It’s that busy time of the semester again! The time where time itself is running out and the assignments are piled high! Recording projects are wrapping up and are in the final mix stages, essays are full speed ahead and how I wish there were more hours in each day!
Tonight I finished tracking my Music Production Project for semester 4. I haven’t blogged about the production process like I did last semester, so apologies for that! This semester FLEW, I think the Erasmus trip to Norway accelerated that, where does time go when you’re having fun, eh?!
I have been working on one of my own songs for this semesters’ production project. It is a song I started working on over Christmas, inspired by Electronic/Dance music I had been listening to a lot (and still am- I’m also currently enjoying various Dubstep tracks while walking, the Sound City album while driving and Evanescence while running!). I have been writing New Age/Chilled Electronic for a few years now as I really have been enjoying creating music “in The Box”. Logic Pro 9 is my little getaway place!
While I was in Norway I continued working on the piece of music, structuring and shaping the sounds and taking deep inspiration from the emotions and experiences of the Erasmus Programme and the natural beauty of the cold, snowy, sunny, fjord and mountain landscape. The programme was very intense emotionally as I struggled with homesickness for my friends, college, home and family, I felt slightly lost at times as workshops made me close my eyes, look inside myself and think about sound, light and creativity in new ways.
When I came home I had a draft mix of synths, beats and ambient nature recordings, which I was very happy with. There were only 2 lines of lyrics, which I tracked at home “Close your eyes/What can you see?”. I listened to my mix on the lovely Genelecs in the college studio just for fun and it was suggested that I make the the music into a song, go write lyrics and melodies and think about bringing the song to a whole new level, record acoustic drums and other instruments! Make it my production project! I was skeptical at first as I was rather attached to this piece of music (music for thinking to- as I saw it as), which I composed entirely by myself.
Enter Keith Caffrey. If you have been following my blog, you’ll already know that Keith is like the other musical half of me! He is my songwriting partner and close friend, the music I’ve written with Keith through the years has always had deep, personal meaning and a creative enjoyment I never experienced before. I sent Keith the draft mix and emotional ideas I would love to communicate through lyrics (closing of the eyes, looking inside myself and being more aware of myself yet still feeling slightly lost).
Very quickly the music turned into the song. Keith came down to my bedroom studio and we tracked the entire vocal idea. The lyrics were so deep, personal and emotional, Keith understood perfectly what I had been feeling (as spiritually close friends, there are few who understand me so well!). It was also as if Keith KNEW we had only been studying the art of vocal expression in college, he felt the song should have lots of aspirate on-sets and releases, creaks and shakes.
With minor structure adjustments and a guide vocal done (and a huge migration into Pro Tools 10!), the song was ready for addition instrumentation. I’m not going into the nitty-gritty details of my sessions but I recorded drums in session 1, harp, piano and electric guitar in session 2 and female vocals in session 3.
During my time in Norway I made lots of new friends and valuable contacts, Fiona McErlane being one of them. We met in the airport and sat next to each other on the plane from Dublin to London and hit it off straight away with giggles over drinks! I heard her singing in the music performance workshops in Norway and was blown away by her pure, crystal clear, angelic voice. I knew back then I wanted to work with her in the future but didn’t know for what project!
I asked her to sing on the project and play a little bit of traditional harp. She was excited about the song and the inspiration of the music and lyrics (she was actually present when I made the recording of the fjord shore in Norway).
So tonight was our final recording session, we tracked lots of vocals and had a very productive session. I was so happy with her performance, she gave it 110% emotionally and technically, she jumped right in with suggestions and gave it her all. I was also happy that I got to finally track using the Distressor compressor (gentle 2:1 ratio) and got to try out the Rode K2 valve mic, it sounded sweet!
Our session was the first official night time recording session in DkIT 6pm-9pm. Yes! Finally! A night time recording session!!! I’m a big fan of working in the evenings/nights (last semesters’ Monday 9am-12pm were not to my liking!). Energies are high, vocals are warm, people tend to be more relaxed in the evenings I find! So please, for next semester, more night time sessions please!
I better go to bed, it is 12:30am now and tomorrow is a new day of vocal editing! I will of course share the song “Close Your Eyes” when it’s mixed. Special thanks to Keith Caffrey, Fiona McErlane, Craig Sullivan, Gavin Clarke for their creative input and help and to my friends for their support!
I’ll leave you with this fun snap from tonights session!
One of our workshops on the Erasmus Intensive Programme was pinhole photography. I found this extremely interesting!
After a talk about the history of pinhole photography and what it actually is, we were given little tins with a pinhole in them, in the darkroom we slipped our special photography paper inside carefully and covered the top with black paper and tin foil and covered the pinhole with one finger before emerging into the light. It’s important not to let the light through at any point before you decide to take your photograph because it will ruin the paper.
We were invited to step outside and take a photo of something we liked. It could be a building on the campus, a tree, the water, a person, a self portrait…
The photo below is my second attempt (I overexposed the first photo and shook the tin slightly first time around!). I found this lovely spot after crossing a little wooden bridge in the forest, I placed the tin on a rock, sat beside it and enjoyed 2 and a half minutes of stillness, peace and serenity. The only sound was the lapping of the water on the shore. I’m pleased with the photo, it looks kind of spooky which is cool because the earlier workshop that morning was the ghost/sound massage workshop!
We were allowed to dip the photograph in the 3 trays in the darkroom ourselves after been shown how to let the fluid wash over the paper in the first tray etc. This was really cool!!! The photos were hung to dry, put through a machine after that… When they were fully dried, we scanned them, popped them into Photoshop and inverted the colours.
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!
We walked back to Leirvick from the beautiful Hystadmarkjo nature reserve.
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!
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!
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!
Today was class! I’m exhausted! Sleeping pattern is still messed up (I can never sleep properly during college holidays- I know this isn’t a holiday but I’m not in my regular college routine, if you know what I mean!), I got about 4 hours sleep again last night and I’m still not ready to hit the hay yet! I can’t switch off! (I need to sit in lectures or the studio to actually get tired haha!).
Anyway I’m in my cosy room in Norway, chilling out on my super-soft bed, in my pj’s, nibbling some dark chocolate, thinking about today’s adventures! Homesickness has passed and I’m starting to feel settled in!
This morning we started the workshops, first up was drama! Whenever I hear the word “drama” or “acting”, I have a tendency to become extra rigid! But this morning was different, the atmosphere was warm, friendly and for once in my life, I didn’t feel silly! I don’t think I should blog about the group activities in case I spoil it for the students who will have this workshop on Thursday! It was great fun and it felt good!
After lunch we had the next workshop which was a freestyle painting and improvisation musical collaboration. Basically we put on sexy boiler suits (lol) and prepared to get messy with buckets of paints, using our hands, feet, bodies, sticks and brushes to express ourselves on a canvas on the wall.
I was horrified at the thought of getting filthy with smelly paint and felt a bit claustrophobic in the small room. It was a bit much for me actually! We were joined by our fellow students who performed an improvised piece of music on various instruments (congas, wood blocks, keyboard, acoustic and electric guitars, ceramic jug, shakers and an upright piano with the back taken off to expose the strings).
It was decided by the group that the colours we would paint would reflect the music, each student would listen to a particular instrument and paint however they felt. The purpose was to build communication between the two disciplines, the art on the wall and floor being a direct emotional response to the music.
I recorded the audio from the second set, where I was playing a woodblock. I found this more enjoyable than actually painting because it was chaotic! I got a chance to take pictures too… It was an interesting experience.
Following this we had a massive clean-up operation and a group reflection with discussions about this exercise. We suggested ways it could be improved and what was inspiring about it.
Pizza time! We had the best pizza ever delivered, thanks to the organisation of lovely Oded! Everyone was mixing really well, all tables in the Kantine were actually a mix of international students, everyone was laughing, joking and sharing pizzas.
And after this we had a concert. The Norwegian students performed a half an hour set of rehearsed ensembles which included traditional tunes, rock, folk, guitar and duets. The stage was then open to everyone for an jam session, songs were sung, more traditional tunes were played, there was dancing, laughing and chatting. I recorded some of this on my Zoom Handy recorder!
And so here I am! It’s almost midnight already and I should at least try to get to sleep! 🙂 Looking forward to tomorrow’s field trip and free time to explore Leirvick! (I haven’t gotten any snaps of Norway’s incredible scenery yet!).
Miss my friends, family and lecturers back home but not enough to want to leave just yet! 😀
Yesterday 18 excited students from Dundalk Institute of Technology, Ireland travelled to the beautiful island of Stord, Norway. The trip is a 2 week intensive programme (CREAL- Creative and Aesthetic Learning Processes) in which international relationships are formed through creative collaborations, workshops, group work, activities, cultural experiences and performances. Part 1 of the programme took place last year when the students from Stord Haugesund University College, Norway and Artesis, Belgium came to DkIT.
Our journey was 14 hours long, starting from the bus that brought us from the college to Dublin airport. We got the plane from Dublin to London and transferred there to catch the 5.00pm flight to Bergen (the 2nd biggest city in Norway). I actually slept through most of that flight after a reading a few chapters of Hitchhikers Guide…, though I had some strange, half awake dreams!!! 😀
We arrived in Bergen “The Gateway to the Fjords” (some snow still there and crazy huge icicles clinging to the sides of the rocky hill walls that lined the roads) and caught 2 buses (one of which was called a flybussen! I like that word!!!). The 2nd bus journey was 2 hours long but it didn’t feel so long because we got the ferry to the island of Stord in that journey. We were allowed to leave the bus and walk around the ferry as we pleased! I haven’t been on a ferry in YEARS and I loved it! I loved the fresh, cold air, the wind would take your breath away… I loved the sound of the waves crashing against us, I only wished it wasn’t 11pm at night! It was so dark, all I could see was the dark water around us and an even darker island in the near distance 🙂 Onboard it was warm and spacious! The ferry did sway a lot near the end of the journey and some students were looking rather green, I actually felt sleepy! I would have sat there for longer but we actually arrived at Stord after 35 minutes! (hopefully we’ll get the ferry again in daylight!).
We arrived in Leirvick just after midnight in the pouring rain and brought to the home were will we send the first week! I’m lucky to have my own room and share the house with Amy, my music production classmate! The couple we are staying with are soooooo lovely, they made us tea and light sandwiches and chatted with us until at least 1.30am! Their house is simply beautiful, I love Norwegian decor, so much timber and lovely angles and windows and little, soft lights! I want a house like this! 🙂
After a good nights sleep, we met the entire IP group (Belgian students and Norwegian students) in the auditorium. Following the welcome talks and introductions we had a tour around the beautiful campus in small groups. The music rooms look super! (Personally delighted that the studio runs Logic Pro!) It was great to see the arts rooms (woodwork, ceramics, textiles to mention a few) and the students brand new gym!
We had lunch in the Kantine and then we had ice breakers. These were lots of little games so everyone could meet each other, there were many laughs as we lost our inhibitions while acting as cowboys and geisha girls! It was a different way to meet people, something I had never done before! Any worries or awkwardness that there may have been were washed away after all the little games!
After that we had interesting presentations about our home countries and an energetic Zumba class!
My favourite moment was the icebreaker game when we made a little pretend film and performed it for the entire group! It was completely improvised! Everyone was laughing and smiling and there was a lovely, warm atmosphere. It was great to take part in a group and do something I wouldn’t normally do! (Let myself go!)
I also enjoyed learning the childrens nursery rhyme “Lille Petter Edderkopp”! Really cool to sing in Norwegian, hehe!
Tired now, can’t wait for the workshops tomorrow! I’ve made lots of new friends already and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in!