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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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Sunday, 30 May 2010

An audio recording from AudioBoo

syzygy: audioBoo: Luton Kidney Wood Play Trail boo

An audio recording from audioboo.fm

Posted by james at 9:00 PM

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Is this summer?

Wow.. what a remarkably warm day it's been so far - the culmination of a week of sunshine. How could we resist spending some time outside, making the most of the summer day? Lenni had the idea that we could play out in the garden, and I suggested that we could clear the patio so we could use it for a picnic lunch.

After lots of weed pulling, sweeping and several trips to the brown bin (through the house - one of the drawbacks of living in a mid-terrace!) we had sorted out the patio, the steps down to the house and the overgrowth at the bottom of the metal steps from the terrace. It was then that I recalled we had a gazebo - it had only been used once or twice in the last - must be ten years! - but had been stored in the shed. It had been my intention to check to find out if it had rotted away, but I was pleasantly surprised when I took it out of the rather rotted cardboard box and the tarpaulin bag within.

We spent a happy (if warm!) twenty minutes wrestling with it - enlisting Chris's help, since it definitely takes an extra pair of hands, especially since we were assembling it in a slightly smaller area than was suitable, but it looked great when it had finished - even more majestic and spacious since we had perched it atop the walls surrounding the raised beds at either side of the patio. It made a fine location for a lunchtime picnic.

Hopefully this will provide a fun play area for the children over the summer - we'll roll up the carpet of an evening, so it doesn't get too damp.

A Dalek and me!It's been a fairly busy working week, with a couple of highlights - the first being a visit to the BBC Mailbox in Birmingham. They have an excellent Doctor Who exhibition in the public space there, and I stood next to an original (I think) Dalek, which you can see in a picture here: yfrog.com/jaabzzj. I think the newfangled multicoloured ones are taller!

Earlier in the week, my beloved Samsung i600 phone stopped working - it got stuck on the 'bootup' screen. Fortunately, there were plenty of links online showing how to go back to a 'factory reset' although rather upsettingly, this meant I lost all my text messages, notes and - most importantly - contact details. Fortunately, I was able to find most of them again (with the help of Facebook, Twitter and Beth's phone) and now I sensibly sync them with Google. If you have a Windows Mobile Smartphone (what do you mean "that's a bit old-school!"?) the fact that Beth and I can use ActiveSync to synchronise the family's Google calendar with the ones on our phone means that, on the whole, we don't double-book ourselves!

So it's been a up-and-down few days, but it's nice to be able to relax with the family at the weekend, and enjoy the breeze as it cools the house. Just about!

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Posted by james at 1:10 PM

Monday, 17 May 2010

audioBoo: Continual birdsong boo

An audio recording from audioboo.fm

A brief recording of the insistent bird at the front of our house - it may well be a blackbird, but it's almost definitely calling from its nest.

Posted by james at 5:20 PM

Friday, 14 May 2010

audioBoo: Rambling powercut boo

An audio recording from audioboo.fm

This was recorded shortly after the power returned on an evening when I returned home to find the house without electricity. Christopher very astutely asked if it was because we hadn't paid our bills, which gave me a good opportunity to explain the principle of the "red envelope" - which, I'm glad to say, we hadn't received!

All was well, though, and it was quite pleasant to relax in the relative peace and calm after a busy day in the hectic world of technology.

Posted by james at 10:50 PM

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Studiology (and "Finchley Road")

Since I put my studio together in 2002, there have been a number of little bits that have needed finishing, from the tidying up of cabling through some more serious connectivity problems that - as I'm sure happens with such installations - I have worked around over the years, to the completion of the fabric of the room - including a door that's needed painting since Lenni helped me sand it last September.

Evolution EVS1I've been fortunate enough to have some evenings working on musical projects with my brother Dave, during which we shared some wonderful reminiscences of our younger days and the music we made with any equipment we could get our hands on, some borrowed, the rest limited to, well, musical toys, really!

I mentioned to Dave that a few years ago I'd managed to pick up a second-hand Yamaha EMT-10 sound module like the one we had on loan during the early 1990s to make quite realistic (for the time!) piano, string and bass sounds. We both reflected on the rarity of its companion in our little set-up, the Evolution Synthesis EVS-1 (note: some useful software here for it, too!).

Here's one of the earliest of my recorded musical compositions, made with a cheap keyboard, the EVS-1, EMT-10, a reverb unit and a cassette recorder - it was leagues ahead of what I'd been able to record up to that point!

jamelopoeia - French Song [2:18]

jamelopoeia - French Song.mp3 (3 MB MP3 @192 kbps)

While we were getting all nostalgic, we had a quick look on eBay, and found that there was one for sale (I'd not seen one on any occasion that I'd browsed before). I ended up buying it for a fairly bargain price, and that was the prompt I needed to get on with the long-overdue studio improvements, since there wasn't room for it in the equipment rack I'd built with my mate Ed seven-and-a-half years ago, and I didn't have enough cables to accommodate it in the rather untidy spaghetti of connections to the mixer.

Over several evenings of work with a soldering iron, I populated the old 'PO jack' patchbays - that I'd rescued from a radio station skip from when it went 'digital' - with all the audio wires from synths and audio equipment that had previously spooled under the rack. I also rearranged the equipment so it was in a logical order, and unscrewed some of the wall sockets and other cables to find out (and remedy!) why I'd had to avoid using them over the past few years when recording podcasts, radio shows and vocal sessions.

Here, then, is a picture of the final rack installation. It's got lots of LEDs on it!

My reworked studio rack

Of course, the next bit will be to make some music that makes good use of it. I've recently installed some audio software called Independence Free, which contains some high quality samples, so I have no lack of resources to put some tunes together - or at least, noodle!

During the intervening time, I had challenged myself to produce a song that solely used the sounds on board my Alesis QS6 keyboard (since I had the wires for that!) This is the result - it's called "Finchley Road" and was intended to have a rather 1980s sound to it. I wrote the lyrics on my homeward commute (hence the title, I suppose) and finally finished it a couple of weeks ago. Having listened to the final version, it's a little minimalist and could do with a little variation, but sometimes things just need to be put to rest, to allow new projects to be embarked upon... and I have plenty of them in the pipeline!

jamelopoeia - Finchley Roadjamelopoeia - Finchley Road [2:28]


More of my music can be found on my main website here: http://www.mus-ic.co.uk/jamelopoeia.

Posted by james at 5:17 PM

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