19 Jun

Mobile Line

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Listen: Mobile Line

This is a demo recording Mad City Jug Band. It is not quite finished. I need to add some automation to smooth over some rough edges and massage some knotty passages. I may change the reverb and delay settings depending on how the rest of the project sounds.

There were a couple of challenges with this track. It was essentially recorded live. We wanted to get the live feeling of the band. I, being the engineer, had to push the buttons. My parts were added later.

The kazoo was the biggest problem. It was so loud it bled into all the other microphones. There was no way tame it, so we left it out and added it later, too. I added stereo delay to recreate that “this thing fills the whole room” effect.

It took some time to find a balance between the jug and the upright bass. The two instruments play similar parts and in the same range. I used some eq to put some edge on the jug sound and panned the two to opposite sides of the sound field to create some separation.

Overall, we got a strong performance. The energy is there and the vocals are in good tune. I feel the middle frequencies are a little fuzzy, but there is no way to get enough isolation to control that. I do think all the bleed through creates a nice full sound and I don’t hear any phase cancellation, so I can live with fuzzy mids.

Categories: Recordings
16 Nov

Green Apple Hoot 11-11-12

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This is most of a complete show by members of the Green Apple Folk Music Society held at Harmony Cafe in Appleton, Wi. Gary Baum supplied the original file. The intro and the first performer were lost. A couple of long pauses were edited out. Other than that, the show is continuous and should flow from file to file.

That’s 33 files in all. If I missed any names or mis-spelled anything, please let me know.
A quick thanks to Mark Anderson of Monroe Crossing for hosting my site. I’ll leave these files up until he runs out of room on his server. It may never happen, but I have to be respectful.
Enjoy the show.


Categories: Uncategorized
30 May

All In Green

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Listen: All In Green

This is another song in my e.e. cummings series. I thought the character of this piece suggested an older, but civilized form of music. Given the hunting theme, I chose to write a brass quartet, with french horn.

This poem has a more regular structure than a typical cummings poem. The piece has four sections, each with four parts, though the final section ends half-way through. I wanted to use this structure of cummings. I transposed the sections modally through a simple chord progression. The first section in D, the second in E minor, third in A dominant and the final two lines back in D.

All In Green is, at heart, a tragedy- retelling the story of Actaeon. He had offended the goddess Artemis and was changed into a stag to be killed by his own hounds. In cummings poem, Artemis tells the story in two voices. A warm voice speaking of “my love,” and “dappled dreams.” This alternates with a harsher voice, that of “the cruel bugle,” and “the famished arrow.” I assigned the warmer voice to a french horn, and the harsher one, a trumpet.

I used Finale to realize my composition. Finale has a feature that adds performance elements to a composition. When creating a midi file, it incorporates these elements. Subtle things like swells on held notes and fall offs at the end of phrases. I imported this file to Protools.

I used orchestral samples to give voice to the midi file. Except for a couple of blatty notes on the trombone, it works out very well. I added some reverb, subtly (I hope), to give an old stone hall ambience as a final touch.

Categories: Compositions
21 May

Mr. Gold And Mr. Mudd

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Listen: Mr. Gold And Mr. Mudd

I love this song, a poker fantasy by Townes Van Zandt. I no longer have the original record, but I seem to remember the recording having a solo intro and a long solo out, with the story in between.

I always thought that the story had a couple of breaks where solos would fit naturally. I wanted to take advantage of this. And I wanted an excuse to play some guitar solos.

This one was just for fun, so I won’t over-analyze it.

I re-mixed this song. I had put it up on my myspace  page last December,
and I’m glad I took the time to file off some of the rough edges.

Categories: Recordings
26 Feb

Comin’ Down In The Rain

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Listen: Comin’ Down In The Rain

This is another ‘practice recording.’ I choose a song I like and pretend I am producing a demo for a client.

This song was written by Buddy Mondlock. He has an MP3 player on his homepage. You can scroll down to “PJ-08 Comin’ Down” to hear his version.

I wanted to use a ‘standard’ 2 guitars, bass and drums format. I chose an acoustic and an electric guitar this time (as opposed to two acoustics). I used Band In A Box to generate both a bass and drum track (using Real Drums), but I wasn’t happy with the results.

I wanted more movement in the drum part- so I kept the BIAB part and added a ride cymbal. I simply set up a cymbal next to my computer, mic’ed it played along with the track. It not only added movement, but gave some nice crispness to the finished track.

For bass part, I wanted some specific descending lines, so I trashed the BIAB part and played bass. I ran Stevo’s old “Thumbs Up” bass direct through my ISA One and got a great big tone. I ended up mixing it back, so it took up less space and eq’ing it so it fit better in the mix.

The acoustic guitar is exactly the part I use playing live. It’s my Lowden, close mic’ed in stereo.

The electric guitar is there to add texture. I used chorus and delay to create some spacey descending lines on the verses and some movement on the choruses. And of course the solo.

I was really happy with the way the solo turned out. I had written the first two lines and pre-determined a long descending line at the end. The rest is improvised. It took 3-4 takes to make it all work together Also, I used the same effects on rhythm and solo parts, with a little overdrive to make the solo stand out.

I’m still happy with the way this one came out. If I ever put out a solo album, I’ll have to get the rights for this one.

Categories: Recordings
25 Feb

I Go To This Window

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Listen: I Go To This Window

This is an old recording. It came out of Finale. This music composition software has a feature that lets you assign sounds to your staves and play back your work. I took advantage of this.

I set up a (free) recording program called Audicity to record from the microphone plugged into my Mac. Then I ran a 1/8″ male to 1/8″ male cable from the speaker out port of my Mac to the mic in port. Tell Audicity to record, switch to Finale and press play. This may not be considered a ‘professional’ solution, but it works and the sound quality is pretty good.

This piece comes from an e. e. cummings poem. I use the poem to set the rhythm and tone of the piece. I start by reading the piece out loud. I record this reading and transcribe the rhythm, trying to keep the pauses as I read them. I use this rhythm to construct a melody and work out a bass line and harmonies around that melody. This piece is not intended to be sung.

I Go To This Window started life as a piano piece, but changing to an oboe/piano duet really opened up the melody.

You can look at the sheet music here:  sheet music


Categories: Compositions