(c) words and music 2009, 2010 Cameron Pyke, Small Symphonies. (c) recording 2010 Symphonies & Ambisonix
27/08/10. Finally I get round to posting something new. Except it’s not – this is a reworking of a song I have previously posted – ‘House of Hopes and Dreams’. This is not the final version – still very much work in progress – there are mistakes and issues.
20/9/10. Version #2.1 is not the final say on the matter either, but some of the issues have been addressed.
27/8/10 This was recorded by an old friend of mine – The Wookiemonstah – who has a wonderful and unique mic – the Calrec Soundfield microphone. Briefly, whereas a stereo pair of mics would capture a crude stereo image on a horizontal plane, the Soundfield mic hears everything going on around it – left, right, front, back, up, down – from a single point. It records the artist in the environment.
Much more than that, the Wookie has the experience, judgement and artistic vision to make Soundfield recording work. It involves a paradigm shift away from conventional recording. The results are honest, beautiful and possibly disturbing – how much honesty can you take?
The Wookiemonstah’s WordPress is Ambisonix.
Several people have heard this recording and most agree that the percussive click on the backbeat has to be lost or very much attenuated.
20/9/10 Was previously smacking the strings with the side of my RH thumb – and giving it some. Now I’m dropping all four RH fingers (curled, so that the nails strike first) gently onto the strings.
27/8/10 The song fades after the last verse because I couldn’t get the outro right. It was improvised and a bit pointless. I have now written an outro which still has elements of improvisation but is far more deliberately integral with the whole piece.
20/9/10 OK, I now have a very clear idea of what the outro should sound like – and this definitely isn’t it – although hopefully some of the intention/idea comes across. It sounds disjointed. What I really want is the arpeggiation to flow seamlessly into the razzes (a corruption of ‘rasgueado’ which saves me having to apologise to Flamenco purists) and into the single noting. Switching from razz to single line involves a repositioning of the hand – and at the moment, an unacceptably low success rate.
Another issue is that when I move to single noting it sounds a bit thin compared to the razzes and arps – in fact it sounds like the bottom has dropped out. I’ve got to thicken these lines up with some bass notes. There’s a bit of work to do yet – but at least I have a vision.
Nothing changes very fast with this song.
27/08/10 I was extremely nervous whilst recording this in the Wookie’s front room. The transition between the verses and the middle eight completely eluded me. Whilst trying to get my unravelled threads back together I realised that the song morphs from 6/8 to 3/4 at this point.
20/9/10 Nerves are a real challenge for me. I’m getting better but it’s a two steps forward one step back situation. Have a look at nerves to see how I’m dealing with this. Apparently, and this is not wholly welcome news, Segovia had the shakes to the extent that he always played his first few pieces badly, and then settled down for the rest of the concert.
27/8/10 Back at the barn a few nights later I’m still rehearsing the new instrumental outro and I find there’s bits of stray 3/4 (or can be) all the way through the piece – particularly on the dominant turnarounds.
I need to keep the improvisation feel and I’m not sure that actually being conscious of these subtleties actually helps.
There is also the ‘groove’ aspect – it’s supposed to drift in and out of groove naturally. Again, the more I rehearse and the more aware I become, the harder to maintain spontaneity.
I’m on thin ice here: you can have too much tempo rubato (flexitime). When it works it’s a tension and relaxation thing . Joe Pass did it just great, sustaining long passages of flexible time so that when he did strike up a genuine foot tapping groove it didn’t half swing.
If you’d like to comment about a particular note, chord, word or glitch you might like to visit the Small Symphonies Soundcloud.
Many thanks to the Wookiemonstah for his patience, hard work and inspiration.