Tag Archives: Arts

What I’ve Been Up To Since Semester 4 Finished!

I’ve been terribly naughty as I’ve been absent from my blog for a while!

Semester 4 has come and gone in a flash! Where did Second Year of DkIT go?! I can’t believe my 4th YEAR of studying has finished. This has been the best 4 years of my life without a doubt! Thank goodness I still have a few years still to go! I think I’m one of those types who likes studying somehow! (nerd!)

Results have already come out and I’m just delighted. A weekend of partying was had and many much-needed laughs!

Cocktails, vodka,pizza and music trivia board games is how we celebrate exam results!
Cocktails, vodka,pizza and music trivia board games is how we celebrate exam results!

The sudden appearance of summer has left me almost winded! I had a couple of weeks of “Oh no! What do I do with myself now?!”. The first thing I did was finish reading the 4th Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy book. (Awesome! Now to get the 5th one!)

I’ve been feeling a bit blue due to a writers block. I wanted to jump straight back in with new material but nothing was happening! I hate times like these! My acoustic 12 string was the only thing which felt half good and brought about a few ideas. What I’ve been really wanting to do is start a new Logic Pro project and create a new chill-out song/instrumental.

With not much musical inspiration I decided to throw myself into the next best thing- running! I’ve been running like a mad thing and slowly starting to shake off this block. Energy, self esteem, positive self image, motivation, creativity- is all returning.

I’ve also been doing a bit of creative and personal writing online! That’s a lot of fun actually.

And I’ve been taking in some amazing scenery around Northern Ireland on my days off from work.

I did indeed walk in the Giants footsteps!
I did indeed walk in the Giants footsteps!

It looks like I’m embarking on a new musical project with the fabulous Lauren Murphy. We’re great friends (since the first week of DkIT) and we’ve been planning songwriting sessions for a while now. Ideas have been emailed back and forth and it’s looks like the collaborations are going to start very soon!!! (Watch this space).

Queen of rock, the fabulous Lauren Murphy!
Rock goddess, the fabulous Lauren Murphy!

Tonight I decided to remix a project which I thought the world deserved to hear. Until I decided it was another days job (if I ever feel it musically again) and started writing something new. Something chill-out, something deep. We’ll see if the feel stays!

Ideas are coming...
Ideas are coming…

Until the next blog… Happy out 😉

Advertisements

Fighting the Loudness War: Dynamic Range Day 2013

Dynamic Range Day 2013 is nearly upon us! On Friday March 22nd audiophiles around the world will turn their sound systems up to 11 to raise awareness that overly-compressed music does not sound better than dynamic music just because it’s louder.

Louder? Isn’t louder music better? Ah well now, we all enjoy loud music… but the point is: make the music louder by turning up the volume on the car stereo (or whatever music reproduction medium you enjoy listening to- mind your ears though peeps, for God’s sake!) and not through heavy mastering compression, etc!

According to dynamicrangeday.co.uk, music has been getting more and more crushed through the use of heavy compression in recent years, for fear of not being “competitive” – and in the process removing all the contrast, all the light, shade and depth – ruining the sound.

Dynamic Range Day supporters want to trade the “louder is better” concept for an alternative message: “Dynamic music sounds better”.

http://www.dynamicrangeday.co.uk/
http://www.dynamicrangeday.co.uk/

There are some very interesting articles on the official Dynamic Range Day website including, What is the Loudness War ? and links to other interesting stuff: Winning the Loudness Wars | Stereophile.com.

A cool competition one may like to enter (if you’re not in you can’t win, right?!) can be found at Dynamic Range Day Competition 2013. Cool gear such as an SSL Bus Compressor (in a SuperAnalogue Mynx mini X-rack) and Bowers & Wilkins CM-1 speakers are such prizes. It’s well worth entering!

What can we do in the meantime? Read and share this: The Loudness War – An open letter to the music industry… Use the free dynamic range meter plug-in on your master track when mixing (download it here: tt_dynamic_range_meter_mac_1_0.dmg.)… get involved, support Dynamic Range Day on Facebook, Twitter etc. Wear a t-shirt!

http://masteringmedia.spreadshirt.co.uk/
http://masteringmedia.spreadshirt.co.uk/
http://dynamicrangeday.co.uk/
http://www.dynamicrangeday.co.uk/

“Every playback device in the world has an output gain control on it. Record and master the music at musical levels and allow the listener to play it as they wish. Do not fall slave to making all music sound equally loud on iPod Shuffles or the iTunes program itself !” – Bob Ludwig. (http://dynamicrangeday.co.uk/supporters/)

Final Norway Blog: It’s Good to be Home!

I’ve been home a few days already, I’ve just been exhausted! It’s been mental, the 12 hour journey home from Norway on top of a crazy party the night before (4 hours drunken sleep!!), then straight back to work and college! 🙂

The last few days in Norway we spent preparing for the Final Performance which was a roaring success. We performed music, dancing, drama, painting and sound massages.

Our final day in Norway was an evaluation of the CREAL Erasmus Intensive Programme which was quite insightful. The trip was quite inspirational and it was great to hear the small changes students would make if they were to take part again (next year it’s Belgium’s turn to host students!). I suggested an ice-breaker session for each college group before they travel… personally I didn’t know anyone (bar one or two!) from my college and meeting the entire 65 group was very over-whelming for me anyway! Nonetheless it was an experience to say the least!

This was followed by a nature walk through the forest on the coast… this was gorgeous!

2013-02-08 14.32.22

2013-02-08 14.36.21

2013-02-08 14.38.15

2013-02-08 14.51.57

Screen Shot 2013-02-13 at 08.21.35

We walked back to Leirvick from the beautiful Hystadmarkjo nature reserve.

2013-02-08 15.55.19

Straight back to the hotel, quick Facebook fix, I nipped to the amazing shop next door which sold gorgeous trinkets and pretty things and picked up a few things for my house 🙂 Showered and grabbed the next bus back to Rommetveit to the party in the college!

What a night it was! There was a glass of wine on arrival (me, drink white wine?! yeah it was sweet, therefore drinkable haha!), a delicious meal followed by dessert, a small photo-shoot, a slideshow of fun photos from the trip then speeches, live music, more drink, DJ music and lots of dancing!

Photo-shoot! some of team Ireland :)
Photo-shoot! some of team Ireland 🙂

2013-02-08 18.20.37

funny faces!
funny faces!
the Kantine
the Kantine

2013-02-08 20.35.11

Live music- Carrie McCarthy
Live music- Carrie McCarthy
Bohemian Rhapsody ;)
Bohemian Rhapsody 😉

2013-02-08 22.15.57

Me and Luk my Belgian friend :)
Me and Luk my Belgian friend 🙂
Yes I drank pear cider! (why was there no vodka?! haha)
Yes I drank pear cider! (why was there no vodka?! haha)
LMFAO
LMFAO

The party was organised by a committee of students from the IP and I have to say they did a great job! Taxis picked us up from 1am and by 2.30am I was back in my hotel room, out for the count!

We were up at 6.45am to meet for breakfast, we were getting the speedboat up the fjords to bergen airport at 7.50am. This was a thoroughly enjoyable experience!

Sleepyheads get the speedboat...
Sleepyheads get the speedboat…

We got the plane from Bergen to London, a 3 hour stop-over (where I experienced a typical British dish, yum!) and then back to Dublin for 5.40pm. I was home by 7.30pm and in bed asleep by 9.30pm! Most of the Irish had hangovers (not this cat- I remembered to drink 2 bottles of water before hitting the pillow in Norway!).

I am sharing my audio portfolio from the trip also here… Have a listen, I’ve included sound massages, lapping of fjord water on the shore, Irish traditional live music, haunting Norwegian female vocal harmonies, dances and improvised music to paint to! Enjoy!

Back to college life at DkIT! 🙂

A Walk by the Shore in Norway

Very busy with the preparations for the final performance in HSH tomorrow… We’ve been working hard creating films, dramas, music, dances and art and crafts.

Screen Shot 2013-02-06 at 18.08.11

Today we went to Haugesund which is on another island about one hour from Stord and had a performance for the students at that campus. Haugesund was very pretty too.

Yesterday I went for a little walk around the campus here and took some pictures and recorded the sound of the shore. I will be including this sample in my new song which I’m nearly finished 🙂

2013-02-05 14.06.50

2013-02-05 14.15.13

2013-02-05 14.18.04

2013-02-05 14.18.22

2013-02-05 14.20.04

🙂

Studio Session 2: A Reflection :)

I must be getting old or I must just be a hard worker! After the 3 hour session in the studio this morning, I was left absolutely exhausted for the rest of the day! Teehee! Only now, at 11pm after a long, hot shower and a couple of headache tablets do I feel like my normal self again! 😀

Studio session number 2 for “December” went fantastically well! In short I got everything I hoped to record committed to virtual tape/disk/the digital land that is Pro Tools! 😀

I recorded 3rd Year Applied Music student Ciarán O’Brien first thing this morning. Ciarán is an expert in all things bass! Armed with a double bass and a bow, Ciarán gave me unexpected goosebumps, I couldn’t help but squeal with the sheer audio-pleasure! Hehehe! I literally could have listened to that all day long. But time was precious so we had to get to business straight away and track pizzicato bass for “December”. We had to keep a very strict schedule as I only had 3 hours from the minute I entered the studio to the minute the gear is checked off when I wrap up! So working quickly, I set up a Neumann U87 about 14 inches away from the bridge of the bass. Time was ticking faster than I thought and we got 4 takes (20 minutes-the song is 5 minutes long). I will have to comp a little here and there but I’m absolutely delighted with what Ciarán played. He’s a little star, a pleasure to work with, very professional!

Ciarán O’Brien and the Neumann U87

Next was the recording of my own 12 string acoustic guitar. My assistants Shauna Kearney and Shane Taaffe were absolutely brilliant help here. They set up my microphones as I required; an AKG C414 in a corner, cardioid pattern, 1 overhead, omni-directional for some room ambience and a Shure SM57 at the 12th fret. A sparkly 12 string with some bass presence. The corner idea may seem odd but trust me, the warmth it offered works in the production.

Myself in my multi mono mic set up

In case you were wondering, Shane played the guitar in the style of the song while I monitored the sound in the control room and asked Shauna to move the mic here and there, an inch or two closer etc! Only after I was happy, did I sit down (on my cajon actually, brought it with me just to sit on it-best seat in the house for guitar playing!) while took over the recording process for me.

Ever watchful of the ticking time, I spent exactly 30 minutes tracking my part. The only problem I had was of my own right hand on one part which decided to have a mind of its own, when I got over that, we had a few takes which I will comp together later.

Following that was Keith’s 6 string guitar parts using the same multi mono mic set up. Keith owns a gorgeous Tanglewood jumbo guitar which a lovely bass presence. His parts are complimentary to mine, filling in single strums for the chorus’s (two separate takes, one left and one right for the mix-down), an arpeggiated fill for the final chorus and of course the big solo. Keith was so in the zone he played the main rhythm and solo in the same take, much to my delight and the ticking clocks! The arpeggiated fill took the longest to record like myself, one finger refused to be told where to go! It happens to us all huh? 🙂 But Keith is also a pro and nailed it.

Keith recording in studio

Looking at the watch, 20 minutes left? Let’s record one more thing before we leave! Pop the Shure SM57 in front of the Marshall Valve-State combo (to one side of the cone), whip out that Fender American Stratocaster, plug in the Boss DD6 Digital Delay pedal and pop that bottleneck slide on your finger please Keith! Make me some noise, anything at all! Soulful cries of a Strat, yes, this is an element I wanted indeed for that final chorus.

Keith feels it out on my Strat 🙂
Excuse my mess but with minutes to spare, Keith tracked electric guitar like a pro 🙂

Ten minutes left…. tidy up, fast! All hands on deck as we backed up the project, tidied away the mic stands, leads, guitars etc!  Bang ont he stroke of midday we were ready to hand over the studio to the next session team!

Not a single minute was idle and I have to thank my production team for working so hard, they deserve a well earned drink! Thank you Keith Caffrey and Ciarán O’ Brien for your artistic skills, very creative and especially appreciated before 12 Midday! Morning studio sessions are never easy! 🙂 Thank you Shauna Kearney and Shane Taaffe for the technical side, you were both stars and complete professionals with the equipment!

So next to do on the list is some minor edits and minor comping. Then we get ready for our last session in 2 weeks time where we nail the lead vocal, harmony vocal and creative element track! 😀

And after that? A small mix and Christmas drinks! 😉

Music Production Project Session 2/3 is Tomorrow!

Very excited for tomorrow! Part 2 of my music production project is taking place! I’m recording double bass and acoustic guitars and one electric guitar for “December” the song myself and Keith Caffrey (we’re better known as Shock Sorrow!) wrote together this summer. The parts are all written and ready to go! Keith is going to play a fantastic guitar solo, it’s all very exciting! 🙂 I will be advancing my recording skills by applying a little (and I mean a little) bit of compression when tracking! I’m looking forward to this!

I’m all packed (I’ve a ridiculous amount of stuff to bring with me, hehe, I’ll be the crazy music lady walking through the college corridors tomorrow! Roadie position is available! haha!) and I’m off to bed, tomorrow’s an early start!

Reflection diary plus photos will be online tomorrow evening, like the last time!

My gear, ready to go tomorrow! Lola the cat (she wants to be my roadie) must not be brought to studio! 😉

Sleep tight y’all! \m/

Six Songs Of: Stephanie Caffrey.

My task for this evening is to pick 6 songs that have significant meaning to me. I am supposed to complete the blanks on the Guardian Music’s page http://www.sixsongsof.me but most of the songs I pick do not link up with the Spotify app! I have decided to write up a quick blog instead!

Of course it’s INSANE to ask anyone never mind a music enthusiast like myself to pick just SIX songs which fit into the categories asked! There’s so much amazing recorded music out there and I can think of heaps of unrecorded music also I would mention! I’ve been racking my brains all evening and this is the list I’ve settled on. I hope you enjoy it and discover or rediscover a tune or two!

1: First Song You Bought?

“To The Moon and Back” – Savage Garden (1997)

Not strictly the first song I ever bought because I asked for the self-titled album from Savage Garden as a gift way back in 1995! I loved this song then and i still love it today. It’s amazing pop songwriting!

02: Get’s You Dancing?

“No Limit” – 2 Unlimited (1993)

An oldie, but they don’t make music like this anymore! I remember hearing this on the car radio as a kid and thinking “WOW!” If i heard this in a club today I would break into one hell of a dance! I can’t resist that hooky synth and straight up kick combo and that soaring vocal. Genius.

03: What Song Takes You Back To Your Childhood?

“Thundercats Theme” – James Lipton (1984)

I honestly couldn’t pick a commercial record for this. In my childhood, I was subjected to so much 60’s thanks to my Dad and so much 90’s thanks to my Mum. I watched an insane amount of cartoons as a child and this is one of the first I remember absolutely loving! What a theme tune! This upload brings me right back to my earliest childhood.

04: Perfect Love Song?

“Wicked Game” – Chris Isaak (1989)

Extremely hard to pick, it’s a toss up between “Nothing Else Matters – Metallica (1991) and this. I love this for the beautiful lyrics and singing and of course that breath-taking guitar. I find this deeply haunting and I have a thing for music thats written in B Dorian. This, for me, is purest beauty.

05: What Song Would You Want At Your Funeral?

“Nutshell” – Alice In Chains (1994)

Such a hard question! Of course no one wants to think about such things! I do like this song alot. It’s beautiful. Just, WOW.

06: Time For An Encore. What Song Makes You, You?

“I’m Alive” – Shinedown (2012)

The hardest question of all in my opinion! The song that makes me feel me changes every few weeks! So much music from various genres excite me and make me feel awesome! This song I discovered a few weeks ago and I just LOVE it! It’s so catchy and it ticks all my boxes of excellent listening material! It’s upbeat, got hooky guitars, catchy melodies, great harmonies, awesome lyrics, great mix and sounds! It makes me run and literally lifts my mood right up!

That was the most difficult playlist I’ve put together in my life! I had to share these choices with my classmates last week and that was a tiny bit scary! I was really nervous getting up in front of people but I quickly got over that! I was surprised my classmates didn’t know some of my song choices, this was down to the fact I am 9 years older than most pupils in the class. I didn’t mind sharing my choices, I wasn’t afraid of being judged, perhaps 10 years ago I would have been! My choices were met with open faces and friendly smiles.

Happy out!

Black Svan Rock Out at the Spirit Store, Dundalk!

The Spirit Store opened it’s doors last night to rock out with two of Ireland’s busiest metal/rock bands; the powerful force of original metal that is Black Svan and headliners Thin Lizzy tribute “Bad Reputation”.

I attended the gig to catch up with Black Svan (I’ve been following them since August 2009 but haven’t been able to keep up with them in recent times since their blast of non-stop gigs all over the country, following their incredible European tour with monsters of rock, Fozzy and Stuck Mojo last year). Last night was my first time seeing/hearing their new line-up, Mo Clifford on second guitar, Kenneth Bell on bass and Joe Toal on drums accompanying founding members, vocalist Keith Caffrey and guitarist Jagger Murray. The powerful wall of sound instantly struck me as the most solid, tight, heavy (and may I add, the loudest!) line-up yet!

Black Svan rock the Spirit Store 27-12-11

Opening with the killer riffage of “STD”, Black Svan instantly owned the stage and captured everyones full attention straight away. Keith’s vocal was not drowned out by the rhythmical hammering of Joe’s kit and wall of guitars that screamed Jagger’s signature fat, full-bodied, properly distorted (no fizzy fuzz guitars here) sound, Keith’s vocal soared, strong, confident, clearly. The anthemic bridge “Talk to me, yeah, yeah, yeah….” filled the room.

Personal favourite “Sickness” came early in the set, a surprise to hear it played on guitars down-tuned to a bad-ass C, a full tone lower than the album teaser on the band’s MySpace page (BLACK SVAN | Free Music, Tour Dates, Photos, Videos.), I personally would have preferred to hear it in its original key as I felt the song lost something, some vocal power, or maybe it’s a just a case of demo-itis on my behalf! Perhaps if it was played in the original key, it would have sounded weak in comparison to the rest of the set, all the new songs are written in C and sound awesomely heavy!

Keith Caffrey and Jagger Murray, metal overlords

Without a shadow of a doubt “Dream Forever” was the song of the night, a finely crafted song, crushing riffs and seriously powerful lyrics and melodies from Keith, a hint of Iron Maiden influence peeps though with Jagger and Mo’s close guitar harmonies in the short link to verse 2. “Dream Forever” will be the track to listen out on the debut album when it’s released next year. The band completed their recording very recently, the highly anticipated album is sure to be a hit both here and abroad, thanks to their army of loyal fans in Europe. We were also treated to a very new song “Immortal”, ultra-tight, very heavy, very big- an album definite, even title track, according to the band’s Facebook profile!

Wrapping up with the awesomely heavy, monster of a track “Killing Time”, Black Svan left us begging for more. Black Svan will rock McHughs of Drogheda tomorrow night, 9.30 sharp, wrapping up a musically fulfilling 2011 which saw the band’s biggest Irish dates so far, Vantastival, Jam for Japan, Killybeggs Tattoo Convention to name but a few. 2012 is sure to be the year of the Svan, the Black Svan.

Black Svan 2011 https://www.facebook.com/blackswaninfo

Aztaria Live Acoustic Recording

Last night was Aztaria’s 2nd rehearsal in Dublin after our summer break. To ease ourselves back into the swing of things, we decided we would rehearse our entire set acoustically. And sure while we were at it (seeing as I never leave home without my iMac, microphone and magic recording box!!!), why not record the whole session as well?! 🙂

Paweł, David and Arianna share a joke in rehearsals!

As you can see above, many a giggle was had and it felt as if we never had a break, in a good way of course! Were any of the naughty jokes captured on video-camera? Perhaps! 😉 Aztaria Rockumentary coming soon!!!

I set up my trusty Rode NTK microphone in the far corner of the rehearsal room, as far away as I could get from David’s kit (no offense to David in any way, it’s only natural he’s the loudest member of the band! :)) and Sandra positioned herself in front of the mic. I sat to her left with my Tanglewood acoustic guitar and Paweł sat next to me again. He wished to use his (hot and sexy) Cort electric guitar with his new guitar rig which includes his Boss GT-10 effects processor, Boss V-Wah pedal (love the sounds he’s making with this new toy!!) and a host of Marshall and other racks to compliment his sound! Arianna sat nearby on her bass amp (playing her electric bass as as she’s saving for a new acoustic baby!) and far, far, away all by his lonesome was David using his full kit with brushes 😉 We set up a 58 over his kit to make use of the second input available on my Roland Cakewalk UA25EX audio interface (aka my magic recording box!) and recorded straight into my iMac. Not the most acoustically soundproof room but I was surprised after a brief soundcheck of the clarity of our realtime mix (leaning closer and further away from the Rode mic as appropriate and playing/singing louder and softer when necessary), we recorded 4 tracks, 3 of which we may use!

It was great fun to do something different together and make something productive! Aztaria are back and ready to rock and roll!!!

Arianna, Sandra and David chilling out during a break!
Aztaria grrrrrrrrrrrrls Sandra, Arianna and myself posing outside the rehearsal room!