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The July of Experimentation

27 July 2014 in [blog]

I’ve tried a bunch of new things over the past couple weeks, all of which are worth playing with if you’re interested.

  • Harmonica – With the help of some great YouTube videos, I’m finally learning to bend notes on the harp in preparation for a specific overdub I want to do on Cory’s solo record.  As one of the videos said, it’s kind of like mimicking Darth Vader’s breathing, but with a harmonic in your mouth.
  • Funkbox – A really fun vintage drum machine emulator and then some for iPad/iPhone.  I’m trying it before dropping semi-serious money on a VolcaBeats for a back-burner project with Drew.
  • Slide guitar – If by “slide,” you can imagine “a Sharpie held awkwardly in my left hand.”  It’s gone well enough that I probably need a real slide, though.  This is also in anticipation of some overdubs on Cory’s album, in concert with…
  • Open G tuning, also known as “how Keith Richards plays.”  All those brilliant Stones riffs that are nigh-impossible in standard tuning?  No problem in open G.  Differing slightly from Keef, I’m using the top 5 strings for open G, and tuning my low string down to D so I can still play two-note power chords on the two lowest strings.
  • Tilt/Slant EQ – This simple but underused approach to EQ takes a center frequency and boosts treble / cuts bass (or vice versa) with a very even response, just like it sounds (more details here; the link is about a specific product, but does a good job of elaborating on tilt EQ generally).  It’s best used at lower levels, up to +/- 6 db or so, to brighten or darken sounds very naturally and transparently.  I’ve been testing it on an overly dark bass track to lighten it up a bit, with good results, and I think I’ll be using it a lot on future mixes.  Dedicated Tilt/Slant EQ hardware or plugins can be hard to find (there are some VSTs out there that I haven’t tested), but you can make your own by combining high and low shelf EQs with the same cutoff frequency and lower Qs.  Center frequencies typically range from 600 – 1000 Hz.

Have you tried anything cool lately?

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Pyramids, Crystals, and Nazis

5 July 2014 in [blog]

What do they have in common?

If you dig into what’s been written on reference pitch (which I’ve posted about before), you’ll encounter all kinds of strange alleged connections; that the Great Pyramid in Giza resonates at a certain pitch (it must resonate at some pitch, though the idea that it was designed for a specific pitch stretches my imagination), that the Nazis standardized A=440 Hz as a subtle means of thought control (actually it seems to have been piano tuners in New York in the ’20s), on and on.

Ignore it (or choose to be amused by it).  What matters is how the music sounds.  After recording yesterday with a reference pitch of A=424 Hz for the first time, I’m convinced 424 Hz is musically superior to 440 Hz as a standard reference.  424 Hz is a little over a quarter-tone (62 cents, I think) flat from 440 Hz.  For reference, using A=440 Hz, the Ab immediately below A would be at 415.30 Hz.

A=424 Hz is easier for me to sing in.  My acoustic guitar seems to resonate for longer, with richer harmonics.  Hopefully you’ll start to hear it as we release new music; the new Mars Lights EP is being recorded at A=432, and the songs I did yesterday will appear on the MR|Ten compilation in September.

pedalNot many tuners will let you adjust your reference pitch that far down.  One that does, that I use, and that also happens to be a great, true-bypass, chromatic tuner is the Snark SN-10.  I paid full price for mine, and am entirely happy with it, especially when using the trick of rolling back my guitar’s tone knob all the way to better let the fundamental frequency through the signal.

Have I convinced you to experiment with your reference pitch yet?

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Tim Captures Mars Lights at FOKL

28 June 2014 in Images

MarsLightsFOKL

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Check Out Song Exploder

21 June 2014 in [blog]

Stereogum linked me to the Converge episode of the new-ish Song Exploder podcast the other day, and it’s well worth a listen. Their tagline sums it up; “where musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made.”

I was surprised to hear Kurt mention a Boss metal pedal, since their reputation is generally poor. He might have been talking about one of the Hyper Metal pedals, and not the Metal Zones; anyone know for sure?

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Mars Lights THIS FRIDAY at Fokl, KCK

18 June 2014 in News

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2014 June 20, Friday – Kansas City, KS – Mars Lights at FOKL w/ Expo 70 and Parents.  All ages, free, 9 PM.

2014 August 28, Thursday – Kansas City, MO – Mars Lights at Czar Bar w/ Vehicles.

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On My One Visit To Ventura…

11 June 2014 in Images

Back in March 2006, Cory and I thought that we’d be recording the album soon.  We did a DIY cover photo shoot at the pier in anticipation of that.

Here’s an early version of what that cover would have looked like.  The font and general color scheme persisted to the final version, but the live shots were too old to really use eight years later.

VenturaEarlyCover

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Ventura Alternate Cover

7 June 2014 in Images

At the last minute, I pulled this guy from the cover of Ventura.  A sun wearing sunglasses seemed like enough silliness for the record, without bringing intertubes memes into the proceedings.

In case you prefer it, though, here he is:

Ventura CoveAlternate

Happy little guy.

If you switch, would you let me know in the comments?

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Back in November,

3 June 2014 in [blog]

I didn’t know why Jill asked for the lyrics to “Make Our Sound.”

Over the next few weeks, I forgot about it entirely.

When I found out what she’d been up to, though, it all made sense.

VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100I accept the gentle teasing about getting Ventura done with gratitude; to me, it means that it matters to someone, and I love having a piece to remind me of that, and of the friend who created it, every time I pass by it.

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An Autumn Psalm by Clyde DeWitt

28 May 2014 in [blog]

Below is the poem “An Autumn Psalm” by Clyde DeWitt, who I knew through St. Peter’s.  The poem, published in his funeral bulletin, inspired the song “Make Our Sound” on Ventura.

Omnipotent and omniscient God
who alone can truly comprehend time and space without end;
We who are in the autumn of our lives on this tiny planet
give thanks for the gift of what to us
has seemed a long and fulfilling life.

We give thanks for the chance to see the beauty of nature -
the earth, the water, the skies, the trees, the flowers -
and to observe nature’s creatures.

We thank thee for the gift of love
reflected in the love for us from those here
and from those parents, kin, and friends who have gone before us,
and the love we have for mates, for children, for their children, and for friends.

Oh Lord, let them feel this love as the autumn of our lives
becomes the winter,
and even when our bodies turn to dust.

Lord, grant us the wisdom to live our autumn years with grace,
being forever grateful for the joys of life
we have already been granted.

May we share with others the bounties we have been given
and our fleeting insights into your wonderful wisdom.
Give us the courage to face the aches and infirmities of these autumn years.

And let them never keep us from beaming with our thanks
for the great joys you have bestowed upon us;
and when our mortal time draws to a close
let us depart with grace,
knowing it is simply a part of your holy plan,
and that the spirit of life and love will continue without end.

Amen.

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Ventura Lyrics

24 May 2014 in [blog]

Coast & Plains

They say that everyone feels a certain way
About the place they grew up in; they either hate it or love it
And every time you try to leave, it pulls you back
Like a lover who’s untrue, you try and leave and it kills you

Back home; the place that you came from

You left the uptight coast behind for the great midwest
What you thought you wanted, but the good life was haunted
And then you get this idea floating around in your head
Home wasn’t so bad, but you know that you can’t go

I’m one person leading two different lives,
Trying to make the coast and plains coincide

Back home; the place where you belong

Large’s Garden State

Sam, you know that you’re too cute
Strobe lights and unexpected shakes
Never got the best of you
My week back home’s been shot
Every which way but loose
You’re the weak link that broke addiction’s hold

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