. Still, hard to beat a Casino through a Champ turned up to 10. Thanks, Bruce!

cooking 2

This one is still simmering in the daubière. I just have to remember to check back in on it every so often.