All the videos are on the YouTube channel: click below
Unless other wise noted, all whispersinspace pieces are played only on guitar. There are no synths, pianos, or computer generated sounds on these pieces.
This is a piece that I worked on for probably 3 weeks, throwing out most of what I did until finally finding the thread of what I was trying to do. Which was: Provide a nice transition from F major to Gb minor (unrelated keys, how to get there without sounding abrupt?); use slide guitar to play melody notes (Mitzi thought they sounded like whale sounds); get some long, sustaining, chord swells. Plus continue to improve my understanding of the daunting array of signal processors in my arsenal. I am happy with the result. When I completed the music, I asked Mitzi to listen with her eyes closed, (her first listening of the piece), and to tell me what images she saw. She described what she saw, I went to videvo.net, my "royalty-free video websites", for video clips, and I put together the video.
I was working on this piece, experimenting with drones, and woke up to find the first snow of the season. My grand-daughter was coming over to work on some photography lessons together so I called her and told her to take about 20 pictures of the snow. She's very creative. When she came to my house she took some more pictures as I thought we'd work on creating a video from the still photos. When I saw what she shot, I realized she took all the photos in "portrait" orientation, not the standard "landscape" that is needed for video. So we uploaded all the photos and did a simple 90 degree rotation. So if you look carefully, you can see some of the plants and stems and branches are growing in a way you wouldn't normally see; but with the snow, it's not really noticeable. I think it came out great and it was wonderful to collaborate with my granddaughter to create a piece.
whisper 6 - Trees
This piece is in the overall form of A B A'. The A section rocks between a CM and a GM, two and a half times. It uses the Mobius "Tremolo" engine so it has a rolling feel to it. At about 2 minutes in, the piece morphs into a Bbmin section for another two minutes. Then another A section comes in but this time the tremolo is removed so it's a little "purer."
The transition from CM to Bbmin is interesting to me; even though CM and Bbmin aren't related, to make the transition between the two chords I used two "common tones", (1=F#, which is the b6 of Bbmin and the 7 of the key of G major; and 2=C, which is the 4 in G major and the 2 of Bbmin). Playing those two tones, (which together make a tritone,) while the CMaj chord is sounding and the Bbmin is fading in creates a nice dissonance I think. Anyhow, that's what I was going for.
I wanted to do a piece where, harmonically (i.e the chords), the second section is in no real way related to the first. But I didn't want to just jump from one tonal center (GM) to another (Bbmin); I wanted a smooth transition that ends sharply as if you were coming out of a tunnel into the light. I tried to mirror this in the video where the dissonant segment has fiery colors, that end abruptly and morph into simple, clean trees.
Regarding the "melody", i.e the high register sounds that drift in and out; I wanted them to be very sparse and un-remarkable. Nothing you could remember or sing. Just simple motifs; some repeated, some not, just drifting by and attracting the ear before disappearing.
I composed the song, practiced it and got the sounds I wanted, and after it was recorded, I just listened back to get an idea of what I wanted the video to be. Trees came to my mind; especially trees in weather, like wind and fog, but also lonely trees in the forest or in an open field. I am grateful to unsplash.com for their wonderful website that provides fantastic photographer's art, royalty-free. Bravo to the generous artists.
whisper 4 - Animal Kingdom
This piece is a simple chord progression in G Major. The time is loose, there's not supposed to be any meter or tempo. But as far as the chords, it goes:
GM, Em, CM..... GM, Em, CM...Am, Bm, Em... Am, Bm, Em, D7... GM, Em, CM.... GM, GM, GM
That progression was played with two note chords, the root and the third. I had a little Pitch Fork turned on with mix at about 40%, using the +Perfect 5th, -Octave. I ran through the Nemesis Delay on reverse, the El Capistan, and the Timeline on the Dual setting (very clean). Then through the Neunaber Immerse reverb on Wet, and the Big Sky reverb on Hall.
I then overdubbed a single note line using the Sunset Overdrive and some delay and the Chorale setting on the Big Sky.
Snowy Day Scape (video no longer available)
Borrowing an idea from Andy Othling (https://youtu.be/6AlDbN1PaO8). This is a C Major arpeggio, upon which I layered a couple of other sounds. I'm still working on being quicker to set up the next sound and get the next layer recorded without a lot of wasted time between tracks. So, besides just general improvement, my goals on this piece are:
- Keep it short: under 5 minutes.
- Less, if possible.
- Come up with an interesting motif (melody) in the middle section. Don't just noodle around aimlessly.
- Don't throw the kitchen sink at it; just a few layers and let it settle. Edit the video, at least a little.
Click on the video link off in the right column.
It's about 6 minutes, so I guess I missed the first objective. The other objectives I feel OK about. What I am aware of is how exactly rehearsed I need to have the performance in my head, before I start. There's no time to think about the pedal settings during the piece; I must know the next sound I want and quickly set it. Sure would be nice to have all the effects in some sort of "pre-set" machine. I know there are multi-effects pedals out there, but I suspect the sound quality of each effect is not up to the world-class for that particular effect. For instance, I love my Strymon Dig; the delay sounds it produces are awesome. I doubt that any multi-effects pedal will match that. So I practiced the setup of each of the 3 different tracks until I could do it without thinking. That came out pretty good.
I also realize that creating a piece over a single chord offers less of a landscape upon which to build a song, as opposed to a song where there are actual chord changes going by.
Water On A Warm Day (video no longer available)
Here's my first video, using my HTC One M8 smartphone with the external microphone as I discussed in the main blog page. OK, it's rough. I was improvising the song with just a bare bones idea of what I wanted. The editing is really choppy, but mainly I got what I wanted, namely: record the whole thing in one take (no overdubs or fancy editing); get a reasonable sound from the external mic (very happy with that!); do it all in one day.
What did I learn?
1) I need to really rehearse the song so I can perform it without thinking too much
2) Be rehearsed enough that I can lay down the next layer immediately, (without having to wait for it to come around again).
3) Arrange my seating (or standing) so that the camera sees the guitar neck head-on.
4) Standing is probably better. Plus if I do, then when/if I bend down to fade out the looper, the camera won't be shooting right at the top of my head.