Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Song Dreams

I dreamt a song this morning, just before I woke up.
When this happens, I never register what has happened at first, and then have to remember to record it on to my phone or some other recording device.
Usually, I'm listening to it on the radio or watching someone sing it; this time it was a boy band and I didn't like the song, but let's see what happens. Unfortunately, I woke up before it got to the chorus.
The weirdest song dream was that I was at a deserted Butlins in the dark and could hear a strange reverberant sound coming from a distant building. I followed the music, and walked into a huge, deserted, dark, plain room with a stage at one end, where a little woman was lit by a spotlight, singing and dancing, and this is what she was singing:

Sunday, February 26, 2017

I Went To A Music Technology Symposium, Part 2

Just hop over the toothbrushes and look at the photographs from 2 postings ago.

1. Amit Patel showed us his Cobra project, so called because it exists as a tiny sound processor on a Cobra beermat. After manipulating noise with twists of two dials, he told us that he used to work in a record shop and thought of his beer mat as a 'white label'; unlike some music tech enthusiasts, he's not interested in what happens under the bonnet, but wants to play with the noise that come out of the machine. He uses one mono output and includes the risk of it breaking down as part of his practice; and sometimes, he pick up the local Asian radio station in Leicester, where he works, and makes that part of it all. I loved that.
He packs it away in a Tupperware box to take it about the place, and if he's going abroad he just buys a battery when he gets there. 'Why take loads of stuff and not use it?', he said.

2. Jenn Kirby had adapted tethers (called that in laptopese, I believe) from a failed golfing game made by Gametrak that she bought cheaply off eBay, with voice processing tech soldered on to it; she describes the human voice as 'the best instrument there is'.
The audience shouted and she recorded the noise, and played with the resulting sound wave by moving the tethers. The start point of the program began by raising the left hand, and the end point by raising the right; volume was changed by moving up and down. All the time, she balances up technology with what the human body can do and makes certain that the audience will enjoy hearing the results.
She demonstrated some golf swings at one point, and has also used the windmill guitar gesture to trigger electronic sounds; she told us of the joys of risk in performing live with technology, otherwise she would just build a machine.

3. Robin the Frog had a lot of luggage and had been held up by rail replacement buses. He unpacked quickly and soon had three audience members becoming part of his tape decks by holding scraggly loops of tape at different distances away from the machines.
He told us of his love for tape that developed after working at the BBC, when 'sound loses it's moorings and just floats off'. 'Editing platforms give you what they think you want, whereas tape gives you everything, whether you want it or not'.His relationship to what he does is deeply engaged: 'When I let go, I submit to chaos'.
In Portugal once, a tape machine called Delia ceased to work until 90 seconds from the end of the show. It was 14 years to the day after Delia Derbyshire died. 'The machines are dying, and by using them like this you are dramatically reducing their lifespan, and that of the tapes as well. My plan is to follow them down and document their destruction'.

Wow. At this point I began to realise how much music technology performers are exploring their own spirituality through their relationships with machines and the sounds they make; I know that Sherry Turkle studied this with computer programmers, but it was interesting to hear this articulated by so many different music tech people is such different ways.
I thought about the gigantic Heidelberg press that I used to operate when I was a printer, and how you almost had to dance with the thing to make it work, learning the tension of the levers and the sound of the pistons to make it do exactly what you wanted it to.
Suddenly I started to value things in life that I have hidden under cushions and put in cupboards. Perhaps more on this  at some time when I feel like writing about what I am studying at evening class....

4. Next were KUDAC, a Kingston University laptop improvising group who did a live rehearsal for us to listen to. There was much turning of control buttons and some interesting watching. Afterwards, the questions were about what happens if someone accidentally makes a beat, and if the volume spins out of control. The best question was that about lack of eye contact, normally vital for improvisors. 'We plan to work on that', someone said. But they can recognise each other's patch bay. One chap murmured something about call and response, which i thought was really interesting; another wryly observed that he was not above miming to another member' moment of genius.

I'm going to take a tea break now and continue later.

Toothbrushes, Part 2

All the toothbrushes in the pharmacy this morning have lilac handles. Wish I'd taken my phone out to prove this with a photograph.

Toothbrushes

If you've tuned in for tales of music technology, sorry bout that; I have more pressing concerns.
Me and Offsprog One, who currently lives here, needed new toothbrushes. My old one is lilac-handled, hers green.
I looked in the cupboard for new ones. Two lilac toothbrushes.
Is this like the pink marshmallows that nobody wants and that get left till the end?
She took one and wrapped gaffa tape round the handle in a black stripe, and I have carried on with the old one, splayed and full of character.
My project this morning is to acquire a new toothbrush that isn't lilac, but also doesn't have too many 'features'. Who invented toothbrushes with 'features'? Different coloured bristles that point this way and that, different lengths, handles with assorted grip patterns and a general air of being a fighter jet rather than something for polishing your gnashers.
Actually, the mundane task of replacing an old toothbrush has now begun to feel rather exciting.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Wind

... blew me down Camden Road this morning on the way to work so I held on to a bench on the station platform, just in case. People have lost their favourite hats, I hear, and sometimes garden sheds.
A cheap bookshop in the Stratford Centre had a pile of books called Vinyl: the art of making records which were too tempting to ignore. And when I got to work Karina played some live-streamed whale singing from the mid-Atlantic and we talked about rats and budgies for a while.
I'm pausing for a moment of reflection after marking 28 pieces of work. It felt like a physical workout.
It's evening class tonight.
Foolish Girl, do you still read this blog? When are you coming to my house to play ukulele?

Storm Doris, 4 U

McMum's friend Pam sang this to my brother and me when we stayed over when McMum and McDad were away. It was on the radio, and she was mixing porridge in time to it in a pan, and singing along. It was a formative moment.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

O Chords, Chords, Chords

Now I'm writing out the chords of every song. It's hard, hard, hard.
I wish I had written them all in just three major chords, but then they would sound different and I wouldn't sing 'em. The typeface is Bembo, which is an old-fashioned typeface that was my favourite when I worked in Lewes in Sussex as a typesetter for veterinary tablet envelopes, using old lead type and spacings, and setting the letters one by one before printing them on a massive Heidelberg letterpress machine. Offsprog One showed me how to download it from the internet. It has a lovely open look to it without looking like a children's book typeface.
This is what I'm doing:
Em7                       F#m7          Bm7
Green, green sea that kisses the horizon,
      Am                   Em         F#m7    Bm7
The crescent and the cross walk hand in hand.
Em7                   F#m7       Bm7
Blue, blue skies to feast your eyes on
      Am                Em          F#m7    Bm7 Em7
The wonders of the world are sketched in sand.

Em7                     F#m7 Bm7
Lie down lie let the sun caress you,
Am              Em             F#m7         Bm7
People of the world, in the heart of the beast.
Em7         F#m7     Bm7
Holiday to calm and rest you
Am                  Em            F#m7 Bm7 Em7
What could ever drown your sleep in peace?

      Em7 F#m7 Bm7
The sea,
      Em7 F#m7 Bm7
The sea,
      Em7 F#m7 Bm7
The sea,
      Em7 F#m7 Bm7
The sea.

Em7                       F#m7          Bm7
Green, green sea that kisses the horizon,
      Am                   Em         F#m7    Bm7
The crescent and the cross walk hand in hand.
Em7                   F#m7       Bm7
Blue, blue skies to feast your eyes on
      Am                Em          F#m7    Bm7 Em7
The wonders of the world are sketched in sand.

  Em7 F#m7 Bm7
The sea,
      Em7 F#m7 Bm7
The sea,
      Em7 F#m7 Bm7
The sea,
      Em7 F#m7 Bm7
The sea.

A7
The crescent and the cross walk hand in hand
                       Em
Hand in hand in hand.
A7
Take a souvenir from the contraband
                     F#m7 Bm7
Of this promised land;

      Em7 F#m7 Bm7
The sea,
      Em7 F#m7 Bm7
The sea,
      Em7 F#m7 Bm7
The sea,
      Em7 F#m7 Bm7
The sea.

Em7                   F#m7      Bm7
Fight man fight to get to the shore
      Am                Em           F#m7    Bm7
The crashing of the waves, the battling swell;
Em7                     F#m7     Bm7
Bursting boats can’t take any more
             Am                 Em          F#m7 Bm7    Em7
While the monsters in the deckchairs curse you to hell.
      Em7 F#m7 Bm7
“Go home!
     Em7 F#m7 Bm7
Go home!
     Em7 F#m7 Bm7
Go home to your war
Em7 F#m7 Bm7
zone!”

Em7                       F#m7          Bm7
Green, green sea that kisses the horizon,
      Am                   Em         F#m7    Bm7
The crescent and the cross walk hand in hand.
Em7                   F#m7       Bm7
Blue, blue skies to feast your eyes on
      Am                Em          F#m7    Bm7 Em7

The wonders of the world are sketched in sand.
Copyright Helen McCookerybook, 2017

Almost Finished

Well, this one is almost finished: the freewheeling bicycle chap. I've been droring round at Gina's this morning. We do Art once a week now; Gina has been doing coloured pastel drawings, and I've been monochrome.
There's no need to tell me if I've got the music wrong; I don't mind.
There is no need to tell me if I've got the bicycle wrong either.
I have also been contacting promoters for September gig dates, and recording jingles for Colin Kane at Radio Wey who plays my music sometimes. They are on their way to Radio Wey, Colin! (note brain affected by jinglese).
Reminder to self: key signature or sharps if I can't do that.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Sly And The Family Stone

This makes me want to play bass again. I will.

Trees 4 U



Songbird

Underneath the carpet on the forest floor
Oak Ash Sycamore Holly Elm
Buried there forever like a Squirrel's store
Oak Ash Sycamore Holly Elm
Visited by Ants and the Badger's claw
Oak Ash Sycamore Holly Elm
This is woodland treasure that you can't ignore

Guarded by an Owl with blinking yellow eyes
Oak Ash Sycamore Holly Elm
Covered by the leaf mould in a dry disguise
Oak Ash Sycamore Holly Elm
Hidden by the treetops from the cotton skies
Oak Ash Sycamore Holly Elm
Time to catch the pleasure of this nature's cry
Oak Ash Sycamore Holly Elm

Who will be singing when the East wind blows
Who'll still be smiling when the moonbeam glows
Who throws a party on a Songbird's wing
Who grows a blossom out of anything

Instrumental

Who will be singing when the East wind blows
Who'll still be smiling when the moonbeam glows
Who throws a party on a Songbird's wing
Who grows a blossom out of anything

Diana is the hunter and she's on the run
Oak Ash Sycamore Holly Elm
She's lighting up the city with the Norfolk sun
Oak Ash Sycamore Holly Elm
Bringing fresh the air to town for everyone
Oak Ash Sycamore Holly Elm
What a germination what a world of fun
Oak Ash Sycamore Holly Elm

credits

from Suburban Pastoral, released January 2, 2013
Pedal Steel: BJ Cole
Samples/Rhodes/Vocals: Helen

Señor Burns (You Know Who I Mean)

Antidote to Andy: Sly And The Family Stone