Archive for March, 2012

Skull Violins

Posted in Art, Lifestyle, Music with tags , , on 03/31/2012 by Baghead Kelly

Its not guitar, but here are some of the most rock n’roll violins that I’ve ever seen.

Jeff Stratton’s website;

http://www.strattonviolin.com/index.html

Hey Hip Doodies – You Too Can Lay Down Some Whack Beats

Posted in Home Studio, Lifestyle, Music with tags , , on 03/28/2012 by Baghead Kelly

LoopMash Free by Steinberg

I realise that I am stuck in the past musically speaking and so Soundcloud has been a revelation to me. There are 10 million users and counting. It is already the next big thing. For me, the most glaring ear opener, so to speak,  is the prevalence of house, dub step and hip hop music. It would be hard to estimate but the majority of music on Soundcloud would be of these  kinds of genres. Now I would hazard a guess but music software must be at the forefront of this revolution. Anyone can be a musician these days whether you play a traditional instrument or not. So if you have an iPhone then Steinberg has this tricky little app that is based on its LoopMash VST. The old Bagster rates it at 4/5 rubber chickens and if your too lazy to read the instructions then watch this video;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5U3i_7I5YOA

Stand Alone Performance

Posted in Music, Songwriting with tags , , , on 03/27/2012 by Baghead Kelly

A stand alone performance to me is the ultimate test of talent. A musician accompanying themselves, is really a special benchmark because they hold their own hand. I’m not talking about hacks like myself, I’m talking about the demi gods of music. I actively seek out these recordings; I pour over box sets and anthologies and when I occasionally stumble upon these gems, I wet my pants a little bit. Partly I like these performances because they reveal musical secrets but mostly because I am in awe of their genius. These recordings don’t have to be perfect recordings, in fact I like the rough diamonds just as much.

When you think about ***Robert Johnson’s catalogue of tunes; it was just him and his guitar. 29 tunes recorded 76 years ago. Today I can go into my local record shop and ‘The Complete Recordings’ will be there somewhere on the shelves and I’m a long, long way from Texas Toto. Somehow he put something very special down on tape. That kind of magic is rare but not unachievable.

Jimi Hendrix sitting on a stool with a borrowed 12 string playing “Hear My Train A Comin’” is just as magical and fortunately that was caught on film as well. In that little three minute window Jimi gifts us the key to where he had come from, musically and spiritually. Dissect it and you can see Voodoo Child (Slight Return) hidden inside those notes and plenty more besides. A similar pearl (hehe) is Janis Joplin pairing up with Jorma Kaukonen to render “Trouble In Mind” on the “Typewriter Tape”. It wasn’t stand alone but the talent and the soul is breath taking.

In the eighties there was “The Secret Policeman’s Ball” series which unearthed terrific acoustic versions of Pete Townshend’s “Pinball Wizard” and Sting’s “Roxanne”. In aid of Amnesty International, the benefits ushered in the era of “Unplugged” recordings which in itself brought with it a swag of brilliant stand alone recordings. The “Eric Clapton Unplugged” was wildly popular and probably helped fund his “Crossroad” festivals.

Then there was “The Beatles Anthology” which not only offered intimate insights into some of their extensive catalogue but also triggered the release of other box sets and anthologies.

Stevie Ray Vaughan’s rendering of Doyle Bramhall’s “Life By The Drop” is another favourite and when you hear Bramhall’s version you can hear where Stevie drew his singing and phrasing style.

At this point you probably think I’m a ‘white boy lost in the blues’ and you would be right but I most certainly try to be a contemporary man, at least on occasions. The advent of Youtube has unearthed a wealth of stand alone talent. Too numerous to mention really but it is the way of the future and I am still trying to work my way up to the present.

If you know of any of these solo flashes of genius, I would love to hear them or check them out.

***(incidentally my post on ‘Love In Vain’ featured a fake picture of Robert Johnson. There are only two known photo’s of the man and that wasn’t one of them…hehehe).

Home Recording Tip

Posted in Home Studio, Music, Songwriting with tags , , on 03/25/2012 by Baghead Kelly

Now I’m not really a person qualified to hand out home recording tips but I do have this one. When I built my little home studio I also made the little sheet music rack that you can see on the wall. Essentially it is just a slanted plank with a trim nailed to the bottom to hold the pages.  – What I do is I use masking tape to join my sheet music together in sequence. I usually have the lyrics typed out on the first page, the rest music. Only masking tape will do and I’ve got sheet music over twenty years old treated in this way. – The rack is sized to fit 6 x A4 sheets but if I made it again I would make it for eight sheets. The trim at the bottom creates a half inch (15mm) lip and in hindsight I would double the size of that as well. The reason being is that I usually pile song sheet on top of song sheet and a full inch would be better. The whole shebang is suited to my height (I like playing standing up) and I have a microphone installed from the ceiling above it. I can just stand there and do my thing and it all works a treat. So if your building a home studio then here is something that you might like to incorporate into your design.

Guitar Pro 6 Review

Posted in Art, Gadgets, Home Studio, Music, Songwriting with tags , , on 03/16/2012 by Baghead Kelly

Guitar Pro has been around for quite a while but if you’re a guitarist and you don’t use it I’d have to ask; why not? It is the single most effective guitar learning tool that I’ve come across. Guitar Pro helps to compose, and transcribe music too although it also uses traditional notation. The files are quite small so they don’t take up much room on your computer and in general there’s not too many negatives to speak of.

Arobas Music who developed the program was founded in 1997 and are located in the North of France. The program is currently selling for $60 with an optional $30 upgrade. (I paid about $40 a couple of years ago). Personally I would easily shell out even that hurtful amount and I’m a well-known tight wad. (I paid $30 per half an hour to a piano tutor once and I only lasted 4 weeks because of the pain on my wallet).

www.guitarpro.com/

There are literally tens of thousands of tunes on the internet available for free. They vary in quality as most have been written by enthusiasts, however the standard is generally very high. If you already have the program and you’re looking for another 21,925 more songs then drop us a line and I’ll send you the rar file.

The Pros

  • It’s relatively easy to learn as there is plenty of literature and Youtube videos on the subject.
  • You can hear what you write/compose.
  • You can learn at your own pace. It’s always there when you feel like picking up the baton.
  • The songs are free.
  • You can print your music for hard copies and the standard is very good. I prefer it to ‘Finale’. (last time I bought a sheet music book I paid $50 although we get ripped off here in Australia)
  • Its become so popular that it is fast becoming the standard.
  • It’s a great way to converse with other musicians.
  • You can export your arrangements as MIDI and import them into other programs i.e. Cubase.

The Cons

  • It costs $60 bucks
  • It’s RSE (Realistic Sound Engine) sounds like those early Casio keyboards.

If you’re a music enthusiast then do yourself a favour and check out Guitar Pro.

Songwriting – Weekday Blues

Posted in Art, Home Studio, Music, Poetry, Sixties, Songwriting with tags , on 03/15/2012 by Baghead Kelly

Here’s a song I wrote a long time ago but since I’ve been mucking around with Cubase I thought I’d revive it while I learn the processes. It’s nuthin’ fancy to quote Lynyrd Skynyrd but it might be amusing to those with an offbeat sense of humour. I patterned it after The Easybeat’s “Friday On My Mind”, one of my favourite bands.

[https://soundcloud.com/baghead-kelly/weekday-blues-original]

 

Boss RC20 Review

Posted in Gadgets, Lifestyle, Music with tags , , , , on 03/09/2012 by Baghead Kelly

http://www.bosscorp.co.jp/products/en/RC-20/

 

I’m not big on effects pedals really, I’ve got a few floating around but generally the little amps that I use have a gain and reverb control and that’s enough for what I need. However I do have one that I love (apart from my Jimi Hendrix wah). The Boss RC20 loop station. This model is the middle one of the series, there is a smaller stomp box (RC2) and a larger version (RC50).

 

It was quite expensive and I am very grateful that my wife’s parents bought me one (does that mean I’m sponsored) otherwise, I personally wouldn’t have purchased it because of the price. This particular model has 16 minutes of total record time. For me that’s plenty. The RC2 also has 16 min. and the RC50 has 49 min. There are 11 slots to place your loops and you can overdub on top of your tracks. If your like me and you aspire to play “Tomorrow Never Knows”,  “Are You Experienced” or “Castles Made Of Sand” there is also a reverse mode to play backward phrases.

 

A negative for me is the fact that you have to kneel down to operate the thing (a lot). The foot pedals are only your on/off/overdub switches. So for example if you blow that perfect take your going to have to kneel down and reset it. The RC50 model rectifies this issue but at a cost. Another weird thing that I don’t like is that if I record something in a particular tone or effect then the overdub also has that effect. So essentially there is less colour between the takes. I might be doing something wrong but it definitely is a negative if I’m not.

 

The reason that I love this pedal though is that it gives my music making that third dimension. This adds more interest for me and makes my music more bearable for my long suffering family. It is invaluable for song writing because I can record a basic rhythm and then doodle around over the top of it until something gels for the next part. I can record that and then repeat the process to find the next part etc. The other thing I do with it is I record professional backing tracks onto it directly for practice. I’ve usually got one or two on there at any one time which leaves me with nine other tracks to play around with. The only limitation is the 16 minutes record time. I should also point out that it’s a sturdy little unit and if I was going to score it I would give it 4 ½ out of 5 rubber chickens.

 

You can Youtube plenty of examples of people who are expert at these things but a couple that I like are French performer Anäis and JP from the band Outlier.