I’ve been prepping for this coming Sunday evening, which sees another Sanctified event. We did the first one of these ‘blues services’ back in the summer and this one shares the concept and a lot of the musicians and singers but a whole new bunch of material. This time, our particular focus is celebrating the women of gospel blues, like Mavis Staples, Mahalia Jackson and Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
They aren’t household names in most households and rarely get a mention in most churches but they were women of faith who gave us songs of both lament and joy (indeed, Mavis Staples is still going strong, so it isn’t all past tense).
As well as the double bass chair, I’m also putting together the slides to support this one, which are now almost complete. If you are in Oxford on Sunday evening and have even a passing interest in gospel blues, come and join us at Collinwood Road URC in Risinghurst (the one you see as you head out of town on the A40 towards the M40) at 6:30pm.
Last night, I was working on my arrangement of Come, Ye Thankful People, Come, which (now that it is finished) is a candidate for a choral performance at the St Clement’s Harvest Service on 6 October.
My method for developing these arrangements is to construct and test them using keyboard sounds in my DAW, Logic. Once I’ve got the notes sounding right, I then turn to Lilypond to create a score – I’ve now got enough Lilypond-fu that I was able to knock up a two part score with lyrics for each part and some dynamics, neatly fitting on a couple of pages.
To finish off, I decided to try singing the two parts (one scrapes the top of my range and the other goes down toward the bottom of it) and recording that as a demo. It isn’t a particularly polished performance – if you listen to I’m Sorry, I Haven’t a Clue, think of Tim Brooke-Taylor and the late Jeremy Hardy doing a duet (no, I’m not putting it on public release in this form)! Still, with a bit of mixing magic (compression, doubling up of each part through auxillary busses and panning each of the resulting four parts through varying panning and levels of the reverb bus to give them some separation), it should do the job to demonstrate what I have in mind to the conductor and pianist.
I mentioned yesterday that I’d been working in the garden over the weekend. You can see the results of the labour Jane and I put in in this photo of the front garden although it really doesn’t do the amount of trimming justice.
The garden does look neater as a result – honest! – and you can see the green pile of cuttings near the bottom left. Also, if you look really hard, you can see that the compost was given a good turning over too.
Yesterday was a very musical day – leading at church in the morning on electric guitar, a couple of sets of double bass playing with Mudslide Morris (and Rich) in the afternoon and a rehearsal for next week’s blues service in the evening. However, by about half way through the afternoon, I realised that my left hand was starting to feel strained.
It wasn’t quite enough to cause me to stop but I didn’t get too ambitious and looked for what I could play without discomfort. I wonder if it was the combination of an extended bout of double bass playing on top of several hours of garden work the day before (even today, I can still feel a few muscle groups I’d forgotten about before the weekend!)?
I was due to also be playing double bass in the evening but decided to take my electric six string instead. If I’d felt pain then, I would definitely have stopped, but it went alright although I did make the most of a few breaks to help coach the choir along. Probably not too much playing over the next day or two to allow further time to recover… and perhaps not too much typing either!
Today’s predicted 22°C not withstanding, the maximum outside temperature this week doesn’t rise beyond about 20°C and so I’ve decided it is time to get brewing again.
On Friday, I cooked up a batch of wort to Graham Wheeler’s Batemans XXXB recipe, slightly adapted to use melanoidin malt instead of crystal malt. I’ve come in a bit below the target gravity (1.041 instead of 1.045), perhaps because of that substitution, but the wort has a lovely, malty taste.
This morning, I’ve set it fermenting with Safale S-04 yeast, a reliable doer that comes in dried form. All things being equal, I’ll probably be ready to bottle by Friday. Meanwhile, I’d better start thinking about what recipes I want to do next as that used up most of my remaining pale malt.
As an addendum to yesterday’s post, I’m not sure if I’m making compost by the optional method but it certainly produces good results. I spent an hour or two digging out and sifting stuff from the base of my heap and, after running through a riddle, had two grades – dark, fine compost and coarser spoils (twigs, stones, lumps of clay, etc), which works well as a mulch. Good work… and I’ll sleep well tonight because it is hard work too!
Sometime soon, I need to turn over my compost heap and extract the good stuff from the bottom. I had thought I might do it today but the tub trugs I’d use were full of cuttings that needed to be added to the top (now done), which I’ll give a day or two to settle on there.
The new additions are now semi-rotted, which makes me think of an experiment I’d like to try sometime, if I get a suitable space to do it. Generally, I’ve used a manual grinder for garden waste added to the compost, with regular additions of vegetable peelings, coffee grounds and other suitable additions from kitchen waste. I wonder if that really does much better than either just adding unprocessed trimmings or letting them sit in tubs for 2-3 weeks before adding them?
I’d need at least a couple of similarly sized composting areas to work with and enough material to feed both but I would be very interested in the results. I think that the grinding process contributes to excellent results but it still takes a while and is hard work. Is that step necessary or could I save a bit of time, which perhaps could be invested in other garden processes?