I feel that I am making progress with Improvisation this week. I have managed to go beyond the pentatonic scale and change scales according to the chords. I composed a blues line to go over the chords and found this helped to understand the chord changes. I practiced this against the backing track (Bb blues) and used a number of rythmns. I am also playing some Scottish tunes on G minor so hopefully this will well help - same flats.
I have also been listening to some of the blues standards again. I have been tracking down the recordings that are in the Abersold book. I like Cantaloupe Island. Downloaded it so its on my MP3.
I can hear the chord changes better and follow the ii, V, ! progression. I can understand the raised third can be used rather than pentatonic scales.
Practicing scales and melody. Having played the melody the feel of it seems to stick better and then its more possible to improvise.
Had a GREAT weekend at one of the SCO Connect weekends in Aberdeen. I thought it would be a good opportunity to try playing in a full orchestra, learn more about ensemble playing and to benefit form the experience of working with some of the SCO musicians.
We were conducted by Ben Gernon who was very gracious and encouraging to us all. He has recently been a finalist in the LSO Donatella Flick Conducting Competition.
We played Beethoven, Coriolan Overture and Schumann Symphony No 3 ‘Rhenish’ (movements 1,2).
It was challenging but good fun. We did a performance at Queen's Cross Church, Aberdeen on Sunday 28th October The weekend rounded off with us giving a performance. Loved it all. The SCO are performing both over the winter. I shall be going.
There are more weekends coming up in March (orchestra and chorus) and May (Wind Farm).
I have been trying out Logic's Ultrabeat. Its very cool. You can choose a drum kit and set all the beats. There are an amazing number of controls (some of the most important ones aren't very obvious - including the power switch.) Definitely one to work through with a Ultrabeat tutorial. TINY buttons along the bottom.
You should treat the drum kit as separate components. It might be best to use dynamic microphones over condensor microphones given the low frequencies and high pressure of drums. Although condensor room microphones might be good if you want to try them. If using a condenser microphone it should be capable of recording at least 130 dbl apparently , so you need to check.
Drums should be in tune etc. Some people advise placing high hats higher then normal so they are not picked up the other kit microphones but drummers might not like this.
Need a microphone that is good at picking up low frequencies. The mic should be place in the drum (really?) about 6 inches from the beater - or just inside the hole for a lightly different sound.
This is the loudest sound and keeps the beat of the drum set and is usually miked from the top at the edge - with a cardoid microphone. It has little sustain.
High hat - the highest frequency. Often the room mic will be sufficient. If they are to be miced separately then keep it away from the puff of air that comes out when the high hat closes. Just above is fine.
Toms toms are tuned between snare and the kick drum and have a bit more sustain than the snare. You could use an individual directional dynamic? mic for each drum or maybe one between and above them. It might depend how many toms what types of mic you have.
Cymbals For cymbals , which are high frequency use a mic which is gooding at picking this up might be a flat frequency response condenser microphone.
The last performance class before half term raised an interesting point for me. There were a number of great performances. For me though, I was struck by what was said about that its better to pick a programme which is easy and play well rather than a difficult one which is more of a technical challenge. Hmm. I don't really want to spend year playing within my limitations. I took the opposite approach last year. I suppose it was a risk.
I am planning to sit Grade 8 (traditional fiddle) which relies on a choice of repertoire that has a sufficient level of difficulty. So I have to pick things that will meet that aim as well as to perform. But if its really all about the performance then maybe I need to revisit this.
Anyway, my lessons are going well. I am currently playing a couple of tunes in G minor, one Strathspey and one a reel which goes up into third position with a lot of string crossing. They are challenging and its difficult to get them clean. I am trying to discipline myself to pay attention to every single note and to practice more slowly. I find this quite difficult. I am also trying different bowings.
I have also been working on one of my own tunes this last week. I wrote it in the summer and I made contact with a brilliant musician Nick Pynn. He plays in the Edinburgh Fringe every festival but lives in Brighton. He has recorded it for me on mandolin and various other things (he plays practically everything).
He sent the rough track back to me about a week ago and I am really thrilled with it. It is quite amazing to hear your own composition played by another musician - especially one as good as Nick. I have been recording a couple of fiddle parts and then they will be added soon. It has been a great learning experience. Its been a challenge to play at the standard required for a recording.
Interesting performances last Thursday. We talked a bit about:
The other interesting thing that happened this week was my old fiddle teacher sent me a recording of her recital (she went to Newcastle to do her Masters specialising in Shetland music). Completely by coincidence she had played the Muckle Reel of Finnigart (which I blogged about earlier). Sounded amazing. She had loosely interpreted it, rather than sticking faithfully to the tune and was playing it in a different tuning to get more double stopping through it. She also sent me Peter Fraser's recording which she had managed to find - it is pretty much as I play it.
We have had a few e mail exchanges about it and I hope to meet up with her soon to get a few ideas about my version.
Borrowed a violin to try out but I don't think I'm going to go for it.
Enjoying our Studio units which are giving us a grounding in recording. We are using Logic. Its new to me and I find it difficult to remember all the shortcuts! Can we have an aide memoir with us when we do our assessments?
Anyway I have managed to get up to the point where I have made the Logic file New Day. It was quite good fun. I have messed about with the repeat and edit regions, and also done a little bit of mixing this week. Whether I could do it again without the tutorial guide is a different question.