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Archive for the ‘Creative Projects’ Category

Twice a year my adult piano student group gets together; something which inevitably involves me playing something from my old repertoire. In the past, it’s been the usual suspects: some Bach, Shostakovich, Mozart, and lots of Schumann. One off the beaten track performance was of a ‘rag’ by Tenney. And then there was the time at the old house when we had two pianos in the living room. We had requested that the tuner tune one instrument down a quarter tone and Siamese Connection and I played some Ives for a ‘teachers concert.’ That was fun.

Tonight I went for something completely different and brought out ye olde accordion with the pickup attached and fed through the effects pedal and the amp.

What interested me in particular from the performer’s side of things is that it was never really clear to the audience when the performance began. Of course there were some sound check elements, playing with the mic, hooking the pickup up, checking levels, but the noise gradually developed into something more and organically became the ‘piece’– albeit an improvised one. I really wondered at what point in the improv (which only lasted about 7 minutes) the audience of adult students actually realized that this was not just a sound check.

Later on I found out that another one of the teachers ended up shushing one of the students who would have continued talking through it, not realizing that the performance was going on. I guess some people realized it. Others didn’t. But what exactly was the tip-off for those who did hear music in there somewhere (and they all did agree that it was music, in the textbook ‘organized sound’ sort of way)? What exactly was the point at which the noise ended and the ‘music’ began?

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This is what happens to people when the television is dead. Thanks a lot, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin. Look at what you’ve done. People are making their living rooms vibrate in the most repulsive manners imaginable.

Here’s part one of a typical Thursday Night domestic scene at our abode, for instance. I’m joined here by guitarist Richard Benedict, Mr. Siamese Connection.

At this point we both agree that the non-accordion sounds actually sound better than the accordion sounds which makes me wonder why I have this bulky 20 pound pile of plastic and miscellaneous this and that strapped to my chest.

EAE 4.1

More later…

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Here’s about half of what I recorded tonight. I began the evening’s experiment by trying out different effects that I hadn’t really tried on the pedal and wasn’t really happy with the results so I switched back to the ‘analog delay.’

On the other hand, there were some interesting occurrences. I got some ear smashing lower frequency difference tones” and some mean upper frequency beating happening.  The amp started doing this purring thing–making me imagine that maybe something was loose inside, rattling around. That’s certainly what it sounds like.

You may hear Doughnut and  the fridge because both of them started up partway through.

EAE.3

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2.2, as promised.

this is the end portion of yesterday’s session.

More to come–meaning, I’ll do more squeezebox stuff once the hangover wears off.

aa2.2

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Tonight’s session was good but I had some problems with balance as far as the recording was concerned, the sound of the accordion blasted far louder than the sounds from the amplifier. Basically, the amp was feeding back from the effects unit (or perhaps the opposite) and I had to angle the amp slightly away from the unit and the recorder. In the future I think I’ll do a little sound check with the recorder (I’m not currently using the computer to record but an H2 Zoom. The sound quality coming out of that little baby is pretty good).

Siamese Connection made a good suggestion as far as running the feed from the effects unit straight into a preamp and then into the computer. The problem therein lies that either one or both of our preamps are now dead and/or not compatible with my newish computer so I’ve got to piece the whole thing together. For now, the recordings are off the floor.

In any case, this particular recording, which is a rather smallish segment, is taken in one of the more balanced (less obnoxious, believe it or not) sections. There are still some peaks that I’m not entirely happy with, but that’s fine. The point here was to document a process rather than record something absolutely perfect.

So here is Amplified Accordion Experiment 2.1. I’ll render another sample tomorrow from today’s session.

accordion experiment 2.1

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I’ve given myself two weeks to figure out how to get this sounding to my liking. This journal will document my creative process, the results of which will be uploaded here.

The old black and chrome squeezebox came from my in-law’s closet where it had been resting for decades. After I dusted the beast off and vacuumed up the little insects that had chosen to lay eggs in the case I tried my hands and arms at songs like Peg ‘o my Heart but somehow tonality slipped away from me as it often has.

Let me present to you Amplified Accordion Experiment #1.

EAE #

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Nothing like uploading some ancient music to the blog. Well, actually it’s not that old. This is music from Simple Partial’s album “New Age Western.” The album is actually quite rare. Only three copies or so were pressed–that’s how authentic this stuff is. This ain’t no back-bin find from some moldy thrift shop. We’re talking Authenticity.

Track 2 from New Age Western

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Coincidentally, I’ll be taking part in an evening of improvised music at Somewhere There, located on that very Sterling Road on November 20th. More info here:

Grand Special Event
Festival of Autumnal Happiness
Exceptional Meeting

presenting duo and trio improvisations featuring

Robin Buckley – Drums
Rob Clutton – Bass
Nicole Marchessau – Keys
Tena Palmer – Voice
Nicole Rampersaud – Trumpet
Jeremy Strachan – Winds

Somewherethere.org

Directions to Somewhere There :

As of August 2010, Somewhere There has a new home at 227 Sterling Ave, unit 112. This address is somewhat misleading however. In reality, the space can be found at the corner of Ruttan Street and Merchant Lane, as seen in the map below.

You might get to Somewhere There…

…from Dundas West Station by walking east along Bloor and turning right down Ruttan Street.
…from Lansdowne Station by walking west along Bloor and turning left down Ruttan Street.

Either way, you will find Somewhere There just to your left where Ruttan turns in to Merchant Lane.
map to somewhere there

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Odometer is an ambient video collaboration between myself (images) and Siamese Connection (music). Siamese Connection (aka Rich B.), also runs a WordPress blog, Optimal Character Recognition.

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