Tag Archives: electronic music

Dido’s Lament – Music Video

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.

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Child’s Play – Music Video

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Last week I created a new music video.  Before we go any farther, just start it up.  It is only a little over a minute long (1:17 to be exact).

(Click here if you don’t see the video below)

OK, is it playing in the background?  Great.

I took two of the miniatures from my composition “Child’s Play” and rearranged them a little.  Actually the biggest rearrangement is making the super simple starting piece, “Happy Feet”, a little more complex by having it modulate from the key of G to the key of D.  When you hear it again at the end, that is how it is in “Child’s Play, Book 1”.  Actually, that piece, “Happy Feet”, is based on one of the first things I ever wrote, back when I was a Freshman or Sophomore in college.  I broke a few counterpoint rules at the time, which were fixed when I added it to “Child’s Play, Book 1”. Continue reading

Dark Echoes – Video

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Last weekend I was just playing around, improvising on some electronics.  I decided to make a quick recording.  The big thing is that I was using two different echoes set at different times to create a rhythm.  This created the backbone of the ditty.  I then improvised over it.  Not great, and very rough, but I like it… (hope to do a better recording later, but…)

(If you don’t see the video below, please click here) Continue reading

The Weekly Smile for the Tenth of February, 2020 #weeklysmile

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Last week was a pretty good week.  I felt well all week and things all seemed to go how they were supposed to.  But was there something special for a weekly smile?

I seem to repeat that last paragraph all of the time.  I feel like an echo.  Hey, echo!  That’s it.

(And since this is an echo, some may realize that I posted about this on Tuesday)

Last week I picked up a guitar pedal  that’s a digital recreation of a tape echo.  No I don’t play guitar, but I do play synthesizer. Real quick, an echo repeats sounds that were played into them.  Tape echos were hugely popular in the late 60s, and the 70s, particularly with the prog rock crowd.  You can read all about it hereContinue reading

Some Fun With Echoes… Video

Korg ARP Odyssey

I just picked up an Echoplex effects pedal.  A what?  OK, I know, something only hard core music geeks have heard of.  I will give a quick explanation, but I won’t blame you if you skip down to the video ;)

(start of technical part…)

An “echo” (AKA, “delay”) is just what the name implies – you put in a sound and you get a repeat of the sound.  You hear it all of the time in “modern” music (post-1950s) without hearing it.  In the late 60s and 70s a lot of artists pushed it so you did hear it – it became part of their sound (Pink Floyd) or was used on special occasions (the weird synth solo in the Styx song “Come Sail Away” starting about 3:15 in).  Continue reading

Video – Winter

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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

The Weekly Smile for the 9th of December, 2019 #weeklysmile

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It was an interesting week with some pretty good smiles, but I am going to back up a bit…. in a way.

I know many of you saw it, but I posted a video this week.  It is music I worked on in mid to late November.  I did mention it in a previous smile and said I would say more when it was finished and posted, so here it is: this week the smile is about posting it.

The video is The Coventry Carol. Very quick, so you can understand the video if you watch it, The Coventry Carol was part of a medieval mystery play is a lullaby to the doomed children of Bethlehem as the mothers wait for Herod’s men to murder all boys under 2 years old.  The music became a part of the holiday tradition during the Battle of Britain in WW2. It was played live on the BBC from the bombed out Coventry Cathedral on Christmas  day, 1940. Continue reading

The Coventry Carol – Video

Notre Dame

I have always like The Coventry Carol.  I’m into dark, medieval music, particularly Christmas music, which seems like it should be bright, not dark.  So I decided I wanted to record it.  But I needed a little research first.  I was surprised at what I found, and this led to the video (hint, read this before listening)

The carol was part of a “mystery play” that went back to the 14th century.  The words were written down in the early 16th century and the music in the late 16th century, some believe in a bid to try to get it performed again (it wasn’t).  This song is about the slaughter of the innocents.

Yes, The Coventry Carol is a lullaby sung by the women of Bethlehem to try to calm their frightened babies as they wait for Herod’s men to murder the babies. “Bye bye, lully lullay.” Nice, right? So “the little tiny child” in the song is not the baby Jesus, but some poor, doomed child.

The words and music survived as much by accident as anything, as such things do, and was revived again in the 20th century.During The Battle of Britain in WW2, the Germans bombed Coventry on the 14th of November, 1940.  On Christmas, 1940, the BBC played The Coventry Carol live as it was being sung from the bombed out ruins of the Coventry cathedral.

So the song went from the poor woman resigned to their fate when brought up against powers beyond their understanding to the women shaking their fists at the sky when brought up against these powers.  You may bomb us and kill our children, but we will rise from the ashes. Continue reading

The Weekly Smile for the 11th of November, 2019

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Note 2 – Putting it back to Monday – see if it shows up…

I had a lot to smile about this week, but the big thing was a studio redesign.  I have a small personal music studio up in my home office and I just tore it down and set it back up again.  I guess I do this every 4 years or so: This post from 2015 was the last time I did a major reorganization and in the post before, I wrote about last one in 2011.

I didn’t move any of the heaviest stuff this time, but I did disconnect every cable. I rearranged how instruments are sitting. I added a bunch of tools that I haven’t used in years, some of it it literally hasn’t been used in decades.

Before I reorganized I had to pick which instrument I was going to play. I now have quite a few set up. I also rearranged them, so I have a different work flow, which helps keep a creative edge. Reconnecting things I also made sure that the audio path was better.

This picture shows an in progress view. The keyboard on the left will eventually go above the silver one in the foreground. There are a few other changes. Continue reading

Review – Behringer VC340

B VC340

Last week I received a Behringer VC340 that I ordered a few months back.  This is a recreation of a classic synthesizer, the Roland VP-330 Vocoder Plus, which was made in 1979 and 1980.  Although the production of this synthesizer was short, it, along with the rackmount version, the SVC-350, is found all over music of the early 80s, including artists as far apart as Vangelis and Laurie Anderson.

The VC330, like the original VP-330, instead of being a general synthesizer is divided into three main parts: a string synthesizer, a “human voice” synthesizer and a vocoder.

The string synthesizer is just what it sounds like, a synthesized string ensemble sound that uses simple analog technology of the day.  String synths were very popular in the late 70s and the Roland version can be heard on a lot of music by a wide variety of artists.  It offers a simple tone (brightness) control, attack (how quickly the sound starts) and release (how quickly the sound fades after you take your hands from the keys). Continue reading