Tag Archives: vocal

Wind that Shakes the Barley

barley
 
During the Irish Rebellion of 1798 the rebels were often known to carry barley oats in their pockets as provisions while on march. Unfortunately, thousands of the dead rebels found their final resting place in mass unmarked graves, which were referred to as croppy holes.

As the seasons passed barley would be found growing above the croppy holes and came to symbolize the regenerative nature of Irish resistance to British rule.

In the nineteenth century the Irish poet, Robert Dwyer Joyce wrote a ballad entitled Wind that Shakes the Barley, which repeatedly references the barley as a young lad has to decide between the love of his lady or the love of his country.

As our last track on the 1999 Amadán album, Sarah Kennedy sang a A cappella version of this haunting song.
 
Wind That Shakes the Barley by baconworks

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.

Amadán – Caledonia

Caledonia_img
 
Here is a song written by Dougie MacLean that I recorded with Amadán back in ’99 called Caledonia. Sarah Kennedy was our singer at the time. Just to avoid confusion, she is not the same girl that is in the picture of Amadán from my Amadán – Scotsman / Paddy Clancy’s post. She was a tough Somerville chick but I really loved her voice. We had planned on recording The Foggy Dew, which I once heard her silence the nÓg with, but when we got into the studio she changed her mind. Such is life.

Damon, our fiddle player, and I had never heard Caledonia, which is a romantic name for Scotland (thus the photo above from flickr), until that day. So, we improvised all the instrumental bits. For the instrumental break I asked the engineer to play the song while a worked out a flute part. Once I figured out what I wanted to do I asked him to roll tape. He said “I’ve been rolling all along, do you want to take a listen?” I did and decided my job was done.

Not long after this recording Amadán parted ways and I have not heard from Miss Kennedy since. Hopefully she is still singing.