September 30, 2004

debating and debating

I have been working on my new song this evening as I wait for the excitement that will certainly be the presidential debate. The vocal melody for the chorus was the first bit of music I came up with for this song. It just kind of came together with words in that inexplicable but highly satisfying way that sometimes happens when I don't think too hard.
I have now set it to a progression which I like, but it has turned out to be a bit less upbeat than I thought it would be. So I've been trying to write a verse that is more upbeat for the past few days and was having limited success getting the new part to work with the chorus. I'm still not sure I've got it, but with some segue work I think it will come together. I came up with a vibe part that I am really happy with which might pull the parts together as well. There is something really nice about a happy melody played in major thirds on vibes. It's simply a good thing.

It's simply a lot better than politics.

Posted by halsey at 07:37 PM

September 29, 2004

CAKE discovers the analog synth!

Been listening to Pressure Chief today and my verdict is good. It is exactly what you would expect from these guys; solid, straight-forward unmistakably CAKE-ish song-writing, great lyrics, FUN. And then, as if to prove that they are evolving at least a little bit, there is the cool addition of some synth lines, a taste of pizz strings, and the significantly reduced use of trumpet.
Now, I really like the trumpet and miss it a bit here, but I appreciate the evolution as well, and mainly am excited to be hearing more of John McCrea's wacky diction and phrasing.

I am very excited to see them live next week!

Posted by halsey at 04:30 PM

creativity tips

I'm pretty sure you cannot teach someone to be creative, but it is possible that you can encourage or increase creativity in people who already have the natural inclination. This guy has some interesting (and some not so interesting) thoughts. As well as some funny (and not so funny) cartoons.

gaping void's "how to be creative"

Posted by halsey at 09:43 AM

September 27, 2004

Asymmetric Cochlear Processing Mimics Hemispheric Specialization

I learned that there is new evidence that our ears are not the same. Apparently the right ear is more attuned to speech and the left to music. Given my complete and total inability to learn new languages, I have come to the conclusion that I have two left ears.

One Ear Is Not Like The Other

Posted by halsey at 08:41 AM | Comments (22)

September 25, 2004

working voices

It's been a really great change of pace to be working in the basement instead of the studio, though I am starting to miss the music. When I began my basement project, it was in part because I had been wanting to for a while, but also because I didn't have a song idea that was jumping out at me that I was excited about. I always have ideas - my list never seems to get shorter - but they all require the collection of more words and voices from various places which is not always an easy task (of course, this basement project will help with that!).
So I wasn't sure what I wanted to tackle next. And then when I was looking through work related documents - trying to find a document that I had hoped at one point would be worth lots of money but is now worth no more than a small tax write-off - I found something which instantly turned into a very cool idea for my next song.
I'm not going to give it away entirely, but this song is about me; about me at work, specifically, so it will include many of the important voices from my workplace. And it's going to be funny. Hopefully really funny; and it will be if I can just do the material justice.
I began collecting voices at work last week while my boss wasn't looking. And then I realized it was imperative that I had my boss's voice too, so I guess he is now onto me, but whatever. If I make him famous, he'll forgive me, right Ron? No one tell him about this blog though, or I could be in BIG trouble.
Now I just hope that I can figure out how to divide my time tomorrow between the basement and the studio...

Posted by halsey at 09:29 PM | Comments (1)

September 23, 2004

the door swings

open_door_sm.JPG

this is a good thing.

Posted by halsey at 04:37 PM

September 22, 2004

bring your own voice

I am trying to establish my web dominance of the phrase 'bring your own voice', so please forgive me for over-using it now and in the future. Bring Your Own Voice!!
Feel free to google it and click on my site; it will help.

Here's more progress.

byov_stencil_sm.JPG

Posted by halsey at 05:50 PM

September 21, 2004

listening list

Catatonia - International Velvet
Weezer - Pinkerton
Alan Moore - Snakes and Ladders
Grandaddy - Sumday
Bjork - Medulla
The Prodigy - Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned

I think that the woman in Catatonia has the sexiest voice I have ever heard.

Posted by halsey at 01:09 PM

September 20, 2004

progress and visual clues

vb1.1_sm.JPG
the first few cuts

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still life with dehumidifier

dado1_sm.JPG
dado blades are nasty

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first setup

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door assembly

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door joint detail


someone already guessed correctly.

I will be stenciling 'BRING YOUR OWN VOICE' on the side before you know it.

Posted by halsey at 11:35 AM | Comments (1)

September 18, 2004

the land below

it feels really good to be back in the shop, though I do have pangs of guilt for not being in the studio. The good thing about the shop, though, is that I get to dress up in really sexy outfits.

hrb_shop2.1.JPG

It has been so long since I have been in the shop that it took me a while to clean stuff up to the point where I could use it. Unfortunately, during its non-use, my planer suffered a major malfunction, the replacement parts for which will cost more than a fairly decent new planer. Luckily, I don't need the planer for this project, but I hate to see that faithful machine huddling in a broken state in the corner. The majority of the cleaning up I had to do was cobweb removal. I felt like I was in Spiderman's living room it was so bad. And more kept appearing as the dust I generated settled in waves highlighting them.

I've got Saint-Saens piano concertos on the hi-fi and it's drizzling outside. I feel like I am 22 again, covered in sawdust. This is good.

Posted by halsey at 04:00 PM | Comments (2)

September 16, 2004

shopping list

from Home Depot:

5 4x8 sheets of 1/2" BC pine plywood
8 4" t-hinges
1 chest handle
2 home/garage fire extinguishers (you can never be too safe, right?)
2 9 volt batteries
1 MASTER combination lock

Today, I begin construction. Any guesses?

Posted by halsey at 08:44 AM | Comments (3)

September 15, 2004

placing the order

Monday marked a huge day in my progression as a musician. Or at least a huge day in the progression of my studio. You see, I ordered a new computer; not just any computer, but a dual 2GHz G5 Power Mac. I can't tell you how many times I nearly killed myself or kicked my cat or broke something or put my fist through a window or some other similarly destructive act as an attempt to release the anger and frustration that my old mac engendered. This computer has served me very well over the years, and I really shouldn't be so down on it, but everything has a point at which it has outlived its usefulness, and my blue and white G3 tower reached that point a few years ago.

Due to a variety of technological compatibility reasons, I am also forced to upgrade my I/O hardware and all of my software. By the time I am done with these changes, I will, literally, not be using one same item in my recording setup with the exception of mics and cables. I am somewhat bitter that these compatibility issues exist, but there is no doubt the new system will simply be better. It will all be new and fresh and no longer will my flow and creative energies be constantly interrupted and offended by malfunctioning equipment.

So will this help me write better songs? I doubt it; at least not directly. But it will allow me to harness more cool stuff simultaneously, and will encourage exploration of new software and recording techniques that I was previously unable to even consider. Who knows, maybe that will lead to better songwriting. For sure there will be a real and huge improvement in the process and my resultant state of mind. What's a few thousand dollars when compared to that, right?

This whole upgrade has gotten me thinking about the tools of an artist. Obviously, tools are very important no matter what, and the relationship an artist has with his or her tools often has a large effect on the artwork itself. But do newer, fancier, 'better', more advanced tools always lead to improvements in the final product? I imagine not. There is probably some correlation, but it wouldn't surprise me if there was a negative correlation sometimes as well. There is something to be said for introducing various restrictions or hardships into one's process. It can lead to innovative thinking that would not have happened in the pampered world. So why am I pampering myself? I guess because I have been undergoing 'hardship' for several years now and am ready for a change! And I just can't see the potential benefits of a mouse that freezes every half hour.
Seriously though, having the most comfortable situation is often what we all hope for, but is it really what is best for us? I would argue that good art doesn't come out of comfort. It's not comfortable to feel things passionately and intensely. It's a great and a wonderful thing, but comfortable, it is not. And I, for one, cannot create anything at all when I am not feeling something strongly.

Hmm, I had not intended for this new computer discussion to go here. Really, I just wanted to share my excitement about my upgrades. Hopefully they will all work smoothly, will not break my bank and will, most importantly, not turn me into some complacent, flabby and unmotivated version of my former self. Anyone want to wager?

Posted by halsey at 11:33 AM | Comments (3)

September 13, 2004

storms make me lonely

Imagine yourself standing with your eyes closed on the southernmost tip of an island that you love more than anything else in the world. It is night-time. It is chilly, but in a good, crisp way. The wind was blowing all day and the swells are still crashing onto the craggy shoreline beneath your feet.
You are alone; but not entirely. Encircling you are seven voices, perched like benevolent gargoyles, each on their own personal promontory. They are singing. There are no words. Your eyes are still closed and you imagine their silhouettes. You think about storms.

Imagine yourself in this place.

Now listen to this song.

Heavy Weather

Posted by halsey at 04:43 PM | Comments (1)

September 10, 2004

it's legal!!

The New York Times has provided us with a great consolidated look at all of the online sites/services that we can download music for free. Of course, we are not talking about major label acts here, but all that means is that the music is better.
If you have the time and energy to look around, it's amazing what you can find. And you don't even have to break any laws.

Laptop DJs Have a Feast

furthurnet in particular I find to be really cool because it focuses on live performances. I'm downloading a Flaming Lips show right now.

Posted by halsey at 09:32 AM | Comments (24)

September 09, 2004

the godbrother

My biggest claim to fame in the music industry is pathetically tenuous, but it'll have to do. You see, my mom is the godmother of Richard Shindell, which makes me, believe it or not, his godbrother. Truth be told, it is possible that godbrother is not an official relation, but for my purposes it is quite useful, so I am going to continue to take appropriate pride.
You might not have heard of Richard because he is a folk musician (and no one has heard of folk musicians), but you'll have to take my word that he is very well known in that world. He has toured with Joan Baez, collaborated with Dar Williams and generally been a staple in the folk scene over a dozen years and six albums. He often comes through town and plays at Club Passim and other venues. EVERYONE SHOULD SEE HIM!! He's a great performer. His current tour schedule puts him at the Somerville Theatre on October 23rd co-billed with Lucy Kaplansky. I will remind you all.
The reason I write about Richard now is because I just picked up a copy of his most recent album Vuelta.

vuelta.jpg

It's really good. He breaks out of his norm a bit by collaborating with the Argentine group Puente Celeste. (coincidentally, Alejandro Franov is a member of PC and was on tour with Juana Molina when I saw her open for David Byrne several months back). Try it, you'll like it. Hmm, I hate that phrase; it's just stupid. How about 'try it, you might like it because I like it, and if you don't, it is good enough music that you will at least learn something from it'. Much better.

I love the fact that Richard has persevered through many many difficult years of following his dream and has made it to the point where he makes a decent living and has a large loyal fan base. This is all I want. I don't need to be a household name or anything, just someone who writes music that enough people appreciate to support me keeping it all going.

Posted by halsey at 06:26 PM | Comments (5)

September 07, 2004

new link!

In case you would like some visuals to go along with the audio of my sister, you can visit my newest sidebar link:

Dr. Burgund

The movie (under 'Burgund Lab' link at bottom) is particularly exciting! Don't get too excited though; it's not a music video.

Posted by halsey at 09:43 AM

September 06, 2004

live sound

Music is supposed to be the best, purest, most unadulterated, closest to what the musicians want etc etc when it is heard live, right? This is what I have always thought, but apparently the people at the Middle East do not feel the same way. Although I have known this for a while and been disappointed countless times, I keep on finding myself back at the M.E. hoping hoping hoping that somehow things will have gotten better.

Well, I'm sorry to report that they weren't better as of Saturday. I went to check out the Wrens (thank you Chris for the tickets) along with the three opening acts, and had a very hard time appreciating what any of them were trying to do because the sound just sucked. I find that if you really know a band's music, when the sound stinks, you can use your prior knowledge to kind of fill in the blanks and erase some of the muddiness in your head. But when you are trying to hear something totally new, as I was on Saturday, crappy sound just kills the whole experience.
I found myself wishing that I could hear the cds of the bands just so I could understand what on earth they were trying to do. How backwards is that?! Recorded music is supposed to approximate the live performance, not the other way around. At least this holds true in my book for fairly standard 4-5 piece rock groups. Of course there are experimental musicians out there for whom the recording process is part of the composition and who create music that is intended to be at its best in recorded form. But these bands were not of that ilk, nor are most of the bands that play at the Middle East.
I would think that the owners of the club could do something to improve their situation, but perhaps in the spirit of the rock 'n' roll attitude, they don't really care. Thankfully they care enough to have sprinklers, but I imagine a little bit of strategically placed acoustic foam and some new speaker cones could go a long way in improving the experience for their guests.
I ended up feeling sorry for the bands because they just weren't being heard as they should have been. This kind of dependence on equipment that is owned and operated by people out of your control is a big problem for small, poor bands. Who's going to bring their own PA? For that matter, who can afford their own PA?

Despite all this crappiness, I was able to pick up the fact that the Wrens were clearly very good musicians and put on a professional show. Their stuff sounded better than the rest, but I still feel like they were not even close to being represented as they would have wanted.
Thank god Paradise does not have the same problem.

Posted by halsey at 05:55 PM | Comments (2)

September 03, 2004

vox-centric

My new song will have only my voice in it. Not as in nothing other than my voice, but as in no voices other than mine. And I plan to not use any tonal instruments either. Of course, I'll need to have drums (can't do anything without them, right?!), but every sustained musical note will be produced by my vocal cords. To some, this might be a scary proposition, but I am pressing ahead nonetheless.

Somehow this one is feeling personal in a way that will be better expressed by me directly. And since I am the one making up the rules, I hereby declare that including voices other than mine is in no way a requirement of words and voices. Take that.

Posted by halsey at 10:13 AM | Comments (1)

vox-centric

My new song will have only my voice in it. Not as in nothing other than my voice, but as in no voices other than mine. And I plan to not use any tonal instruments either. Of course, I'll need to have drums (can't do anything without them, right?!), but every sustained musical note will be produced by my vocal cords. To some, this might be a scary proposition, but I am pressing ahead nonetheless.

Somehow this one is feeling personal in a way that will be better expressed by me directly. And since I am the one making up the rules, I hereby declare that including voices other than mine is in no way a requirement of words and voices. Take that.

Posted by halsey at 10:13 AM

September 02, 2004

listening list

Peter Gabriel - Up
The Shins - Oh, Inverted World!
Disturbed - The Sickness
Mum - Summer Make Good
Muse - Origin of Symmetry

Turns out that I was right in my feeling that Mum's newest music was probably better in recorded form than live. Summer Make Good is a very cool and unique album. They have come far from the Sigur Ros-ishness of Finally We Are No One.

Posted by halsey at 12:16 PM

September 01, 2004

returning

I have now returned from vacation and am working back into my job and the routine of life at home. It was nice to get out of this routine for a week and spend time and mental energy with other things or with no-thing(s). I really didn't do anything music related other than contemplate what my next song might entail. This blankness is scary sometimes as it leads to a feeling of direction-less-ness. But I think that it's probably good for me to come down, to take a step back and relax and assess.
I do feel that I have solidified my direction more in recent weeks. I now have a concrete goal that I will continue to pursue. I like having a goal with an ending point rather than just a continuous pursuit. Obviously my continual goal is to keep on writing songs and keep on getting better at the composition, performance, production and engineering of those songs. But when does that end? Or more accurately, when does that have an interim culmination? Something that will push my music 'career' along in a different and hopefully more fruitful way. Writing and recording music is clearly the basis of any music career I might eventually have, but if I want it to take off in any way, shape or form, I'll have to do more than just this.
My goal is to release another cd. This will be the first aevidence cd and will be focused solely on my words and voices project. I like this theme as a cohesive force for the cd. The music is fairly varied, but the philosophy and approach will be consistent, and I think this will make the cd something more than just a collection of random songs. I have decided that I need ten songs for this cd. I don't know why ten, but it seems like a nice number; not unattainable yet not really skimpy either. I've been thinking about packaging as well and am excited to experiment in ways different from my last foray into this realm with the apply within ep. I'm thinking about ways to make each cd unique, or at least have some variety in the product.

Being back isn't all bad.

Posted by halsey at 09:31 AM | Comments (22)