Monday, June 30, 2008

check this out, Hendrix fans....

This is a link to a video of Eddie Kramer. As we all know, he was Hendrix's engineer.

I met him once, and he would have none of my blabbering and fawning, but he was a really nice guy when I wasn't slobbering all over myself. I think it comes through here, and he talks about his remix of Woodstock for surround sound, which is really interesting.

Check it out

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I've been away for a while...

...because my sister and her husband visited this past week. Great visit! They stayed at the Chelsea Hotel, and I went over for a sit in the lobby which was really cool, and Andy joined us for dinner one night. A good time was had by all.

I spent a lot of money on food and entertainment though. We went to the Village Vanguard the last night, and saw a bebop saxophonist. It as good, not great - but good. I kept thinking 'if the pianist doesn't go above E4 soon, I'm gonna kill somebody'. Plus the drummer's solos always ended about 15 to beats per minute faster than they started, so it would slow down again every time the band came back in.

A short blog today, but that's because Im so excited about this new plug in suite I got. Those of you who are musicians will know that a plug in is sound shaping software - often modeled after previously produced vintage hardware - that musicians who record using the computer use. a really good plug in is worth its weight in gold.

Anyway, have a look at this beast below (click it for a closer look), this one is pricey:

Sunday, June 15, 2008

I talked to my good friend...

...Andy Brick today. One cool thing is that he said he'd been getting traffic from this blog. I didn't know anyone was looking at this thing! How cool.

So if you haven't done so already, head on over to Andy's site and check out what he's up to. He's an incredible musician and a good egg besides.

In the meantime, I saw some great Turkish/Armenian music on Friday Night. It was a group called the 'Eurasian Project' at The Cell Theater on west 23rd street. The ensemble is Armenian-American oud master Ara Dinkjian, Turkish kanun virtuoso Tamer Pinarbasi, Macedonian Roma clarinetist Ismail Lumanovski, along with Seido Salifoskion on percussion.

This was a killer night of music! I really appreciated Sevgi dragging me out of my funk (which was running pretty deep for some reason) and taking me to this thing. As always her friends were very kind and welcoming to me. I always feel like I'm so inhibited around them that I act like the unibomber, but the next time, they're again welcoming and kind.

The Kanun player is a favorite of mine. I've seen him a number of times. When he plays, he always seems like he's above the technique -- like he has a mastery of the rudiments which is so deep he's completely free to perform from a joyous place, inventing what he's going to do next on the fly, interacting with the musicians with complete spontaneity. He's totally comfortable with the 'licks'.

Unfamiliar to most "western" musicians and listeners, the Kanun is an instrument similar to an autoharp in that it sits on the lap, but also similar to an orchestral harp in that it is tuned diatonically (the string's tunings correspond to the white keys on the piano). To get the "black keys", there are little tabs, or switches (called "mandals") which are manipulated by the player's left hand that change the pitch of the diatonic note. I should also note that while an autoharp is very easy to play (although I'm sure there are some tricky things possible) The kanun AIN'T EASY TO PLAY.

The difference between this and the action of a harp is that these "tabs" can be switched _very_ quickly and are switched on a single string (or "course", which is a group of stings - 3 in this case - tuned to the same pitch) at a time. This as opposed to globally on all octaves, which is how a harp works, with footpedals. Players can even play chromatic lines by switching them quickly between the notes available on a given course. They do a lot of tremolando type figures.

Anyway, this guy is one of the best, and if you get a chance check him out. I'm hoping to get him into the studio to add some things to a project I've been doing in my spare time, inspired by world music I've heard. When I approached him about this, he seemed more open this time, so maybe we can hook it up.

Here's the wikipedia article about the kanun

The surprise for me this time out was the clarinetist, who was fabulous. As luck would have it, I've been lucky to work with some of the best clarinetists in New York, so I have expectations about what the clarinet does and doesn't do. Mr. Lumanovski met and exceeded my quality expectations and surprised me with his pushing of the limits of the instrument.

His tone was gorgeous. It was unlike a typical clarinet sound - in that the one thing he never sounded like was typical western orchestral or chamber music clarinet. He played with an earthy tone that sounded like 'klezmer' clarinet. If you closed your eyes, sometimes he sounded like a single reed (which the clarinet is) and sometimes like a double reed (oboe for example is a double reed). Sometimes he produced a saxophone's tone. Sometimes he was almost inaudible, sometimes he wailed over the whole ensemble, producing a sea of fast moving notes. I thought: Does this dude ever breath? He kept stretching the limits of the range. He always was virtuostic, but at the same time coming from a deep emotional place.

Our oud player (I later discovered) was probably the most famous of the group, and also (perhaps as a result of his musical maturity) comfortably understated. I love some of the tunings on this instrument, because some of the notes on the instrument are wildly out of tune if compared with our western tunings, but that is what's appropriate for this music. Evocative.

The music? Well, I think it resembles jazz in terms of performance practice. In other words, they start with a tune that everyone knows (if you're Turkish, which I am not), then they improvise on that tune, going pretty much to the limits of their prowess while still referring to the tune.

It's interesting that I'm a little out to sea when I'm listening. I don't know the tunes, so I'm unfamiliar with the extent of the embelliment of it - like I would be with, say, 'My Funny Valentine'.

The sound you'd recognize, very middle eastern sounding scales and tunings..exuberant rhythmic figures...sort of a joyous sadness.

I also love that the time signatures are also often lopsided, but they groove completely organically, so that you're sitting there listening -- utterly without that sense of a slapped together 'oh-aren't-your-meters-so-complicated' feel -- and you suddenly think ... "are these guys in 9?"

Yep, they're in 9...

Sunday, June 8, 2008


Well, I'm trying to decide - for the "Strange Girls" CD - what to do about the somewhat out of place 'modern' type cues. The film is mostly orchestral music (let's say 65 of the 75 minutes of music is orchestral).

Then there is about 7 to 10 minutes of rock/pop/punk/R & B stuff. Mostly it's short excerpts. Some is diegetic music (meaning a record/CD player or radio playing in the scene, etc.) and a little is non-diegetic, meaning additional underscore. It's mixed in the film's score in various odd places.

There are two full length songs as well, which could be included here, or added to a later release, or both. One is a kind of Indy rock song called "Life Runs Cold" which many people seem to be quite fond of, and another less heartfelt one called "I Don't Know Why", which is kind of an R&B thing. To me it's a parody (or at least a copycat thing), but I don't think it plays that way to other people.

As I do the music master for a CD release, I realize that the order in which the music appears in the film is - in general - the appropriate order for a music release as well. Occasionally I cut or condense something, though.

The way these errant excerpts appear in the film tends to flow is in a way that is intentional. For example I have a very cultured, mannered, powdered-wig type string quartet, followed immediately by an aggressive punk rock vamp. The idea is maximum contrast when married to picture, which is appropriate and effective I think.

On the other hand, I'm starting to think that I have a "Strange Girls Suite" as I listen to it. I'm thinking of, for example, "The Firebird Suite" (apologies to Igor), and maybe the rock/pop/punk/etc. just doesn't belong.


- Cut it!

- Or I could put the additional cuts on a second CD, but it would only be 10 minutes long, and add cost.

- Or I could just leave it in. Let's face it, Stravinsky's not too worried about me closing in on him. Mahler, on the other hand, better watch out...


Saturday, June 7, 2008

Orchestral "Strange Girls" finished.....

I have finished, as of today, the orchestral elements of "Strange Girls". Next up is to tweak a couple of songs, and then move on to the next thing.

In the meantime, the film is screening all over the place with the temp score, which is my score, but with a temporary mix and without some of the live elements.

There was a screening in Hoboken on June 4th (happens to be my birthday) that I didn't even hear about.

Oh well....

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Last little bit of...

Strange Girls orchestral recording was completed yesterday by my buddy and expert clarinetist Tom Piercy. He's a busy guy, so getting him in for this miniscule touch up was tough.

Tom and I have known each other since college, where he was one of the standouts. He did the vocal lead in college of a performance of Eight Songs for a Mad King that people are still talking about! I remember that he scared the hell out of some kid sitting in the front row who started crying. Priceless!

Hey, I hope that kid is alright. Oh well, he's probably forty...his therapist will have to thank Tom...or at least give him a commission...

Back to yesterday - I had written something really hard, but then Tom realized it was easier on an A clarinet (rather than a Bb) so we redid the passage on the A instrument. Tom was in working on a song for Michael Lydon (the self proclaimed 'handsomest man in the world'...I can't argue that...). In the end Michael was very happy, which was great because Tom was my recommendation.

Now all I have to do is do the final mix of the last 4 or so minutes of SG.

I also have a couple of songs to revisit.

In addition, I can't get my printer to communicate with my airport extreme. That's taken a number of hours by now!

Now will you two just make and and play nice?