In a post last week I said that I was working on a new song. Well, I finished it over the weekend. It started with a little part I wanted to record so that I would remember it. From there it turned into a real pop song. Yeah, with words and everything!
A few quick comments before I turn you lose with this. Although parts of this recording are “finished”, this is very much just a quick demo, or, if this were one of my stories, this is a rough, first draft (don’t worry – if you have read a story on my blog, it was a rough draft….). I can hear many things I will change if I decided do this a little more seriously. And I might.
Last week I worked on a little music project, arranging and recording an electronic version of Henry Purcell’s great aria Dido’s Lament (technically it is named “When I am laid in Earth” but everyone knows it as “Dido’s Lament”) .
Quick back story – Henry Purcell was a 17th century English composer and is regarded as one of the greatest English composers of all times (until he 20th century, no other English born composer compared since Handle was not born in England). One of his most famous works was the opera Dido and Aeneas, based on the Aeneid.
After escaping the downfall of Troy, Aeneas ends up in Carthage. Dido, the queen of Carthage, falls in love. He would happily spend the rest of his life there, but destiny calls; he has to found Rome, you know. So he leaves, and Dido commits suicide.
The opera ends in three pieces: a recitative to introduce the aria, the aria itself, and then a choral part in all of its Baroque counterpoint glory. The recitative (Thy hand, Belinda) is often performed with the aria while the chorus isn’t, but to me the chorus caps it all off greatly… But that aria, called Dido’s Lament, is what most people know.
Have you ever taken a music appreciation class (talking Western Classical music here)? If so, you most likely have heard this before. It does a great job of demonstrating a few Baroque techniques, such as ground bass (that part you hear from beginning to end). It is also often called one of the saddest songs in Western Classical music.
I picked up a Sequential (DSI) Prophet Rev 2 polyphonic analog synthesizer a couple of weeks ago. After two weeks of playing, I decided to make a recording and talk about it.
First a few terms. “Analog” means that the sound is created by electronics as a continuous electrical signal which is then manipulated by other electronics. I know,obtuse, but that definition is a contrast with “digital”, which means the sound is created and manipulated by a computer. Most of the first commercial synthesizers were analog.
I said it was a polyphonic synthesizer (poly-synth). In this case “polyphonic” means more than one note can be played at once, sort of like a piano, with each note being distinct. The distinct note is called a “voice” – my Prophet Rev 2 is an 8 voice synthesizer (16 voice Rev 2s exist – more about this later). The way this works is that each voice is played by a completely different synthesizer! In the late 1970s, Dave Smith perfected a way for a computer to store values for a synthesizer so that all of the different voices (synthesizers) could have the same sound though the user only has to set up the sound once (one set of controls). It also let the user save sounds. This instrument was the Sequential Circuits Prophet 5. It helped to revolutionist the music industry and, actually, music itself.
One of the reasons I have been off line for the last few days is that I have been working on some music. I now have something to share with you :)
Quick background – I studied classical music composition in the mid naughts (00s). To hear the music I was composing, I used a product called GPO. You can hear this on some of the videos on my video page. Sounds pretty realistic, if not exactly like a live orchestra.
As some of you may have seen, lately I have been playing with old-school analog modular synthesizers. What? OK, that sounds odd, but this is the type of synthesizer they used in “the old days”, synths that sounded like synths. The “modular” part means that I pretty much create a new instrument using patch cords every time I make a sound.
Lately I have had the idea to recreate some of my old music using this even older technology. It won’t sound as realistic, but perhaps it will add something. Continue reading →