Wulf's Webden

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Wednesday 24 February 2021
by Wulf
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Stable Uke

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!

Tuesday 23 February 2021
by Wulf
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Intoning

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.

Monday 22 February 2021
by Wulf
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Should We Meet?

At time of writing, a state of national lockdown persists in England but a statement is expected in the House of Commons within the hour, with the Prime Minister setting out a plan for returning to normality. News sites, which seem to continue to struggle with the concept of reporting what has happened in favour of (informed) speculation, are generally of the opinion that schools will start opening more widely in early March and that we’ll be back to ‘the rule of six’ (up to six adults able to socialise outside, while taking some precautions) from the end of March.

That’s shortly before the Easter weekend and, not wanting to prejudge my own church’s decision based on my own opinion, means we will probably at least have some kind of live service on Easter Day. Some Christian pundits, such as Graham Nicholls writing for Premier Christianity, argue that we should resume meetings in our buildings now if we haven’t done so already.

For myself, I think there are ample reasons to hold off a little while longer. Despite the continued roll-out of vaccinations, we continue to have several members of our congregation who have been advised to actively ‘shield’. We need to keep our online game up strongly for a while yet. Even more pressing to me, is the fact that, extreme restrictions on socialising are still in place.

In my theology, a key reason for the gathered church is that we congregate together – hence ‘congregations’. We aren’t prevented from meeting but, at present, I think the best we could do would be to watch one or two people at the front leading the service while sitting apart and mumbling into our masks. Most painful of all, we can’t exchange handshakes and hugs or even form small clusters to catch up outside. God is with each of us where we are and we aren’t held back from communicating with each other in various ways but we’d have to arrive, sit and depart in isolation if we returned to the building together.

Nobody wants to police that but I’m not sure our very friendly congregation would be able to resist clustering if brought so close together. It would be like dropping magnets into a jar! I think the watchword for March should be ‘endure a little while longer’ and, even for April and May, we need to tread cautiously until we reach a state of play closer to places like New Zealand.

Sunday 21 February 2021
by Wulf
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I Call To Mind

Here’s a song that Jane wrote and I helped with, which we included in last week’s Sunday service:

I Call to Mind

My main contributions were the funny chord at the end of each repeat (Em11b9) and the Picardy third to lift from minor to major at the very end. Oh, and the videography, for which I used photos I took while walking The Long Mynd in Shropshire a few years ago.

Saturday 20 February 2021
by Wulf
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Breaking Walls, Not Fingers

That’s a cryptic title but, if you saw the purple tinged swelling on my finger, you’d start to get a clue as to what inspired it. Jane and I removed a bit more of the wall that runs along the front of our property this afternoon. The aim is to make it easy to walk to the front door when we have the car parked on the driveway.

We’re doing it with hand tools — heavy hammers and chisels — and I did manage to catch myself a glancing blow. Fortunately, I was wearing heavy gloves and I think I’ll just have a bruise which might look quite dramatic tomorrow morning!

Only a little bit more to do now but I think I’ll wait until my finger has fully recovered before attempting that.

Friday 19 February 2021
by Wulf
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Spoken Language

What is the most widely-spoken language in the world? Based on the data presented on The 100 Most Spoken Languages Around the World, which has been sitting in my collection of interesting snippets for a while now, English safely claims that title. However, that changes if you ask about the most common natively-spoken language. English puts in a good showing (thanks USA) but is eclipsed by several others including Mandarin Chinese and, albeit relatively more narrowly, Spanish.

Some languages have almost no non-native speakers, such as Hungarian and Japanese, while others have few or no native speakers (Modern Standard Arabic).

It is a fascinating set of information and an excellent way of displaying it.

Thursday 18 February 2021
by Wulf
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Low to Highly Strung

Hurrah! I’ve passed the minimum target for my RPM2021 project, creating at least twenty minutes of original music. Here is the track that has taken me past that line:

Low to Highly Strung

How did I do it? I spent a session exploring some of the effects in my Helix LT that extend and develop their input signals – a glitchy fuzz, some modulation and a selection of delays and reverbs – and then hit record while I got round to changing the strings on my bass. Given that it’s a headless design, I could have been done a lot quicker but I also wanted to give the fretboard a clean and also to play a bit with the noises being created.

Is it music? I’d argue yes although you would be hard-pressed to hum it back or to dance along. It is improvised and it embraces the accidental. However, it isn’t just a recording of background noise because I was listening and interacting. I had an expression pedal set up to adjust the time setting on one of the delays and I was listening to the rippling sound for points where it was tailing off and I wanted to give it another input. Music: controlled noise making!

You’ve got a mix of the Helix effects and the DI track, which I’ve applied other treatment to in Logic and I’ve panned them on opposite sides. Along with the stereo nature of many of the FX (like the ping pong delay), this creates a wide listening field. Do I expect many people to listen to it all the way through? Probably not (although you are very welcome to do so) but it does achieve my other goal, providing me a deep sonic mine which I can draw on for video and music projects in the future.