naviarhaiku542 – sudden dazzling glare

The haiku shared by Naviar Records this week led me to pick up my guitar.

I've been jamming with a drum machine and a couple of Chase Bliss pedals, so I recorded a couple of takes and this is the second.

The Beastie Boys


Disquiet Junto 0647 Day Drone

The Junto project this week is to "Make some daylight drones for Drone Day."

This took me about five minutes.

My son dismissed the results as "New Age-y" but that seemed appropriate to me.

The video shows a pair of Rainbow Lorikeets that were at the Museum the other week, which is a bit unusual but not the first time I've seen this species in the Riverina.

Not everyone is an artist

Disquiet Junto 0646 Empty Orchestra

The Disquiet Junto prompt this week is to interpret the literal translation of “karaoke.” 

This idea of an an 'empty orchestra' led me to share a track that I sequenced using MIDI in Ableton Live.

It has some orchestral instruments, particularly viola and cello, as well as being empty through not featuring human musicians.

I've used a short video from a rockpool at Valla Beach to add interest.

This is about me


naviarhaiku541 – heat in waves


This haiku shared by Naviar Records led me back to a track I recorded weeks ago.

At the time the delay felt overdone, but the waves of heat as angry reverberations made it seem appropriate for this.

Electrical engineer


Warren Ellis on sandwiches

If I had a sandwich named after me, I think that would be the height of my career. Who wouldn’t want a sandwich named after them? I do like a straight butter and banana sandwich. It’s incredible. That was one of the culinary highlights of my childhood, with a tin of tomato soup. My father swore the greatest sandwich that he had in his life was whipped cream, banana and sliced ham. I don’t eat meat so I would say whipped cream and banana on a pillowy white bread. 

Disquiet Junto 0645 Speed Trap

The Junto prompt this week is:

Record something, slow it down, and then record over it.

I took an unused take of the drums from last week, then added tenor guitar and upright electric.

The tenor was recorded through Chase Bliss Audio Condor Mk.I and Warped Vinyl Mk.II pedals, then I added a tape-style delay while mixing.

Where cicada noise really comes from

Music wants to be free

"People think you’re a weirdo if your happiness doesn’t depend on the size of your bank account. So you must have balls of steel to do arts. It’s not that bad if you have a few like-minded people around, though.”

Music has always had the tantalising effect of being simultaneously within reach and yet unachievable.

Before Thomas Edison developed and marketed the technology to record sound, music was captured in notation and sheet music and it was a big business.

The concept of musical copyright had its beginnings in the reign of King Henry VIII of England (1491-1547) who licensed the printing of music.

This means that for centuries, if you had a favourite song, you either had to play it yourself or be fortunate enough to pay someone else.

Otherwise you might only hear the song maybe a few times in your whole life.

Then Edison's inventions led from wax cylinders to the discs that were an actual record of the session where the musicians played together.

After the Second World War a new market category developed, where teenagers with disposable incomes became a focus of the recording industry and a genre now known as Rock n' Roll developed.

I have a theory that the introduction of tape as a recording medium played a role, particularly the saturation on transients like the drum hits and expressive singing.

Then guitarists wanted that energy and it went from The Kinks cutting their speakers with razor blades to the development of distortion effects for Black Sabbath.

In many ways Rock n' Roll became the model for subsequent genres, particularly the structures used for popular music but also the marketing.

There was your basic 12-bar blues, if you weren't afraid of "black" music, as well as the Skiffle phenomenon that might've given musicians like Jimmy Page an introduction to playing an instrument before he took inspiration from those earlier Blues songs.

In my lifetime I've heard rap music starting to use choruses through the influence of LL Cool J and producer Rick Rubin, through to rave music similarly adopting these song structures as it moves from illegal gatherings to nightclubs and then TV advertising.

I suspect it was these structures that gave new sounds a recogniseable shape for the ears of consumers. 

This will be the challenge for musicians, balancing the strangeness of new sounds with serving it up in a shape that can fit the model of a song.

Now our lives are so saturated with music that it's not surprising to see the market is reluctant to pay for this product unless they're convinced it is a rare and peak experience, which might be marketing.

So I sympathise with those musicians who find their investment in producing a cultural product is offering diminishing returns.

However, I wonder whether we aren't seeing a return to earlier forms of music consumption.

Back to a time when music was almost incidental to most lives in the sense that peak live experiences of a favourite song were limited.

As well as recorded music offering little return, but maybe there'll be new models of patronage.

Music has played a role in human life forever and that is not going away.

This means the opportunities for many professional musicians are likely peripheral to their own aspirations, such as the local identity who runs the musical instrument shop.

Or someone like me who is making sense of the Edison-branded wax cylinders in a community museum.

We can take our love of music and find the ways it opens opportunities to learn.

Playing music is a wonderful social experience and maybe it's misleading to think we should be monetising all of our passions?

Home taping is killing music


Disquiet Junto 0644 Event Horizon


The Junto project is to record music for a party and it happened to coincide with my family leaving me at home alone.

That would’ve been my cue to have a party, but I had responsibilities such as packing an exhibition and pitching a TED talk.

I’d been looking for an opportunity to record the drum kit, which will be moved in the next month so we can use the fire when the cold weather starts.

When the Junto instructions arrived I had the chorus riff, so set about adding a couple of chords for the verses and wrote lyrics on Friday.

Then I quickly MIDI’d a sketch to play along with and recorded the drums and guitar on Saturday morning.

I gave myself three takes for each and edited these to record the bass and vocals today.

There’s a bit of editing to smooth out my performances, as well as adding a second guitar part and double-tracked chorus from earlier takes.

My plan was to record a blues track, as I’ve been thinking about Ethan Hein’s song lesson in recent weeks and bending notes.