boutell: (shave)
50 years ago today the Beatles landed at Normandy.

Sergeant Tom Hanks was nearly killed doing the twist before the roar of the teenage girls deafened the panzergruppen.

Still, some say music never recovered from the death of the Big Bopper in the Spanish Civil War.

Who can forget his immortal lines:

Today the inevitable increase in the chances of death;
The conscious acceptance of guilt in the fact of murder;
Today the expending of powers
On the flat ephemeral pamphlet and the boring meeting.

But tomorrow chantilly lace and a pretty face
And a pony tail hanging down
That wiggle in the walk and giggle in the talk
Makes the world go round.
boutell: (Default)
This is bullshit. I like synthesizers as much as the next postmodern freak, but if I pay $99999 to see real live actors sing real live Leonard freaking Bernstein songs in real live New York, I expect real live musicians backing them up. Not a preprogrammed synthesizer whose tempo is under the vague control of the conductor.

Otherwise... shit, may as well just watch the Gap West Side Story ads on YouTube for free and call it a day.
boutell: (Default)
[ profile] ms_violet asks, "pianists vs. guitarists: who would win in a fight?"

That depends. On a land map, I'd start by building an Epiphone Factory, max out production until I have a dozen Les Pauls and shred like hell. Before you can say "ALL YOUR BASS ARE BELONG TO US" I'll be IN UR BASS, ROCKIN UR DOODZ.

On an air map, I'd dig in for the long term... build a Baldwin Factory and a Gauss Trebuchet. Takes patience but the 88-note polyphonic impacts are totally worth it. Make sure you have a good sound card.

But just in case the other guy tries a Rush Rush, I'd build a few Men from Mars for defense. Everyone knows what they eat.
boutell: (Default)
1991: Tom is half asleep in a sunbeam. The Who, the Moody Blues and The Beatles fuse forever in his forebrain.
2009: REM joins the party.

"Timothy Leary (*)
Made my life so wonderful (**)
Timothy Leary
Helped me sleep at night

Timothy Leary's dead, dooby doo-doo (***),
Talking about the passion
Timothy leary's dead, dooby doo-doo,
Talking about the passion (****),
Timothy Leary's dead, and I say
It's all right
Be doobeedoop, doobeedoop, doobee doobee doooo"

(*) Moody Blues, "Legend of a Mind"
(**) The Who, "Pictures of Lily"
(***) The Beatles, "Here Comes the Sun"
(****) REM "Talking About the Passion"
boutell: (Default)
1986: "Hey Jude is a great song, but 'the moment you need is at your shoulder' is a pretty lame, forced line. Oh well, tough to rhyme with. It's okay guys, I'll let it go."

May 18th, 2009: "how about 'the moment you need is now unfolding!' Dude that's totally better. Too bad the Beatles aren't open source."

May 20th, 2009: "maybe it was that way all along? Let's google for the lyrics... oh. It's 'the movement you need is on your shoulder.' Which is a reference to a shrug. Which makes sense in context. Never mind."
boutell: (Default)

Pls note: while listening, visualize a high-budget music video in which beautiful scientists attempt to crush diamonds with a variety of implements while ignoring my text messages. Or something.

Listen to The Hardest Thing in the World

The hardest thing in the world
Is to do nothing
The hardest thing in the world

The hardest thing in the world
Is to pick up that beer
And let it sort itself out

'Cos you don't deal in patience
You remove all doubt
The hardest thing in the world

B C5 D5
Yeah you're a man of action
B C5 F
And you want answers
B C5 D5
But things don't work that way
Not even among dancers

The hardest thing in the world
C D Is to shut your

Mouth and let it be

But you can only do damage

By gilding

The lily

We all get the point
You've got a lot to offer
But when you close the joint
You're emptying your pockets

The hardest thing in the world
Is to let chemistry sort itself out
To not appear desperate
To not be desperate as well

A6 D5
But you were born for
C5 G6 G
Gestures and the stage

A6 D5
To let things take their
C5 D6 C5
Course is not your way

Hey I feel you
I feel you

The hardest thing in the world
Is to do bupkis
When you feel like
Somehow you should be able to
Turn them on to you 
boutell: (Default)
In fulfillment of [ profile] shadesong's request for a birthday poem, and also partial fulfillment of my pledge to do something creative for certain people in 2009, I hereby submit There Are Scars, a Lou Reedish number very much inspired by Her Songfulness.

Click here to listen to There Are Scars.

Lyrics and chords follow.

G                    C
There are scars that define us
G                    C
There are scars that shine
G                          C
There are scars we don't remember receiving
G                             C
It must've been a pretty good time

E7                        Am7
There are scars we didn't ask for
E7                Am7
In places I won't say
We make them ours anyway

There are scars that keep us warm
There are scars that align
(Yours and mine)

There are scars we are proud of when we see them in the mirror
Every time

There are scars that whisper
There are scars that bind

There are scars that are mostly internal
But now and they show outside
There are scars that provide
There are scars that are tougher than steel
Scars that slowly fade away
Day by day

There are scars that will never heal
Sometimes I like it that way

F#                           G#        A#       
I'm slightly broken and it's not a bad thing

            D#          C#        B            
I won't get jaded and I won't get bored
You won't be ignored

There are scars that never cease to inspire
Our souls will never be poor
Mine and yours

I push the limits and I run out of wax
Sometimes I burn my fingers
Don't want to relax

There are scars that drive us
There are scars that attract

We don't just linger what we do is abide
And I refuse to make a suicide pact

There are scars
There are scars
Yours and mine
There are scars
There are scars
Yours and mine
Yours and mine

boutell: (Default)

I am not materialistic. As a general rule.

But I just bought an Audio Buddy pre-amp, by M-Audio. And I need to be alone with it.

Last week I bought an XLR to mini-jack cable, which improved my recordings but only a little. I did yet more research and learned that the line-in jack of the Macbook is expressly line-level only and not suitable for the low voltage output of a good dynamic microphone like, let's say, my Shure SM-58. Which I have been underutilizing for at least two years now.

I read about awesome-but-expensive solution— lots of high-end USB audio input solutions. But I considered the facts:

1. I have a Mac
2. Macs are built for awesome
3. It has a line-in jack, which promises to be awesome at line level
4. I was throwing something far below line level at it and it was darn near coping already.

That led me to the M-Audio Audio Buddy. But I still had doubts about its affordability. Until I headed over to Musician's Friend and found it on sale for $59. Even less, scratch and dent.

The Audio Buddy is a simple little box with two channels— quarter-inch and XLR mic inputs, and quarter-inch outputs. You can get "stereo" output from it in order to record two tracks at once to, let's say, a Mac.

I missed the quarter-inch output issue when purchasing and didn't have the quarter-inch to mini-jack cable ready to go when it arrived, but a miracle happened: Radio Shack actually had them in stock for the reasonable price of $7.

The end result: awesome. Really, really awesome. I turn it up just a tiny bit and the Mac sucks up beautiful, noise-free sound. My long national nightmare is over.

All I have to do now is play competently. Crap, I knew there was a catch!

I can definitely recommend this unit to budget podcasters who are willing to spend a modest sum to GREATLY improve their home recording studio.

I also bought a pair of claves. And Eleanor taught me the right way to hold them, although it doesn't seem to make much difference with this pair. The claves themselves are an interesting recording challenge: I have to hold them WAYYY back from the mic to avoid clipping. But they sound quite decent once I do that.
boutell: (Default)
Last week I pledged to create something for the first five people who replied to the post. Surprisingly, only four people did. If you want to be recipient number five, go comment on that post now Edit: aaaand [ profile] shadesong makes five!

So I recorded a little ditty called Australia, which you can listen to or download on

But the big catch here is that I wrote this song with lucky recipient [ profile] xtingu's voice in mind, not my own! So I'm really hoping to hear her version of it. Possibly in partial fulfillment of her own obligations under the very same LiveJournal meme.

[ profile] xtingu, I can record a karaoke backup track if need be. Working with musicians more instrumentally skilled than myself is also more than okay!

I ended up recording this with my mac's built-in mic, which did a pretty good job, considering. But at least I wound up ordering the proper cable for my real mic. I'll probably rerecord it once I have that, and do separate vocal and guitar trax, and so on.

Lyrics and chords. )
boutell: (Default)
It's been a long time since I did the Songs to Order project.

Just now I was poking around and clicked on it on a whim and just started listening.

With a year's distance from all the flaws and screwups and shit that bugged me only because I was too close to it...

Whoa! This is a diverse and entertaining little indie album I should be completely proud of! Even the production values are pretty tolerable.

Why the hell did I stop?

Edit: eek my editing is spotty on the last few, which is a shame because some of them are strong songs.

Edit of the edit: but "Not Dracula" rules! I was hung up on the fact that it wasn't a particularly valid example of trip-hop and missed how good it is on its own merits
boutell: (Default)
Last year I wrote a Facebook application called Join My Band. It is not a frivolous application. It is a serious tool that helps you look for potential bandmates. And it's supposed to contact you if new matches are found in your area.

But hardly anybody uses it.

Today I was astonished to discover email from Join My Band informing me that some guy named Sam is in my area and has compatible musical skills and interests.

At this point I am incredibly busy and couldn't possibly join a band, but it's neat to know I coded this thing correctly and that Facebook has managed, so far, not to break their own API to the point where it doesn't work anymore.
boutell: (Default)
Don't Stop Tu Amor: Journey meets Marc Anthony )
Simple download link for those who have embed trouble (because we've only had this technology for over a decade now and it shouldn't be expected to work).

Don't Stop Tu Amor: Journey meets Marc Anthony. My first mashup. Whee!

I used Audacity to make this.

Some notes on making mashups with Audacity:

1. You must use Audacity 1.3, even though it is "still in beta" (after several years). Audacity 1.3 has the concept of splitting tracks into sections that can be easily moved around. Without that feature you will lose your sanity much more quickly.

2. You'll need to shift the songs into the same key. The simplest and cleanest-sounding way is to shift one song into the key of the other, and leave the second song as-is. If you don't already know what key a song is in you can usually figure it out quickly Googling for "don't stop believin chords" or similar. To change the key of a song, select "Change Pitch" from Audacity's Effects menu. Audacity can change the key of a song without changing the tempo, which is pretty awesome.

3. Matching up the tempo is 99% of everything. Some notes on how to do that:

Audacity has a great effect for this. Look for Effects -> Change Pitch and Tempo -> Change Tempo.

Treat one of the songs as the master, and bringing in small portions of the second song, a few measures at a time, on additional tracks. Make sure you're in sync on the portion you've done so far before you move on to the next. Adjust the tempo of each chunk of the second song individually.

The tempo adjustment effect can work in percentages, beats per minute or exact length terms. Exact length is very useful because you can use this approach, which I unfortunately didn't discover until just now:

A. Select the portion of the first song you're trying to match tempo with (presumably you've imported it as the first track of your project).
B. Turn on the "Length" radio box at the bottom of the Audacity window.
C. The length of the selection is displayed. Write it down.
D. Select the portion of the second song (imported into a separate project) that you plan to sync with this portion of the first song.
E. Paste it into place in the mashup project.
F. Select "Change Tempo" from the Effects menu. Enter the length you wrote down for the relevant segment of the first song as the length to change to and click OK.

If the tempo of the first song is consistent you'll be able to copy, paste and reuse the chunks you adjust in this way.

You have multiple senses, so use them. Don't try to sync up the tempo purely by ear. Mute the second track and play back the first, keeping your eyes on the second track. If there are clear drumbeats visible in the waveform of the second track, it'll be easy to see whether you need to shift the second track backwards or forwards.

Once you know which way to move, use Audacity's "time shift tool" (the doubleheaded arrow) to move chunks of music around. This is very helpful.

4. I broke this rule a lot, but... it's a lot easier to make a great-sounding track if you avoid using segments of the second song that have vocals in them, or at least keep the vocal segments to a minimum. I was in a bit of a bind because I really, really wanted some Marc Anthony vocals in the final product. But if I used them too much Journey would just disappear: Don't Stop Believin' is a classic (shut up, it is) but it can easily drown in the richer soundscape of a salsa track. So for most of the song I borrowed from the relatively simple and vocal-free intro segment of Tu Amor Me Hace Bien.

5. Sometimes when you paste material into track #2, Audacity will insist on moving the rest of track #1 an equal distance to the right, for no special reason. This is incredibly annoying, but I've discovered that you can work around it by pasting material into track #2 beyond the end of track #1. Then use the time shift tool to move that material back to where you really wanted it. A pain? Definitely. But it helped me get the job done.
boutell: (Default)
Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Now, a quick Mac music-making question:

I have an old MIDI piano. It's pretty nice for back in the day, velocity-sensitive and so on, although it doesn't have those awesome weighted keys that are common to high end keyboards now.

I never use it, Eleanor never uses it. But now I have a Mac with GarageBand and I mess around with the "musical typing" feature and it's kind of obvious that I'd like something better. So I'm considering hooking this thing up.

I can find $10 MIDI to USB adapters out there. Prices range up to $40.

Meanwhile, the KeyStudio 49, a MIDI controller (musical keyboard with MIDI output and no noisemaking powers of its own), is on sale in the Apple Store for $68 today. This item is presumably guaranteed to actually work with my Mac.

Hmm. My thinking is that I should go with an adapter and keep the niceish piano I have, unless more experienced Mac owners have doubts about the reality of its compatibility with the Mac. Any thoughts from folks who have adapted older MIDI instruments to talk to modern Macs and best practices for making that work without tears?


(I have a Black Macbook running Leopard.)

boutell: (Default)
This guy makes "literal videos:" classic music videos with new lyrics that describe exactly what is happening in the video. The vocals are so accurate I wondered at first if it was a self-parody dating from the late eighties.

Visit dustfilms for more I haven't seen yet, including Take On Me. Can't wait to watch that one.
Ganked from [ profile] solestria.
boutell: (Default)
Jenny: "so my keyboard has been fucked up when i open my computer and adds extra letters, esp in the middle row, for about an hour until it's all warmed up, i guess."

Tom: "I have 'mouse pointer clicking itself" problems with my own. It's the three-year-old-laptop curse."

Jenny: "mine isn't even two yet!"

Tom: "it's precocious. And it knows just what it takes to make a pro blush."

Jenny: "dammit! It was better for a while, now it's doing it again!"

Tom: "it's got Bette Davis i's."
boutell: (Default)
Hey, I got podcasted again. The podshow "I Still Get Demented" played "Comic Book Man." The podsafe music network did nothin' for me for close to a year, but more recently my stuff has been played twice. I have no idea how many listeners that amounts to... probably a modest number... but it's neat to see the stuff finding some sort of audience.

You can find "Comic Book Man" and the rest of the Songs to Order project on
boutell: (Default)
Looking back on it, Richard Wright had a big part in writing most of the Pink Floyd songs I'm not actively embarrassed to know by heart.

There's a salsa version of "Great Gig in the Sky" running through my head. Someone ought to get to work on that ASAP.
boutell: (Default)
I've been dancing for a while now, but the random made-up music I hear in my head when I wake up in the morning remained... some sort of vaguely indie rock... until about a week ago.

Now it's salsa.

Apparently the uncharted region of my brain that is responsible for making up songs finally has a large enough sample to make some.

This has led to some comic moments. Like picking up my guitar on a whim and being very frustrated because it is not trumpety enough. Nor is it trombonesque. Though it can make interesting congarish and clavic sounds when the body is tapped with fingers or with the pick, respectively.

I have also noticed that while salsa lyrics are occasionally in English, English as a whole is insufficiently Españolful. Which is only a problem because I've forgotten virtually all of my high school Spanish, and ¿Dónde está el cuarto de baño? does not an inspired lyric make.

I can dance salsa while clapping a clave beat, but I can't yet play the piano on one-two-three, five-six-seven with the left hand while playing on two-three, five-sixAND-eight with the right. Possibly a MIDI dance pad...
boutell: (Default)

WHAT: outdoor screening of the rockumentary "GIRLS ROCK! Claim Your Voice," plus live performances by Girls Rock Philly 2008 bands, including Irontree
WHEN: this Thursday, 7pm
WHERE: Liberty Lands Park, 913 N. 3rd St. (3rd and Poplar), Northern Liberties, Philly
COST: free! Just show up. "Picnics, blankets and lawn chairs welcome."

September 2014

2122232425 2627


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 20th, 2017 11:12 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios