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;

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;

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).

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.



Boss RC20 Review

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


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.

From Jimi to BB

Posted in Music, Sixties with tags , , , , on 03/08/2012 by Baghead Kelly

iPhone sized wallpaper I made of the Jimster

Marc Silber (owner, the Fretted Instruments Shop) ; “Once I asked him for advice on who to study electric blues from, Jimi said, ‘It’s only a matter of the three Kings.’ I remember thinking this was some sort of Christian reference but eventually I realised he meant Albert King, Freddie King and B.B. King.

[extracted from Eyewitness Hendrix by Johnny Black]

If you click on the Gibson on the right; B.B. King describes how he came to name his guitar Lucille.

The Grandfather of Rock & Roll ?

Posted in Humor, Music with tags , , on 03/06/2012 by Baghead Kelly

Music has been around since the dawn of time and is an integral part of every culture. Like language, it has an aural and written form. The written form however is not as old as the dawn of time, in fact it is relative new. It was refined in the 11th century by a Benedictine monk called Brother Guido d’Arezzo. He also invented the original mnemonic that parented do–re–mi-fa-so-la-ti (so we can also thank him for Julie Anthony and “The Sound Of Music”). God bless Brother Guido because he was responsible for defining the worlds first truly international language. A language enjoyed today by millions of people around the world.

Cubase 5 Review

Posted in Home Studio, Music with tags , , on 03/06/2012 by Baghead Kelly

I have had Cubase since August of 2009 (they keep records) and Cubase 5 since the following year.  Essentially it has taken until recent times for me to get my head around the product and I am a long way from mastering it. That’s a long wait for a silver lining. If your thinking of buying Cubase 6, the current version maybe you might want to read about my experience first.


Now I may not be the brightest spark but I’ve self taught myself many things over the years without too many issues. Learning and dealing with Cubase on the other hand has been an absolute nightmare.


Cubase is the brain child of Charlie Steinberg but his company Steinberg was bought out by Yamaha in about 2005. Don’t quote me on that. Here lies a possible reason for my bitter experience with Cubase. Picture this; An Australian music enthusiast buys a German made product who’s parent company is in Japan. There has to be a few communication issues there.


The first hurdle for me any ways was a communication issue. These people spoke a different language. A language of initialisms; D.A.W., ASIO, VST, PFL, GUI the list goes on. For technicians this might seem perfectly normal but for poor old baghead I had to learn a whole new lexicon. The manual is extensive all 672 pages of it plus a 200 page start up manual. On top of that there are a series of appendix manuals on various subjects. I hate that thing. I have poured over it, I have highlight markered it, I have cried on its pages.


There are forums to help the frustrated customer who might be thinking of demanding a refund. Steinberg have an in house website which includes a forum and what they call a knowledge base. They are full of desperate users with the same problems that I personally have experienced.  If the technicians can’t resolve the issue and there are too many people with the same issue the forum is archived. I could be wrong but my impression is that there is a head in the sand kind of approach down there at Steinberg. Go and read the archived forums and make up your own mind.


My other issue is with the overly complicated licensing system. If I’m going to spend big bucks on what for me is essentially a hobby I don’t want to be screwed around. Yamaha/Steinberg have every right to protect their intellectual rights but that eLiscense system sucks. Both in the application and the very fact that the dongle takes up a precious usb port. I would suggest that the customer is the good guy and it’s the bad guys that need to be fucked around.


Part of the problems apart from communication is compatibility. From what I’ve read Cubase is more compatible with a Mac than what I have a PC. Personal computers these days are all pimped a little different and that creates unforseen issues. You just have to work through each problem as it arises. The best support that I have gotten has been through Youtube videos not through Yamaha /Steinberg. There are some amazing people out there who are willing to give of themselves from a totally altruistic perspective.


Now do I think that Cubase is the way of the future? Absolutely. The issues that I have had with Cubase may well be resolved in the new version I don’t know. There is no doubt that the product can do some amazing things and although I don’t have any experience  with Pro Logic I will stick with Cubase because I have invested so much time and money in it.


From a personal point of view I would like to see better after-market customer support. I would also love a cross-referencing system in the manual. That’s one thing that Microsoft do well. If your trying to learn one concept and it references other concepts that you have no idea about you could type it in to the search box.


My journey with Cubase 5 has been a rocky one. Now that I’m starting to understand its little ways I am getting great enjoyment from it. Its always been about the music and any diversion from the main game is not good. As for my beloved old Yamaha 4 track, well the time might have come to embrace the future and the future most certainly is digital.