The Smith's Journal - June 2004

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Bowl Market

[ Strawbale Studio full of Tibetan Singing Bowls ]After today's high-spirited drumming session, John arrived with a car full of Tibetan Singing Bowls he'd just brought back to England. He travels the globe in search of these esoteric objects and then sells them on to shops, so we were lucky to get a first chance. We set them all up, turning the Strawbale Studio into a Bowl Market, to compare pitches and ensure that any we bought were in tune with each other, in case we ever get together as a Bowl Choir; in practise this was not quite so easy. Of course with that much temptation I couldn't not buy a few more (well, nine actually) to add to my collection.


Instrument purchases

Suddenly the summer has exploded into action and engulfed all my free time. I'm busy rehearsing and planning for a number of musical events and working lots of overtime to fund new instrument purchases. As well as last week's bowl frenzy, I've acquired Ian's spare djembe, having watched it longingly for months/years. Our intended mission to Ghana Goods in Bristol to buy kpanlogo, slit drums, slit bells and shekere has been postponed due to lack of free weekends.


After the UK government has changed the Ministry Of Defence into a Ministry Of War, it is reassuring to see that an independent new 10000-strong army of Peace is recruiting. Even more fascinating, we have apparently been visited by a man from the future!

On a similarly epic scale, The Long Now Foundation is an organisation this planet badly needs, committed to thinking through long-term solutions so lacking in our quick-fix do-anything-to-get-re-elected present political parody. Brian Eno gave an interesting talk (transcribed) about their noble goal to make a clock to last 10000 years (here's another cool clock). Other related reading would be Part 1 of Deep Time by Gregory Bentham.


Sir Andrzej Panufnik

Today I finished reading Andrzej Panufnik's compelling autobiography "Composing Myself", having had it on long term loan (years!) from the library - eventually someone else reserved it, forcing me to dash through the final chapters detailing his hard-earned success in England. A truly inspiring man.


Disk crash

Ugh! A while back, a friend gave me an old Western Digital hard disk drive which I'd recently installed in my main computer. Today it crashed for the second time, trashing the filesystem. I spent hours with fsck to step through the holes and sew it back together, but many files have vanished. Luckily I'd backed up only a fortnight ago, so I only lost a month's work (I work at twice human speed ;-) and most of it should be salvageable. I ordered a new Samsung SP0812N 80GB hard disk, reputed to be quite quiet, as a replacement, and have turned off all mailing list receipts and non-essential services until I get the system back together again. This kind of thing really makes me wonder though why a computer freak like me is not running parallel backup systems to prevent such disasters from crippling my communications - I mean, I have enough computers lying around. OK, next task: get my network working and set up some nice Easy Automated Snapshot-Style Backups with Linux and Rsync goodness ;-)

BBC Master

Today being Summer Solstice and all, it turned out to be quite a mission. First up, I went into London to collect a BBC Master computer which someone was very kindly giving away to a good home; not just the machine, but lots of software and a printer and disk drive (the same as my old broken one, so hopefully I can use it for troubleshooting the dead one).


Next stop was a quick dash around IKEA looking for a suitable percussion table to accomodate all of my Tibetan Singing Bowls ready for the summer's performances, but there was nothing of interest. So I bought a cool K&M foldable keyboard/mixer stand from Studiospares upon which to place a large wooden desktop draped in Blue Velvet. While at Studiospares I also bought a new Denon amplifier to replace my old Rotel which crackles intermittently (despite being 'mended' twice). I also bought a few audio cables to enable me to patch in my effects units, since my fear of soldering is not going away any time soon.

Tibetan Bowls

Last stop was John's house near Cambridge, his sunny garden providing a welcome refuge from the London traffic, a fine place to end The Longest Day with hundreds of Tibetan Singing Bowls, quite a few of which came home with me... (Four-figure expenditure today!)


Mundo Pequeno perform at Bayford Open Gardens

Rehearsed with Mundo Pequeno at The Strawbale Studio.
Performed with Mundo Pequeno at Bayford Open Gardens. Not bad for our first gig.


White Bird

Setup my DAT machine and mics with mixer and reverb, at last! Find the tune for Ruth's wonderful song "White Bird" on African flute. At sunset, to save the neighbours' ears, I venture out into the fields to play to the bats in the echoey tunnel - a true musical moment! :-)


Studio christening

Rehearse with Ruth and Jerry here at Court Cottage, christening my studio with its first proper recording :-) That evening, I wandered out into the fields south of Offley to practise my flute, playing to the deer and some frolicking rabbits who were not even bothered by my presence.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 Licence © The right to copy is left with the user copyleft Malcolm Smith 2004-03-03 - last updated 2006-09-10