I was recently sent a baritone guitar to play and then review for a forthcoming book about these instruments. It was built by Stephan Killick and is definitely one of the most enjoyable instruments I have ever played.
Having a guitar half an octave lower presented me with the possibility of dark, deep tones and 'funky' riffs. I played and played; constantly switching between groove based and more melodic playing. Whilst this was a lot of fun I could never arrive at a place where I had something 'song' like. I needed melody.
That is where the partial capo came in. It was a way to keep the dark deep groove based tonality that utilized the baritone and combine it with melody in the upper regions of the fretboard.
Lyrics started to form from, and manipulate the melody. I really enjoyed working in contrasts; going from quiet to loud, folk to reggae etc. all in the space of one song.
The electronic side of this song exists entirely in the way it had to be recorded and the post production. As with most music videos we had two options for how to go about shooting. We could either pre-record the audio at home with as many takes as we needed, or, record it live and film this take with multiple cameras. With the intention of an authentic video and accompanying audio we chose the second option.
I used a simple setup that consited of an interface and a laptop, condenser mic and humble sm58 for the audio. We had no way of powering my computer so we had to make sure that we recorded the song before the battery ran out. So then began the struggle against the cold winds and sounds of the harbour.
Finally we got the take we needed with all cameras rolling and headed home.
The post production was relatively straight foward. A large amount of volume automation was needed to correct the amount I moved around the microphones. Along side this some simple plugins such as compression, reverb, delay, some specialist guitar and vocal plugins and some noise elimination. I tried to find a balance between sweetening the sound and still making it organic, and apparent that it was recorded on a boat.
beginning to explore the boundaries of genres in a new duo with ben quinn (SINe)
Featuring 80 tracks, 40 instruments, table drumming and far too many things we haven't tried before!
This song started out an experiment to try and create something cinematic whilst using harmony borrowed from multiple genres, primarily folk and jazz alongside electronic and cinematic textures.
We started with the sound of a Digitec Whammy DT. This is what modulates the pitch of the guitar at the beginning of the song. From that springboard, layer upon layer has been added. The focus became on pitch manipulation of real instruments, alongside deep sub/aggressive synthesisers and a cinematic bed of toms. We recorded claps in different rooms with different mics and layered these on the sounds of pencils and paper clips. When we couldn`t build a sound we needed with a synth, a vocal impression was made and after too many plugins it was added to the sound. Tracks were duplicated and panned as well as being given a different texture. We refused to loop anything in fear of monotony and added and subtracted sounds as we went. After the second chorus we broke into a whole new set of chords that could have been their own song and from there added even more new textures.
As we became swept up adding sounds and the excitment of an ever expanding soundscape, we soon became aware of the issue of having too many sounds starting to cloud our project. This became even harder as we began to add vocals. Levels became too high and mixing was more and more of a struggle, too many low frequencies muddied the mix but all felt necessary. After the main vocal and harmony parts became a piece of the soundscape we spent months tackling the ever changing mix. We wanted to hear every sound but not clip, we needed low end but no mud and the vocals should stand out but not over power any of the sounds.
In the end I found this problem came from only ever dealing with singular instuments. EQing 100s of basses in the past had led to me think I almost had a formula. So a shift in perspective came about when multible basses and multiple toms, snares and multiple everything was sounding at the same moment. They needed to be seen less as induvidual instruments but more as induvidual parts of one instrument. From there it has been many hours with analysis plugins paired with multiband compression and EQ along side all the other fun plugins I had used in the past.
This is a process still happening and I have not started mastering yet as it doesn't feel ready. But I have learnt more from this song than any other, it has inspired me to play with the possibilities of where genres can collide and to explore textures and sounds often over harmony but even more so where they can come together alongside poetry/lyrics. A fusion/collision of organic and electronic music in a way that is not forced is something I cannot wait to continue to explore.
This project started out as a song for a coffee company's add. The process of making coffee made me think of mechanical but also soft sounds. I gathered samples from things around me. Paper ripping, plates, seeds, and anything else i could find.
I felt I needed a simple, consise and catchy melody. A rundown came to mind, so I tried to built a synth sound that felt driving and energetic but still friendly to most viewers and hopefully appealing to the coffee company.
The project changed when I wanted to share this with people online to kick off a facecook page. We decided to try and show the fun behind the creation of the project, sharing the bizzareness of it with people before I added lyrics and turned it into a full song.
I really enjoy working with foley and now carry a Zoom H2 field recorder with me everywhere I go to gather sounds from the newly alive world around me.
New Idea - Waltz Disney
Thought I would share this very recent idea with you. It has only been in the works for a matter of days but it is yet again a play with the collision of genres, textures and instruments. Lyric-less and just the first verse of something it is still important to me as the harmony has been taken from jazz playing specifically inspired by autumn leaves and guitarists such as Julian lage. Also with an emphasis on melodic ideas such as contrary motion and spread chord voicings containing neighbouring notes where each degree is a part of its own melody gives for a liquid and almost alive effect. Also continuing down the foley path with a section of percussive sounds all gathered from things surrounding my life. Underpinning all of this a pulsating synth built using serum inspired by “Two Feet - quick musical doodles” and all in possibly my favourite time signature.
I cannot wait to develop this further and continue to make it more liquid, cinematic and interesting and to add vocal parts to perform it live with Cosmo Sheldrake in a gig coming up in Bristol.
Thomas Leeb's Acoustic Guitar Bootcamp
I recently returned from a week long course in Austria. It was a bootcamp for fingerstyle guitarists hosted by Thomas Leeb who every year asks incredible tutors to come and teach with him in the beautiful Austrian Mountains.
This year Thomas Leeb, Stuart Ryan, Jon Gomm and Simon Wahl taught on the course. I was nothing short of blown away by their willingness to share their hard earned skills with us. I found myself totally inspired. Not only by the tutors however, the students too, who flock from all walks of life from all over the globe for one reason: their love for fingerstyle guitar. They were all amazing players too! It was fascinating seeing so many different people play guitar in such unique ways.
The lessons consisted of the tutors informally sharing their mind bendingly hard techniques with us and breaking them down so every player could tackle them somehow.
Free time was spent by most people still playing the guitar. Slap harmonics and various percussive noises could always be heard originating from someone's cabin. People that were not playing the guitar were talking, net working, just simply making new friends and life long connections.
Every evening was host to a student sharing concert which allowed people to get to know each other musically. These were very relaxed and everyone was made to feel comfortable to share their music regardless of the stage they were at in their playing. The final two evenings were opened up to the public so they could come and witness a student concert and teacher concert.
What happened after dark... Well, a lot of good beer, snaps and something called the Nail Game. And a lot more that you'll have to come along to learn about.
All in all, it was one of the best weeks in mine, and many others lives. And it is a privilege to be a part of such a community.
I can't recommend many things more than this to acoustic guitarists who would enjoy a week of "good-natured high altitude learning" with some of the worlds best guitarists as teachers.
Go check it out ✌️🌏
- Finnegan Tui -