The Smith's Journal - December 2010

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Putting my music online

Tags: Music, Studio, Computers

Wow! Ten years in the making, I finally have some of my music online! :-) It's been a long decade since my first album demo cassette Tone Control, which will one day get remastered too. This is definitely the best day of the year for me - a long dreamed of goal being finally reached :-) I'm probably too late to be Christmas Number One though...

I must be crazy starting with my first online recording of what is probably the hardest instrument to record well: the piano, and even worse, pin-drop dead-of-night-quiet ambient contemporary piano music! Even when not aiming for absolute perfection, it is still so difficult to achieve acceptable results we're accustomed to these days: played in time, in tune, in a nice acoustic without background noise, no squeaky pedal or key noise, let alone breathing/rustling clothes or audience noise. The soloist is naked and exposed with nowhere to hide, just the sounds and the vibes. (Well, for once the soloist was wearing quiet clothes ;-)

Whatever, here we have a pre-concert rendition of my magical piano piece "Message", and also a late-night miniature called "Jewels". There's also some chamber music and early electronic pieces. No drumming yet though, which although that's what many of you know me for, it's not the only thing I do musically - far from it. More will be added soon as the tidal wave of the past few months' editing work comes to fruition. My initial aim is to present a varied selection of the diverse music I make. This initial handful of tracks are only the tip of the iceberg; some of my music is radically different from anything you've ever heard and unclassifiable given current Earth knowledge. We're still not sure the Planet is ready yet, but it will just have to be because we can't wait forever.

Tracks on their relevant pages are (currently, although this may not always be the case) available for Free download under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Licence to allow for use in compilations (even commercial use so long as Copyleft is preserved). As a lesson in simplicity and antidote to the Web 2.0 onslaught of broken toys, there's no resource-hogging Flash cruft or HTML5 magic involved, just nice easy "Download..." links. Upon clicking them, decent browsers should either just play the audio, or ask you if you want to play or, better still, Save it so you don't have to stream it each time you want to listen, wasting your bandwidth and mine and clogging up the Internet - no more skippy, jerky music like teh dinosaur Flash-based streamed media sites.

The recordings are all 24-bit at 44.1kHz, thus exceed CD quality, although many early pieces were initially recorded to DAT in 16-bits before editing at 24-bit resolution. My studio converters won't do 96kHz and any difference is negligible for most people, and mixing in 24-bits has more benefit than a higher sample rate. I've attempted some basic mastering, but only with gain automation, no proper mastering compression yet (other than built-in limiting on some of the original DATs). It might not sound as loud as yer average Top 40 CD, because this music is not designed for chart radio, so it hasn't had all the dynamic range squashed out of it. If it's too quiet, you could always TURN IT UP ;-) Nothing clips above 0dB, although sadly the lame mic pre-amps in my DAT recorder often distort at high levels while recording, so apologies for the occasional unfixable distortion :-(

I created some new pages listing the latest recordings added, and all of my music categorised by different styles. Eventually scores will be added too once I get up to speed with Lilypond and Denemo.

Enjoy and report back...


Creative Commons licensing

Tags: Music, Computers

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 LicenceThis work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 LicenceThis work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 LicenceI've been reading lots about the various Free licences in readiness to upload my music online (I wish I'd have found this article first which simplifies everything!). I realised it made sense to change my website's licence (from the olde Design Science Licence it was formerly using) to be more compatible with other open projects like Wikipedia. Now that the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike v3.0 Licence has been declared DFSG-free, I am (as of today) changing the licence on this entire website (all apart from a few pages which are copyright and a few recipe algorithms which are GPL). Obviously altering all of these pages will take some time even with sed's magical help, but at least the main Copyleft page (which most of my pages' footers link to) is updated, so this should be good enough during the transition period, although obviously IANAL. If any incompatibility issues arise with the change in licence, don't hestitate to contact me, and equally, if you wish to use something in a non-CC context, just ask and I may well agree.

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 LicenceSince the above three logos are quite visually striking, I'll use them on my webpages to mark any downloadable music files, and use this more discreet icon for non-music content, as well as adding a small web banner in the footer of each CC-licensed page.


The Antidote

Tags: Music

[UPDATE: This event is sadly CANCELLED - due to Himayalan weather most people can't make it.
So stay in and keep warm! We will be back on The Other Side...

Our final Bedford Drumming Group session this year will be on Tuesday December 21st. This will be a unique Christmas Special called "THE ANTIDOTE", as a much-needed de-stress from the pre-Christmas mad rush and shopping frenzy. The whole session from 7-10pm will be given over to Tibetan singing bowls and exotic percussion, as well as other harmonic/melodic instruments and sound effects. We can't have candles, but the lava lamps will be out in force. The idea is to begin with a soothing sound healing led by myself, and then you will all get the chance to experience first hand the wondrous resonant power of bass bowls. Bring a pillow and mat/blanket to lie down on the floor for the ultimate sensory experience of magical mystical medical musical joy. Medicine for the soul.

The night will end with a Cosmic Jam session to round off the year and celebrate the Bedford Drumming Group's 75th night of funk. To allow the quiet instruments to be heard, please bring NO DRUMS(!), but do bring any other instruments you like (within reason, no church organs or electric guitars). Let's hope the weather is nicely festive but not too "bleak midwinter". [Sadly it was!]


Christmas in Notts

Tags: Places, Misc

I went up to Nottingham for Christmas to stay with family which was nice. I was surprised how much I enjoyed it, since I'm not usually into the whole Christmas-overeating-round-the-telly thing; so I made sure that it wasn't like that. Singing Christmas carols with auntie Carol round the old joanna was a highlight :-) After dinner I started bashing out on the piano all the carols I could remember (they're mostly all just the same three chords!) and we soon got everyone singing along which was nice, then played charades. Most of the time we had quite a houseful, what with all the relations and kids, the latter of which are really what makes a good Christmas, seeing the joy on their faces and playing with their toys.

Dressing up

Tags: Arts, Misc

Pretty much the only TV I saw was some vintage Two Ronnies and Goodies, and you can never have enough of that. I vowed to include more of their Python-esque humour into my daily life. Indeed Ruth and I later made two New Year's resolutions:

  1. Sing more
  2. Dress up more (not necessarily in women's clothes but it all helps)


Baklash vintage clothing

Tags: Arts, Misc

Speaking of women's clothing, I made my annual pilgrimage to the wonderful vintage clothing shop called Baklash, on a backstreet just near Nottingham's Theatre Royal, with a huge sign above the doorway saying Retro. This is a palace of glamour from times passed. They have a great selection of used clothes from 1920's to the present day, including some fabulous 1960's catsuits, crazy 1970's dresses and exquisite alternative wedding dresses. I did my bit for the international velvet trade and bought some gifts for friends and some more way out outfits for me.

The rest of Nottingham's once famous clothes shops were pretty dismal. Men's clothes are so boring, drab grey and black and navy; it's enough to make a man want to have the operation... (just kidding!) Even the overpriced designer shops were no different, all just playing it safe and "casual", with no character whatsoever. I give up. Sadly many of the unique independent designer shops have now closed down - a lost heritage of the city that once became famous for its Lace Market and subsequent higher female:male ratio (and hence thriving club scene! ;-)

I also met up with old friend th'Rob from my early clubbing days and went to visit his family who are always tons of fun. Every other spare moment was spent reading computer hardware forums to gen up on what gear to buy for my new PC next month.

Travelling back home again, I visited aunts and uncles and then called in to the fabulous esoteric record shop Ultima Thule in Leicester en route, as is a longstanding tradition for me. These guys sorted me out with some great new (old!) music: Moving Gelatine Plates, Faust, Shub Niggurath, etc. Once they know what sort of tastes you have, that's it: you're in luck for life :-)

Just like my midnight drive northwards across frozen snowy moonlit landscapes to Nottingham the week before, it was again wonderfully atmospheric driving back down the A6 (via Kettering, a journey I'd never done before) through the fog. Since returning home I've been so busy trying to catch up. Barry+Pippa came over for more recording on Saturday, then Ruth+Stevie on Sunday.

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 2010-01-02 - last updated 2010-12-21