Posts tagged slide guitar

RPM Composing Update

The RPM challenge is about when you record the music rather than when you compose it, so I’ve been working more on the pieces I’ll be playing. Things have moved on from my last post! I have ideas for two separate suites, one based around melodic improvisation, and another around short pieces based on photographs I’ve recently taken.

I’ve been working on the first idea for a while, and it’s coming along pretty well. I could record a perfectly good version of it now, but I think living with the idea for longer will bring more things out of it, and anyway it isn’t even February yet!

The second idea I just started working on today. I have been playing around with analogue photography, and received my first set of prints back. Ten of them immediately struck me as making an interesting set, as they were all in various states of darkness. In some almost nothing is visible, in others some features stand out clearly while others are swallowed by darkness. Given my interest in failure, and imperfection, I knew I wanted to start interpreting these images in sound. I’ve just been scribbling initial notes down this evening, and I’m pretty excited about this idea :)

I’m not yet sure how these suites will interact. The first idea is probably long enough for a short album in itself. If I have composed the photo pieces in time, I will probably also record them and it will be an album of two halves, an idea I’ve always rather liked. If not then I’ll continue writing those pieces, and they can be their own release or become part of another project. If both these suites get recorded for RPM, that would probably be the longest release I’ve ever done!

I’ll be updating this blog with more composing stuff as things progress…

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Greetings! I charted a course through stormy ‘net connections on Sunday to bring a new release to your ears. As this is the first new piece I’ve released for a while (other than additions to Improvisations) some words on its creation, and my current musical thinking, may be of interest.

At the start of the year (or maybe it was the end of last year, but the date is unimportant) I decided that I should spend twelve months gathering field-recordings, and perhaps pictures and words too, to form the basis of some kind of release to be constructed at the end of 2012. I had no idea for the form of the final work, but I wanted to try a creative method that would lead to a longer gestation period, to get away from my tendency to create in sudden short bursts of activity. Perhaps the cultural significance of the year itself played a role: London had, after all, been preparing for 2012 for what felt like most of my life. I toyed with the idea of blogging regularly on my progress, but I decided this could easily lead to the project feeling like a chore, and that the important thing was the final product, not the story of its creation. I have gathered many recordings so far, though perhaps not as many as I would have liked.

It was in Birmingham last month that a new idea for a piece marched boldly into my head, as they occasionally do. Many times I have created a soundscape and then improvised over it, but now I thought of recording a long improvisation and treating this as the soundscape, creating a piece by adding snatches of manipulated field-recordings. I sat down that day in my hotel room and recorded myself playing for around 25 minutes. I consciously left more space in my playing, aware that this was the basis for more sound, that I was, at some level, accompanying something I could not yet hear.

The piece was created over the following weeks, using recordings from the same Birmingham trip, and also treated samples from the improvisation. As I often do, I allowed the sounds to guide me: I had no specific aims in terms of expressing ideas or moods. The piece is an experiment in approaching my usual ingredients in a slightly different way: the sound of me playing was treated in the way I generally treat field-recordings. I hope that creating it has helped me develop my sound-manipulation skills further.

I wrote myself a minimal set of instructions for my field-recording project, and titled it One Year. As the end of 2012 approaches, I am beginning to gain a sense of what I shall create from what I have gathered. There will be a series of standalone pieces, all made in somewhat different ways, but all using sounds from 2012 (of course!). Together, they will perhaps express something of what I am musically at this time. Birmingham Impressions is the first, listen out for more over the next few months.

thanks for listening/reading

Sam

*a copy of these instructions is a bonus item with the Birmingham Impressions download

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Live Again

Last weekend I invited a few friends round to my place and performed a piece for them. As well as (hopefully!) being enjoyable for them, I knew this would be useful for me to keep in practice and experiment with a longer live form. Whereas in my recent live performances I used field-recordings from specific places, for this I simply went through what I had recently done and made a soundscape that seemed interesting. In particular, I was keen to make sure that distinct structures were apparent, in order to create some sense of narrative in the piece and also to help me remember what point I had reached in the performance.

I recorded my performance using a Zoom H1 portable recorder, and was happy enough with the recording to put it on bandcamp yesterday. There have been some lovely responses, it’s always great to learn that people enjoy what you do!

It’s available on a pay-what-you-like basis in a choice of audio formats, or I’ll make a CD-R just for you for £6. Anyway, here it is, if you like it please share it with others. Thanks for listening :)

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Improvisation 27/10/11

Acoustic slide guitar. You may just be able to hear the faint crack of distant fireworks at the end.

Now available to download in a wide choice of formats here

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Improvisation 28/8/11 - electric slide guitar. This will be added to the downloadable improvisations on my bandcamp soon, in the meantime it’s exclusively streamable here! Comments welcome :)

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Loose Strings - another improvisation. When putting on some new strings, I was inspired by the rattling sounds at the headstock to make a new recording before I cut the strings to size. Here it is, hope you enjoy :)

Here it is on bandcamp, free to download and share

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New improvisation, full set here. Downloadable for free in a wide choice of formats

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A new improvisation from this continually expanding collection, all freely downloadable http://store.samgrinsell.com/album/improvisations-free-download

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