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Landmark passed

1050The last couple of months have been crazy busy and I’ve not had the time I want to devote to this blog and my music generally, but I couldn’t let a landmark pass without sharing.  Odd how we attach significance to arbitrary numbers, but I tipped over the 1,000 subscribers to my YouTube channel sometime in March, and then a whole bunch more added themselves. As I post this today, I’m actually at 1,050 subscribers.  So if you’re a subscriber, thanks for the support and encouragement.  If you’re not, please subscribe, but either way, if there is a topic or theme you would like me to cover in a video or videos, please let me know.

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From the Boiler Room: Taking Stock

oasis_poolI’ve been away for 10 days recently; along with my wife and family, I was relaxing on Fuerteventura, a frequent holiday spot for us for several years.  As well as some real books, audio books, podcasts, new music downloaded from Spotify and old music downloaded from my PC, I also took with me work-in-progress mixes of the album of songs I’ve been working on for the last year.

Part of the issue with working on a solo project is that there’s no one to make you carve out the time – you have to do that for yourself, fitting it in around the multiple demands of “normal” life.  It’s more difficult on your own than when it’s a joint project, because the need to make space for your partners forces you to set some mutually convenient time aside, and everyone makes the effort to keep that regular space in the diary. There’s also no one to tell you when things sound great or, (more importantly), where an idea doesn’t fit or a direction isn’t working.  You have to gauge that for yourself.

[Read more…]

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Unlearning the value of 0

power_of_0I started my recording career in the days of tape, when there was something above 0 on the old-style VU meters and you worried about things like “the noise floor” and your signal-to-noise ratio.  Your aim when recording was to get the meter peaking as close as you could to just left of 0VU and  going as little as possible, (preferably not at all!), to the right.  Switching to DAW metering, where there is nothing above 0dB and getting too close can be undesirable, involved a major mind-set adjustment – once I realised that my analogue ways of working were incompatible with digital.  I’ve cheerfully recorded songs in my DAW with the aim of getting the maximum level recorded, so fearful was I of a poor signal-to-noise ratio, that I never stopped to consider that there is very little noise with digital – the technology that introduced the noise, those long bits of magnetic tape on spinning reels, isn’t there anymore.
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From The Boiler Room: Back In The Saddle

BTICD_GtrsIf you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I’ve been working on an album for what we might diplomatically call “a while”. You might also have noticed that there were no March or April updates “From The Boiler Room”. Whilst I was working away from home, I had the luxury of three nights a week to work undisturbed on the album and on recording my YouTube videos, but since March, I’ve been working close to home. Living back at home hasn’t had the effect you might think of allowing me more time – progress has been, shall we say, intermittent, as I’ve used the time to catch up on things that needed doing, as well as taking my son to watch Manchester City win their last three home games to become Premier League Champions.

You can keep making excuses, but eventually, you have admit that you’re just not getting the job done, [Read more…]

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From the Boiler Room: February Update

drum_comboThe drum parts for all of the original songs are now complete, as are the bass parts. There may be some tweaking of the basslines as the arrangements develop, but they’re there or thereabouts for all songs. The drums are mainly the EZX Indie Folk and Americana kits, (a 50-50 split), but I couldn’t find the right parts for “One More Time”. In fact, anything I tried, no matter how simple, seemed too busy or just leaden, so I’ve opted for some simple (EZX) Latin Percussion on that and it’s just enough to provide some movement without becoming a distraction. [Read more…]

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From The Boiler Room: Bass Line Sprint

broomstickWith the end of the holidays fast approaching, I was able to take some time to get some actual recording done.  Serial bass line recording was where I started.  I’ve got drum parts down for most of the tracks using the EZ Drummer libraries, but my efforts to generate acceptable basslines from Broomstick Bass’ internal library were (almost) going nowhere, so I abandoned that as an idea and reverted to playing them in off a keyboard.  In the space of a couple of hours, I had bass parts for 4 songs recorded and ready for editing and a second session yielded seven more – sometimes, you just have to go with what you know.  I’ve uploaded videos showing how I’ve gone about editing them to the YouTube channel.  Why almost?  Well, as you might expect, there was the exception that proved the rule – the bass line for “A Winter’s Blues” is, as it stands, what was generated by Broomstick Bass from the Chord Track. [Read more…]

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From The Boiler Room: January Update

renaissance-bassSo Christmas is a time for relaxing, taking time out and doing the fun things in life, right?  What world are you living in…..  I had no sooner posted the December update than progress came to an almost complete standstill, as preparations for the festivities took over and I was presented with enough vegetables to feed a small country for a year that needed to be peeled and sliced by Christmas Eve.  Add in the welcome opportunity to spend some quality time with a family I don’t see enough of and there aren’t enough hours in the day.  However, in the lull between New Year and actually going back to work, I did manage to squeeze some time in for music.  Oddly, the most satisfying thing was the least productive – I took advantage of being home for a few days to clear out the flotsam and jetsam that tends to accrue in my study whilst I’m away.  I now no longer have to step over random boxes to get to my chair and when I sit down, I sit down at a clear desk.  Luxury! [Read more…]