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The weekend, with music

Long weekends are often stultifyingly productive. Thursday night I started a remix.

Friday was mostly given over to meat. And beer. Courtesy of our bassist-in-residence, Mr. Chuck. However, in the evening Wendy and I went to the CTRLSHFT/Caustic/Babyland show. It was Joe and Maggie’s bon voyage, as they leave for higher altitudes. I’m gunna miss those kids.

Cheap wooden Frames Saturday I spent a large quantity of time mucking about at Home Depot. For a while I’ve been of the opinion that I need new/better acoustic treatment for my studio, since my previous attempts have been 1) ugly 2) not as acoustically useful as I’d hoped and 3) did I mention ugly? My previous attempts have been first to wrap OC703 in landscape fabric, which was ugly and hard to mount. Second attempt was to wrap them in canvas and glue them to a board. Problem was they looked silly and the canvas was not especially acoustically transparent, meaning they didn’t really do as good of a job as they could, and they looked funny in the process.

Finished acoustic paneling So I bought a bunch of 1x3x8’s – construction grade, not furniture grade, for a savings of about $7 a strip – some angle brackets, and 16 yards of unbleached muslin. The lumber got cut and bracketed into 2′ x 4′ frames. I grabbed all my myriad pieces of 703, many of which I’d cut into smaller traps and the like, re-assembled them, jammed them into the frames and wrapped the whole deal in muslin. The end result looks pretty decent and sounds much better. I made 5 acoustic panels from the bits I found. Then I discovered a sixth piece in the back of the garage, so I have one left over that I now intend to use to make a portable hinged microphone isolation baffle.

I think overall, even with the 703, each panel cost me about $15.

Flogging Molly Saturday night, Wendy and I hit Summerfest in Milwaukee, where we got our prerequisite grilled corn, hung out with the one and only Robin (without whom I’m pretty sure Summerfest would collapse into a smoking, chaotic ruin). We had some side-stage passes to Flogging Molly, which was pretty excellent. I was only passingly familiar with them before (“If I Ever Leave This World Alive” showed up on a few shows I watched) but having seen them live, they’re awesome. It’s impressive that they’re all pretty consummate musicians, all the more impressive that they can remain as such without sacrificing any onstage energy. That’s rare. Their opener was a DC fiddle band that was also surprisingly good – and also surprisingly capable of doing “rock leaps” while playing violin, which made me giggle.

I’m totally going to have to try to re-learn irish fiddling. I started once, long ago, and kind of forgot everything I ever learned. I have a book of fiddle tunes I bought in Galway and haven’t really cracked open since. I don’t know if I’m talented or coordinated enough for the crazy Donegal style, but maybe I can learn a Mayo style or something. Plus, I discovered that a jig can overlay a chaal beat quite nicely, so three cheers for cross-cultural fusion, eh?

Sunday, I finished the remix I started on thursday, and I’m very pleased with how it came out. It’s kind of big and orchestral. I like doing this sort of thing, and I think I’ll have to do more. It raises some vexing questions about how to pull this off live, but I’ll deal with that later.

I also spent about two hours playing with mic positioning techniques. For the first time, and only briefly, I got my dhol to not sound like a trashcan. I even got it to sound vaguely taiko-like when mic’ed appropriately. This opens up many possibilities.