Gordon's Progress

Posted: 1/29/2006 3:50:05 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Today I feel like Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc. :-)

This posting (http://www.thereminworld.com/forum.asp?F=801&T=1682&cmd=p) over in the World Thereminization forum explains why.

(If you haven't seen Monsters Inc. (why?) there is a scene where he is overjoyed to be on TV despite the fact that he is the exact same shape and size as the logo that obscures all but his arms and legs on the screen.)
Posted: 1/30/2006 5:34:02 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

I noticed that my 100th posting to Theremin World was on its way, and I thought it would be good to use it to Say Something Important. So I'm going to be serious for a moment.

As a father I try to teach my children that It Is Important To Say Thank You And To Mean It.

So I'm saying Thank You for Something Important to me.

My primary reason for playing the theremin is therapeutic. It requires and encourages a state of relaxed focus. As I spend a good deal of my time with tense muscles and a woolly head this is a Good Thing. Having another reason to do it is also a good thing as I try not to do anything purely to pamper to my ailment - it's part of not being a victim to ME - so having Theremin World as a place where I can use my explorations as a way of being able to contribute something which I hope is informative or entertaining or thought provoking for some of it's visitors is also a good thing, and I would like to thank Jason for providing it, and to every person who has made encouraging noises in my direction in this thread and elsewhere, and to all the posters of the fascinating and educational postings that have helped me think about what I am doing.

The second thank you is to David Vessel and everyone who makes the music he plays. Thank you for providing a weekly reminder of what is possible and for providing inspiration, entertainment and perspective for my little efforts. In particular thank you for finding enough room in the new format for all those luscious ambient tracks, and specifically, to single out one person - Chris Conway, for Aisle.

There are a very few pieces of music that have the almost magical quality of taking me out of myself and totally involving me in a world of sound and for me that is what makes the best music - outwardly I may have been washing the dishes and listening to Spellbound earlier this evening, but the arms and eyes were on autopilot while my awareness was floating in another place entirely for I don't know how long of pain-free bliss. Wow!

And thank you to Lev for inventing an instrument that so closely fits my needs, and to Kees for making mine.

OK, that's more than enough seriousness for one posting, so I'll sign off.

Posted: 1/31/2006 11:06:41 AM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

and now for something completely different...

Encouraged by the absence of negative feedback, I have taken kkissinger's suggestion and added an accompaniment to one of my poems.

Hear it here. (http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandID=475314)

What have I done different? I have unplugged my delay box from the theremin and just gone for a simple little melody rather than layering everything up and throwing everything into the mix. Recoiling from my previous piece, in short, and trying not to hide behind security blankets. Also it's a lot shorter. :-)


--- Actually, feedback would be nice - silence tends to be so inscrutable. In case you are having trouble finding the right words, here are a few stock phrases guaranteed not to offend.

"You couldn't find a note with both hands and a map."
"Thank you for making my music sound good."
"This is to music what rhinoceroses are to flower arranging."
"Have you considered life as a Trappist monk?"
"Brevity really is a virtue, isn't it."

Posted: 1/31/2006 3:46:39 PM

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

Hi, Gordon.

You've got a million dollar voice. Great job on the poetry reading.

The only thing that might improve this is to play softer while you are speaking. Sometimes the Theremin part covered up the words.

You are always very entertaining and your enthusiasm is contagious. Makes me want to get to work in the studio.

-- Kevin
Posted: 1/31/2006 7:59:59 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Thank you.

"Needs less theremin."

Noted. :-)

Good point, actually - need to compensate for people not having memorised the words beforehand.

On the other hand, it did amuse me to put that piercing howl of a note right over the top of "banshee wail" - it seemed apt. Oh, which reminds me - can you believe this? The silly judge at last week's camera club said - almost this abruptly - "there's no place for humour in amateur photography". I declined to share my opinion with him. (The problem with serious photographers is their photos are unrelentingly serious.)

So yeah, get thee to thy recording studio kkissinger. And I'll tell you what else is fun - when you've finished your drawing and put the wax crayons away, you get to put it on the refrigerator door.

So I've made my instant pop video - hurrah for quicktime pro and archive.org (http://archive.org)! - and pinned it to the fridge door here (http://appserver.veoh.com/mediaDetails.html?permalinkId=e31709).

And my wife likes this one! (Soup Dragon got me a rather weird look by way of a review. :-)


Edit: Random thought from the video - wouldn't a tuning fork shape make the ideal pitch antenna - it could double as a tuning fork!
Posted: 2/1/2006 8:37:33 AM

From: Ypsilanti, MI, USA

Joined: 9/29/2005

Sorry I've been MIA. I just bought a house and it's needed some work before I can move in.

I'm really digging "Beneath the Cavern of the Soup Dragon!" If I had any suggestion at all it would be to add some percussion. A radiator or metal garbage can with some heavy reverb would be really cool.

On "My House Resounds", I think you went with the right choice for a cleaner theremin tone. Your playing is improving. Kudos! If you wanted to reign in the theremin to help the vocals stand out a bit more, I would try using some compression before actually pulling back the volume. Also, if you can punch up the EQ on the vocal a bit around the higher regions and pull back on some of the lower frequencies it might help distinguish it a little more from the theremin. I can't remember if you're using Garageband or not. If you are then you have access to these effects (they are very limited, but can do the job). Use your ears. They are your first and best tool when it comes to recording.

I personally like the vocals to sit in the mix (ie The Jesus Lizard, Big Black, Butthole Surfers) rather than above it (ie most pop music). There is a spoken word piece on Crass' Feeding the 5000 that I've always loved, primarily because it's a challenge to pick out the wording. It all comes down to your own tastes, though. As Steve Albini once said, "I believe almost all great art is made with some measure of disinterest in its audience."

Keep making great music!

Ed of the Weirding Way
Posted: 2/1/2006 8:43:46 AM

From: Ypsilanti, MI, USA

Joined: 9/29/2005

BTW I second Kevin's take on your enthusiasm. Reading your posts makes me want to get to work on some music. If it wasn't for this whole moving across town and getting reacquainted with spackle and paint....
Posted: 2/1/2006 12:00:02 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005


I thought of you today. Little story which leads into my next little project - remember my anagram poem Industrial Radio earlier in this thread - I dropped a copy on poetry.com - it's a vanity publishers, no, I'm not buying the $50 book with my poem in it from them - and [i]then[/i] I looked to see what other stuff on the site was like...

Lovely, lovely poems written by people who have been on holiday to an exotically named tourist trap with magnificent mountains, pretty flowers, sad old people and a forlorn, tousled boy-child, and there they have fallen in passionate yet unconsummated love with a gentle, manly stranger in the shimmering moonlight. The sort of poetry appreciated by people who have a ballerina dolly with a full needlepoint skirt covering the spare toilet roll. And there sits my poem, with its arid urinals and snarling audio dirt, like a cow-pat in paradise.

Perhaps I should have looked first.

Anyway, this morning I was wondering what I might do next, and decided to do another one minute track - different in style to MHR - when poetry.com sent me a stock email to tell me that I had made it to the semifinals of their monthly competition (I suspect pretty much every contributor does) so would I like to buy the book now (No!) and by the way we need your permission before we print your poem. Well apparently "your poem was selected for publication, and as a contest semi-finalist, based on your unique talent and artistic vision. We believe it will add to the importance and appeal of this edition" Certainly you may then. I am sure maiden aunts the world over will be thrilled to read it. :-)

So, I wondered, how can I mark this momentous event (you American chappies do get that I'm using British sarcasm here, don't you) - oh, I know, I'll set the poem to music. Well, it's just got to be real old-school Industrial, Throbbing Gristle style snarling audio dirt, hasn't it.

All of which meant I spent this morning recording the vocal track and applying filter after filter, trying to get a real dirty head-in-a-concrete-mixer, overdriven megaphoney, nasty, menacing feel to it whilst leaving the words fairly comprehensible and not turning it into a puddy muddle. And thinking he-hee, people are going to [i]hate[/i] this. Well, maybe not Edweird.

And here you are, with two bits of good advice.

"Use your ears." There's something similar in photography. "Use your eyes." Actually what is meant by that is, "Use your eyes. No, really, [b]use[/b] you eyes. Really use them. Stop just looking at the scenery and start seeing the photograph. I mean really see it. See where your eye is drawn, critically evaluate the weaknesses, see the possibilities, see what it could be after processing and printing. And above all, use your eyes. Keep that up for five years or so and one day you might turn into a half-way decent photographer."

Percussion. Well, I find it a challenge to clap to a simple beat but tomorrow I'll be hitting household objects with other household objects and seeing if I can't drum up a found-sound beat. Good. I was at a bit of a loss as to what to do next. Thanks.

Posted: 2/1/2006 12:13:07 PM

From: Ypsilanti, MI, USA

Joined: 9/29/2005

I get the british sarcasm very well. The Pythons and Ben Elton have tought me well. ;-)

A personal aside to the found percussion thing: I used to wash dishes for The University of Michigan's Housing Catering several years ago, and they had this industrial dish washer that would fill most peoples living rooms. I had 7 different tones mapped out within quick and easy access to each other across the whole thing. I would impress the waitstaff with my musicality during lulls with a pair of table knives. I always wanted to record it.

Ah nostolgia.

Posted: 2/1/2006 8:49:38 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Monty Python :-) Ben Elton :-/

Some names that I read are not so well known outside the UK...

Vivian Stanshall (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vivian_Stanshall). If you thought Monty Python had nailed English eccentricity, think again. His album Sir Henry at Rawlinson End really nails it. Surreal and mostly family friendly.

Derek and Clive (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derek_and_clive). The Great Peter Cook and also Dudley Moore, very drunk, very rude. Very very very rude. This is not family friendly. This is not office safe. This is not suitable for ... er ... er. This is not suitable. Derek and Clive Live is the best album.

Chris Morris (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Morris_%28satirist%29). The David Lynch of British Comedy. Well he would be, if Lynch was stranger, darker, more disturbing and funnier. TV shows - The Day Today - you will never be able to watch the news the same way again - Brass Eye - same effect with documentaries - Jam - you may never sleep easily again. This is not suitable. I love it!

More importantly - I am not going to be hitting household objects. I suddenly realised I had not been using my ears earlier today. When I accidentally slowed my voice down to a crawl I heard a whole bunch of potential for percussive loops, but I wasn't listening. I was too busy pressing the undo button. So I went back to it and found what I was looking for. (And didn't know what I was looking for until I found it.)

So I've been playing with garageband - and also a bit of mac shareware called Amadeus 2, I think I mentioned it before - working it and building up a rhythm track to go under the voice.

I had to stop sooner than I wanted to to leave a little room for some theremin!

I have a couple of ideas of things to do, and one idea of what not to do. It's that sound, I call it "girlie slaps" because its produced by flapping your pitch hand like an outrageous caricature queen alarmed by a homophobic hornet. "Shoo, you horrid beast. Shoo." I've been hearing it on spellbound and I'm not mad keen on it.


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