Archive for the 'Guitar' Category

Mar 15 2018

The February Challenge – 2018

Thanks to some online music groups, I discovered an annual effort where musicians record 10 to 15 songs during the month of February, with the intention of releasing them as an ‘album.’ After some careful thought in January, I decided to join in, but with a slightly modified vision. I decided to compose and record 1 new original music track every day. Before I started I knew that I’d work ‘inside the box.’ Everything would be created in Cubase (on my PC) or in Korg Gadget (iPad)¬†using software synthesizers and mostly original sounds.

There was another challenge that is reflected in some of the tracks. It is the ‘A Synth – A Song’ challenge, where all parts in a track are created using just one synth. The idea, of course, is to push the capabilities of the synth AND one’s own programming skills to create something interesting.

Some of these are completely realized recordings, and others are sketches. Overall, I’m fairly happy with what I created. I didn’t end up meeting my challenge. I really only recorded 26 tracks. Also, I’m still working on one that I started in toward the end of the challenge. That will be a full fledged song, played with some ‘real’ instruments, and will have me singing.

Below, you will find a player that has all 26 tracks (and one alternate version) in alphabetical order. Below that, you’ll find individual players for each track. Also, you can download a playlist of all the tracks. It should open in your favorite music player.

You can also view the site where the challenge originated.

 

 

 

 

      Three To Win
Produced in Cubase using a variety of virtual synths.

 
 
 

      Countdown
Produced in Cubase, this track has an ever shifting time signature, which gives it a floaty sort of feel. All of the synth patches were created by me, using a variety of inbuilt and free VST instruments.
 
 
 
      In Seine Rapids
Here’s a tune to dance to as you skip and stroll along the river Seine. Watch your step, though, as it is in 7/8.
 
 
 
      Walking in Central Park
This is a simple song that evokes a feeling of nostalgia… Created using one Steinberg VST, HAlion, in Cubase.
 
 
 
      A Non-Gender Specific Object Being Consumed by Fire
Another track created in Cubase, using just one synth: the free Eclipsis VST.
 
 
 
      Lullabye
Music to make sleeping children dream of ghostly apparitions. This track was created entirely on the iPad, using Korg Gadget.
 
 
 
      Circular Thinking
Produced in Cubase using just one synth, the free VST, Eclipsis.
 
 
 
      A Broken Vessel
Produced entirely in Cubase, using just one synth, the free VST, Matrix 6000.
 
 
 
      Double Jointed
Here’s a dance number for people with two left feet.
 
 
 
      Changmai Escape
Produced entirely on iPad, using just one synth: Korg Gadget’s Changmai.
 
 
 
      Sweeping The Steppes
This is a recording of a live looping performance on the iPad using just one synth, Wolfgang Palm’s amazing Wavemapper inside Michael Tyson’s AudioBus3 and using his LoopyHD for Frippertronics style looping. All sounds were created by me in Wavemapper, using samples that I recorded. No editing or effects were added after the fact.
 
 
 
      The Empty Mirror
This song was produced on the iPad, using Korg Gadget, and inspired the following lyrics:

“The empty mirror reflects a sadness I cannot see. It politely refuses to let me be.
It asks me to look but nothing is there. It’s hidden the last of me.”
 
 
 

      Dust Devils
An imagined landscape of reds and browns, with swirling winds and plucked strings.
 
 
 
      Love Is (For Shari)
This is an allegorical piece, telling the story of how love brought me out of chaos and into peace and joy. It was composed on Valentine’s Day, for my beloved wife, life partner, and friend. It was produced entirely on the iPad using Korg Gadget.
 
 
 
      Above The Kermadec Trench
As one moves lower, into the deep, the last glimmers of light from the surface begin to fade, and darkness becomes blinding.
 
 
 
      Discadance
This is a musical thought experiment using a systems-based composition technique. No effects, other than reverb on the master mix, were used. No dynamics were manipulated. This track was created using Cubase, and one synth, am early virtual analog synths made by Steinberg. Best heard on speakers.
 
 
 
      Baracha Nada
This one is is kinda groovy in a vaguely latin way, when the band has had one too many to drink, perhaps.
 
 
 
      Point Fermin Fog
A spin-off of the systems-based approach of Discadance, with a much more relaxed, languid feel and a bit more variety in the tones.
 

It inspired a brief poem:

The horn howls like Ginsberg,
cold as the light-knife cuts through
the darkness.
A cloud blanket softens the night,
dampens the forgotten spirits
that haunt Angel’s Gate,
forever waiting for imagined
invaders.
I ache for that softness,
breathe it in,
but the edge remains.
 
 
 

      Sistema Sac Actun
This is a recording of a live performance, made entirely on the iPad, using Korg Module and Loopy HD running in Audiobus 3.
 
 
 
      The Flemish Cap
The Flemish Cap is an underwater ocean area East of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. It is best known because of the collapse of previously abundant sea life due to over-fishing by EU member states in the 1990s.
 
 
 
      Kaddish A Requiem for Humanity
The creation of this track proved to be surprising. A friend was discussing the value of watching the footage of the evacuation and rescue that took place in Florida after the recent shooting. I found myself responding rather passionately and, immediately after, recording tonight’s track. Here’s what I wrote.

When I was 12, my Hebrew School showed all of the students at least three big reels of 16mm Nazi death camp footage. Most of it was filmed by the Nazis before the liberation. It had no sound. It was just silent b/w moving images of horrors that, as a child, I could not previously imagine.

There’s a part of me that feels injured by that experience. There’s another part of me that cherishes it. I think we can too easily look away from the horrors of the world and, in doing so, believe that we are disconnected from them.

As we know, though, safety is an illusion. We know that none of us are immune from the pain and suffering that others feel. We are not separate from each other. Your pain is my pain, and we need to see the truth so we can understand the problem and work together toward a new paradigm.

Gun control is one small part of the problem. We’ve allowed ourselves to isolate the others, those who make us uncomfortable, when we should be reaching out to them and bringing them closer. We have a systemic cultural problem, and there is no easy fix for it.

BTW, ‘Kaddish’ is the Jewish prayer of remembrance for the dead.

Translation:

May His great name be exalted and sanctified in the world which He created according to His will! May He establish His kingdom and may His salvation blossom and His anointed be near during your lifetime and during your days and during the lifetimes of all the House of Israel, speedily and very soon! And say, Amen. May His great name be blessed for ever, and to all eternity! Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, above and beyond all the blessings, hymns, praises and consolations that are uttered in the world! And say, Amen.
 
 
 

      The Great Wall
This piece was created in Cubase using one synth, the free VST, Sonigen Modular.

Lyrics:

What’s so great about a wall?
What is their beef, those Mongol hoards?
With beards and swards
Sweeping the steppes
With dissonant chords.
Why do they install
This monumental wall?

Strong fences make good neighbors
but the hooves and neighs of foaming steeds
bear no quarter but those hung and drawn.

These effortless sketches stretch South and West,
but I’ve forgotten all the rest.
 
 
 

      Bang Header
This tune is really just an excuse for a tune, rather formulaic and sad, except that I like it, kinda. It was fun creating the beat, and I quite like some of the patches. Some are stock and others more custom.

Lyrics:

Head your bang, your bang diddy bang bang.
Head your thang, your thang diddy thang thang.
 
 
 

      Frederated
Here’s another fun odd time signature for all the counters out there. Also, this track used just one synth for all of the sounds, the free VST Sonigen Modular. The track was created in Cubase. The title refers to one of my favorite musicians.
 
 
 
      Whitney Winds
This is a recording of a Frippertronics-style live looping iPad performance using an app called Yonac Steel Guitar.
 
 
 
      Disco Fever
Dance, everybody! Everybody dance!
 
 
 
      Worthy
A song about the struggle to embrace love. Recorded in Cubase with virtual drums and organ, real guitar courtesy of the Sandblaster, the Industrial Guitars Indy Rail lap steel, and my Japanese Fender Fretless Jazz bass with custom humbucking Seymour Duncan pickups and Aguilar preamp.

Lyrics:

Worthy
by Sander Roscoe Wolff

I’m not too bad. I’m not too good.
I’ve not done all the things I should.
This road is rocky. I stumble and fall.
I can’t get up, so I just crawl.

The darkness calls. It knows my name.
My forgotten goodness is hidden by shame.
I look to the depths and decide to go.
But you tell me one thing that I did not know.

You say, “You’re worthy. Worthy of my love.”
You say, “You’re worthy. Worthy of my love.”

Your words, they shake me. I start to cry.
I feel unready to live or die.
I turn to leave but I’m caught by surprise.
I see the truth in your blue eyes.

I said, “I’m worthy. Worthy of your love.”
I said, “I’m worthy. Worthy of your love.”

Some days are dark, and some are sad.
Now, through it all, my heart is glad.
Some days are dark, and some are sad.
Now through it all, my heart is glad.

I said, “I’m worthy. Worthy of my love.”
I said, “I’m worthy. Worthy of my love.”
 
 
 

      Walking in Central Park (One Synth)
– This track uses the same note information as the original, but is realized entirely with one synth, Arturia’s Moog Modular VST in Cubase. Some of the sounds are stock patches, some were tweaked, and some completely original.
 
 
 

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May 25 2007

The Sandblaster!

It has been several years in the making but I’m pleased to announce that for all intents and purposes the guitar project is complete. Lots of people asked if I had a name for it and, after pondering for a while, came up with The Sandblaster! This was one of my nick names when I was a kid, and seemed to sound like a guitar (a la Telecaster). I hope to take better pix at some point, but this was the best I could muster right now:

The Sandblaster

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Apr 14 2006

45 Sec Compilation

As a result of my last gig I was invited to participate in a compilation album that’s being produced by a young fellow I met at the gig. I guess that the plan is to produce an LP (those 12″ vinal things…) with up to 40 tracks, each no longer than 45 seconds. To be honest, I love stuff like this. So far, I have produced two tracks.


      The first
is from my performance, the middle bit with my Lap Steel, that runs about 12 minutes or so. Using special software, I reduced the running time to 45 seconds. Thus, the entire performance is represented, but it happens at a much faster rate. The pitch would have stayed the same but I decided to drop the whole thing down one octave, just because it felt better to me.


      The second
is more of a multi-track studio affair. I built the thing up one track at a time, improvising each track as I went. For example, I recorded the first guitar track, then improvised the 2nd and 3rd tracks just listening to the 1st. These three tracks became the 3 note chords. I then recorded the 1st 1/4 note arpeggio, also an improv, and then the 2nd without listening to the first. I improvised the bass part while listening to the chords, then added the 3 vocal tracks, the lap steel, and the bells.

It wasn’t exactly what I had in mind for the project, but I do like it. It is simultaniously lilting and wacked… (BTW, I described it to my wife using the same two words and her reply: “Lilting and wacked… Just like you!”)

Enjoy!

One response so far

Apr 12 2006

Hide Not Your Heart

This song, called

      Hide Not Your Heart
, was written a few years back when I was recording songs as birthday gifts for my friends. At a local farmer’s market, I found a small stone heart that was carved from some sort of crystal. It looked rather dull and gray until the sun hit it. When it was illuminated directly, it sparkled and shined, refracting the light from within. This became a lyrical metaphor for me, and sparked the song. My singing, especially at the beginning, is a bit ragged. The harmonies are all staggered and informal. This was all planned. The guitar solo is perhaps one of the best I’ve ever recorded, not for its technical skill, but because to me it is filled with feeling. As the solo progresses, the rest of the music fades away. To me, this was also a metaphor for being couragous in letting one’s heart shine… At the end, my vocal is softer, warmer, and more intimate…. Almost a whisper.

To me, this is a very special song. I don’t know if anyone else likes it much, as I understand that aspects of it can be challenging. Still, for me, I felt like I reached a place in the creation of it that was emotional and personally profound.

Having said that, I absolutely welcome and encourage any and all feedback and impressions you care to share, positive or negative.

Here are the lyrics:

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Apr 12 2006

LP 45 Second Project

When I performed at the Dung Mummy Anniversary event last month, I met a young man by the name of Adam Reese. He performed with the Hop Frog Drum Jester Devotional, smacking a mini trap set. A few days ago he contacted me about a project of his own that he wanted me to participate in. Evidently, he’s producing a compilation LP with tracks by a multitude of artists. Each track, however, must be no more than 45 seconds. This is a unique challenge. He explained that he wasn’t really looking for ‘noise’ stuff. He said he’d enjoyed my performance, and was hoping for something reflective of that. Well, leave it to me to take a perfectly good suggestion and corrupt it terribly. I took the audio from the middle portion of my performance, the bit with the Indy Rail lap steel, and time shifted it from nearly 12 minutes to exactly 45 seconds. I also applied a wee bit of dynamic processing, reverb, EQ, and dropped the audio down one octave.

Hear the result

      here
. [NOTE: This is an uncompressed WAV file that’s about 7.5 MB.] Now, I don’t know if this will be my actual submission, but the result was interesting in a ‘tweaky’ sort of way.

Please let me know what you think by leaving a comment.

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Mar 23 2006

Dung Mummy Audio Excerpt

With the kind assistance of a volunteer, I recorded my performance at Dung Mummy on my video camera. The performance, in its entirety, was about 25 minutes. This excerpt, about 11 minutes in length, comes from the middle, when I had switched from my gretsch to my Industrial Guitar Indy Rail.


Click here to hear audio. Note: the file is about 10 MB.

If you’re interested, you can see pix of the guitar effects I use and read about what they do.
Enjoy!

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Mar 23 2006

Dung Mummy Pix

Although I had no idea at the time, Jason Savvy (aka Monkey Wrench) was snapping pix while I was performing. He was kind enough to post them, and share them with the performers.

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Mar 19 2006

New Guitar Cases

I got a custom case made for my new custom guitar, and decided to have a matching one made for my lap steel. The company that made them, Morris & Holmberg Cases in Santa Ana, did a pretty nice job. They used material I provided them, and painted it with a custom color. Sweet!

Custom Cases

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Mar 19 2006

Guitar Effects

The signal chain for my performance was:

The Gretsch BST-1500 and/or the Industrial Guitar Indy Rail > Ernie Ball VP Jr Volume Pedal > HBE UFO (fuzz/octave) > Analog Man Sun Face (NKT275 with Sun Dial mod) (fuzz) > HBE Psilocybe (phaser) > Marshall Vibrotrem > DOD DFX94 Digital Delay/Sampler > Line6 Delay Modeler > Fender Blues Jr. Amplifier.

I also used a cheap digital voice recorder, purchased in Little India, that I played by holding it against the pickup of the lapsteel. You can hear this about 5 minutes in. Later, I also use an Ebow to create long sustained notes. You can hear this toward the end, around 9 minutes or so.

The set of guitar effects I use is designed to provide me with a wide sonic pallet. Each one adds to or changes the sound in a distinctive way. I sometimes use them by themselves, or in combination with other pedals. With the 7 pedals, there are countless variations possible.

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Mar 19 2006

Dung Mummy

I was privledged to be invited to perform at the 3rd anniversary of Dung Mummy, a performance event for experimental music, poetry, and other ecclectic creative energy. The event is hosted and organized by the Hop-Frog Kollectiv, a group of adventurous and creative artists from all over the Southland.

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