We’re putting up a polytunnel in the background. For those who know us, the only surprise is probably that it has taken so long but there were a few enabling works to do first, like getting a shed and moving the tool store. All that is in place so the last task before adding the cover has been to remove the roots of some shrubs that were in the way.
Even a relatively small shrub can have pretty extensive roots. Jane and I worked on the task on Saturday and I finished it off this afternoon (although there are a couple of old stumps, not directly under the cover area, that I think we need to have out too).
Initially I had the bright idea of blasting away the dirt with a pressure washer. It turns out Jane was right and it creates a muddy puddle, while being a lot less effective than I had expected. Most of the work was done with a hand fork, for excavation and a large garden fork and loppers as sections got exposed. I pulled out some root runs that went for 5-6′ and that was the point at which they broke, not when the root actually ended.
At least the pressure washer worked well on the big one I finished this afternoon, once it was upended. We might be having a little stumpery somewhere in the garden (and, if not, we’ll want to season and burn the wood in any case) so some cleaning up is good.
Here is the final piece in my RPM2021 album and it has the shortest title I’ve ever used: Oh.
Yesterday afternoon, I was finishing off my submission for the piece Cantus Veritas (the online choir I am singing with) is doing. All I had to do was sing a long, low syllable as a pad during a verse of the song. Four times, as I was aiming to give four bass parts. Piece of cake? It is actually very challenging to hold a long, low note and this was about my third attempt on the section. I finally got there and sent my tracks in and then the idea of using my recordings for my own composition struck me.
I took the four tracks and focused in on the drone section. Each had subsections of about four bars apiece, so I chopped down to all of those so that I lost the start and end of each phrase, blended them together, spread the four voices across the stereo field and created further copies to extend the time, giving four tracks with a deep and somewhat eerie sound.
I could have stopped there but another idea struck me. I duplicated each track and applied different levels of pitch correction – a perfect fifth, minor third and major seventh (Am with a major seventh, a very unsettled chord). It was richer but still static but I did further tweaks, gradually introducing the additional voices and also writing in adjustments to the volume of each one.
Finally, I added effects – stereo delay, cavernous reverb and different EQs. Minor details in the recording become creaks and shifts, the whole sound is incredibly rich given where it started, and it seems a good place to finish this year’s project. One EP (five tracks) but actually long enough to qualify for the RPM album level (over 35 minutes). Job done. Oh.
I had the opportunity today to pick up some more firewood, which was a solid incentive to finish off my recent wood store project. Originally I had planned to put the two side by side but we’ve ended up with one by the toolshed at the far end of the garden (shown below) and the other opposite the back door, which we can load up with pieces that are ready to come in.
I’ve still got a fair amount of work to do. I’ve split some of the logs, which you can see at the top, to make them closer to the size that will fit our burner and I’ll probably still want to saw some of those in half. The others are monsters and will give me a good work out in processing.
We certainly won’t be running out before the summer!
England has a roadmap out of lockdown – no more tiers (yet) but the ‘rule of six’ returns: no more than six people able to congregate outside from 29 March. People find this a bit confusing and I’m sure they would say the same about this contribution for my RPM challenge.
I’ve used a D major hexatonic scale as the basis for the piece (D E F# A B C#). Dropping the fourth limits the range of available chords. I’ve looped D with an added sixth (D F# B) and A major (A C# E) but I’ve done so though the shuffling looper on my Helix, which creates a much more complex soundscape. Further editing followed in Logic as well as a second shuffled loop, producing a six minute long bed of sound.
I improvised over the top, using the hexatonic scale, and I’ve left that as it was although I have adjusted the panning as the piece moves on to create a wider soundscape and copied a few segments which have been repeated to add depth.
So, there you have my meditation on the rule of six. Why is it not exactly 6 minutes long? Well, it was but, well, reverb trails!
I’m still very happy with my Eddy Finn tenor ukulele. It doesn’t see the light of day much at the moment but, when I decided to play a song for the toddlers group on it (trying not to spend too many hours on the music production side!) it was still pretty much in tune on coming out of the case. Top marks!
Following my string change the other day, I realised that the intonation on the bass has drifted off a bit. It is affected by string gauge and design, I might have knocked the saddles during the changeover and, to be honest, it is quite a while since I last checked it.
The clue is that the 12th fret harmonic (an octave above the open string and ringing out when you touch the string exactly at the halfway point) doesn’t match the fretted note at the same position. Or, in the 21st century, one can just use a tuner with a reasonably precise display.
The fix is to move the bridge saddle closer to the bridge if the fretted note is sharp and away from the bridge if it is flat. That moves the half-way point of the string, which should correspond with where it makes contact with the fret when pressed down. You do this after adjusting neck relief and string height, both of which affect how much the string is deflected when being fretted.
It is a fairly quick job with a good set of ears or the aforementioned tuner, although you generally need to take a sounding, slacken the string, make the adjustment and retune before taking another sounding. I’m now much closer than I was before so, even more so than before, can take the blame every time I sound a note that is a little off.