Tag Archives: music and audio production

Breaking Free From Radio Silence!

First off, apologies for the radio silence!!! I haven’t fallen off the face of the planet, I haven’t stuck my thumb and hitchhiked across the galaxy (as much as I would LOVE to do that!), I’ve been around, just quietly observing what’s been going on around me and stuff like that!

My last year in college has been a whirlwind. Where does the time go?! I’ve been working hard at many projects. A quick summary of what I’m currently up to- a research project on uilleann pipes and how to record them in the studio (interesting things I’ve come across regarding this amazing instrument!), my intervention project is going to be interesting and fun. A recording project where I’m producing Dundalk traditional/crossover group Na Tonnta. Exciting stuff to talk about there! Recording projects within the class- the current one I’m writing vocals for… A composition project for a final project for Creative Media 4th year students… A recording project for Music I engineered- recorded a bunch of trad instruments for a decent amount of tracks, very fun!

Outside of this, Trend-E and I are collaborating on some wicked electronic tracks of his again! I enjoyed collaborating with him last time… 

… this time we’re working on something much darker but very, very sexy!!!

I’m delighted to be this busy again! I was feeling very down on things after the rush of Christmas assignments were done, I had nothing creative *to do*. It’s well and good having free time to play with DAWs and guitars etc but when you’re not in the mood……….

I even purchased a Yamaha DX-7 before Christmas NOM!!!! Tubular bells!!!! I’ve been enjoying Brian Eno’s Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks album for months now, seriously mind-blowing music. I had to get a DX-7. Just had to. The fun starts when I learn how to programme it! I’ve been messing around, getting to grips a little bit. The way I see it, I’ve my whole life to master this. And I will.

My Yamaha DX-7 and Christmas Teddy ;)
My Yamaha DX-7 and Christmas Teddy 😉
My music room :)
My music room 🙂

So happy new year 2015! This is a year of serious life changes for me. I’ve been doing so much thinking, feeling, writing about my life and my life path the last year or so. I know big changes are coming. I can feel them. My spiritual side is guiding me very strongly and I’m learning to trust my gut feeling, myself and believe in myself.

Cue song lyrics…. yes indeed….

Probably meant to blurb out more stuff here but it’s kinda, sorta late and I’m getting tired!

More soon!!!!!!

Be good y’all!!!!! 😉

1st Annual Final Year Showcase of BA Music and Audio Production

Tomorrow night is a big night for us Third Year Music and Audio Production students at DkIT. We are presenting our major production projects in the Spirit Store and we’re very excited about it!

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We were the first ever intake of Music and Audio Production (2011) and our production  projects combine everything we have studied over the last three years.

We have worked with teams of musicians from the BA Music Applied plus other courses in DkIT as well as musicians outside of the college on our individual projects.

There will be something for everyone at this event- our songs range from Folk to Rock, Pop to Dance and Celtic New Age to Metalcore!

We are looking forward to celebrating our hard work and hearing each others final mixes.

Entry is free and doors are at 7.30pm, do come along!

More info: 1st Annual Final Year Showcase of BA Music and Audio Production | Dundalk Institute of Technology.

For course details please visit: BA (Hons) Production of Music and Audio | Dundalk Institute of Technology.

New Song: “Go Left”

Go Left

(Lyrics, music, performance, production and mix by Stephanie Caffrey, December 2013.)

Should I go left?
Should I go left?

Losing my path,
Losing my way.
Afraid to ask
Should I go left?
Longing to go,
Aching to stay.
Afraid to ask
Should I go left?

Should I go left?
Should I go left?

If I go what will I find?
Will I heal this heart of mine?
I’m looking for where I belong,
Searching deep for so long…

New Music: “Avradî” is an Instrumental For The Soul

I have been feeling compelled to create some new music lately, especially the last couple of days. In recent times I have been feeling a strain and somewhat hampered when it comes to creation but tonight I put all thoughts of negativity out of my head and let my creative mind wander.

I knocked off the click track and just played. I played what I have been feeling in my head and my heart. There are emotions and thoughts bound to this piece of music which I cannot disclose here.

This all sounds rather holistic and I suppose it is, my approach to creativity and music has always been focused on my Higher Self and expressing my inner-most thoughts.

So I’m putting this piece of music online because I feel it’s an accurate representation of who I am and what’s going on in my head at this point in my life.

New Song: “Close Your Eyes” feat. Fiona McErlane and Keith Caffrey

Today I’m sharing my latest music production project “Close Your Eyes” which features my guest vocalists Fiona McErlane and Keith Caffrey.

I talked about the creative and recording process in my previous blog post.

I finished the mix last night and I’m delighted with the response already to the song. This was yet another very personal and emotional project. I hope you enjoy it!

“Close Your Eyes” was composed by Stephanie Caffrey and the lyrics and vocal were written by Keith Caffrey.

Female vocals: Fiona McErlane
Male vocals: Keith Caffrey
Acoustic drums: Craig Sullivan
Traditional harp: Fiona McErlane
Acoustic piano: Stephanie Caffrey
Electric guitars: Stephanie Caffrey
Synths: Stephanie Caffrey.

Recorded, produced and mixed by Stephanie Caffrey.
Special thanks to studio assistant Gavin Clarke.

Recorded in Dundalk Institute of Technology Feb-May 2013.
Copyright Stephanie Caffrey.

Exam Procrastination Blog ;)

I KNOW I’m in the middle of the Christmas exam stress but I’ve actually been so distracted lately it’s crazy!

Today’s exam went ok, not my favourite module, I just could NOT get my head around the maths part from word ‘go’! It was simple stuff but the Steffy did not compute, lol! Nonetheless I got a strong CA result and I only needed to pass the exam and I’m pretty sure I did that today 😉

The Big One is tomorrow morning, the one I’ve been dreading! Tonight is gonna be an all-nighter! I have been studying but as I said, I’m easily distracted! I’ve listened to music so much over the last few weeks! Also I’ve been running again, so glad to get back into it, I’m feeling stronger and fitter already and I’ve just been looking after myself in general!

Part of my running route :)
Part of my running route 🙂
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I get to enjoy this beauty every day 🙂
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You can see me running across this bridge every day 😉 Feckin lunatic…
Santa spoiled me with audio treats!!!
Santa spoiled me with audio treats!!!

I have a list of things to do after the exams are done!

1. Tidy up Feckin Studio (my studio is an unbelievable mess from the Christmas rush! I actually haven’t been able to go in there at all since! Though this morning, when looking for my calculator in a manic panic, I did find my notes for this morning’s exam- the notes I wrote up during the midterm break which I thought I threw out!!!). You all know why I call my studio “Feckin Studio”, right? 😉

2. Finish reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (book my sister loaned me during the summer and still haven’t finished!).

3. Listen to the audio book The Daily Adventures Of Mixerman (I read the book Christmas Day and St Stephens Day, tweeted Mixerman during the holidays and I just had to get the audio book, it sounds like so much fun!).

4. Read The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy (someone hinted before Christmas I should read this! I bought it the next day but haven’t been able to get near it! I am looking forward to getting stuck into it!).

5. Read The Zen and Art of Producing by lovely Mixerman (another present Santa brought me!)

6. Read Recording Guitar and Bass by Huw Price (I bought this in September and shame on me, it’s sitting on my bookshelf…). Pat would murder me! 😉

7. Fix my bike puncture!!!

8. Compose a new tune?! (well, let’s hope inspiration hits at some point!)

9. Get some sort of shape put on my hair (I last got it cut in July and once again, I’m telling myself I’m letting it grow long- I never manage to stick it out though! I like my hair choppy but I miss my long hair… at the moment I need something done with it!!!).

10. Put PINK in my hair again! I’ve been meaning to do this for ages now!

That’s just SOME of the things I want to do! 😀 Not forgetting my trip to Norway with the college is coming up very soon! AND I’m playing in the Spirit Store, Dundalk with the Full Moon Boogie Band January 25th! Come on out for the swingin’ and jivin’ and vintage fun!!! Would love to see my music friends there… 🙂

Fri 25th January Full Moon Boogie Band Tickets €5.

The Full Moon Boogie Band!
The Full Moon Boogie Band!

I love this subject for tomorrow’s exam but there’s just SO MUCH material, I’ll never be able to remember all those laws and theorems and equations and fancy words! Dissipate, NOT disscipitate 😉 Oh these fancy words hertz my head 😉 Don’t get me started….

I got Jason Newsted’s new release today actually! I’m pleased with his sound, the E.P has got a great Motorhead feel and I’m liking it! I’ll try to expand on that thought in another blog! But I’m glad to hear Newsted playing this style of music again 🙂

Back to the notes….

😉

Happy New Year 2013 :)

Thanks to all my friends (‘real’ and ‘online’!) and family for supporting me and my music in 2012 🙂 Thanks to my new friends and thanks to those who continue stick by me all these years!

I’m thankful for a loving family, amazing boyfriend, great friends and wonderful education, I’m really enjoying this academic part of my life and I’m super grateful for the opportunity to learn what I love. I feel blessed.

I had great fun in 2012 and developed further my skills, passion for music and got to know ‘me’ a little better. I made new friends and deepened existing friendships. 2012 inspired me loads!

Wish you all a Happy New Year 2013! Hope you all are blessed with creativity, inspiration, health, happiness and love 🙂

Happy out…

Steffy x

Fond memory of 2012 :) Partying with my audio grrrls :)
Fond memory of 2012 🙂 Partying with my audio grrrls 🙂

It’s Christmas!!!

I wanna scream and shout and let it all out!!!

Thank goodness the assignments are DONE (apart from the write-ups, DOH! but they are to be done over Christmas anyway, phew!) !!! I have to say the last 2 weeks in particular were an absolute killer! I love the busyness of college life but when life duties get in the way that’s when I get super stressed! But no matter, I seem to have made it out alive, once again!

I have learned an absolute wealth of information this semester, especially about Pro Tools and microphones. I was always very fraidy of microphones until really the last few weeks! I was unconfident as to selection and positioning but now I have a much clearer head and feel like I’ve learned something! I’m also not as afraid of the big, bad mixer console! I really got to grips with it in the last couple of weeks and finally it makes sense. Of course I understood it before but now I really do feel better about it! I was told I need to be more confident and get a little bit of attitude but I think it’s coming 🙂  I’m only just starting to feel like I can trust myself. I’m ever doubting myself. I need to throw that away and not be afraid to make a mistake.

DkIT CRM1 :)
DkIT CRM1 🙂

The last week or so you wouldn’t have seen me without my head stuck in Pro Tools on my laptop (unless I was in the studio playing violin on recording projects for fellow students!). I was busy mixing, doing small touch ups for my own music production project “December” by Shock Sorrow (the mix is now complete and will be shared soon). I was also creating a sample library of 4 instruments recorded separately in various acoustic environments with 3-4 microphones (close, near and far). I have put together a library of fiddle (recorded in a long corridor) traditional flute (in a big room), bass trombone (in the Winter Garden) and snare (in a small room). I shall blog in detail about that during the weekend!

I’m delighted to mention that after the Christmas exams in January, I’m heading off to Norway with the Erasmus programme! I can’t wait!

Can’t believe I’m halfway through this degree! I absolutely love student life at Dundalk Institute of Technology, I’ll be a sad bunny when I have to graduate in 2014!

Christmas shopping has to be completed on Friday, lol, I haven’t had the headspace for it this year! Only of course when it came to Christmas divil-ment in college earlier on this week! 😉 teehee…nom!!!

Now all I want to do is dance and have a drink, or two… Here’s some tunes I’ve discovered this week and they make me want to dance so much! (not that I can actually dance, but it would be awesome to hear these loud, in a club and be merry!)

Nice and dirty track with those great trancey vibes I love R3HAB for. I think Skrillex is the master of that robot synth and slick editing sound but this latest offering from R3HAB is well sweet! Approval! Play it loud!

I feckin DIG this! It’s so catchy! I heard it on the radio in work when I was in the stockroom, I literally stopped what I was doing and hid so I could enjoy it and hear who they hell it was. I was shocked when I realised it was Britney bitch! Rockin! Catchy vocals, awesome synths, simple beat, great hooks! Love this kind of pop production (but you knew that anyway!). Sexy stuff!

Happy Christmas all!!!!!!!!

Lola kitteh IS looking forward to Santy.... :)
Lola kitteh IS looking forward to Santy…. 🙂

My Music Production Project Recording is Complete!

Party over here! I have completed my 3 recording sessions for my music production project “December”, written and composed by Keith Caffrey and myself, featuring Shane Taaffe on cajon and Ciarán O’Brien on double bass.

Monday morning was my last 3 hour studio session, I had 3 blocks of 3 hour sessions over a 6 week period to record the song. Time was extremely valuable and every minute counted in these sessions (especially when the song itself is 5:02 long, one take alone eats up 5 minutes…).

In this final studio session we recorded the lead vocal (Keith Caffrey), my backing vocal (thanks to my assistant Shauna Kearney for engineering for me here!) and a rainmaker. The session was the most relaxed (for me at least!) and though we kept a sharp watch on the clock, we were not under as much time pressure as the previous sessions.

Although it wasn’t ideal to record vocals at 9am, it had to be done and Keith was warming up his voice from 6.30am. The set up was simple- a Neumann U87 with pop shield and reflection filter going through the Audient ASP 8024 to Pro Tools. It would have been ideal to record with compression because there is a broad dynamic range in the vocal performance but as we’re still in early days, the compressor wasn’t patched in. We recorded some takes adjusting the gain for the loud and soft parts and also recorded the contrasting sections separately. It did occur to me after the session that I could have set up an AKG C414 right up beside the U87 on a separate track and adjust the gains of each microphone, so one would have a lower gain than the other. Hindsight! Every day is a school day…

Keith in studio
Keith in studio

Nonetheless I got what I needed committed to Pro Tools. Using the same set up with a tad extra gain I laid down my backing vocal, taking care to double up. Backing vocals are not a requirement of this project but one of the defining sounds of Shock Sorrow (myself and Keith) is our vocal blending. My sweet, soft voice is a nice contrast to Keith’s powerful and deep rock voice.

The rainmaker was the next recording- we set up 2 AKG C414s (mono tracks, cardioid pattern, no filter), and recorded the gentle sway of the falling beads during the intro and outro, this is a nice falling rain-like sound as opposed to a rhythm. I have two rainmakers, one bamboo and one plastic, the bamboo one was the rainmaker of choice as it sounded much more organic and watery! The plastic one sounded like a hail storm!

Me and my bamboo rainmaker :)
Me and my bamboo rainmaker 🙂

With 15 minutes to spare before wrap up time (once the clock strikes 12 we had to be out- mic’s put back into their cases, cables tidy, stands collapsed, wrap up time had to occur at 11.45), we recorded 2 lead vocal ad lib tracks for fun. I was impressed with Keith’s improvisation, counter harmonies, whispers and echoes. He gave me so much good stuff I can’t bear to edit them! 😀

Ready for your close-up Rockstar? :)
Ready for your close-up Rockstar? 🙂

Later that afternoon after my last lecture, myself and Shauna headed to our beautiful, ambient Winter Garden in the college building. The Winter Garden is probably my favourite place to hang out between classes for it’s greenery and general peace and quiet!

I had my own recording set up with me- Macbook Pro (with Pro Tools 10), Cakewalk UA25 EX audio interface, Samson S-Amp and Rode NTK microphone. I wanted to record a couple of extra tracks to see if they might work in the project- violin and small djembe drum. I wanted the massive natural reverb so I placed my microphone in the middle of the garden and stood about 8 feet away.

My on-the-go recording set up
My on-the-go recording set up

I actually didn’t play my own violin (the Chinese violin my parents bought for my 13th birthday- too long ago!!!) although it did sound really nice. One of my lecturers actually loaned me his 100 year old German violin for the recording! I’m honoured to have played this violin and even more honoured that I’m the first person ever to have actually recorded it! Not even my lecturer has recorded it! It was beautiful. Beautifully smooth and amazing tone. It was slightly smaller than my own violin (it wasn’t 3/4 size but just slightly smaller than full size) and as light as feather.

Me playing the beautiful 100 year old violin in DkIT's Winter Garden
Me playing the beautiful 100 year old violin in DkIT’s Winter Garden

I played the djembe for the first time in my life (it’s been sitting in my house for years as a decoration!), I just wanted the simple accents, “snap” sounds with that lovely reverb. It actually sounded really lovely and different! My right hand is in absolute bits, 3 lovely bruises on the insides of my fingers! But definitely worth it!

We actually spent 3 hours in the Winter Garden, it was busier than I thought it would be and most takes were spoiled by the noise of people opening doors, walking by, chatting, cleaners hoovering, you name it, I heard it through the sensitive Rode mic! I did expect such noise in the public space and it was really after 5pm that we started recording “clean” tracks.

I was absolutely shattered after all this but after 2 hours of chilling out at home I was back in Pro Tools, editing and starting the first rough mix until the small hours. Of course the point of the project is to not fix anything in the mix but I did need to comp the vocals and go through the violin takes while it was fresh in my mind. All I have left to do is some fades, an micro edit here and there and adjust the mix balance.

Then the write up… 😉

So expect to hear the final mix of “December” on my SoundCloud in… December!

Music and National Identity

This week’s blog considers the role of music in national identity; is it important that countries have a national anthem and are there any contemporary musical genres based around national identity? This blog also considers if contemporary youth are aware of their national identity.

A countries’ national anthem is in essence, a musical flag. It expresses to other countries the unity of it’s people and what they stand for. People take great pride in their national anthem and it can provoke strong, emotional reactions. Take for example the Olympics this year, how many athletes did we see, women AND men, standing strong, waiting to receive their medals, crumble and cry when their countries national anthem came on?! Lots! I personally found that very touching.

Let’s talk about contemporary musical genres based on national identity. The first that springs to my mind is Irish pop/rock. Take the lovely Corrs from our very own Dundalk who have a huge fan base all over the world. Of course anyone who knows me or who reads my blogs knows I was quite the “Corr-razy” fan in my early teens and I still love their music to this day.

I loved that the Corrs fused typically Irish in style melodies (some traditional, some composed by themselves) the Irish language and Irish traditional instruments (the fiddle, tin whistle, bodhrán, accordian and even uilleann pipes) with contemporary pop and rock. “Toss the Feathers” which was released on their debut album (1995) is a great example of a traditional Irish tune blended with rock. It’s exciting, catchy and very Irish! No matter what country in the world you come from, you know instantly that this is music from Ireland!

This next song influenced me in so many ways as a teenager, as a violin player, as a songwriter, it fuelled an appreciation and understanding of great songwriting and it still does. Irish traditional instruments and melodies are laced with pop and rock perfectly. I still love that funky muted rock guitar in the verses and the vocal production and that sweet drum sound. Everything about this song is perfect. It sounds as awesome to me now as it did 16 years ago. The entire album remains one of my all time favourites.

I could write forever about the Corrs’ use of Ireland’s national identity in their music, they continued to weave Irish traditional in their music right up to their most recent album “Home” (2005). I remember being at their massive concert in Lansdowne Road, Dublin in 1999 as a 15 year old and enjoying watching the fans Irish dancing, there was a real sense of national identity and a real pride to be Irish that night. It was a beautiful and rocking show!

Sharon, Andrea and Jim Corr
Sharon, Andrea and Jim Corr

The Corrs have enjoyed global success with their unique blend of traditional/celtic/folk/pop/rock/alternative music, other artists which incorporate traditional Irish identity into their contemporary music would be the Pogues, the Horslips, to a lesser degree the Cranberries (for Dolores O’Riordans’ strong Limerick accent in her vocal performance and her lyrics which occasionally were about Irish politics), Sinéad O’Connor, Enya, Clannad, Mairín Fahy etc.

Israel’s modern music is strongly linked with their national identity. Jewish and non Jewish music traditions are fused with pop, jazz and rock etc. Modern songs are fused with the traditional canonical style of singing and music (use of minor and modal keys, strong off-beat rhythms, darbuka and tambourine instruments and lyrics about Israeli life).

Cool darbuka rhythms above!

A really good example of Israeli national identity within music is Rita, an artist who sings in her native Persian language and uses traditional instruments with pop. Her music, along with most other Western music is banned in Iran yet she is extremely popular with both peoples. Check out her recent hit “Shane” .

Lastly I will briefly talk about the importance of national identity in the age of the Internet. I’ve been asked to consider if it is important to young people in the global village. I would say yes, that it is very important. This is just my personal opinion, I haven’t done any research, I think that would be an interesting project in itself! 😉

I believe that people from different countries enjoy sharing music and culture through the use of the social media. Every day I see in my Facebook feed photos, witty jokes, status updates and music in various languages. I have a lovely circle of friends from Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Italy, New Zealand, Latvia, Mauritius, China, Malaysia, Taiwan, as well as other English speaking countries- America, Canada, Australia and the U.K. I find through Facebook that young people are quick to show their pride for their country, even if they aren’t living in their country of birth.

Again I’m thinking of the Olympics- wasn’t Facebook and Twitter feed FULL of national pride during the events?!

I hope this makes my readers think about their national identities and I hope they feel proud of their culture and heritage! I believe the Internet has made the world a smaller place but this has not diminished national identities in any way.

Peace out.