Boomtown Rats 1978

Researching for this blog has been enjoyable. Thanks to the internet I am seeing old familiar music for the first time. There are lots of things I did not see when they first came out: gigs, recordings, news items, TV programmes etc. but now they are all online and I can see them in a short space of time.

Tonight I was watching several videos and listening to mp3s of the Boomtown Rats. They were my No. 1 band when I was at school. I saw them in Carlisle when they played. And seeing them live on Youtube reminds me of those times, the gigs, and the literature. The clothes were not leather, but off beat, stripped, and colorful. The music was not what we call punk today, but a mixture of different styles. And I guess that stayed with me too. I never played any of their songs, when I started playing guitar my musical tastes had moved on, but I think their energy stayed with me. I had lost interest by the time Live aid had come around.

The videos were:

Boomtown Rats – Like Clockwork (Live at Hammersmith Odeon 19)
Joey’s On the Streets Again LIVE The Boomtown Rats 1978
The Boomtown Rats – Peel Session 1977
Boomtown Rats – Rat Trap (Live at Hammersmith Odeon 1978)

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Electro-acoustic Musical Stew

Music is an organic thing… it changes, and it changes you. As an ethnomusicologist I concentrate on traditional acoustic music primarily, but it does not mean that is the end of the story. For my early years I have played music in bands… rock, electric, loud, none acoustic… then I left it. It was a conscious decision, logical and it was right for the time… the way I was, and I had no intension of returning to it until recently. But to help a friend get over an illness I played music with him, one of his goals was to play in a rock band and I did my best to encourage him to play, to learn and develop musically. I think he would have achieved this by himself, but while I was encouraging him, he was encouraging me without intending it. I started to be interested again in the guitar, an electric guitar.

My ‘Antoria’ left handed guitar was in my room collecting dust for years. It still had the blood splattered heavy gauge strings I had on in the 80s. I dusted it off and plugged it into my friends mini practice amp and fed the lead into my zoom vocal effects box. It was very familiar, like riding a bike… you never forget, you only loose the finer techniques.

With playing this guitar and playing with friends, old feelings came back to me, some of which I had forgotten about. The reason why I had left electric/rock music was that the whole music making “process” was actually stopping me from making music! If you think about it a rock musician needs not only a guitar, leads, effects boxes, but also amplifiers… and because the amps are loud you need a practice room to play them loud. You need transport to carry these big loud amplifiers, and drum kits to practice rooms, which cost money, and then you carry all this stuff to gigs… then you need a P.A. for the sound to be any good, and you need a reliable sound engineer who will not corrupt your sound (intentionally or not) … all this for a few songs… all of this to make music.

I am pleased to say my interest does not include getting back into all of that again. But it does include writing songs again, recording again and possibly performing again. It may not need a van load of equipment to accomplish my sound; it may only need 1 instrument and a computer on stage!

And before you say it “it is his mid-life crises”… all I can say it that I do not have a crises with my life, I have played different types of music since I was 7 years old… what I am doing now it re-looking at a genre of music and adding new elements to it from my life now… ethnic, electro acoustic, studio techniques, acoustic instruments, poetry, travels, academic experiments, rock, folk, etc. all the experiences that I have adopted which have influenced me will be in the mix… a big melting pot of musical stew… mmmmmmmm

Audiomulch “Arpeggiator”

I worked on Audiomulch more this evening, trying different effects and ideas. It is a learning curve.

I know I am making things too busy but it is difficult to minimalize things when you are working blind.

The piece I did today with Audiomulch was with 2 recordings using the “Arpeggiator” a sort of an “arpeggio oscillator”. By turning different dials and adding/subtracting different keys on the onscreen keyboard, also by rhythmically adding and subtracting beats, I can improvise in real-time while recording a few minutes of improvisation. These 2 tracks I panned to different speakers in Audition.

I added also the track from the previous night to Audition and had this track panned out of both speakers. Then came the editing, and this I suppose became the composition. But using faders and cutting only, I had the 2 new tracks coming “in and out” of the piece, while the rhythm audio kept a steady pace throughout.

This makes the whole very busy.

Audiomulch, drum loops & Audition CS6

Today I tried to get to grips with Audiomulch, the music creator software.

You can manipulate sounds: drum samples, instrument samples with different effects and create files to use in other applications. It is a good programme, quite easy to use and I got results quickly by following some simple YouTube tutorials.

I was messing around with loops and drums beats (snare, bass tom, high hat etc.), combining them and making a 4/4 beat with a 140 tempo, by using the default samples that come with the software. You can add different effects to the mix and create drum loops quite easily in real-time and then manipulate the beats to form other beats, the combination is limitless.

After creating and saving my drum loop of 1 bar, I inserted that loop into Adobe Audition CS6, where I copied it and added it to the track to create a loop of 2 bars, then I copied the 2 bar loop to create 4 bars, then I copied the 4 bar loop to create 8 bars. This I saved to use as a drum pattern for my demos. When I use this look I can simple cut and paste the 8 bar loop to suit the length of my song.

I read that CS6 is not too good with samples, but it is good with audio files (voice and instruments) so with Audiomulch I can create the electronic side of my music and connect that with the acoustic side in Audition and mix them both down.

Fiction and non-fiction writing

I have been working really hard on getting the new blog started (this blog). I left the old one due to google messing me about and not letting me access it. So I moved blogs to WordPress. It takes some getting used too. I transferred it over easily enough but checking it and adding tags, categories is taking time to get it right and to work out how to do it.

Carlisle’s Punk Bands, is slowly getting bigger and bigger. I am working through my diaries and adding dates and info. this is edited and I will be adding bits and pieces as I go along. it is a continuous process and I guess one where it can take forever to finish.

I tried editing the recordings. The recordings were done with a simple tape recorder recording the bands from the 80s, it is rough! lo-fi as they say, so I have been trying to remaster them and make them a bit listenable.

To do this I have been trying to get my head around a new multitrack and mixing programme called Adobe Audition CS6. it is also taking a bit of time to get used to it so I have few results to show anyone so far. But I am sure it will come together in the end.

The final thing I have been busy with is writing a book. It is the fictional side to this blog. I am using the structure of the blog to write a fictitious account of my times in bands and life in Carlisle in the early 1980s. the original idea was to publish this blog in a book format, even to self-publish the work, but I found it too complicated to do. so I decided to create this factual blog about the punk bands in Carlisle and the bands I played with and the people who were in those bands. So if/when I complete the fictional story based on this blog, I will try to publish it as a non-fictional book.

I have started it last night. I am beginning Chapter 1 and I have written 3 scenes so far, 3000 words plus.