There are always new exciting music software releases and naturally I’m tempted by these and think what they could bring to what I am working with, but I also try to consider can I make use of what I already have to achieve similiar results ? Of course, some things just can’t be replicated – instrument libraries etc. but other things can.
For example, I use FL studio as my primary DAW (digital audio Workstation) and because I’ve used it for years I am now pretty familiar with it. By thinking things through, I find I can (usually) recreate multiple effects and the like with things that I am already familiar with – combinations of filters / gates / delays etc. using a bit of ‘creative thinking’. Chaining effects together and re-ordering them was always something Brian Eno used to talk about regarding using the studio as an ‘instrument’ and it equally applies to the computer based studio too. Actually, I have found this to yield somewhat unique results too, as opposed to relying on a single plugin or piece of software to do it’s magic. Also I have to say, I find a lot of presets are often unrepresentative of what the plug in can actually do, delving into things further can produce more useful (to me) results.
So, there’s an element of ‘recycling’ and revisiting ‘old’ software that I try to adopt. I already have more than enough music software, a fair bit of that I never use and do I really need more, when I can make use of what I have ? Revisiting some unforgotten ‘hidden gems’ can be a pleasant surprise !
In the spirit of this post here is a fine device (a Zoom 8080) from the 90s that I have, which sounds better than modern plugins / similiar units in some settings.
2019 projects update
I am currently working away on a number of projects which I intend to release later in the year.
I’m mindful that it has been some time since my last album release and I intend to make 2019 a more productive year than 2018.
All taken with an iPhone 8 plus.
Processed with Focos
Processed with Focos
Processed with Apollo: Immersive illumination
Processed with Apollo: Immersive illumination
An ebow is a great combination with a fretless guitar. It’s not easy to play but it has a unique sound – almost like a ‘pseudo slide guitar’. it allows for non-chromatic slides, which isn’t possible on a regular fretted guitar. I’m hoping to use it as something of a ‘signature sound’ on my upcoming ambient guitar project (to be released at the end of 2018). It has made me learn some new things, as I can’t play the usual ‘licks and riffs’ on it (as I tend to on a regular guitar), which is somewhat refreshing !
Regarding non-ebow playing, a fretless guitar doesn’t sustain like a regular guitar does and playing with spot on intonation gets tricky (particularly higher up the fingerboard) All round, I find it’s a challenge to play, but very interesting nonetheless. With fretless in general, legato lines become very fluid and vibrato becomes much more of a musical parameter.
Here’s my Samick / Greg Bennett guitar, now converted to fretless. It had fret issues and I was about to ditch it, but before I did, I thought I’d have a go at converting it to fretless. I bought a dedicated fret pulling tool, which took the frets our pretty cleanly, then applied five coats (or so) of super glue to thew fingerboard, then a radiused sanding block to sand down the super glue flat (going through a few grit grades of wet and dry). Lastly, a rub down with a polishing compound. It’s not perfect (I think the neck may be slightly warped), but it’s now functional.
Album projects update:
I’m rather behind schedule for my next releases, the reasons for this are twofold:
1) I needed a break. I have been releasing consistently for some time now and I felt my creative juices were in need of rejuvenation – the last thing I want to do is to go in ‘auto-pilot’ and release very samey sounding albums, so a break (which wasn’t entirely a ‘break’, as I’m still perusing / experimenting with ideas) was in order.
2) Guitar stuff – for one of my upcoming projects, I need to practice guitar to a degree where I become far more fluid in my playing (as I needed to with the fretless bass, for my last album). I also have been buying guitars, which takes quite some time to get them to be in a good playing / working order. I’m experimenting with all manner of guitar / pickup combinations to find the ‘tone’ that will suit what I have in mind for the project.
I have been creating videos of some of the guitars / sounds I’m planning on using. They will more likely to be of interest to people interested in those instruments. However as I have to do multiple takes to get a decent performance, there is an element of playing live which may be of interest (particularly as I don’t actually perform live)
Hopefully, towards the end of 2018, I will be closer to finishing these projects off.
Early Spring Images 2018
Selection of recent images, all taken with iPhone 8 Plus:
I also have one of these new fangled Instagram places too:
Guitars, repetition and learning.
I’m currently playing the guitar a lot more for one of my upcoming projects and I’ve noticed how much I tend to repeat myself in my playing. if I don’t monitor what I’m doing I go into ‘auto pilot’ and play very old (to me) riffs, licks and patterns. While it could be said that that is part of one’s style, it could also be seen as not exploring new areas / falling into well worn habits. So I’m trying to do some new things, particularly in my solo playing. One thing that helps is actually just playing more ! I find the ‘improvisational brain’ tends to work better when it becomes more used, as well as do the motor skills required to undertake what said brain requires. This is an issue for me in that I’m over 50 now and I just don’t have the ‘chops’ that I had when I was younger, but I can still see the benefit of recent practice, in this area. I feel that guitar playing is a ‘perishable skill’ in a lot of ways and long breaks from playing make for a longer time to get back into some kind of fluency.
In a wider sense, being aware of habitual repetitions and the like applies to music making in general (as well as one’s personality) and observing these habitual behaviours and then (more importantly !) endeavouring to do something to try to change them.
Anyway, here’s a video of me noodling – with some ‘fresh’ (I hope) variants ! I haven’t done any guitar videos for quite some time now (almost three years) and I’m now more fluent, currently. More to come on my YouTube channel.