Wulf's Webden

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Sunday 26 January 2020
by Wulf


Downsizing (2017) is a quirky and fascinating film that didn’t go quite where I thought it would. I can’t say too much without fear of creating spoilers but I did find it thought provoking both on questions of self-identity and self-value and also about what labour is needed to support a ‘prosperous’ economy. Oddball but recommended.

Saturday 25 January 2020
by Wulf

3 More Notes

One of the things I’ve been experimenting with this week is the 3 note generator effect on my Helix LT. Most of the effects take an incoming signal and transform it but this, as the name suggests, generates three notes from scratch.

I have to note that documentation on using this function seems fairly sparse and, if YouTube videos is a good metric, it seems largely overlooked. I’ve had to fiddle around with the controls and it seems like a limited synth engine compared to some of the ones I’ve played with in Logic 10 on my Mac.

However, the saving grace seems to be running the output of the generator through further effects. I’ve got several hooked up, including a rotary speaker, an expansive delay and ‘particle’ reverb. I’ve managed to round off the edges, of what was an offensively insistent wall of tones, and come up with something that I’m going to try as a patch under one of the songs at church tomorrow morning (albeit with a volume pedal at the end of the chain so I can bring it down gently if required).

Friday 24 January 2020
by Wulf

To the Top Corner

Jane and I did a long stroll today, which took us up to the top corner of the Thorpe Acre parish, on the opposite bank of the River Soar from St James church at Normanton.

The walk was about 6.25 miles (possibly more with a few wrong turns and a bit of backtracking – the parish boundary isn’t clearly marked) and covers a range of terrains both rural and urban. I’ve got plans to traverse the entire parish over the coming months so this was a good start.

One thing that did strike me is that, although I doubt many people follow the whole route very often, there wasn’t any of it that lacked that marks of recent passage by others (very obviously on some of the muddier paths!).

Thursday 23 January 2020
by Wulf

Spot the Odd One Out

Solo bass for me at Loughborough Acoustic Club tonight, and I performed the following songs:

  • Fly Me to the Moon
  • Mack the Knife
  • Mona
  • On the Sunny Side of the Street

Three of those are jazz songs, with all the chords, so it was quite a relief to get to Mona, which sticks on the same chord for its entirety! Mind you, I also enjoy all the fancy chords and the choices all seemed to go down well.

Wednesday 22 January 2020
by Wulf


Don’t worry – nothing scurrilous about this post. Instead, I’ve been learning a bit more this morning about controlling page spacing in Lilypond, my musical typesetting system of choice with commands such as ragged-bottom.

I had a song I’d scored out which fitted on one page but looked cramped together while still having space at the end. I turned back to the online documentation and discovered that I could get detailed information about how Lilypond saw the measurements of the page by inserting the annotate-spacing command into the paper block at the top of the file:

\paper { annotate-spacing = ##t }

I had been looking for a way to request more space between each line of music but a bit more reading round and experimenting led to me discovering that turning off ‘ragged’ spacing at the bottom was the way to go:

ragged-last-bottom = ##f

Since I had a set of music that fitted onto one page, this requests that the vertical distances get nudged up to fill the whole page rather than the default of leaving a gap at the bottom. It probably wouldn’t work so well if my score was only three or four lines long but, in this case, was perfect for providing some visual ‘breathing space’. I’ll test the results at tonight’s music practise; hopefully any other mistakes and failings in my transcription won’t be hidden away because the dots are too cramped to easily read.

Tuesday 21 January 2020
by Wulf

Banjonly connect

Apologies (moderately sincere) for the blatant misquoting of E M Forster’s famous phrase but it came to mind when I was thinking about my latest banjo revelation, namely that it isn’t too dissimilar from a guitar.

In general terms, it is guitar-ish (or a guitar is banjo-y) but I was thinking more about tuning and even more specifically about chords. A challenge when I’m learning a new instrument is developing a vocabulary of chords. On a ukulele it turned out to be easy – I just had to think about the top four strings of a guitar and imagine I was playing with a capo at the fifth fret. Yesterday, while doing some more banjo practise, I made a similar connection.

In this case, the banjo I’m playing is a five-string one, tuned in the fairly standard gDGBD pattern. Ignoring the short, high g, that gives DGBD, which is not as far away as I’d assumed from DGBE on the guitar. That means I can play the same chords and partial chords I would on guitar as long as I remember that the note on the high D has to be moved two frets up from where it would be on the high E of a regular guitar.

It is still going to take some practise to get over the time lag caused by thinking ‘guitar’ before translating to ‘banjo’ but it is a big step up compared to starting from scratch and lets me also bring a lot of my knowledge of partial chords further up the neck (and bits of scales) into play as well.

Monday 20 January 2020
by Wulf

Palette Cleansers

Palette Cleansers - 1
Palette Cleansers – 1

Not palette cleansing as in getting the mouth ready for new tastes but more making space on my watercolour palettes by using up some old paint. My intention had been to do some work on colour matching, because the afternoon sunlight was beautifully illuminating a mixture of oranges and greens at the end of the garden (a hedgerow). However, I was working in a tight space and wanted to use one of my small palettes, which still had colours on it from last year (ie. not the one I made space on last week).

Palette Cleansers - 2
Palette Cleansers – 2

The results were quite pretty though and, even though not quite the exercise I had intended, were good for feeling my way further back into the medium.