My spider sense is tingling

Been a fan of the Spiderman cartoon soundtrack, so it's great to hear this compilation of background music. Read more here. Was surprised to learn it's nearly 50 years old!

I'm also a fan of Sarah Michelle Geller for her work in Buffy and this week was surprised to see so much of her in this Spiderman parody.

Naviarhaiku129 - I saw prisoners

The Naviar haiku this week offers an image in which the prisoners seem to be contrasted against the wildflowers.

My response draws on recordings made on the road outside my home.

While it doesn't feature wildflowers, it does include a kind of prisoners in the form of my kids taking the bus to school.

These recordings were made for a recent Junto project but weren't used in it. The same morning I experimented with recording with my waterproof camera in puddles and the flowing gutters.

It's been a wet winter and I'm also commenting on how the weather makes me a prisoner in my home. I guess it's not so bad though, as I get to light a fire and make music.

The music shares with an earlier Junto the idea of making a rhythm from short loops. I exaggerated the lower frequencies to get a kick drum sound from a water drop.

Eno on culture

Eno spoke of culture as the "lubricant" of society's evolution, while warning that in England and other countries it is being regarded as "less and less important."
"Nobody really knows what the arts are for," he said. The arts, he said, are treated as a sort of "luxury add-on" Eno told the crowd. "Once you deal with the difficult problems, like earning a living and getting planes to fly and trains to run on time, then you can have a bit of art, sort of like the ice cream at the end of the meal."
"What I want to convince you of is that that isn't the way it works at all," he said. "That the only way that we can continue to cooperate and work together as a human society, and as the community that we are, is with lots and lots and lots of culture and art.
"I want to convince you that it is the most important thing you can do."

Naviarhaiku128 - Evening slight return

Here's the bassline that inspired a previous Naviar Haiku track, which ended up with an orchestra.

I really love the woody tone my cheap Ashton bass gets from the neck pickup with the flatwound strings. Not many basses have neck pickups, which is one reason why I use this bass guitar as much as I do.

Another reason is it's semi-acoustic, which means I can pick it up and hear ideas quickly. And the flatwound strings are great when I'm out of practice because my fingers don't need thick callouses to run up and down the fretboard.

You can also hear I've doubled the guitar part and panned it to the sides with delay. There's also a bit of reverb all round.

Music To Massage Your Mate By

Naviarhaiku128 - Evening light

Another beaut haiku via Naviar Records this week.

I took it as an opportunity to record a bassline I'd been riffing on for the the last week or so. Then I got distracted.

First I thought I'd add chords behind it and when I started figuring them out I realised my bassline broke key. Then I recorded the revised chords as MIDI and started experimenting with orchestral instruments, and decided my bassline would be too busy for the track I'd arranged.

So the track here is one version of the tune. I might yet record the bassline over the weekend.

Naviarhaiku127 - Ink-black birds scatter

I really adore the haiku shared by Naviar Records this week.

For a while I considered what sort of instrumentation would convey the sense of birds taking flight. I also considered recording a new version of my song Raucous Chorus, which was written about the galahs I hear most days.

There are a few different birds in my part of the world but not so many during winter. I'd admired the cockatoos while visiting Narrandera recently, which is on the Murrumbidgee River. My town isn't, so we don't see them.

The instrument that I thought would convey the squawk of galahs didn't seem right to suggest the graceful idea of flight. So in the end I decided to record the birds as the flew around my suburb one morning. You can also hear the distinctive 'laugh' of a kookaburra near the start.

Memorable art

Memorable photographs have this quality of openness. They don’t bring closure, necessarily, to the moment or internally, they allow viewers to bring their their own thoughts to bear.

If you substitute 'photograph' in the above quote with 'music' and 'viewers' with 'listeners', I think it's applicable. In fact, it's probably applicable to a variety of arts.

I'd been thinking how good pop music expresses a vulnerability the invites the listener to share it, but it's probably the case that good art invites an emotional response.

I wonder if allowing "viewers to bring their own thoughts to bear" is an appeal to their ego. A kind of way to make them feel like they're part of the artwork.

Naviarhaiku126 - rowing through

At first I wasn't sure about the haiku this week from Naviar Records.

I can't think of having sailed on sea but I started to imagine the movement of the waves when I layered up the 17 takes on my four-string guitar from the Junto this week.

In it I could hear the shifting rhythms of a waterway.

The idea to layer multiple takes also comes from the "layered sameness" Junto project that led me to produce a remarkable result. I was surprised at how good that sounded because throughout every step I was sure it would sound terrible.

Disquiet Junto 0231 Field Complement

It was exciting to see the Junto return to an assignment from 2013 that involved creating a field recording and then composing an accompaniment.

The track I recorded in 2013 was one that ended up on my album WHILE and I considered creating a complementary track when I recorded my kids getting onto the school bus this morning, as they'd gotten off the bus in the original.

Then I spent time making a few other recordings this morning and I liked the sounds at the traffic lights best. These are the only traffic lights in the town of Leeton and there are lots of trucks on the roads, which sounded good on a wet day.

Now I should probably explain why my track is about twice the recommended length. It's because I didn't want to make it to be shorter. I delayed the decision to edit by pressing ahead with recording the accompanying four-string guitar, then decided the take sounded good as it was.

The rain meant I didn't take notes during the recording. Instead I made notes afterwards in the comfort of my home and followed the timings as best I could.

I tried a few chord progressions before settling on the parts I've recorded. As I played I imagined how cars speed up to try and make it through the traffic lights, adjusting the tempo accordingly.

I think I made nearly one and a half dozen takes before feeling like I'd gotten it right. These might get layered up since that worked well on a couple of earlier Junto projects. (Did this. Hear it here.) The take used was fourth-last.

Not sure about the production. I think the levels might be a bit loud for the style of the track. I'll adjust that if it ends up on an album but I haven't compiled one since AND in 2014.

Naviarhaiku125 - rhythmic woodpecker

When the Naviar haiku arrived last week, I was in Canberra enjoying Fiona Hall's exhibition. Then I had to make up for missing work by clocking hours on Friday and the weekend seemed a blur of domestic duties.

So it wasn't until Monday that I decided to try and write a song. The rhythmic quality of haiku would normally have sent me to my drums but I've had to pack those away so we can use the fireplace again.

I looked for woodpeckers on Youtube to get an idea of how they sound and was taken with their appearance. Then decided to experiment with a trap drumbeat, for no real reason except that I thought it might be interesting.

Then the chords I settled on were played through woodwind samples in Live to acknowledge the "woodland symphony" aspect of the poem.

I'm not completely happy with how the drums sit in the mix but am unable to give it any more time. One thing I wasn't sure about but is growing on me is the 4/6 measure of the loops, where it takes six bars rather than four to resolve.

Paul Mahern on music

Music is the most important form of communication, period. Not to get too spiritual, but all existence is a vibration. All of everything is vibrating. Music is a concrete analogy of the existence of everything. We can hear it and experience it with our ears, and it communicates to us on so many levels; whether we understand it or not, whether we’re aware of it or not.
That three-minute pop song that makes you feel a little bit better on the way to your dead- end job as you’re tapping your foot in the car? That’s fucking it! Nothing else does that for me. Art can do that; architecture can do that. But when you’re playing with the vibration of music, it doesn’t require your conscious participation. It can be going on in the background. It can just be playing in the car, and the next thing you know, you’re tapping your foot. Visual art – to really and truly appreciate it – you’ve at least got to look at it, and you have to be open to it. But the vibration of music doesn’t require your conscious participation.
It’s reaching out to you.