May 2020

Sunday 31st May

A peculiar problem for somebody living in England. I want to do a time lapse video recording of clouds passing over our garden. We haven’t seen a single cloud for more than a week and it looks as though we won’t see any until Tuesday or Wednesday! Who would have thought it?

I now have a version of Passing Clouds with which I’m happy. I’ve incorporated a reverb pattern called Helms Deep (on acoustic guitar only) which gives it that dreamy, floaty quality that is entirely appropriate.

I’ve been trying to figure out a suitable percussion pattern with no luck so far. I have a small djembi which I’ll try out later today. If that doesn’t work out, well, the bass line marks the beat well enough.

Thursday 28th May

Around 80 bars of 4/4 time, note by note. Over 300 occasions in which I ask my self if that note is in the right place? Is it the right length? Does it have the right weight? Very instructive, somewhat tedious and I’m enjoying it immensely! I’ll post the result when I’m done, but don’t hold your breath.

Wednesday 27th May

I’ve been working on Passing Clouds, trying to make a nice, clean recording of the guitar, partly to use as a template for digitisation. Therefore, working to a click; my least favourite activity. Without a click, would take thirty minutes. With a click, seems to always take three hours. 96 BPM, 4/4 time.

Tuesday 26th May

The crowd at Belle’s were decidedly thin on the ground and nobody there had a suggestion. So I came up with Passing Clouds. Morgue mentioned clouds and that seemed to work.

This is my second attempt to digitise finger picking and I’m finding it extremely difficult. I’m not used to identifying each note one by one (as in, was that C or C#?) and working out the duration of each chord and note. It all requires total focus.

So, here’s a rough and ready recording of me playing Passing Clouds on my guitar.
and here is my first attempt at digitising it. I’ve captured some of the notes, but there’s a lot missing. A long way to go yet! And boy, do I need to work in the mellowness of a real guitar!

Monday 25th May

I decided that I needed to do an audio recording of the dawn chorus in our local woodland. At the moment, dawn is around 5.00am, so at 4.35am I set off to find a suitable position. My phone is excellent for this kind of job.

I inadvertently walked through the local rookery and they weren’t pleased to see me. I had to go some way further on before I found a spot where their cawing wasn’t predominant.

I ended up with three five minutes clips, one of which is punctuated by a motor cycle away in the distance. Shouldn’t be allowed at 5.15am.

All of this is because I create ambient sound balls that I sell on Kitely market place. I want to freshen up some of the audio clips. They don’t pay the rent, but the occasional sale (especially when most customers buy two or three at a time) makes for an occasional pleasant surprise.

Sunday 24th May

I want to start another project with a chord sequence I devised many years ago. I have what is becoming a common problem. When I write a song, with words and everything, the title arises from the lyrics. When I devise an instrumental piece, I have no idea what to call it! I can’t start creating files until I have a title and giving it the wrong title would cause problems some way down the road. So I have to pause and think. Perhaps I’ll ask the crowd at Belle’s Coffee Shop this afternoon.

Anyway, I’ve been working on Shearwater and have a digitised version that is correct, but isn’t me. I have two synths that claim to emulate acoustic guitars and neither are convincing. The notes are in the correct place on the grid, but I end up with something that has no soul. Here it is.

I had braced myself to get Covid-19, but I’ve spent the last two days suffering from something else, completely unrelated. I’ll spare you the grisly details. I wasn’t sure whether to ring in sick or not, so didn’t.

Friday 22nd May

I’m a folk musician who can’t sight read. I develop new tunes by picking up a guitar and fiddling around with chord combinations until I stumble across something that sounds pleasing and unfamiliar. Sometimes I think about what key it’s in, sometimes I don’t worry about that. I hardly ever consider time signature or tempo. Until I want to digitise it or work with other musicians.

Today I’m working with Shearwater on Magix. I thought it was a short, simple instrumental. Two hours later I became aware that it is in the key of G, it’s in 3/4 time and the tempo is 72 BPM.

Digitising guitar finger-picking is a real challenge. I’m having to think about around two and a half minutes of music literally note by note. If I lay down a hammer-on or lift-off, that makes a change that needs to be recorded.

I’m having a rest from it for a while, but I’m looking forward to hearing a completed first draft. The voice I’ve chosen is close but not close enough so I’ll need to play around with the synthesizer. When I’m done for the day I think I’ll record wherever I am with it for posterity and carry on tomorrow.

Tuesday 19th May

It can be difficult to be creative when up against ever evolving technology. This time, it’s about trying to host a blog within a web site page, without the posts taking over the homepage. I haven’t figured it out yet and I’m getting bored – therefore, unteachable. Perhaps I’ll come back to it, perhaps not.

Monday 18th May

Last weekend I resurrected Magix Music Maker. In my case it’s the 2013 version. It was cheap and it worked. It also crashed after I’d been working on something for over an hour. I’m not good at remembering to save. It got replaced by Cubase which was more expensive and is rock solid. But Magix was fun. With all the Soundpool snippets, I felt as though it was trying to meet me halfway in the creative process.