Monday, April 25, 2011

Hoping for a Replacement

Anybody else convolve Elton John's "Beyond the Yellow Brick Road" with Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush"?

I mean, they're both about gold. Sort of.
They both mention replacements. One a replacement for a lover, and the other a soldier.

Neil Young's is a lot more poignant. The line "and I felt like getting high" always gets a big round of applause at his concerts but it's one of the most tragic lines in rock and roll.

Video Songs

So I dig Jake Conte and the video song and Pamplemoose and everything, but it just occurred to me that the video song is technically a copyright violation unless they've gone and gotten the picture synchronization rights from the publisher and composer. Which I doubt.

Our copyright law is really from the pre-MTV age. I don't actually know how MTV handles sync rights in the videos it shows, I'm kind of under the impression they've knocked out deals with the record companies and the publishers -- and those publishers and record companies have also (by this point) forced all their artists/writers to conform to letting MTV use their music (at least in the US) for no additional fees.
But I seriously doubt that Jake Conte has negotiated with the Gaga legal team. And so far, nobody probably cares too much because they figure it just works out for Gaga and company just fine.
Although the question I've been asking for nigh on 20 years now is why does Weird Al Yankovic seem to have to ask permissions of artists to do their songs? It seems to me that a parody is pretty much right in there with fair use. Is it the sync rights he needs to get the song on MTV? Who knows?
Finding out this information is spectacularly difficult. That's mostly because the copyright law is so complex that even reporters who (vaguely) understand it can't put it in simple enough terms to write factual articles about it.
And there we are.
As it turns out, I like Jake Conte's version of Judas better. It's very Nine Inch Nails, surprisingly...
UPDATE: Weird Al, apparently, just wants permission from the original artists. He realizes he doesn't need it. But it also makes it easier for him to get credited (read: "royalties") as a writer. Which is interesting.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Computerized Things for your Ears Chance Shirley made that bit of music. It surprising how many directors are musicians, no? And ha! Yes, I called Chance a musician even though he's a drummer! Get it! Drummer jokes! Whoo. I slay me.

Q: How do you make a banjo players car more aerodynamic?
A: Take the pizza delivery sign off the roof.

Whoo hoo! That pear beer has gone to my head.

Q: What do you call a guitarist who breaks up with his girlfriend?
A: Homeless…

Now. There are other cool electronic instruments around and about. This Korg is kind of beautiful.
Q: What’s the difference between a guitarist and a pizza?
A: A pizza can feed a family of four.

Look, I've had a hard day and now I'm stoked on all kinds of wonderful modern medicines including a small amount of alcohol. 

Did you know I had a  =whole point about all of this? Yes, I did. The scale I usually play is 
E,F, G#, A, B, C, D#, E -- I don't know if it has an official name.
But the thing Chance did at the beginning of this post -- the notes are presumably Hang Drum based --  D A Bb C D E F A C 
Cool, huh?

I took too many drugs to stay awake. I had a stressful day. Feel better now. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Arion pedalboard for sale

I'm selling my old Arion pedalboard.

It hasn't been used very much in the many years I've had it. It does work though, and it's a nice case for effects. Plus, it comes with three effects: a distortion (the "Metal Master"), chorus, and flanger.

As far as I know, Arion no longer makes the pedalboard/road case anymore. It has a 110v (2-prong) input and 6 DC outputs. It's made so you have have your effects pedals all powered from the wall and pre-patched so that you just open and remove the top and you're ready to go.

The effects sound pretty good.
The way the pedalboard looks on stage.

With top attached.
Closed top.
The Metal Master. Two outputs: the second can be "soft" distortion or clean.
Flanger bottom

Metal Master bottom.
Stereo flanger top.

Stereo chorus top.

Chorus bottom.
Here I am playing the effects. For the "Metal Master" I start out clean and go back and forth with the pedal engaged and disengaged. I'm playing a Les Paul Custom guitar going through a Celtic Edana amp (which is a clone of a '65 Marshall JTM45) into a Celestion Alnico Blue speaker. I'm recording mono with a Shure SM57 microphone through a Neve 1272 mic preamp and an Apogee Mini-Me A/D converter. There may be a little bit of analog limiting at the A/D converter but otherwise there are no additional effects.

I start out "clean". You can clearly hear the pedal kick on. Yes, the clean sound is somewhat "dirty" all by itself, but nothing like the pedal. I then go back and forth with the pedal on and off. And yeah, it's kinda noisy as a pedal.

I start out with the flanger on. You can hear a bit of noise as I turn it off -- I don't think that's the switch, I think it's my guitar cable. Then I play with the depth turned up.

With the chorus I start with the pedal engaged, then I turn up the "brightness", then I play the same faux-reggae with the chorus off. Then I turn the rate up to "crazy" and come back down again. Same setup as above otherwise.

What's good: it all works. It's a pretty cool pedalboard with a soft top which keeps your pedals from bouncing around in the back of the van. The 9v outputs will power most pedals. You can show up pre-wired at a gig and just plug a couple cables in and be ready to go.
What's bad: the "depth" knob on the chorus wants to pull off easily. I was thinking about gluing it on to stay tight but then decided I'd leave that up to you. The unit is old -- probably bought sometime in the late 80's. There are no audio cables and just the four power cables.
What I don't know about: I never unstuck the velcro strips and cut and placed them on any pedals. So I don't know if they need more glue or anything.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Spinner, Tools, Decisions

So I found this cool free VST plugin called Spinner LE which is basically a Leslie simulator. It works nicely. I put some on some electric pianos in Arabesque. The overdrive function on it is useful too. I'm going to try the Organ Simulator that comes with it.
UPDATE: the organ is nice too.

In general Mouse news, Ethan has gone over his bass parts -- approving certain tracks and performing judicious EQ, and Arie has played the solo on One Last Drink and made some technical changes on the Mouseverture (which I've still yet to do, but I promise you I'm on them.) UPDATE: I've done them. I still have to fix a guitar which comes in early at the end of the Mouseverture.

In the meantime I've been playing with some really nice plugins and open source software for music-related things.

Musescore is an open - source music notation application. It's an open source Sibelius/Finale-ish thing. I haven't gotten a chance to play with it. Whenever I show up at band rehearsal with score the other guys in the band very politely look at what I've written, then flip the sheets over to make notes on the reverse side.

This is an amazing tool: and I'm not just talking about what's in your pants. I'm talking about this Burn Studio thing called "Audiotool". It's an emulation of (mostly) analog synthesizers and drum machines.


On Jerry

So the problem with talking about Jerry Garcia is that there are many people who fall radically into one of two camps -- those who love everything the Grateful Dead represent, and those who hate everything the Grateful Dead represent.
So to actually talk about Jerry as a guitar player is typically to either to be wrapped up in idol worship, or to be dismissed as an unrealistic hippy.
But the fact is, Jerry was a pretty good guitar player. And he had a very interesting sound. According to this article he played a number of guitars before settling on a couple custom instruments.
Unusual for a "rock" player, much of his sound is clean. Rather than soaring (or technically complicated) leads, he's known for flat-picked melodies on guitar.
Now, for the love of all that's holy, he wasn't a singer. But that melodic clear sound of his guitar is pretty fascinating.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Last Steps

So rather than wasting space on Bandcamp's servers with constantly uploading alternate versions of songs, I've been replacing songs with updated mixes. So now all the mixes are named "whatever the song name is" + "temp mix". And all seven of the tunes are here.
The mixes have not been getting better mind you. Indeed, they've all taken a bit of a step backwards. That's because I've locked them out into composites -- comping the drums, the guitars, the keyboards, and the bass -- which will later be mixed at Trax East.
The big deal is that I've taken any compression off of the drum overheads/room mics. This makes the drums quieter.
Essentially I've eliminated a bunch of the tricks I used to make the mixes seem more "complete" in order to let Eric make the mixes sound more complete. Because he can do it better, and anything I do will just make it harder for him to do it more tastefully/better.
But now that I have the tracks comped down (to no more than 11 stereo tracks) I could continue to make non-destructive changes and alterations in order to make them more "mix-y". Right now they're just (for the most part) all the tracks with the faders flat, and the only compression is some limiting on the 2-mix buss to prevent overloads. Of course, I added some compression to the guitars and such, just not the drums or bass. The vocals have all kinds of effects on them -- especially some autotuning because otherwise they'd be way out of tune.

Monday, April 4, 2011

BMI's advice

What To Do Before You Go into The Studio To Record Your Indie Album.

Hmm... we've already recorded our indie album. Here's a choice quote:

Your career as a recording artist hinges on many things, from the songs you choose to the musicianship on your records, but the single most important thing for your artist identity is your voice.

Uh oh. We're in trouble now.
A list of freeware/shareware/open - source VST electric pianos:

And don't forget the freeware "drawbar" program:

Of course, the Magic Flight Box is what makes all your music sound better.


Saturday, April 2, 2011

What Is This?

Because honestly, I have no idea. Today I was mulling around and moving some data from drive-to-drive and I found this.

It's from a rehearsal in July of 2010. I don't know why Ethan's shouting "Stop that!" He could have been yelling at his own amplifier for all I know. That's pretty much how our rehearsals go. Funky, languid, and WTF...

Moving the Blags

I'm re-consolodating my blogs.  I know, you wanted them separate. But my little mind just doesn't work that way. All my blogging -- ...