Archive for the ‘Journal’ Category

Recording an Album: #2 – Using a Click Track

Posted by Brian on 19th October 2014 in Guitar, How to:..., Journal, Recording

Well, I’ve started…

The first track that I am going to record is Richard Gilewitz’s “Echoing Wilderness”. I’ll be playing the abridged version, similar to the one that Leo Kottke recorded, rather than the much longer original.

I’ve decided that I will use a “click track” to record this tune. A “click track” is basically a metronome that plays while you record. There are many reasons to use a click track, most of which are outlined in this excellent article: Why Smart Songwriters Use Click Tracks

Some people hate click tracks, some love them. I think that they are a great tool but not universally required. (For now…)

I timed out “Echoing Wilderness” at about three and a half minutes, so I created a three and a half minute click track [Generate>Click Track] at 72 beats per minute (bpm), which I figured to be about the right tempo.

It wasn’t.

At 72 beats per minute, the song is longer than three and a half minutes. I was still playing the outro when the click track stopped. “Perfect!” I thought, since a wanted to slow down at the end anyways. What I didn’t realize was that when the click track stopped, the recording stopped, so I didn’t actually record the last bit of the tune.

Start again…

This time, I created a 4:30 long click track at 76 bpm and then “silenced” the last minute [select the last minute of the track, Generate>Silence] to allow for slowing down in the outro.

I wasn’t able to get a clean recording with my remaining time and 76 bpm is possibly still a bit slow, but I did get a guitar track that I could play with a bit to see how I could manipulate the recording with Audacity. I played around with adding reverb and experimented with other techniques for “fattening up” the sound.

More to come…

———————————————-

Here is Richard Gilewitz playing Leo Kottke’s version of his song:

(If you care, it’s played in Open D: DADF#AD)

… and now that I’ve watched the above video again, 76 bpm might be a lot slow…

Or not…

It’s interesting how much a tune can change over the years from the time you learn it, if you never refer back to the original.

Recording an Album: Intro

Posted by Brian on 15th October 2014 in General Music, Guitar, How to:..., Journal, Recording

People tell me that the word “album” is out-dated.

My dictionary says an album is, among other things, “a collection of recordings issued as a single item on CD, record, or another medium.”

So its the word I’m going to use.

Anyways…

I’ve decided to record an album. Not one that you are ever likely to be able to buy, but one that I will record simply for the experience of it. I’ve decided that it will be a collection of instrumental guitar tunes that were inspired by nature. It will be a short album – perhaps, half a dozen songs, written by some of my favourite guitarists/composers.

I have a Blue Yeti USB microphone, given to me a couple of Christmases ago, and a cheap refurbished laptop that I recently purchased. I’ve loaded Audacity (free, open-source recording software) onto my computer and I’m ready to go!

I expect that this experience will teach me a lot – and you may be able to learn from my failures!

So follow along…

 

Has it Been That Long???

Posted by Brian on 9th October 2014 in General Music, Journal

Well…

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here. In many ways that’s a good thing. As my teaching and playing schedule has filled in (not to mention a busier family life), I’ve had less time for writing – though no shortage of things to write about.

Without making any promises, I am hoping to carve out some time for writing again.

Two years ago I was starting to get a decent amount of traffic visiting my blog – so to those of you who were following along, I apologize.

And I hope you’ll check in from time to time.

 

 

Video-Of-The-Month: Fernando Sor

Posted by Brian on 1st November 2012 in Classical Guitar, Journal, Songs You Should Know, Technique, Video of the Month

Video-of-the-MonthNovember’s Video-of-the-Month features a tune that I have just started working on.

I started guitar lessons a month ago (after not having formal lessons for over 30 years) and this is the second tune that my teacher gave me to work on. It’s a tough one! The thing that I like about this piece is that it is forcing me to use voicings that I would not typically use on my own. It also has some very cool counterpoint (bits that complement the melody and harmony).

Here is Stephen Kenyon playing his interpretation of the tune, which differs from the version that I am learning in the way that he approaches the grace notes.

If you would like to learn the piece, here is a free transcription.

And here is another video that better represents the version that I am learning:

Fernando Sor on Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fernando_Sor

Parental Discretion

Posted by Brian on 6th September 2012 in General Music, Journal

Nope, that is not an advisory for the content of this post, it is the name of the band I’m in that is playing it’s first gig this Saturday.

We’re a five piece band made up of parents from my kid’s school – hence the name.

If you’re at the Uxbridge Fall Fair this Saturday, drop by the bandshell at 3:45 – we’ll be playing a 50 minute set. I’ll be the one playing bass.

Grace in Small Things – Musical Edition, Vol. 4

Posted by Brian on 17th June 2012 in General Music, Grace in Small Things, Journal

You are hereby challenged to find the joy in small things, because life is short and love is large.

GraceInSmallThings.com

Okay, it’s been a while – not since I found joy in the small things, but certainly since I posted about it. Here are five musical bits of joy from the last week or so:

1. A paying gig!

2. A non-paying gig for a good cause.

3. My kids working hard to prepare for an upcoming piano recital.

4. A somewhat regular jam with good friends that has turned into a band.

5. A rehearsal with the aforementioned band that went shockingly well!

 

More about Grace In Small Things

Songs You Should Know: Classical Gas

Posted by Brian on 10th April 2012 in Fingerstyle Guitar, Guitar, Journal, Songs You Should Know, Uncategorized

Classical Gas“Classical Gas” by Mason Williams is easily the most popular and successful instrumental guitar tune ever written. Written during a weekend break from his day job as a writer for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, the tune was released in February 1968 and climbed to the top of the charts, winning three Grammy Awards that year. It has since been performed by countless people and ensembles playing a wide variety of different instruments.

Years ago, my guitar teacher tried to teach me how to play “Classical Gas”, but I was more interested in 3-chord rock at the time. Years later, after hearing Lisa Simpson playing it on an episode of The Simpsons, I decided that it was time to revisit the tune. Its not wildly difficult, but the timing is tricky as it changes time signatures several times throughout the piece.

Here is the original recording:

And here is Tommy Emmanuel’s take on the tune (note the nods to the Ventures and Elton John mid-way through):

And here is the official “Classical Gas” website:  ClassicalGas.com/home.html

And Here is Your Host…

Posted by Brian on 3rd April 2012 in Fingerstyle Guitar, Journal

Acoustic Blend CaféJust a personal plug…

On Sunday May 6th, I will be the guest host of the York Region Fingerstyle Guitar Association monthly Open Mic. We meet at the Cornerhouse Restaurant in Stouffville (6403 Main St.) from 1:30 pm until 5 pm. I will be presenting a short workshop and there will be a feature set by D’Arcy Wickham.

I’m still trying to decide on a topic for the workshop. I’m thinking either “Working with a Metronome” or “Practicing Without Your Guitar”. Thoughts or suggestions?

A Brush With Fame

Posted by Brian on 21st March 2012 in Guitar, Journal

Six String Nation GuitarSo what do I have in common with Canadian music icons Gordon Lightfoot and Stompin’ Tom Connors? Not much. But last night I got to play a guitar that both of them (and thousands of other Canadians) have played.

I’ve written about the Six String Nation Guitar a couple of times in the past. It was born as a response to the separatist movement in Quebec and was built out of materials that represent the Canadian identity.

Well last night, it was back in Uxbridge at the Silverbirch Charity Concerts “Guitar Special” which featured Wendell Ferguson and a host of local guitar heroes.

And I got to play it!

Here is a picture of me playing a few bars of “Watermelon Sorbet”

Six String Nation Guitar

Incidentally, you can catch the remaining two Silverbirch concerts this Friday and Saturday.

Six String Nation website: www.SixStringNation.com

Silverbirch Charity Concerts website: www.SilverbirchCharityConcert.ca

At the Sunderland Music Festival

Posted by Brian on 25th February 2012 in Fingerstyle Guitar, Journal, Performing

Last Tuesday, I had the privilege of playing at the Sunderland Lions’ Music Festival along with four of my guitar students. The tune that I chose to play this year was “Dune” by Bob Evans.

Last spring, on May 1st, I got to see Bob Evans play a concert at The Earl Pub in Stouffville. At the concert, he mentioned that there was a transcription of his song “Dune” available for free on his website. On May 2nd, I started to work on the tune. It took me three months to learn the tune, and another three months before I was able to try it out at an open mic. At long last, in approximately the same amount of time that it takes to make a baby, it was ready to be presented “for real” at the festival.

Below, is the video of me playing “Dune” in Sunderland. And while it is not my best performance of the tune, I’m pretty pleased with the results. At one point, I squeezed the neck too hard and produced an awful noise that was supposed to be a chord, and later on I had a minor brain cramp where I momentarily forgot where I was going, but overall, I was happy with the result. (And the adjudicator had nice things to say too!)

So, (with apologies for the quality of the audio and video) here I am playing “Dune” at the 2012 Sunderland Music Festival: