Sunday, March 18, 2018

Multiple personalities become one

Multiple Versions of Me Become One

I am a strange sort of fellow, especially in the music I like. You see, I like Steve Earle, and Tom Petty, and Del Amitri, and some country (especially alt and outlaw!)... but there's more. I also like The Dogs D'Amour and Social Distortion and The Levellers, who have almost a punk sensibility. But it goes on! I also like Motorhead, and I like Hawkwind with their space rock. And I also like instrumental music like Mike Oldfield, and electronic stuff like The Crystal Method, and Ladytron.

I am not sure who else listens to all those genres and styles with equal love, but I do. And, as a musician, the side effect is I also love creating that range of music.

Up until now, I've kept that separate, with Tommy Grimes III for the guitar / rock / country / blues stuff, and Faol Glas for the instrumental stuff.

But I have grown somewhat tired of that, it's a lot to maintain, and I'd rather be making music than maintaining websites and blogs... so, I have decided my instrumental and electronic will all just go under my own name. If people get confused, or can't fathom how one person can create such vastly different types of music, well, I guess that will have to be too bad!

In terms of being a songwriter, well, I also write melodies, so the instrumental stuff remains valid if you want to assess me as a songwriter - it tells you about what I like and how I write in terms of melodies and harmonies. So going forward, it will all be under just the one name!

The Five Sisters

So, the piece responsible for that was the draft from this weekend of The Five Sisters - part one of what should be a longer five-part instrumental of varying styles, inspired by the Five Sisters of Kintail, a mountain range in Scotland.

An odd piece as it wanted to be in 5/4 time (or 3/8, 3/8, 4/8 if you prefer), and it's been on the go for ages! And also it has a lot of layers to it compared to what I normally do. Still not finished, but close. Now just the other four parts to go :)

This also came about from wanting to do some guitar-based instrumental pieces, so expect to hear some of those too soon. These will be less synth-heavy than my other instrumentals, keeping the guitar as a main focus.

Stopping Automatic Folder Type Discovery

Windows is always so "helpful" - whenever I create a folder with audio files in it, Windows decides that I want to see "Artist, Album" etc as the file details. For a musician, that's a pain in the arse, as the files are most likely drafts, tests, or even individual audio files for tracks in the DAW.

When I look at those folders, I usually want to know "is this file too large to email?" - I don't need to know who it's by, it's by me, I know that!

Thank goodness then for this article on stopping Windows from doing that kind of malarkey.

This dual Xeon system has always been a bit crappy with latency. It is prone to drop-outs while I am listening / recording (though these don't affect the recording itself; but it is very off-putting while trying to get lost in playing along with your music!)

It reared its head again as an issue when I revisited the instrumental pieces, as they have lots of synths and effects. Even the Focusrite, which addresses the worst of it all, didn't help out here.

I did find LatencyMon which very helpfully gives you some idea on anything that might be causing latency. The test results give the very interesting and I-would-never-have-thought-of-that step of turning off my network adapter while working on particularly heavy songs. Cool.

And the other thing I always have to remember - turn on "Multi-processing" in the Bazille synth, else it just never works!


Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Things That I Do

Got around to updating Soundcloud with the most recent songs:

The Things That I Do

This one has been laying around waiting for me to finish it for a while. Somehow it ended up with a very unconventional structure - is it a two line verse then a two line chorus, with three bridges? Or is it four line verses with the last two lines always the same, and three choruses? Dunno, but it is what it wanted to be :)

The Spirit of Country

A song written from the perspective of country music itself - so many styles, so many genres, such a long, long history, going all the way back to folk music from across the ocean (just like me!) I did have a verse that listed out some of the genres and styles, but apart from "sometimes I've been outlaw" the rest of it sounded cheesy, so I took it out :)

What She Don't Know

Sometimes, leaving someone is just the right thing, and wanting a bit of revenge is only natural - however, I have something of an issue with revenge songs advocating violence of any sort (even against inanimate objects). So I wanted to write something where the person gets their "revenge" in a different way, without resorting to such things.

What's next?

These are all using Bias FX for the electrics, and the new Ovation - great to be putting these new things to use! As to what to work on next, not sure as yet. I've dug out Geist 2 that I bought a while back but never got around to using, and started experimenting with that - we'll see if that turns into anything listenable, the plan being to do some fairly traditional country / rock guitar over the top of something a little different in the drums.

There's also an older acoustic instrumental piece that I'm wondering if words can be added to. And an idea for a song which may or may not fuse into that instrumental. Then there are tons of other hooks, lines and other cool ideas laying around and I may pick up one of them - we shall see!


Thursday, March 1, 2018

BIAS FX and more


Always a sucker for a sale (when it comes to music software at least), I went and demo'ed and then purchased BIAS FX from Positive Grid.

My reasoning would be considered pretty strange I guess - I found I was able to get a "super compressed Strat sound" like I'd been looking for in my other amp sims, and that I really liked the Tele played through (of all things) their Acoustic Sim amp, as seen above.

Oddly, I wasn't taken with BIAS Amp, it didn't do what I needed, mostly because I was after the compressors in BIAS FX which seemed to do the super-compressed sound really well when I chained two different ones together.

I Write The Songs

Armed with that, I have finished up 3 new songs, "Long Time Coming", "What She Don't Know" and "The Spirit of Country". Working on those is why the blog has languished un-updated for the last couple of weeks! I was super pleased that version 1 of "What She Don't Know" got highlighted on the Tuesday Tracks on the Frettie Facebook group! And the excellent feedback on version 1 let me come up with the version 2 linked here.

I also re-recorded the vocals and guitar to "Pinball Machine", which I then updated on Soundcloud. A poke around some of the older songs means I may revisit some of them, for example "Even When It Hurts" is down for being remixed, maybe with vocals re-recorded to boot.

Compound Capo Capers

As part of recording "The Spirit of Country" I ran into a problem - the Tele has a 9.5" to 14" Compound Radius, and my Kyser capo was not working on the second fret, leaving the guitar out of tune. Sure, could just retune it when I put the capo on, and retune it when I took it off, but I figured there must be an easier solution. There was.

The D'Addario / Planet Waves Tri-Action capo has adjustable tension, and presto I could tweak it so that it worked down here where the neck is fatter. Very happy with it, and can heartily recommend it, and it's price!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


Yet Another Work Tape! Or indeed, a couple of them, both completed over the weekend - though I haven't posted them yet online, will do that soon!

Have also started on another song, hoping to wrap that up over this week and weekend, early days yet though, will have to wait and see if I can get it to sound the way I want as it's a bit of an experiment.

Lyric videos have come to a slight pause - not sure if I want to finish up Pinball Machine, or wait til I try re-singing the lyrics to see if I can get them to sound better (even if it is just a work tape). Did have some technical issues with the audio out of the new video editor I was using, so will need to explore that and decide how best to overcome it, with an aim of still keeping the workflow short and snappy!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Death and taxes (without the death)

Whew, spent this weekend mostly working on all the documenting of taxes for 2017. I want to get that in to the accountant early, so I can figure how much I am due this year, and then I can plan ahead for the move to Nashville that I'm considering!

I also made a video demo'ing the iDea, which I am going to put up for sale now that I have the Elite. Recorded the footage, and chopped it up into parts, and took some photos, but haven't yet put it all together.

Will be kind of sad to see the guitar go, since it has been on every song (that uses an acoustic) for the last 10 years, and I've done a lot of writing on it - but, I can't give in to GAS as they call it! Guitar Acquisition Syndrome, that is. To me, no sense in having more than one sort of guitar that does a similar thing to another. However, it will be like saying goodbye to an old friend, and this one did come with me to the very first Camp Copperhead, so it has sentimental value!

Anyway, look for the video soon. Also, am working on the lyric video for Pinball Machine, I hope to have that out in the coming week. Simple as it is, it still takes time to put together, however, video is the be-all-and-end-all these days. The Facebook feed choses video above any other sort of post to publicize, so getting the audio into some sort of video would appear to be critical.

Something of a shame to have to take time out from writing to create promotional materials, but such is the way of things! I aim to try and convert one song over into video format every week, or every two weeks maybe to make sure it doesn't detract from the writing!

I might also start making the blog into a vlog, for much the same reasons. We shall see, again, it's the question of time away from writing that is paramount!


Sunday, January 28, 2018

Ovation Elite Plus Contour overview, and finally found lyric video software!

Weekly update time! When shopping for a new Ovation recently, I couldn't find the information I needed - how much difference does the contour back make vs the traditional Ovation round back? What is the new Op-Pro Studio pre-amp like, and what do the Drive and Expressor do exactly? What does it sound like?

So, I made my own video now that I own one:

The guitar arrived on Tuesday, and is quite a stunner! Always been a huge fan of Ovations, and this one is by far the best one I have owned.

As yet haven't recorded anything with her (except for the video above), but will be doing that in the coming week. I got some great feedback on "Long Time Coming" from Brent Baxter of which is a great place to share your songs and get feedback, and based on that I am going to rewrite it some, mostly restructuring and removing rather than adding. That will give me the perfect opportunity to put the new Ovation (named Spirit :) ) to good use.


I mentioned last time I was searching for software to ease the time involved in making lyric videos, and I found it - under the unlikely name of YouTube Movie Maker.

The beauty of this software is it will import your lyrics in text file format (.txt), and then your mp3, and as you play the mp3, simple presses of a key on your keyboard will define the start and end point of each line, et voila, your lyrics are done in time with your music!

I will be putting this to good use in coming weeks, and getting some simple lyric videos done and uploaded. Using video sites to listen to music is an increasingly common thing, even if the video is just a still photo, so it's good to have the music available on those sites too.


And of course there are new songs on the go, with "What You Don't Know" being well on its way - but I'll be pausing to rework "Long Time Coming" first before I move on to the next one.


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Long Time Coming, and Pinball Machine

Two new songs wrapped up this weekend and the one before - Pinball Machine and Long Time Coming. Both are following my current approach of finishing writing the many songs I have on the go, and getting them down as work tapes rather than trying to coming up with more complete demos.

They should be developed, arranged and produced enough to be listenable, but I keep them pretty simple, with drums, bass, rhythm guitar and vocals and that's about it. Denying myself the pleasure of adding layers and arrangements, at least for now!

As part of that focus on writing, have also joined run by the most excellent Brent Baxter, and am taking his Building a Hit course which is proving very educational and inspirational.

Other things to expect - new gear coming this week, all to be revealed later! Working on planning out a move to Nashville later this year; since my apartment keeps flooding, I want to move and if I am packing up everything anyway I am as well moving city and not just apartment as there's nothing to keep me where I am just now!

I'm also considering getting the songs up on YouTube once I figure how to make decent lyric videos without taking time away from the writing - if you have any suggestions for good software that eases that process, let me know!