Tag Archives: new music

The Long Trip Home

The Long Trip Home   You know the old line:

Talking about music is like dancing about architecture.

Well, I’m gonna try anyhow.
 
I am supper happy to announce that my buddy Josh Dukes just released his first album. No, I’m not going to do a track by track album review, I think you should listen for yourself. But I will tell you this, the first time I listened I thought, ‘hmmm, this makes me want to get better at playing the flute…damn him.’ The second time I listened I thought, ‘well now, listen to that sweet guitar playing, why didn’t I think of that slick chord progression…ggrrrrr’. Needless to say, I was afraid to listen to it a third time…but I couldn’t resist. And I’m happy to say that Josh is the man. He, along with a host of other very talented musicians have put together an album of really tasty traditional tunes. Plus he’s got all the instruments I like on this album; his Olwell, guitar, the bunka-bunka (that’s the tenor banjo for those not in-the-know), ye ole goat skins and a variety of other cool instruments.
 
But, I’m sure that you don’t need to hear me ramble on about what a great recording this is and why you should get your own copy. So, instead, take a listen for yourself. Josh was kind enough to let me post one of his tracks here. Then, immediately following, I want you to head over to CD Baby and make one yours so that you can hear the remaining fourteen tracks. Also, if you are local or plan to be mustering in the rain at Sudbury this weekend, I have a dozen or so copies on hand for the reasonable price of $15.

I am certain you will enjoy it.

 

Growing a Tune: Josh Jazz

Guitar
 
Now things are getting interesting. First Unstachio sent along his idea for backing. Then, with Luke’s help, I recorded a completely different track. Now Josh has sent me a rough mix that is much more jazzy than the first two. All of them are great and it is really fun to see how the same melody can be interpreted in a variety of styles. The best part is that I don’t think we are done yet!

Growing a Tune: The Marlin Spike

The Marlin Spike

O.k. It has a name now.

Also, here is a rough mix of a new set of tracks. They are a bit faster, include the flute and guitar and are repeated an extra time. The whistle track is a guide track and may eventually be thrown out. I would like to replace it with a fiddle track. If Josh sends me a guitar track, this guitar track will be thrown out. And, Unstachio will use these tracks to prepare a final bouzouki track.

Growing a Tune: Inch by Inch

inchworm
 
We are making some progress on our tune. I’m working on a final flute track. Josh Dukes tells me he wants to add some guitar backing. Luke is planning on taking my wav files and doing what Luke does. And Unstachio has already put down a bouzouki track on my mp3 whistle track. The sound quality is a bit degraded because he was unable to use the original wav files…but this is just for practice anyhow. It should give you an idea where things are headed.

I hope to have the flute wav files done sometime this week. If anyone is interested in using them for their own experiment please contact me and I will get them to you.

Growing a Tune: Power!

I got power!!!
 
I got power
 
Not the superhuman kind, nor the political kind. Just the kind that makes my mics work again.

Now that I’m back in business, I took a few minutes to record a practice track of my new and still unnamed tune. From here I will start testing it out with other instruments, name it and maybe even write it down so that it is legible. Also, I’m hoping Unstachio comes up with a brilliant accompanying bouzouki part.

In the next few days I will attempt lay down a flute track I like and send him the wav files. He will then overdub his mighty bouzouki part. It is good to have a plan.

Growing a Tune: The Seed

Here is my latest tune.
 
latest tune
 
I know it doesn’t look like much, but it is how most of my tunes start out. A fleeting idea enters my head as I’m driving to work. I reach into the console to find something, anything, to write on. I fervidly scratch the lines of the staff onto paper as I’m taking a corner (hey, at least I’m not on my cell phone). I pencil in a few dots to make up the first couple measures. Those first few dots are seeds. Sometimes nothing happens with them and they don’t grow. I have hundreds of scraps of paper lying around with seeds that never bloom into anything. My wife loves the mess. Other times the idea does grow. Sometimes into a weed and other times into something a little more enjoyable. I add more dots. Maybe even enough dots to make a tune.

At this point, I generally let that tune sit for a few days. This is part of my vetting process. If I can remember that tune a few days later without looking at the music, it might be worth playing for someone else.

Yesterday I played this tune for Unstachio, what I could remember of it anyhow. I haven’t wasted time trying to figure out a name quite yet. No sense in finding a perfectly good name for a perfectly crappy tune. Gotta save names for the good tunes. This might be one. Seems better than a weed.

So, here is the plan. Unstachio and I are going to continue watering this one and see how it grows. First I need to really learn it. Then I am going to do a rough recording of it send it to him so he can learn it. If we think it has merit, we’ll spend some more time caring for it…and we will see what grows.

I’ll post about the progress as we go.

Follow Me Up to Carlow / Kid on the Mountain

Here is another track from the Amadán CD that we recorded back in 1999.
 
amadan large
 
The track is made up of two parts. The first is a song that our guitar player, Kevin, sang. I did not really have much to do with this song and, in fact, was not really that familiar with the melody. Kevin, however, wanted me to lay down a penny whistle track for the instrumental break. I put the phones on, asked the engineer to playback Kevin’s track so that I could give it a practice run. As soon as I was done with my practice run the engineer informed me he had recorded it without me knowing. That was the first and only time I ever played Follow Me Up to Carlow.

Now, the part of the track that I really enjoy the most is the second half. After Kevin’s singing, we launched into a well known slip jig called Kid on the Mountain. The ultimate and most famous version of Kid on the Mountain was recorded in 1976 by The Bothy Band on an album called Old Hag You Have Killed Me.
 
Old Hag You Have Killed Me
 
It is a mighty tune in five parts, teetering back an forth between e minor and G Major. If you’ve ever heard the Bothy’s version you’d know it kicks ass…and there is really no reason anyone else needs to record it. It’s kind of like trying to improve on Let it Be…it can’t be done.

Well, we were young and impetuous. We recorded it anyway. I’m happy we did.

Busted!

My recording gear busted last week. Ughh!
 
busted
 
You know what that means, don’t you? It means that the only way I can post new music is by dusting off all the old crud laying around that wasn’t good enough to post the first time.

Here is a recording that I found settled in the dust. It is of an old American song called Shenandoah. I don’t even recall recording it, which can only mean that at the time I thought it stunk. Well, apparently time not only heals all wounds, if you believe that, but it also seems to wash away imperfections. That is not to imply that this recording is perfect. Far from it. But somehow I now find some redeeming qualities to it.

Having said that, I would consider this a learning track. In recording they say there are three things that make a good track; a good performance, a good arrangement and a good recording of the performance. When I listen to this track I hear a lot of “growth potential” in the vocal performance. For now I’ll refrain from any additional self deprecation on the topic of vocals except to say that listening to ones voice on tape can be about as much fun as gargling bumble bees.

I will say that I’m fond of the simple arrangement. Though, I think the melody may need something to break up the monotony, but I’m not sure what.

The actual recording was a challenge because both the vocal track and the guitar track were recorded at the same time. The downside to this approach is that I don’t have as much control over the tracks as I would like due to the guitar bleeding into the vocal track and vice versa. For example, I like to add a little delay to the vocal track. But if you listen closely to the guitar, milliseconds after a strum you can hear a ghost strum, which is the delay. So, I can’t add delay to the vocal track without adding delay to the guitar because of the bleed. Consequently, the guitar track is not as clean as it could be.

You might say to yourself, ‘why doesn’t he just record the guitar track first and overdub the vocals later’? Well that is sort of like eating one piece of bread with peanut butter on it and then following that up with another slab of bread with jelly. Even though it is all the same ingredients, it is just not as tasty as eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Anyhow, I digress…

With any luck, and some new gear, I may revisit this track again down the road. But for now, it is all I’ve got.

South Wind / Out on the Ocean

Two Old Stones
 
A few weeks back I convinced Unstachio (formerly Mustachio) to swing by and record a few tunes. We had been talking about doing just that for some time but the stars had never quite aligned. We had no real plan other than to just play through some things that we play on Tuesday evenings over at Stone’s.

We did all our recording together, he on bouzouki and myself on guitar. The next day, as I began to play with the tracks, I found that they were super-easy to overdub. It is amazing how playing music with someone else results in a track that is much more musical than anything you can do alone. It is that relationship between musicians that is the real magic dust and it is what transforms notes to music. I feel like we captured some of that here and, at the very least, it was a whole lot of fun.

This track is a combination of two traditional tunes. The first tune is called South Wind and is one we just started playing. The second is a popular jig called Out on the Ocean. I love how the bouzouki (left speaker) just seems to lick around the guitar melody (right speaker). Incidentally, I’ve added this track to the working album title called Two Old Stones (George, did I tell you we’re making an album?)
South Wind Out OnThe Ocean by baconworks