A few days ago, I came across a blog post by Dale that was about Joni Mitchell. She had chosen Joni as one of four female artists that she’d place on a “Mt. Rushmore” type monument to female musical artists. I can see that – she would deserve such a spot! I looked at Dales other posts and saw Carole King (great song writer and performer), Madonna (helped revolutionize pop music – several times) and Dolly Parton (a very talented lady and all-around good person and giving person).
Chatting with Dale in the comments, I wondered out loud who I’d chose for a female musical artist Mt. Rushmore.
It’s not an easy question!
How do you rank artists? By ones that are my personal favorites? By those with the biggest impact? Those who had/have the greatest talent? The most original? Those who charted over a period of decades? Some combination?
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.
Years ago I studied classical composition. After fiddling about for a year or so, I took lessons with an established composer. As part of my lessons I wrote a little “classical sonata”. It was more or less in a Mozart style, though perhaps it was closer to Clementi. If you don’t know Clementi, look him up! Although there are shining moments on this “sonatina”, I wasn’t satisfied. Continue reading →
I have a big smile, but first a mini-smile – I did not go on the Internet at all yesterday. No social media. No news. Nothing. Best break I have had in ages! I need to do it again soon…
OK, so the bigger smile – music. Have you seen any of those in-home concerts lately? A lot of big names have been giving them, as well as up and comings. I saw a bit of a live concert from fellow blogger, and excellent soprano, Charlotte Hoather, the other day. It was great,until their feed was interrupted. Still, glad I caught it!
Of course, there was the big on: the One World: Together At Home concert (the link goes to an 8 hour video ;) ). I have only seen a few clips and photos so far, but the entire idea was great. Everybody was there! Stevie Wonder did a great tribute to the late Bill Withers with his song “Lean on Me”. Taylor Swift did a a super personal song about worry for a sick loved one. Lady Gaga, who helped make this come true did the song Smile. Many others, from The Rollign Stones and Paul McCartney to Billie Eilish, performed. Here is an article on BBC. Continue reading →
Years ago I followed a music forum. One thing we did was a “Composition Challenge“. The winner of the last challenge would present a theme and people would create a composition based on that theme. Most of the themes had been difficult and produced more “modern” music, but the winner of Challenge 13 put up a very simple phrase.
OK, I decided to play a bit of a joke. I wrote a ground bass or passacaglia (think Pachelbel’s (misnamed) Canon in D minor) done with strings in 4-4 time, a Sousa style march done in brass and percussion – in “cut time” and a simple country dance (almost waltz) done with a small woodwind ensemble (I think flute, clarinet, english horn and bassoon) in 3-4 time. I then had them all playing simultaneously but ending together on a huge C major chord. Continue reading →
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 →
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…)
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 →
Hello and Welcome! Come on in out of the cold and I’ll get you a nice large mug of a very strong dark roast, a cuppa tea, some hot cocoa or other warm beverage – you’ll need it! It got down close to 0 F (-18 C) last night! It isn’t as windy as it has been, so actually feels “warm” and it will get above freezing for the first time in a few days. This coming week will be warmer than last. Good :) Oh, and were is it so cold? By the photo at the top you may be able to tell that we are in New Hampshire this week.
Happy Winter Solstice! OK, the solstice officially arrives a little before midnight tonight, but who’s counting? Next week the days will begin to get longer again. And there was much rejoicing – no more dark by 5 PM. Off course we still have winter to look forward to.
Winter part 1 – We had snow again this week. Not as much as a few weeks ago! It is pretty. I walk around without a phone or camera so don’t get many snow photos, but I did take my phone on one walk and took this: Continue reading →
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 →