solarbird: (music)

Last week, I posted a work-in-progress roughmix of an instrumental track from the upcoming Free Court of Seattle book series soundtrack album.

I also posted the bass instrument, in excerpt form, as a solo track. It sounds like a a double bass (a.k.a. standup base) but, as I told everyone, it wasn’t that; I made something else into a double-bass, with studio tricks. And I challenged people to figure out what it was originally.

I’m afraid nobody got there. A couple of people got into the right category (“tonal percussion instruments”), then wandered back out again, because they kept being sure it had to be bowed, even after I said it wasn’t.

Because nobody guessed correctly, I’m assigning numbers and doing a random winner drawing from everyone who tried, across all reposts I know about! A d20 will work, which is convenient, so dice roll please…

THE WINNER IS DAVID, FROM THE ORIGINAL POST! Email me, David! Also I’ll send email if you left a valid one associated with your username.

As to the actual answer…

A Hammer Dulcimer

YES, REALLY. I thought I was tipping my hand, talking about the mysterious “bass instrument” at the same time that I was talking about Ellen’s hammer dulcimer, but I guess not!

The discovery was entirely accidental – particularly the bow sounds. That’s not hard work; that’s a processing artefact, I guess. I honestly don’t know.

Basically, I needed something to fill in down there, frequency-wise, to give the track some body. Usefully but separately, I had put four microphones on Ellen’s dulcimer, recording four tracks off it, with one in particular set up to pick up as much low end as her instrument could give me. But it didn’t pick up any more low-end than the bass bar microphone, and it also picked up a really “thunk”-heavy sound – every hammerblow got exaggerated. It didn’t add anything positive, so I was going to leave it out.

So I had a recording I wasn’t going to use anyway, and a need for something bassy. Using the built-in Ardour octave shifter, I dropped it two octaves to see how that sounded. The answer was “still terrible, and if possible, even worse.” I poked around with it, trying various things, and the answer kept being “terrible.” Less so, but still.

Then, on a whim, I dropped it another octave, and a miracle occurred.

I don’t know how, but suddenly I could hear bow noises – probably what happened to the thunk sounds – in a recording of an instrument that just plain sounded like a double-bass. Filter out the subsonics, and it became clearer. Filter out the high-end harmonics and again, clearer. After that, it was just treating it like a standup bass.

And I have no idea why. But damn, I am using this trick forever. :D

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

solarbird: (vision)

First! That pro-bono recording-restoration project I mentioned a week or so ago? The one with the interview with Buck O’Neil, of the Kansas City Monarchs of the old Negro American League?

I heard back from James today:

For the record, Bob Kendrick with the NLBM [Negro League Baseball Museum] said the audio is outstanding.

Awesome. This makes me happy. I’m really pleased they found it potentially usable. It’s the first time I’ve done this sort of work, and I’m really glad they liked the result. I hope they find a use for it.

Second: the allergy testing went fine; I’m much less allergic to grass than I used to be. Thank you, allergy shots.

And finally, the latest follow-up appointment to have my eyes checked again as I continue to recover from two rounds of emergency eye surgery a couple of months ago also went well; they told me get out and don’t come back for eight weeks, and that my vision is up to 20/25 with lenses on.

I have to tell you, I’d've thought 20/25 would be a lot better than this. But apparently, it’s not. Wow.

I’d also talk about the meetings earlier this week, but I can’t. Yet. I can say that something very cool and exciting came out of them, I just can’t say what. Hopefully I’ll be able to say more in a couple of months.

But it’s cool, and exciting. Hee hee hee. :D

I’ll be at the Welcome to Night Vale show at the Neptune tonight. Say hi, if you see me. Say hi, if you don’t see me. Say hi, to the faceless old woman who secretly lives in your home. You won’t know for sure that she heard you. But she did. She did.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

solarbird: (korra-smug)

Courtesy Criacow, this… this is beautiful.

My contribution, were I to make one, would possibly be:

#define fork sleep(1);fork

For once, do read the comments.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

solarbird: (korra-fruck-out)

This is epic – it’s a spaceship disaster simulator built into a caravan. Lots more details at the link, but here’s the video:

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

solarbird: (utena)

Apparently whether you can be a great violinist resides in large part in your left pinky finger. I mean, it’s the kind of thing that makes more sense once you read it, but who knew? I wonder how many serious violinists and fiddlers can’t do that. I’ve always had a large amount of “yeah? go fuck yourself” to “you can’t do that,” so I wonder whether this is one of those brick walls I’d throw myself against.

Tho’ not literally, because I have that left pinky finger property. Which clearly in and of itself does not make you a great violinist, because “Doctor, will I be able to play fiddle once the cast comes off?/Yes, yes, you’ll be fine!/That’s weird, I couldn’t play the fiddle before!” I guess you have to study and practice and stuff. But I do have the viLOLin – the $36 violin I picked up at a pawn – and I do want to learn to play sometime.

But that’s the thing, isn’t it? Too many pieces, too many parts, too many things to learn in not enough time. For me, it’s a bunch of music things, and languages. Now there’s a brick wall I throw myself against – I’m great at grammars, my accents are too good (in that people assume I’m fluent or even native-speaker and firehose at me), but I can’t learn vocabulary to save my life. As in, I’m so bad at it, my secondary school let me out of the language requirement, as long as I just kept trying.

Really, that’s what I need the brain enhancement for: memorisation. Particularly of language vocabulary, but not just that. If I could stick a chip in my brain and fix that? SIGN ME THE FUCK UP.

Should that be a poll? “What enhancement would get you to try it?” That might be fun. Suggestions in comments, if you got ‘em.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

solarbird: (molly-oooooh)

Going to get the stupid car today. The shop in Kelso can’t find the problem – or even recreate the problem so far – so we’ll be driving north in a tiny convoy, and I’ll have AAA on speed dial.

So here, have a Friday amusement. Seattle’s big passenger rail depot, King Street Station, is being restored. It’s been a huge undertaking and I’m really excited about it as someone who rides Cascadia Rail a lot.

Where it’s built faces two substantially different street levels; King Street is low, and Jackson Street is rather higher. So there’s an upper plaza while the rails, ticketing, and waiting rooms are down on the lower level. Originally, the Grand Stairwell connected the two, and you had entrances on both levels; the stairwell has been closed for decades, but they’re restoring it.

I just found out today that the Grand Stairwell was originally narrowed – but not yet closed – in 1949, to add escalators. I’d never even known those were there, as they’ve also been closed for decades. And following some threads on the construction update I was reading, I found this:


I’d steal it but according to SDOT in this thread, it was gone by the time they took over the station. So sad.

The station took the most damage in the 1960s (…of course…) as it was “modernised” with drop ceilings and and and. Thankfully, in the main waiting area, they did not rip out all the ornate plaster and marble work, but instead hid much of it, semi-intact, behind new material. More of it had to be removed – temporarily this time – for the seismic retrofit, but it’ll be coming back, along with repairs and replacements for the 1960s damage.

There are about eight zillion photographs here, and notes here.

Find some of the pre-restoration photos of the station if you can. That was just sad.

This weekend for me, assuming we make it back in one piece: more recording with Leannan Sidhe, then prep for Second Thanksgiving at the Lair. What’ve you got?

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

solarbird: (Default)
I wish I'd listened to Steely Dan's "Pretzel Logic," title track for the album Pretzel Logic, analytically, on headphones, a year ago. Or even six months ago. It's recorded late enough that they have really good equipment and late enough that they're getting adventurous, but not late enough that they're getting too complex and difficult to figure out by listening.

I probably wouldn't've known enough yet to pick up the lessons. But you never know. I might've.

Drums will be handled differently on Din of Thieves. So will anything on keyboards, which for me isn't much, but isn't zero. It'll be cool.

(Also, listen to the acoustic rhythm guitar on "Any Major Dude Will Tell You," same album. See what they did there? Write that down. But don't repeat it on the tambourine like in "Barrytown." That's just annoying.)

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