Tag Archives: Arts

Making music

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, wait no that’s not right, it was about 20 years ago in pre-Celtic tiger Dublin. Hmm thinking about it maybe I was right to start with. Anyway I digress, back to the story I want to tell you all.

I was young, and with all the things that come from being a teenager who has just finished school and having a dream in my mind that I just knew was mine for the taking I set about a career as a musician, composer, arranger, songwriter and really just all round rock god :) The next few years were to hold stories of success and failure, of immense joy and deep heartfelt anguish. All the usual stuff a teenager goes through and genuinely believes is unique to them.

My Tenor Sax and EWI
My Tenor Sax and EWI

I loved to play, write and arrange music, I enjoyed it immensely and I believed I was really great at it, just the world hadn’t coped on to my genius, eventually I would cop on.

When I did, I ended up in a job I didn’t really want for a while and slowly I drifted away from all my music interests. First I stopped writing and arranging and eventually I stopped playing. I’m really not sure why, I guess I just got caught up in life and decided I had less and less time for it which I’m now discovering was really stupid.

I’m saying this now as I’ve recently started playing again, bizarrely as a result of studying for exams. At some point about two weeks before my exams were due to start, when I was studying, I started to get distracted by thoughts of playing as I got tired from studying. After a day or two of this I gave in dug out my horn and had a blow for about half an hour and then returned to study refreshed like I’d just started.

Even after that first day I suspected that there was something more up with my playing than just a lack of practice and I’ve discovered that my beautiful twenty year old horn is in need of a major overhaul. In the mean time It’s still playable, just not with any other instruments as the tuning is a little wild in places.

It still allows me to practice my scales, arpeggios, long tones and all the other boring stuff that all instrumentalist must practice to play the tunes that everyone loves. Unfortunately this is only a small part of playing and the most fun part, playing tunes as part of an ensemble, be it a real or virtual, is not possible with my baby, until I can afford the overhaul.


Hopefully it won’t take too long for me to save the funds to get the work done. Thankfully, I have a solution that will keep the itch scratched in the meantime. A few years back, while considerably flusher than I am now, I invested in an EWI, that’s an Electronic Wind Instrument.

At the time I bought it I practised and played it a fair amount but thanks to a less than simple manual and some difficulty setting it up and familiarising myself with it that didn’t really last long. However in the meantime a number of people have come along and published a number of simple how-to’s on you tube, so I now have it set up to my liking and am getting my playing back in shape reasonably rapidly. Who knows what may come of this.

In the meantime, if you’re an EWI player why not leave a comment below about what style and music you like to play and if you are struggling with an EWI take a look at Saxman999’s channel over on youtube or leave a comment below and maybe I’ll be able to help.

A holiday and a dream come true

I’m off on holiday, well more a weekend away in that it’s only four days. I’m really looking forward to getting away for a few days though, some relaxing, a change of scenery, some sight seeing and the first music festival that I’ve been interested in going to, in more than a decade.

“So where are myself and Elly off to?” I hear you ask. The city of Amsterdam, one of our favourite cities in the world and the place that we got engaged. We’ve been there a good few times over the years and we’ve seen a lot of the museums before. Thankfully there is a (kind of) new one for us to see this time, Hermitage Amsterdam.

Image via Wikipedia

I say kind of because The original Hermitage museum is in St. Petersburg. I have always thought that it was in the Kremlin as that’s what our tour guide told us when I was in Moscow in 1990, but maybe the 20 years have taken there toll on my memory more than I thought.

Either way that Museum tour was one of the most amazing of my life, our guide barely stopped the whole tour and I know there was a lot more to see. I could have stared at the Imperial Faberge eggs all day, such amazing pieces of craftsmanship and pure beauty, I cannot describe and no photo I have ever seen can do them justice. But I’m waffling now. In short, I’m giddy with anticipation :)

I mentioned we’re going to a music festival, Jam in the Dam to be precise. Two concert halls under one roof and a full set from all the bands each night, which is great because if you miss a band one night, you get to see them the next. I’d love to be able to go to all 3 nights but these days I’m grateful to even get 1 night.

There is only one act on the lineup that I’ve heard of before (I will be getting myself upto speed on the rest of the lineup before we head off so expect some post about them as well) but I’ve been a fan of Les Claypool since I first heard Primus play at the battle of the bands in San Dimas, California… oh wait a minute, that was in a movie… Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.

Primus were barely even on screen but the music grabbed me and it’s never let go since, they still sound as fresh as the first time I heard them. Bands come and go and over the years Les has moved on to other projects and I have purchased almost all of his albums since.

If ever there was a band that I would travel through time to hear it would be Primus, even over the chance to be at Woodstock, so there was no way I was going to miss the chance to see Les play, especially since it’s his first European gig since I discovered you could use the internet to keep tabs on your favourite bands.

Unfortunately, I’m going to have to wait until March but in the meantime hears the track that grabbed my attention so fiercely 19 years ago…

Musical Monday (no. 2) Dead mean can write toonz

This week I want to talk about this article I read recently on wired. the short version of this story is that at the recent Santa Cruz Baroque Festival a contemporary composer, David Cope, premiered a new 12-movement piece from the mind of Antonio Vivaldi.

Yeah, I know Tonios been feedin worms for over 2 century’s so how did David find a new 12 movement piece from a dead composer. Well in short it’s a fake, written by software that David has developed. Essentially, it takes a database of a composers work, analyses the phrasing and then uses that information to create a new piece.

According to the article he has done this with lots of other composers as well as Vivaldi. Now I’m not a huge fan of classical music but this is an incredible creation and what I would love to hear is that David has unleased Emi on the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa and Les Claypool. Yeah Les is still alive but there’s method to this madness. 😉

So once we have all these artists and composers absorbed by Emmy, why not mix and match, Hendrix and Beethoven, Zappa and Ravel, Claypool and Debussy. Or let Bach or Haydn go nuts with a full Philharmonic Orchestra.

There are definatly purests who will say that this is souless and grave robbing etc. I don’t, so long as someone doesn’t try to claim that they wrote it rather than the artist or composers “profile”. Bottom line, if it sounds good then who cares how the music was written.