Naviarhaiku 173 -- desert sands

Last week I was looking at the tracks for recent Naviar haikus and thinking how much I wanted to rock the ukulele again.

On Friday afternoon I pulled out the ukulele chord chart and start piecing together different combinations. Then I spent spare opportunities, like taking my son to the skate park, to practice.

On Saturday I pulled in to the gated effects chain and realised I would have to pay attention to timing. I got a couple of loops going but didn't feel like setting up a camera.

Then on Sunday I tore myself away from Shiver Me Timbers to pull in again. I set up the camera and recorded a few takes. This is the third and is edited to around half the length.

Disquiet Junto 0278 MacConnel’s Jingle

The Junto this week proposes the artwork "Jingle" (1980) by Kim MacConnel as a graphic score.

I've got to admit that I planned to use Shiver Me Timbers and the green zigzag immediately suggested a bassline that slid up and down.

The statue is classical and the quotation marks led me to cast my eye around for literate to appropriate. I settled on e.e.cummings' 73 Poems and didn't get too far before singing "for any ruffian of the sky" and "seeker of truth" over a simple 12-bar riff.

And the monkey on the end led me to think jungle music. So I fetched my kick drum and was surprised to find the drum acting as resonator on the bass was larger.

The result is rough but only have this evening to record for the Junto this week. It's inspired me to look for more poety to interpret musically though.

Shiver me timbers

Just as Autumn brings a cold bite to the weather, I land an original bass called Shiver Me Timbers.

It arrives from Melbourne via a couple of friends, who tell me:
The neck was made by a dude who came to Australia to tour, from Romania or somewhere. My mate Nick who plays bass in one of my bands (who sold it) was involved with the tour somehow and was asked by this guy to buy a bass drum so he could build his instrument here rather than bring such a big thing to Australia. When the guy returned home, he decided he couldn't be bothered to dismantle it to take the neck home so it stayed with Nick.
After going through a period influenced by Morphine, it's really good to have a two-string bass -- especially one that is more akin to a double bass.

Using a bass drum as a resonator is an interesting touch but it's got a great sound. Hear it here!

Naviarhaiku 172 – morning calm

This haiku shared by Naviar Records this week directed me to reflect on a chord progression I'd been exploring on the ukulele.

I recorded couple of different takes using my gated effects chain. In the version above I added only a little reverb, while in the version below I layer four copies and set them to start about a bar apart.

Disquiet Junto 0277 Chew Concrète

Step 1: This week’s project is inspired by the manner in which C. Reider recorded his recent album, Chew Cinders (Midnight Circles). We aren’t remixing his album. We’re remixing/repurposing his approach to the album.

Step 2: This instruction is adapted, with Reider’s input, from the manner in which he recorded the album:

Process a sequence of standalone “chunks” of pre-recorded sound — voice, field recordings, noise — with an emphasis on the manipulation of time and pitch. Speed things up, slow them down, and explore the opportunity to use cutup techniques. Pay particular attention to segues between the chunks.

Step 3: Make a piece of music inspired by the approach delineated in Step 2.

I only had to look back a few months before finding promising field recordings. There were made on Australia Day at Pioneer Park Museum's 30th breakfast.

Whip-cracking isn't an Australia Day tradition as such, however it is part of the annual breakfast at Pioneer Park Museum. 2017 was my second time at the breakfast, which was the 30th for the Museum.

In addition to cracking displays by young Master Terrazas and Mr Bishop, there is a selection from the musical performance by Jeff Gardner, including Australian classics "Give me a home among the gum trees' and the national anthem.

Ableton Live makes it easy to adjust pitch and timing but the instructions this week led me to try and confine myself to the re-pitch option, which links pitch and timing. From here I did adjust a couple of the loops but it was a good direction to get a quick direction.

I added electric bass and it kinda brings everything together a bit.

P.S. Just noticed the sync is out near the beginning :(

Hallowed femur bone

Naviarhaiku 171 – Among twenty snowy mountains

The haiku shared by Naviar this week brought to mind my time in the high country, specifically the speed at which the weather changes.

This weekend I've been rearranging my studio and reconnected an effects chain that hasn't been used in a while.

I started jamming on the ukulele as it came to hand and this track in G/Em was an experiment in applying the different gated effects.

This is largely a single take on two channels with the camera's audio added in Live.

Free jazz poisoning

Via Joel Berk

Disquiet Junto 0276 808 Blockchain Beats

The Disquiet Junto this week asked for something inspired by 808 and Blockchain.

Frankly, I didn't spend too much time wrapping my head around the idea.

I have a vague understanding of how Bitcoin works but decided to revisit the ice cubes I recorded for the perennial new year Junto, as they offered a visual that related to blocks of ice and that seemed like a cool idea.

The BPM is 88, which is a recent favourite I used for the 64-bar Challenge tracks. After getting a groove with these 808-samples, I added the ice-cube-in-a-glass samples and then worked on VST synth parts.

Last I added the bass and you can hear I didn't spend a lot of time planning what to put down. I'll no doubt loop this recording in the near future.

Drop beats not bombs

Disquiet Junto 0275 Revisit Something

The Disquiet Junto this week asks participants to revisit and revise an earlier track.

The recording I'd made of Phillip Spelman's "Redjar Redbottle" sculpture (which sits outside Bathurst Regional Art Gallery) was still on my desktop and I'd been considering taking another run at it.

This sculpture caught my ear for it has a variety of lovely resonant tones.

Since I started remixing landscapes in 2011 with my playground recordings, I've found that it's good to return to the material and see how differently it might be developed musically.

Often I find that my first brush remixing a recording might develop into an interesting loop that's something of a creative dead end.

When I revisit the material I'm more familiar with the potential to develop harmonic progression, particularly through re-pitching parts to create a chord progression.

Coming back to this track I had a different BPM in mind. Recently I wrote a few songs for a new 64-bar challenge and one of the BPMs they suggested was 80/160.

This track is 162, although only the high-hat-esque part is approaching that speed. It almost sounds a bit Trap-like, probably needs a faster flurry and more prominence though.

The main challenge was finding samples to serve for percussion. I should remember to record a couple of muted taps for this purpose when recording resonant objects with a contact mic in future.

As usual I put gates on most of the loops, although I left one free to allow some of the environmental sounds like birds and passing cars to add context.

The gates were adjusted to provide snappy percussion parts and on the harmonic parts I added reverb to give more presence. This was a Space Echo-style effect and you can hear some faux tape pitch wobble, as well as the feedback in the break and at the end.