One of the effects of the Diamond Jubilee is that we've been put in the position of becoming crown makers. With most of the family ill or at least very tired, we found ourselves with just a few hours to get one finished. Your basic method: cut up a cardboard box, decorate.


Keys and Breathing the Photo!

16th May 2012 by WJCruttenden
16th May 2012, a photo by WJCruttenden on Flickr.

Here are Martin (usually piano) and Russ (usually guitar) playing he melodica as one.

Keys and breathing

I had a fascinating night last night. The Eclipse Trio (piano, bass and guitar) held its second recording session for its new album which is a retrospective of the singer/guitarist’s work. Last time we could only get vocals and Spanish guitar for the first song down, although this was mostly because the piano player wasn’t available and we were trying out a new (for us) method of recording the band.

After a surprisingly quick set up we recorded the missing piano and bass parts for the previous session then began work on a new song. This was done by us playing piano, bass and guitar straight to tape, then overdubbing an extra keyboard part. This went almost without a hitch, which was a little unnerving. The plan was to overdub a synth part that sounded something like a melodica (the breath powered keyboard instrument that shows up on almost as many recordings as the school recorder). I had been digging through my music cupboard recently and uncovered an actual melodica which I suggested we try first, in order to get a more organic sound. The others agreed to try it but then we had the issue of a piano player, playing a small keyboard instrument and having to match his breathing to his playing. Brass and woodwind folk are used to this, piano players much less so. In order to make life easier I suggested the guitarist provide the breath, via a tube so the pianist could concentrate on the keys. This took a few goes and a lot of puff but eventually we had a track that sat nicely alongside the acoustic guitar, fretless bass and piano parts.

A quick guide vocal went on and we called an end to the session.

One of the things I’m enjoying about this project is the willingness to try out ideas, and the satisfaction we’re getting from concentrating on the music above anything else. In this context, progress is a wonderful thing.


Rain, Rain go away... or not

21st April 2012 by WJCruttenden
21st April 2012, a photo by WJCruttenden on Flickr.

The forecast says it's going to rain again tomorrow. It's a good job I like rain but really... is there an ocean looking a bit low out there somewhere?

On being an atheist... part 27

I was having a conversation with some good friends, who happen to be Christians, the other day and it turned to Scientology. One pal said, "It's amazing the crazy stuff some people will believe in." I replied, "now you know how we feel." Nothing much more was said after that.

Where the Wild Things Were

For the last few weeks my young son has been expressing a preference at night time for a particular book that is slightly older than his dad. If I don’t read it to him he’ll lean backwards to find it, grab it and hand it to me. He hasn’t got many words in his vocabulary yet but he’s extremely clear about what he likes.

The book is ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ by Maurice Sendak. Is wasn’t part  of my childhood but first came to my attention in, of all places, a course for teachers of A Level English Literature. Whilst the book  itself mysteriously never made it to the A Level canon, it did reward a closer reading,  if only for the ways the illustrations gradually overtook the text.

‘Where the Wild Things Are’ is a book I’ve been reading a lot recently but it stays fresh and allows plenty of room for interpretation (do I stress those internal rhymes, use funny voices for the monsters, ask myself if anyone but me cares, etc.). It’s a wonderful book and Maurice Sendak will be much missed.


More momentum

21st March 2012 by WJCruttenden
21st March 2012, a photo by WJCruttenden on Flickr.

I was writing recently about how the momentum was returned to one of the bands I play in. We had renewed ourselves by decided to, quickly, record an album of previously unplayed songs.
So, last night I went to the songwriter/singer/guitarist’s house for a preliminary slice of pizza before we both drove to the piano player’s house. Our keyboard pal got delayed by his dayjob work though leaving us with a pile of instruments and my sixteen track recording machine. After a few more slices of pizza and some coffee we began to experiment with ways of recording the guitar parts and within a relatively short time we had the album’s first track recorded. Thanks to the joys of modern technology we can take the recorder to the piano player’s home studio at a later date and record his parts.
What made last night interesting for me was that I found myself becoming a producer. That’s to say I was suggesting and directing the recording of the vocals; picking out certain syllables that need re-phrasing or pitching differently. Not being a natural bossy boots I was surprised how much I enjoyed this role.
For those of you who follow the band (The Eclipse Trio) on Facebook or in the so called real world, you’ll be glad to know the new album should, at this rate, be finished by the summer.