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The life and times of james Hart: his family, his music, life in Luton and his occasional escapes onto the internet.

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Monday, 7 July 2008

Two weekends (with work in the middle!)

The last couple of weekends have seen something of a contrast, with an intense couple of days in the studio a week ago, and plenty of time out and about yesterday and today.

My dear friend Vikki (singer of 'Shopping High') came down for a visit; we had a couple of projects to work on, the first being a rendition of Sunshine On Leith by The Proclaimers; it's intended to be the theme to a multimedia project she is working on at the moment.

Since there aren't that many good backing tracks for this (relatively obscure) track, I set about creating my own, and I think it went quite well. Since I've been following the Audio Masterclass course, I am hoping that my production skills have improved somewhat, with clearer sound in general and a better blend of instruments.. here are excerpts of the original, my backing and the full version of the final cut.

the original version

proclaimers-sunshineonleith-48k.mp3 (300kB MP3 excerpt @ 48kbps)

my instrumental version

jamelopoeia-sunshineonleithinst.mp3 (1.3MB MP3 excerpt @ 192kbps)

Vikki's vocal version

jamelopoeia-sunshineonleith.mp3 (1.1MB MP3 excerpt @ 192kbps)

We also made some good progress on a rock song I composed last year, but haven't done much with. 'Take Me With You' is intended to be a richly instrumented quasi-gothic arrangement, with lots of strings, vocals and guitars. After a couple of (rather necessary!) tempo changes as I developed it - from too slow, through unplayably fast, to 'just right' Vikki laid down some guide vocals to give the song a better melodic basis that I think will help wrap the rest of it around it..

Here's the original as I wrote it - well, at least some of it! I worked on the middle-eight chord and melody shortly before Vikki arrived!

the originally composed version

jamelopoeia-takemewithyoudraftinst.mp3 (1.1MB MP3 excerpt @ 96kbps)

the first attempt - a little too fast!

jamelopoeia-takemewithyou-fastinst.mp3 (1.1MB MP3 excerpt @ 192kbps)

...and here is the basic version we recorded!

jamelopoeia-takemewithyou-vocal.mp3 (5.8MB MP3 @ 192kbps)

While the microphones were all plugged in and the mixer set up (mostly! I kept on having to reconfigure the AUX/STEREO output to send pre-faded headphone feeds) to record, we worked on some cover versions of karaoke classics ('Days' by Kirsty MacColl, 'What's Up' by 4 Non Blondes and others) and the weekend soon disappeared. It was excellent practice for me - and a much-needed return to the studio, since I've not done any music in a long time.

The weekend that's just gone has been a family one; Beth had an OU tutorial on Saturday morning, so the rest of us descended on my Dad - Lenni loves Bella (his golden retriever) and it's always good to catch up with him. We have the promise, during the school holidays, of setting up some miniature rockets that we can launch and then run after as they descend to earth - hopefully with a parachute!

Beth and the children at Christopher's school summer feteAfter lunch we went to Christopher's school fête. Beth was helping run a stall, so we popped over to see her on occasion to show what the children had bought and won - token things, really, but isn't that what it's all about? Fortunately, the rain dried up for the afternoon, so we were able to play out on the green at the front until teatime. That was that last of the dry weather, though, and Sunday was an 'indoor' day; I worked on an XP rebuild for Dad's laptop (I'm still surprised they ever dispatched them with 256MB of memory.. it gets eaten up so quickly!) It's awaiting an order from Ebuyer to make it wi-fi capable, and then it's back over to him to finish writing his memoirs...

The weekend's now but a memory, and tomorrow marks my return to work - the rainy season is here at the moment, so I'll be wearing my coat! Later this week I'm taking a trip to Worcestershire to lead the second half of another course.. hopefully I'll be able to recall what I did last time! Non-stop fun and action, as always.

Posted by james at July 7, 2008 10:16 PM

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