Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Twitching the veil

So the problems with the drums are not so much sorted as I have decided I can live with them, and maybe they are not as bad as I thought.  If I take the MIDI track recorded and chop it into smaller sections this gives me some artificial "note off" events which helps, and it wasn't as quiet as i thought.

So this is where I wondered about how much of the secrets to reveal, and thought, "hey, if I'm blogging I might as well be honest, it's not like anyone is reading it anyway".  I might do it in different ways in different sub-sections but for 1.1.3 which I have been working on I have a compromise between programmed drums and performed drums.  I programmed the bass and snare, and performed the hi-hat, ride and cymbals, and fills.  This means it's tight but loose at the same time, giving it a more live feel.  I think.  I hope.  I doubt a drummer would be fooled.  I'm quite liking the drums, they are slightly trippy, slightly shuffly.

So at this point I have pretty much planned about the first half of 1.1.3, with enough drums to cover the second half, but I might not use them all.  I'm not really sure where it's going next.  One of the problems I have now is that I'm trying to imagine what it will sound like, but don't have the guitars in.  this is because a) I haven't had time to do them yet, but also b) because experience has taught me that once you pick up a guitar you should do all the guitar that you want to have the same sound.  When you come back another time the settings are never quite the same.  It's a chicken and egg situation though, because I feel like I want to hear the guitar to see where it feels like it might go next.

I'm going to end on a more general note, which is that I intend to put even more thought into BMS than the previous albums, I think about 50% more care is needed to get it sounding more professional (I am my own worst critic). This means I will have to "give it 150%".  Simon Cowell would like the effort.  

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

More e-drum problems

I have found a power supply which works with the drums - it says 12v and the drums want 9v but they seem happy enough, nothing has gone "bang" - well nothing that I didn't intend to.

So I have linked them up to the computer, and so can record the MIDI output.  There are 2 problems at the moment (apart from the challenge of drumming).  Firstly i don't seem to always get a "note off" event, and so the midi recording is littered with very long notes.  Secondly I seem to have to hit them REALLY HARD to get it to work at all.  They are fine with the internal sounds (which are not great) - so there must be a MIDI sensitivity issue.

Honestly sometimes I feel like I need to be more of a computer whizz-kid than a musician!

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Making a start

Hurrah, I managed to make a start on album 3 today.  Despite the lack of lithophone (see earlier post) I have a nice marimba and a nice xylophone which are almost as cool.  So I have started sub-section 1.1.3 with a nice tuned percussion motif in alternating bars of 8/8 and 7/8.  I got the riff and rythmn while driving and have decided to leave the radio off more often if I'm going to get creative in the rush-hour jam.  I love the fact that I ahve been listening to enough prog that when i start tapping on the steering wheel in's almost always in some nice time signature.

So I have a good starting point, and some variations, and I need to add rock instruments next I think (get it?  "Rock" instruments... never mind) 

I have a drums problem next - my electronic kit has been in mothballs for a while and I can't find the power supply! I would dearly love to have as much of the drums as possible "performed" (ie using the kit) rather than programmed, although a combination of the two might give the best results.  I just need the power!

Oh and on 11 Bells I had bells at the section boundaries, on Binary Tree I had gongs and digital noise, but because of the focus on the number three it's obvious what I need this time... triangles! Luckily I have 5 of the things.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Sammy's post

Sammy (my son) would like to post. Here he is...
~ mm,

33+636-++-+++656 kljk fdvddbd

Sample envy

So I'm starting to think about rythmns and sounds and riffs for BMS. Track 1 is all about the physical world, section 1.1 is about matter and the three major states: solid, liquid and gas, and so for sub-section 1.1.3 I've been thinking about what sort of sounds you might use for solidity, frozenness, ice, that sort of thing. I've heard of a lithophone, which is a sort of xylophone made with stones. I had a quick look on the internet for lithophone samples and I found somebody who has professionally sampled the skiddaw stones. One problem: it's £50 for the samples. Now I can't go buying exotic instrument samples every time I have a whim like this, they have maybe 3 minutes use tops. Sigh.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Viral marketing blues

I dislike selling myself like a used car or cheap double-glazing. The past 24 hours have been fairly difficult in this respect, but I have bitten the bullet and gone for it. As well as the website, this blog, the facebook presence and the music itself at, I have now messaged all my facebook friends, emailed as many people as I dare from my personal email mailing list, sent out an email to the whole department at work, and emailed almost all the students I teach, in an attempt to get the word out, get a ball rolling, get some sort of encouraging metaphor underway at any rate.

At least I feel reasonably secure here on the blog, i don't think anyone has made it here yet. Amazingly in just a few hours I already have 11 fans on facebook (all friends or relatives and of course myself) and have had 9 hits on the website (although 3 of them are me!). To be fair the visitor counter was an afterthought, so I may have missed a couple of hits.

All of this means my adrenaline is fairly high, and I feel nice and vulnerable. Exposing my creations to public scrutiny is not easy, although by now I'm getting used to the fact that the general response is not scorn, ridicule or criticism, but apathy.

And it's all pointless unless some people actually listen to the music, and (very importantly) tell their friends. I feel like I would like to give a prize to the first person who finds their way to the music through a second step referral. If that's you, what would you like?

Thursday, 25 March 2010


The website for the Purple music project has gone live, it's not that pretty, it's not big, and it's not really clever. You can see it here. Now the publicity machine can go into first gear - the next stage is a facebook presence, and after that a mass mail-out to everyone I know. be warned, if I know you I will be mailing you soon.


Donations have gone live, you can now donate to the Purple music project using the button here.

Intentions for number three

So there are 2 Purple albums already, and I have big plans for number three.  In keeping with the ethos of Purple, the number 3 will feature quite heavily in my plans.  There will be 3 tracks, each with 3 sections, each with 3 sub-sections, each of which will be 3 minutes long.  This makes 3 27-minute tracks, for a total of 81 minutes.  This is quite a lot of music to make, and I think the maximum for a CD is 80 minutes (unless there is a way of squeezing more on).  This may mean it can only be distributed electronically, or on 2 CDs, but I'll do cover art anyway, because I enjoy it.

I even have a title: "BMS". This is for "Body, Mind, Spirit", which will be the themes of the three tracks.

I have lots of musical ideas, well about 7 currently waiting.  With 27 sections I need another 20 ideas. Opening brain... waiting for inspiration...

Welcome to my blog!

Errrm, hello

Welcome to the Purple blog.  Look I know the page is purple, but that's not what I mean.  

"Purple" is a musical project by me, Dan Hodgson.  It's instrumental, and kind of "progressive rock".  Have a look at the website. (actually there's not much there yet, it will go live in a few days.) So far there are two albums you can listen to and download for free at and I'm about to start work on album number three, once I have finished putting together a website, facebook page, blog, donation system, and who knows, twitter, mySpace?  All I need and can be bothered to do for a viral marketing campaign.  To be honest I'd rather be doing the music and have a publicist to do this but needs must and all that.

So this is a really tedious opening blog post I know.  Blah, blah, advertising, self-aggrandising and all that.  Never mind, the real purpose of this blog will be to follow the creation of album number three.  See next post...