Friday, August 29, 2008

Hella Gay Gordons

Living in 21st century North America our ears are insanely narrow. If there's a 4/4 drum beat behind something we like it, if not it's weird.

Turns out it works with Scottish dance music as well. Just a couple drum loops and my cheesy fiddle and harp rendition of a set of dance tunes for Gay Gordons sounds all cool.


Update OK. Maybe "cool" was an exaggeration. "More accessible to modern pop-music sensibilities." Yeah, I guess that's closer.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Half Way Back

Well. Almost half way anyway! Recording went well last night. I re-did all the instrumental tracks for Is Truagh Leam ar Scàradh and they came out so well I popped a vocal mic on the line and gave it a shot.

I'm not yet back to my respectable-but-not-amazing vocal chops, but I'm on the way!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Vandalism and Prejudice

Among the interesting things that happened last weekend in Vancouver, was the apparent vandalism of my car. The passender-side mirror was busted off and left dangling by its wire.

There's no way to know what the person's motivation was. They might just hate red cars. It was parked on the correct side of the street, with the passenger side toward the curb, so this was done by a pedestrian. None of the other cars on the block were disturbed, just the one with Washington plates.

Over the last seven plus years I've dealt with only a small amount of anti-American prejudice pointed directly at me. I have, however, listened to many hours of it from Lingoman's friends and relations pointed more generally at Americans.

It was such a shock after having been raised with a very positive attitude toward Canada to find out that our 'friends' up North take every opportunity they can to slag us off. I try to warn people who plan to vacation in Vancouver not to expect anything but their money to receive a warm welcome.

I guess being the child of immigrants with relatives in three countries, I have always felt able to separate my opinions governments and people; to acknowledge national stereotypes but not use them to evaluate actual human beings. I find it ironic that the Canadians I frequently hear lumping all Americans together under very ugly names are themselves indulging in stereotyping and prejudice.

It reminds me of 9/11 when a Canadian said to me "Well, that's awful, but America deserves it." I replied, "So, that young married couple who chose between being burned alive and jumping to their deaths holding hands deserved it because they stupidly allowed themselves to be born in America?"

OK. I need to stop writing about this for a while; I'm getting too mad. I've also met lots of Canadians who aren't like that at all.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Destroying the Evidence

After a day of listening to the CD of my disappointing vocal track I've decided to delete the track from Garage Band and destroy the disk. I've learned what I can from it and now I'm just torturing myself.

I know I can do better than that, and I will do in the near future.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Diva Has an Off Night

Setting up and tearing down the recording equipment is getting quicker and easier, but re-building my faded vocal technique isn't quick or easy.

The plan last night was to record the 'final' vocal track on Is Truadh Leam ar Scaradh but unfortunately the pipes weren't cooperating. I was getting progresively more discouraged, so I decided to stop fairly early. Listening to the track this morning in the car, it wasn't terrible, but also wasn't something I would play for someone with pride.

In the WTF category was the fact that there are two places in the melody of the song where it goes up to the D above middle C (not impossibly high for a baritone like me). The first one I nail every single time. The second sounds like someone is jabbing a fork in my thigh. Grrr

Cut back on the smoking, walk around Greenlake more frequently and keep trying.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dance, Cracker! Dance!

Last weekend, while getting ready for my gig as fear an taighe for some nice people's summer ceilidh, I realized that I had no appropriate recorded music for social dances. I thought I had a ready-made solution in the Féis Shiàtail songbook teaching CDs, but quickly realized that they were (for very good reason) limited to just the melody being played by an electronic piano.


Being pretty good at last-minute inspiration, though, I came up with the idea to rip MP3 files from the teaching tracks on the Féis songbooks and import them into Garage Band and then use them as guides. It worked really well! I recorded myself playing the tune sets on the fiddle multiple times (for that forgiving chorus effect) then added harp and bòdhran parts.

Sin agad e! My own self-produced CD of tune sets that I know inside and out designed for the specific versions of the dances that I know and teach. And the name? Dance, Cracker! Dance!

I know; I'm bad.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Weekend Recording

Boy, it's hard to add a post after the one below. How do I put a chatty, about me one above my announcement of the Grand Plan to unite polytheistic religions in an urban framework?

Oh well. Maybe doing this will inspire me to write another First Restored-themed post afterward.

Anyway, I stayed in Seattle last weekend to do a gig as fear-an-taighe. I decided that since I was going to be here anyway, that I should make some progress on scrach tracks for my solo CD. I really want to get all my creative decisions on solid ground before paying a recording engineer.

It went pretty well! I'm realizing that each track is going to have its own unique issues around sequencing and I just have to jump in and get started in order to figure that out. For example, in a big epic song I would normally want the vocals recorded first so that as accompaniest I could respond to the singers treatment of the melody. But, if I'm the singer, then I need some kind of a reference track to keep myself on pitch. Kind of a chicken-and-egg problem.

So, I got a decent rough-draft of Is Truagh Leam ar Scaradh done. I was hoping to have more than that to show for the weekend, but there was a complicating factor; I spent three hours on Saturday recording dance music for the gig that night. More on that later!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

First Restored Temple of the Gods

What do you think? Snappy, eh? Just to get this out of the way, the 'short' version will be "First Restored" not "FRTG." Acronyms are nasty. The name took a lot of thinking. I want it to be explicit that this is a new chapter in polytheistic religion, not an attempt to recreate a bygone era. However, I also want to be explicit about the fact that it won't be a Wiccan temple, neither Druid nor Dodekatheist. Everyone who honors the multiplicity of divinity is welcome.

So, the general idea is to create a framework which will allow polytheists of many flavors to meet and honor all the old gods with rituals old and new. I'm calling it "Big Tent Polytheism." Unlike many neo-Pagan efforts, I want to start with the building! I was discussing this with my friend x-Father X and after describing the temple of my dreams, he pointed out that I had just described the Pantheon in Rome.

Inside the temple there would be niches in the walls for statues of gods. I think it would be cool to group them together, but some kind of an organizing principle would have to be created.

A crazy dream? Maybe. Even if it doesn't happen in my life time, thinking about it and imagining it makes me happy.