Category Archives: Music

Song 10 – Strange Death

I’ve not posted any music in quite a while so here’s the 10th song/demo that I was working late last year (the others can be heard here). I never got round to recording the vocals to it and had a bit of free time a few weekends ago so I thought I might as well do it while I had the time.

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The Joys of Varispeed

Varispeed (changing the speed and pitch of audio like you could do with tape) is one of my favourite audio effects. It was more common in the analogue days because it was easier to slow tapes down that to do the equivalent with digital. [Cockos’ Reaper has a great varispeed facility but several DAWs (Sonar, I’m looking at you…) have yet to implement anything like it. This is actually one of the main reasons I’ve started to migrate from Sonar to Reaper.] Varispeed is the thing that lets you get the “Chipmunk” vocals.

But sounding like The Chipmunks isn’t why it’s interesting – that’s even to be avoided! Nor am I talking about slowing tape down to half speed, playing and guitar solo and pretending you’re Eddie Van Halen. That’s one possible use but is rather crude. No, it’s about getting new and interesting sounds out of the same instruments.

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Working on Music

As part of my New Year Goals I decided to “write 40 minutes of music – currently planned to be a 40 minute “concept” song about Northern Ireland. Chart topping hit in the making!”.

Since that time I’ve made some progress with 4 different sections/movements/songs on their way to completion. The music is a bit different to the other stuff I’ve posted to this blog. Instead of being folk with a bit of electronics and lots of delay effects it’s shaping into something more varied and Rock-y.

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Music via Ambisonics

Late last year I was playing around with some songs I’ve recorded and doing some quick 3rd order Ambisonic mixes. It got me thinking about what I wanted to use Ambisonics for and how best to present my songs using it.

[Just as a side note, I’m talking here about “pop” music mixes, not electro-acoustic music where use of spatial audio is much more widespread.]

For example, do I want to use the full 360 degrees (or full sphere if were doing 3D) for the sounds or is it better to stick with a frontal sound stage and just use surround for ambience, which is common in 5.1 music mixes?

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From Demo to Final Versions

I’ve been posting demos of songs I’ve been working on with the intention of recording them into an album. I’ve been waiting to get my new electro-acoustic guitar before I started. Well, it’s finally arrived and once it’s adjustment/set-up at the guitar shop (hopefully today, maybe tomorrow) I can start recording with it.

So that means I have to start looking at the nine demos I’ve recorded (and the one or two other songs I’ve finished but not fully demo’d) and see how I can make them fit together as a cohesive whole.

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Demo 9 – Time to Go

So this is the penultimate demo I’ll be posting. Then I’ll be taking a bit of time to evaluate, re-work and re-arrange them so that they all seem like they fit together. It’ll give a me a bit more time to work on my Ambisonics VSTs as well now that I’m not so much in songwriting mode.

This song originally was originally inspired when I was thinking back to last year’s BBC documentary “Choosing to Die” in which Sir Terry Pratchett explores the issue of assisted dying. It also happened that long time campaign Tony Nicklinson died just as I was finishing the lyrics and I almost completely scrapped the song because it just didn’t feel like it was possible to do the issue justice with my limited lyrical talent. In the end I decided to keep it and just keep trying to work on it to improve it between now and recording the final version.

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Demo 8 – Across the Sea

So it’s been more than a month since I posted a song so I thought I should get back to it since it was the original aim of this blog…

Anyway, this song was written and recorded a few months ago and of the songs I’ve posted so far is the only one that’s not a political/social comment one. It was nice to write something a bit more personal after doing a lot of songs looking out at what else was going on in the world (even if they’re all written as if they’re somewhat personal songs). I’d say that the tone fits with the other ones since there’s a tinge of sadness but, unlike most of the others, there’s also a shade of hope in the chorus that gives it a bit of a lift.

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