Monday, 19 November 2012

Lost in a paperwork desert

..which is the title of the most recent section to be worked on.

A little bit of purple history is called for to give context. On the first album, 11 Bells, I created decided I wanted a single-instrument section (sections were 5 minutes long) and opted for Piano. I introduced a particular musical motif (taken from the guitar part for a song I wrote years ago called "behind the storm"). For reasons lost in the mists of time I called this section "Lost in a Moonlit Desert".

On the second album, Under A Binary Tree, I decided that I would once again have a single-instrument section. This time it was electric piano, and because the first half was all white notes and the second half all black notes, I called it "Lost in a monochrome desert". Once again it featured the same motif, but modified.

By the third album, B:M:S, I seemed to have developed a habit, this time I opted for classical guitar, and the name "The Lust Of The Eyes (Lost in a nylon desert)". While it focused primarily on musical plagiarism, I managed to effectively steal from myself and use the same motif again, as well as many others.

So here we are on album no. 4. I have a hard habit to break. I had already decided that this section would be called "Lost in a paperwork desert" and would represent the insane amount of paperwork I seem to have to deal with at work. At some point I decided that an appropriately "dry" (although not hugely papery) sound would be a Marimba (which is a kind of wooden xylophone). So there is a 4-minute marimba section, and yes I do use the same old motif, briefly at the end.

In fact the section wanders (as is appropriate for someone lost in a desert) through several motifs. It start with a few chords, and then launches into a pattern inspired by rhythmic tapping that I sometimes do. I like tapping interesting rhythms, and this is at least the second such tapping motif that has made it into the music. This gets faster and faster. Then there are a few harp-like arpeggios and next we have a bass-line like boogie-woogie piano and similar to one I used on the first album. After developing that there is a brief glissando and then I use a motif in 15/8 which appeared on the last album. Finally we meet the habitual lost in deserts motif, but backed by the funky bassline which will appear in several other places on the album.

And you can use this widget to hear a rough mix of it... I hope! Apologies it is mixed a little quiet.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Many, many little sessions, one section

The will to blog has been blighted of late by the fact that my sessions of music-making have been piddling and small. But on the whole, it would seem numerous.

Let's see if I can summarise. Or something.

The first section of the "at home" track is now more or less finished. It features a baslline "refrain" followed by stylistic "verses".

The first verse is sort of kind of Jazz, with a walking bassline, swing-ish drums and introducing electric piano. It starts as kind of cool jazz, but deteriorates into "what time does the tune start" kind of quickly. The brass stabs bring us back to the next refrain, in which the electric piano keeps on.

The second verse is sort of kind of Reggae, with off-beat guitar, organ and E-piano, bassline missing the "one" and typical triplets on the snare. This verse features organ playing a sort of tune, but may have a (real) trumpet added. Back to the refrain and the organ is featured

The third verse is sort of kind of Bluegrass, with a C&W - sounding guitar, a drum pattern stolen from "Lay Down Sally" by Eric Clapton, Country-style bass and... banjo. I had to go looking for a banjo sound on the internet, and found a reasonable "sound font". These are basically sample patches that were designed to work with a wide range of instruments. They don't seem to be as popular as they used to be, but I have a nifty sound font player, and it sounds pretty good. it is rare for me to use samples for a fretted instrument, but I cannot justify buying a banjo. I really wish I could find somewhere I could rent instruments!. Anyway, back to the refrain and the guitar is featured.

The last verse is sort of kind of Space Rock, the more mellow and spaced-out end of Prog rock, featuring wibbly synth and tambourine. Real tambourine (of course, a lot of my percussion is real). The final refrain features the synth and the tambourine.

Altogether I seem to be using a lot of different sounds, and this section has felt like a mini-project all of it's own. I started it way back in September, it's now November. Progress has been slow because I've only had nibbling small sessions mostly, and also because i lost hearing in one ear for about 2 weeks. It's coming back now.

In the meantime I have had some more musical ideas, which I need to make notes of as they seem to fit some of the themes for sections I have.  I'm not entirely sure, but I THINK I now have an idea for each of the 16 sections. I also have 3 sections broadly done, but am hoping to get guest musicians in for 2. I need to decide if I will do guest musicians all at the end or a bit at a time.