Saturday, March 22, 2014

New Bandcamp Page

In preparation for the upcoming release of "More Halloween, I'm Afraid" I have set up a page at Bandcamp. For the moment "Halloween, I'm Afraid" is available there(along with itunes etc...), but one of these days more new tracks will begin to appear. Right now six songs are ready to go and as soon as I have 3 or 4 more done the blitz will begin! See the new page here Dulcet Jones at Bandcamp

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

DIY Recording Tips - Latency Issues

Latency is a problem for musicians that want to overdub multiple tracks in a recording program on their computer if their computer does not have all of the specs and capabilities required to overcome latency. This covers a lot of people because a computer that has all the specs, etc. usually costs a lot more than your average home PC or laptop. What actually happens in my case is this: I have some tracks open in Audacity that I put together with MIDI and now I want to add some guitar/bass tracks. I hook up either a mic, or a direct connection with a guitar, set it to record and start playing along with the tracks I've already made and whenever I play a note on my guitar, I hear it a split second or so later than I played it. This is the computer lagging behind because it doesn't have the power and specs required to keep up with the pre-recorded tracks. As you can imagine, it's maddening to try and work with this. I get around it with another piece of equipment known as a "porta-studio", in my case I have a Tascam DP-004. This cost me less than $200.00CAN. If you total the cost of an average computer and one of these it's way less than the above mentioned hi-spec computer, and these are pretty useful in more ways than just beating latency. These are not considered to be a professional alternative as they only record in 16bit, however, this blog series is for the lo-budget, lo-fi musician. Once I have the basic outline of a song in Audacity, I export it as a "guide track" and load it into the porta studio, mine is a four track so I put this guide track on track 4, then I hook up a mic or whatever kind of direct input I want(you can plug an electric guitar straight in if you want). I then set the guitar to record on track 1 and start it up, now I can hear the guide track and my guitar in real time, no latency. Once I have a track down that I'm happy with I upload it from the porta studio to the computer and add it to the tracks in Audacity, which will be perfectly in sync, and I'm ready to mix/alter/whatever. There are several makes and models of porta studios available, some have more features like XLR connecters and more tracks but most of the low budget ones I've looked at are 16bit, like anything in this world, you have to spend more money to get the higher specs, however, I know I'm not the only indie artist out there that is recording and releasing music with this level of equipment, and some of those artists sound pretty good to me. One more tip: If you do buy a porta studio of any kind read the manual thoroughly before you try to use it! They can be a bit complicated at first but once you get used to it they're amazing.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

DIY Recording - Experimental Guitar Tips

This post is about experimenting with different ways to record guitars to get more interesting sounds. The recording included here has two examples I've used, the first is an excerpt from "Silicon Dirge" where I recorded a light strumming passage played on a solid body electric guitar, but instead of plugging it into an amp I recorded it unplugged with a condenser microphone. This produces a slightly metallic, almost brittle sound with some pick noise but it fits the song in my opinion. This is not a new technique, I've read about other artists who have done this, most notably U2 when Brian Eno was producing them. The second example is an excerpt from "Electro Acoustic Lament", here I recorded a basic classical guitar with a built in pick up plugged into an amplifier. Usually a guitar like this would be recorded with a mic if you were going for the best guitar tone, but I wanted to see what else I could do. The amp is a Fender Mustang modeling amp that has many built in effects, here I used a "step filter". A lot of traditional guitarists aren't quite sure what to make of this effect, it adds more notes to any note you actually play and wouldn't fit in to many traditional styles of music, but I'm not playing traditional music here so anything goes. There is also a bit of reverb and digital delay, why stop at one effect? I often record a guitar part numerous times using different set ups until I find something I feel fits the song.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

D I Y Recording Tips, Continued

This is more of a songwriting tip, technically but using PowerTab Editor to write parts for particular instruments is a brilliant piece of technology. I just stumbled upon another one of those "aha" aspects to using this program. You might call it a happy accident but I was composing a track for synthesizer and after I got it scored and added it to the mix it just didn't feel right. I decided to leave it and go to work on a bass track when a sudden flash of inspiration hit me: what if I took the synth track I just created and went back into PowerTab Editor and changed the track sound to Bass guitar? It's extremely easy to change sounds on PowerTab Editor, and fun to experiment with. It was a single note piece already so I gave it a try and added it to the mix. To my amazement the synth track I was trying to make turned out to be a perfect bass guitar track. Now I'm in the process of learning what I wrote so I can play it in real time on my bass guitar. This will be heard in a new song that I might call "The First of November", which has a kind of 'looking back at great memories' feel in reference to being the day after halloween.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

My Solo Guitar Past Re-Package

"Solo Guitar Originals" is a collection of 11 original songs from the era of my music career as solo guitarist Jim Graham(my real name). Between 1996 and 2002 three CD's were released that included several classical, Celtic and flamenco songs plus these 11 pieces that I composed. Included here is the solo guitar version of "Timeframe", one of the tracks that appears on "Halloween, I'm Afraid", and "An Gorta Mor", my most popular song from that era.
Here's the direct link to iTunes, the album is only $3.99US!
Solo Guitar Originals - Jim Graham

This is "Train of Thought", one of the flamenco influenced songs,

If any of you guitar types out there are interested, I have scored "Train of Thought", "Deep Cove Hop", "Morisons March" and "An Gorta Mor" in tab and notation. Contact me if you want a copy, they're free!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Drums of December

While working on new material for "More Halloween, I'm Afraid" I get distracted sometimes and wander into different territory. This time I came up with this song, a sort of martial, almost military feel with some Christmas mixed in via the bells. Anyway, this is a free download.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Thanks for all the support for "Halloween, I'm Afraid" people! Going into write/record mode now for next years follow up album "More Halloween, I'm Afraid", 4 songs are "in the can" already as they say. Sometimes inspiration can be triggered by a single photograph, here's one that has me thinking already, it looks like some kind of ghost tree....