Category: Music and Art


Burning Man

(Excerpt taken from the website of the Burning Man):

What is Burning Man?
Once a year, tens of thousands of participants gather in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert to create Black Rock City, dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance. They depart one week later, having left no trace whatsoever. Burning Man is also an ever-expanding year-round culture based on the Ten Principles.

What Isn’t Burning Man?
Burning Man isn’t your usual festival, with big acts booked to play on massive stages. In fact, it’s more of a city than a festival, wherein almost everything that happens is created entirely by its citizens, who are active participants in the event.

This year’s Burning Man is from August 25 – Sept 1, 2014

I came across this video which captures the spirit and principles of Burning Man accurately: it’s by
KQED and it won an Emmy award recently. Here it is:

<a href="http://youtu.be/DHW8zydRV4M“>http://youtu.be/DHW8zydRV4M

I want to be a Flaming Lotus Girl, and I want to go to the Burning Man so badly! But it would cost me thousands of dollars, which I don’t have. It will also be a trip halfway round the world, and I’ll have to get (child+pet+house)sitters in, more expenses I just cannot afford. SIGH. So, I’ll have to contend with living the festival vicariously through videos and photos shared by the lucky, lucky ones who get to go. If you DO go, feel free to post me some photos and I will add them here.

Watching videos of previous Burning Man festivals, out there in the desert with the strange lights, music and people in out-of-this-world costumes doing fantastically weird things, I’m reminded of the time I took my son to Disneyland Paris. One evening, at dusk, there was a musical troupe playing near the spaceship ride. They were dressed in layered burlap, and the instruments they played were modified saxophones or similar. On their heads they wore strange miner’s hardhats with attached (literally) overhead lights that moved as they played. The headgear was strangely reminiscent of angler fish. As it was dusk and the natural light was failing, I didn’t get any decent photos of them. But I remember that experience as if it was yesterday and not 6 years ago; the images are indelibly etched into my mind. It was, to put it simply, a magical experience.

It felt like a scene out of Star Wars, and I was transported to dusty Tatooine amongst its unwashed Jawas and Tusken Raiders. The musicians could have been a cross between the two races.

That is the sort of feeling I believe I would experience at the Burning Man festival.

Burning Man leans strongly on 10 Principles (excerpt taken from this link):

Burning Man Founder Larry Harvey wrote the Ten Principles in 2004 as guidelines for the newly-formed Regionals Network. They were crafted not as a dictate of how people should be and act, but as a reflection of the community’s ethos and culture as it had organically developed since the event’s inception.

Radical Inclusion
Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.

Gifting
Burning Man is devoted to acts of gift giving. The value of a gift is unconditional. Gifting does not contemplate a return or an exchange for something of equal value.

Decommodification
In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.

Radical Self-reliance
Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.

Radical Self-expression
Radical self-expression arises from the unique gifts of the individual. No one other than the individual or a collaborating group can determine its content. It is offered as a gift to others. In this spirit, the giver should respect the rights and liberties of the recipient.

Communal Effort
Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration. We strive to produce, promote and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that support such interaction.

Civic Responsibility
We value civil society. Community members who organize events should assume responsibility for public welfare and endeavor to communicate civic responsibilities to participants. They must also assume responsibility for conducting events in accordance with local, state and federal laws.

Leaving No Trace
Our community respects the environment. We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave such places in a better state than when we found them.

Participation
Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic. We believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play. We make the world real through actions that open the heart.

Immediacy
Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture. We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience.

Anything goes at Burning Man. I recall Episode 1, Season 7 of my favourite comedy series, Malcolm in the Middle, where the entire family go to the festival in an RV. Each member of the family has their own epiphany whilst there. Malcolm, for one, gets born again…literally passing through an obstacle course simulating the contractions of a womb, complete with pink jelly.

Some Google images of past Burning Man (Men??):

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I wanted to share these brilliant videos by Philip Scott Johnson, celebrating women in Art and Film. The first video takes the viewer through 500 years of Western Art, encapsulated by the faces of 90 celebrated paintings of women.  The music is Bach’s Sarabande from Suite for Solo Cello no.1 in G Major, BWW 1007, played by acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

If you’re wondering who the women are in the video above, check out this site for a comprehensive list with descriptions. In 2010, Philip Scott Johnson created a sequel of sorts to “Women in Art”.  “Women in Film” uses Bach’s Prelude from the same Cello Suite as above, again played by Yo-Yo Ma, but this time morphing the faces of famous actresses of the Western world, past and present, spanning a period of 80 years.

The actresses used in the making of Johnson’s video are: Mary Pickford, Lillian Gish, Gloria Swanson, Marlene Dietrich, Norma Shearer, Ruth Chatterton, Jean Harlow, Katharine Hepburn, Carole Lombard, Bette Davis, Greta Garbo, Barbara Stanwyck, Vivien Leigh, Greer Garson, Hedy Lamarr, Rita Hayworth, Gene Tierney, Olivia de Havilland, Ingrid Bergman, Joan Crawford, Ginger Rogers, Loretta Young, Deborah Kerr, Judy Garland, Anne Baxter, Lauren Bacall, Susan Hayward, Ava Gardner, Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Lana Turner, Elizabeth Taylor, Kim Novak, Audrey Hepburn, Dorothy Dandridge, Shirley MacLaine, Natalie Wood, Rita Moreno, Janet Leigh, Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren, Ann Margret, Julie Andrews, Raquel Welch, Tuesday Weld, Jane Fonda, Julie Christie, Faye Dunaway, Catherine Deneuve, Jacqueline Bisset, Candice Bergen, Isabella Rossellini, Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn, Meryl Streep, Susan Sarandon, Jessica Lange, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sigourney Weaver, Kathleen Turner, Holly Hunter, Jodie Foster, Angela Bassett, Demi Moore, Sharon Stone, Meg Ryan, Julia Roberts, Salma Hayek, Sandra Bullock, Julianne Moore, Diane Lane, Nicole Kidman, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Reese Witherspoon, Halle Berry

Both videos captured the public’s imagination so much so that to this day there exists several different versions of them, some set to contemporary music.  The versions in this post, however, are the original ones by Johnson himself. Philip Scott Johnson’s handle on YouTube is eggman913.  He has more “morph animations” that you can watch, as well as a whole list of other interesting artistic videos.

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My new friend Ryan

I made a new friend today. Not a virtual one on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media sites, but a real life person.

I was at my local Rockingham Hungry Jack’s (those of you in Europe and America will know this as Burger King) having breakfast, when I noticed a young man with a violin case and a huge backpack just settling into the seat opposite. So I struck up a conversation with him, as I was intrigued about the violin and the backpack.

His name is Ryan Langley. He’s 22 and hails from Port Angeles, right on the border between the USA and Canada. Take the ferry across the water and you’ll be in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. For “Twilight” afficionados, Port Angeles is the town near Forks, where Bella goes to that esoteric bookshop, gets waylaid later by some youths, is rescued by Edward and ends up having dinner with him at a restaurant.

My new friend Ryan is trying to work his way back home by busking. It’s halfway around the world, from one WA (Washington state) to another WA (Western Australia). He has 3 months to get together his airfare home, but he’s going to see as much of Western Australia as he can meanwhile…on a shoestring budget.

Ryan is into sailing and already has his Captain’s licence. He hopes one day to have his own boat and to sail from one WA to another WA.

Having travelled around the region where Ryan intends to visit, I was able to highlight for him several unmissable tourist attractions and towns where he could busk.

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This is Ryan’s map of WA showing the train and coach routes down the southern corridor. Among the sites he intends to visit are the Dolphin Discovery Centre in Bunbury, Busselton Jetty, Hamelin Bay, the Margaret River region, Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse in Augusta, the Diamond Tree, Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree and Gloucester Tree in Pemberton, the Treetop Walk in Denmark, and the historic port city of Albany.

I bought Ryan lunch at our local shopping mall. Before that, I brought him to Dick Smith to get a US-AUS adapter for his laptop, as he hadn’t been able to charge his laptop since landing in WA a week ago.

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When it transpired that his DSLR camera was broken and he didn’t have a mobile phone or any other visual way of recording his travels, I brought Ryan to JB HiFi and bought him a basic Olympus camera and an 8GB SD card. (It may be “basic” but it boasted a 14 MP camera, nothing to sniff about). You just can’t go to places that you’ll probably never go to again, without being able to capture the moment.

I then put Ryan on the bus to the railway station, so he could catch the train to Mandurah, the next stop on his journey.

What a lovely chappie he is. I hope he keeps in touch with me, so I can share his journey vicariously with yourselves! Bookmark me to keep updated. If you wish to donate money towards Ryan’s airfare home, drop me a line.

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Ever since first my 2nd Aunt and then my Dad visited Australia and came back with examples of Australian Arts and Crafts (a grey koala made from real kangaroo fur, tea towels and coasters featuring Aboriginal Art, etc), I’ve been fascinated with all things Australian. And now that I’m living in Australia myself, I find myself constantly amazed and fascinated by Aboriginal Art.

Australian Aboriginal Art is not just one style of art. Each tribe or community has its own style and colours, and each tells its own story.  And what a story they have to tell! The Aboriginals have the longest surviving culture in human history. More than 60,000 years of it. That’s certainly nothing to sniff at.

Rather than going into a lengthy discussion on how and what Australian Aboriginal Art is like, I’ve decided to compile a list of YouTube videos showing various artists at work, and showing the different styles and techniques of painting that you can find, and hopefully providing some insight into how the artists think and create. Some of the videos come with funky modern music laced with the primal sounds of the didgeridoo…in fact, I’ve curated some of these videos for the sheer beauty of their music! I hope you enjoy these videos and will search out others to further your own education on this ever fascinating subject.

Most of the videos are courtesy of Desert Art Centre, who represent a good few Aboriginal Artists, bringing their talent from the dusty Outback to the worldwide platform. If you check out their website, there are more than 500 other videos showing their artists at work, that you can easily spend hours getting lost in.

I’ll see if I can speak directly to some Aboriginal Elders or Community to gain more information about each individual artist. And while I’m at it, I might even try taking Didgeridoo lessons! Didgeridoo Breath in arty Fremantle, not too far from where I live, offers lessons in playing the Didgeridoo. Whilst traditional Aboriginals disallow women from playing the didgeridoo, modern society is a little more liberal.

The Artists here are:

Mantua Nangala

Ronnie Tjampitjinpa

Mitjili Napurrula

Narpula Scobie Natural

Judy Watson Napangardi

George Ward Tjungurayyi

Nellie Marks Nakamarra

Emily Pwerle

Dorothy Napangardi

Fabrianne Peterson Nampitjimpa

Isn’t Life funny?  Just the other day the kid and I were channel surfing on Foxtel, when we came across the Australian film “Goddess“.  In a nutshell, it’s the story of Elspeth Dickens, who used to sing at gigs in England but who has now followed her husband James to a remote outpost in Tasmania, along with little twin boys.  While James is off recording whale songs, away for months at a time, she’s left at home bored with playing the dutiful housewife.  One day she decides to rig up a webcam in her kitchen and record her “kitchen sink songs”…never realising that the world would be tuning in and watching her antics.  Never mind that she has gorgeous, dark looks like Nigella Lawson, and in one scene wears a beautiful dark green wrap-round dress with tabbed-up sleeves (that I’ve been desperately trying to find out more about, but have so far failed … if anyone knows where I can buy THAT dress, I’ll be eternally grateful!!), the girl can sing!

I’m placing Laura and Nigella side by side here, with my prediction that when they eventually make a film about the life of Nigella, it will be Laura who plays her.  You can see why, can’t you?

Nigella Lawson

Nigella Lawson

Laura Michelle Kelly

Laura Michelle Kelly

The wonderful Laura Michelle Kelly plays Elle (Elspeth), and the gorgeous Ronan Keating plays her whale-watcher husband Jimmy (James).  There is a beautiful song that Laura sings with Ronan, in a music-video-within-a-film scene, where the estranged couple are singing out their hearts’ anguish. The title of the song?  “Frozen Heart”.

Just the other day, I brought the kid to the cinema to watch Disney’s animated movie “Frozen“.  For a second, I was worried that Disney’s feel-good, family fun films might prove too childish for his 11-year-old sensibilities.  But I needn’t have worried.  “Frozen” has to be Disney’s best animated film of the year 2013.  I was moved to tears throughout the entire film.  Bravo, Disney!  The music is so fresh, original and wonderful that right after the movie, I went and bought the soundtrack… which I have since then found, is heading to topple the soundtrack of Titanic as longest No.1 run for a soundtrack.  http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/frozen-targeting-longest-no-1-682543

Told you I had a good ear for great music! ;-)

But anyhow, the reason I’ve been compelled to write this post is simply to point out the coincidence, or call it serendipity if you will, of that one duet from “Goddess” and the theme for “Frozen”.  The duet’s title is “Frozen Heart”.  In the movie “Frozen”, Queen Elsa inadvertently sends a shard of frozen ice into the heart of her sister the Princess Anna, and only “an act of true love, can melt a frozen heart”.

There is a character in “Frozen” called Olaf.  He’s a snowman.  Don’t get me started on Olaf…he’s not terribly bright, but his heart is in the right place, and he comes out with the sweetest lines.  He wouldn’t think twice of giving up his life to save Princess Anna. He even likes the whole idea of Summer, even though it will mean the end of him.  Silly sod… but if you’ve watched the film, you’ll love Olaf too.

Here is THAT Green Dress that I love, can anyone help me find out who designed it, or where I can buy one like it?  I’m throwing this one out there into the world…someone please answer my prayers!

Elspeth's Green Dress in Goddess

Elspeth’s Green Dress in Goddess

P/s: (added 26th Feb 2014)
I found this YouTube video of the song “Frozen Heart”, sung by Laura Michelle Kelly and Ronan Keating, and thought I’d share it here with you. It’s MY song at the moment.

Frozen Heart

The Professor at my Music College in Singapore, LaSalle College of the Arts was a Dr John Sharpley.

I just checked up on my alma mater and boy has it grown up! When I was at LaSalle (1990-1992), it had only just started up as a tertiary college for Art and Music, and the modest premises were in an annexed block attached to St Patrick’s Secondary School, a boarding school for boys. (Incidentally, my brother Peter went to that school, having won a scholarship to study there as a boarder). When I was there, there was only one class of students in each of the 3 years offering Music. Now, as you can see for yourself on its website, LaSalle has moved premises to its own state-of-the-art buildings, and boasts a wealth of courses using the best technology and facilities available. If I ever visit Singapore again, I must make a beeline for LaSalle and see for myself how it has come on in leaps and bounds since its early days in the 1990s. I’ll be a Stranger in Paradise.

But I digress. As I was saying, my Music History, Analysis and Composition teacher was Dr John Sharpley. If music teachers were Doctor Who, then John Sharpley would be David Tennant. I absolutely adored John. He had a way of teaching that wasn’t really telling you anything but instead showed you how to see things. I likened his teaching style to giving us the outer pieces of a jigsaw puzzle i.e the border, which when put together became the frame. It was up to us then to find the rest of the pieces and fill in the picture.

John also had a unique way of marking exam papers. He would start from 100% and deduct points for innacuracy or incorrect answers. But he also ADDED points if he felt the answer had more details than required. I recall one History exam where I scored 106%, whoo hoo!

John also encouraged his students to be creative with their assignments. One assignment he gave us was to analyse Igor Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring”, which I proceeded to do so on 9 sheets of paper. Using the given block of music to analyse as the centrepiece, I taped 8 more A4 sheets around it. On each sheet I wrote out my analysis of the piece, concentrating on one musical aspect at a time. I analysed the structure, orchestration, patterns in meter changes, phrasing, I even analysed the length of breath of the horns/oboes! My finished analysis was folded up to look like a stack of A4 papers (my first handmade book?!). John was delighted at my innovative approach, and I think I started a trend amongst my fellow classmates!

Another trend I started at LaSalle was the use of miniscule hardcover notebooks to take lecture notes. While others used A4 notepads, I used fat little A7 notebooks. See, I was using Tablets way ahead of anyone else. And I even developed my own semi-legible shorthand. I say semi as some of my classmates found my scribblings impossible to decipher!

I remember one year a few of us were invited to John’s home for dinner. He lived in a condominium block which I recall seemed to be made predominantly from concrete – it was grey, and shaped like an “O” looking down from above, with a central space in the middle. I can’t remember much about the interior of his condo, but the views were spectacular and I remember feeling very privileged to be in John’s inner circle.

John Sharpley is a Composer of Music, and when I was his student, there was a time he needed someone to copy his musical drafts onto manuscript paper. I volunteered for the job. I remember the evening I transcribed his draft sketches onto large A3 manuscript sheets…it was the time my parents were away up north for the funeral of my maternal grandfather. I had parked my Mum’s car at our church’s carpark in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, and had taken the bus across the Causeway to Singapore to LaSalle. After a day at college, I was on my return journey when the lights went out all over Singapore and Johor. Traffic was at a standstill, so I walked the 2 miles or so across the Causeway back to Malaysian soil. Apart from the lights from vehicles, the whole land was in darkness. I later found out that the National Electricity Grid, which fed Singapore too, had gone down.

Anyway, I managed to get to my parked car safely. And somehow, very carefully, managed to drive home safely. Back home, without any electricity and a deadline (tomorrow) looming, I lit some candles (ooh, how romantic!) and settled down to transcribe John Sharpley’s music.

When I handed John the manuscripts the next day, back in college, he raised his eyebrows at the sight of several wax drips on the paper, but passed no comment about that. I got paid $100, my first paid transcription job.

It would be interesting to do some research and find out what my fellow alumni (class of 1990-1992) are up to these days. I’ve lost touch with them all…but if you’re out there and you’re reading this, please do contact me here! Gillian Tan, Chok Shuk Yin, Kannie Kee, Penny Tan, Dawn Eng, Patricia Lim, Jerome Tan, Paul Liang, Jill Ng-See, etc (Of course, you won’t know me as AlyZen Moonshadow, that is my professional name…but if you read between the lines you’ll know who I am).

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I’m a Classically trained Musician, having studied Music at degree level at University. That was, oh, half a lifetime ago. And, to be honest, I have never gotten a job where my First Class (Hons) Music Degree was a requisite. Instead, I worked as a Civil Servant in the UK, and then later in the Retail Banking sector.

It was only after I met my husband, Geoff, who creates music as ElectroCelt, back in 2009, that I came back to the world of Music. Geoff had set up his studio in the conservatory of the house I was renting in Ireland, when he moved in with me. Most days he would be sitting at his computers all day creating sequences, or playing on his synthesisers or electric guitars. As for me, my involvement was as a Musical Director/Editor. I helped shape ElectroCelt’s music, giving it structure and form, phrasing, melody and harmony, and calling upon my Classical training and knowledge. It was in Shanballybaun, County Leitrim, Ireland, that ElectroCelt’s album “Strange Elements” was born, and that album had a tremendous lot of input from me.

This week, I happened to stumble upon a mention of a Remix contest run by the famous film score composer, Hans Zimmer, and Bleeding Fingers, called the “Bleeding Fingers Contest”.  Hans Zimmer had posted on the contest site 10 “stems” of music, for various instruments, and the call was for musicians to remix the tracks any way they wanted.

Calling all composers! This original theme created exclusively for this contest by Mr. Zimmer himself is yours to replay, recompose or revise to your heart’s content. Below you’ll find a link to the theme plus everything you need to get the creative juices flowing. We’re looking for originality, curveballs and adventurous amphonics. Submissions should be 90 to 120 seconds in length and should include the words “Bleeding Fingers Contest” in the title of your track.

The prize?

The opportunity of a lifetime to become a Bleeding Fingers staff composer working along-side some of Hollywood’s premier film and tv composers on Hans Zimmer’s World famous Los Angeles campus.

The prize includes the opportunity for full-time employment, including a full benefits package, plus the use of a fully equipped studio in Bleeding Fingers brand new state of the art facility. The three lucky finalists will be announced on or before March 20, 2014.

Now, I’m not terribly proficient with the workings of such DAWs like Reason, or indeed Garageband, but I know the basics of it, from having done recording, editing, cutting and pasting on them while working on ElectroCelt’s music. So, I was willing to give the contest a whirl. Why not, as some people I knew were making a whole song and dance out of it?!  Literally.  I had no inclination to start creating music from scratch, but seeing as Hans Zimmer had already kindly provided 10 tracks that I could edit to my heart’s content, why ever not? I knew how to record music from Geoff’s iRig keyboard, how to create new tracks and modify the voices of instruments, I had the basics all right there. I went for it.

The contest closes on 19th February 2014, so I have a few more days to create more tracks if I want to. But right now, I’ve done 2 tracks in Reason, and 1 in Garageband, for the sheer hell of it. Here they are, I hope you enjoy listening to them.

The first track I named “BUGLE’S LAST REFRAIN

The second track is called “CHORALE

The third track (Garageband) is titled “MELISMA“.

TO PLAY THE TRACKS, SIMPLY CLICK ON THE TITLES.  Thanks for listening! Oh, and if you can, please Vote for my tracks!

xxx

ADDENDUM 10th Feb 2014:

I’ve just added a 4th remixed track, this time the title is “ECHOES OF DESTINY“. Enjoy!

ADDENDUM 13th Feb 2014:

Here is my 5th remixed track, entitled “UTOPIAN ENCOUNTERS“.  Please vote for my tracks!

And my 6th track, (I’m on a roll lol!), titled “TRIBAL HARMONY“.  I hope you like it!

If you’ve been following my blog, you will know that I’m married to an electronic musician with the artist name of ElectroCelt. If you are unfamiliar with my backstory, here is the post http://alyzenmoonshadowdotcom.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/on-being-electrocelts-other-half-and-the-other-half-of-electrocelt/?preview=true&preview_id=63&preview_nonce=cb63273c81&post_format=standard

Towards the end of last year, Geoff (ElectroCelt) decided he would release an EP (Extended Play) album, as his fans had been demanding a physical CD rather than just digital downloads. So, he put together 5 tracks, had them mastered by Barry Woodward of Dining Room Music & Media in the UK (@barrywoodward1 on Twitter) who then sent them back electronically.  A round of research on the internet ensued, to find a company who would press a small edition of CDs, and put original artwork on cardboard sleeves, register ElectroCelt’s music and slap on a barcode, and then post everything back to us in Australia. There are dozens of companies out there who will press editions of 500, but only a handful who are happy to do a short run of 100, and who will press more on demand. We settled for Oasis (http://www.oasiscd.com) as we liked their setup and products.

I set about creating the artwork for the EP, which would carry the title “Out Of The Loop”.  For this, I used Ben Guerrette’s excellent Deco Sketch App (http://decosketch.com), and the Android App Impressionist Paint. http://www.androidpit.com/en/android/market/apps/app/com.superfiretruck.impressionistfingerpaint/Impressionist-Fingerpaint, and tied them together using the inimitable universal (iOS and Android) App PicsArt (https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/picsart-photo-studio/id587366035?mt=8) and (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.picsart.studio&hl=en). The font came from the universal App InstaQuote (https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/instaquote-add-text-captions/id551012097?mt=8) and (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.redcactus.instaquote).

Where I got stuck was in following Oasis’s instructions on how to place my artwork on their Photoshop template, (yup, still haven’t got the hang of good ole Photoshop yet LOL), so in the end I simply created files in the resolution and dimensions Oasis required, and sent them to Oasis for their in-house team to put together. It was pricier doing it that way, but because the artwork had already been done and all that needed doing was to place them in the templates correctly, we actually got a discount!

After a few initial hiccups in correspondence, and the usual Christmas and New Year blur, Oasis finally delivered the goods. Literally, on 13th January 2014.

Geoff was working up in the north of Western Australia, and he asked me to open the box. And so, after months of waiting, the Spirit was finally made Flesh! Geoff is excited as he already has more than 100 people staking their claim on the CDs, with the possibility of another short run, and I’m excited because it’s my first official CD Album Cover to make it from concept to reality! I’m resolved to doing more research and finding CD packaging companies that I can perhaps sell my cover designs to.

So, without further ado, I present to you ElectroCelt’s EP “Out Of The Loop”!

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(Sitting pretty in the box).

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(One of the 100 CDs and Oasis’s helpful literature on marketing and promoting your music).

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(Front of the cover).

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(Opened up, showing printed information on left and right inside covers, with the CD peeking out from the pocket on the right).

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(Close-up of the left inside cover).

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(Close-up of the right inside cover. Jack “ElectroKid Oz” our 11-year-old son, took the photo of Geoff playing the guitar. Thanks, Jack!).

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(Front of cover and the actual CD).

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(Back of cover and the CD. Also showing the all-important barcode!).

Don’t get me wrong. I am brilliant at multi-tasking, Motherhood taught me that many years ago. Being of the female disposition, multi-tasking is kind of built-in too.  However, I came unstuck when I wanted to record myself playing on my Tenori-On. I didn’t have a tripod to hold my Samsung Galaxy S4 to video my performance, so I figured the camera would have to be handheld. Then I realised I really needed 2 hands to trigger the different layers of the Tenori-On.  And if I was going to record the whole thing live on Garageband, I would need another pair of hands to click on the Record and Stop buttons too.

So, back to the drawing board. That’s when I decided to try the Tenori-On’s built-in Record function. And it worked beautifully, all I had to do was play my composition to record it on the Tenori-On.  Then I used Garageband on my Mac to record the song playing on the Tenori-On.  I now had a recorded song on Garageband, but no video of the song playing.  That’s when the handheld thingy came into play – I nestled my Tenori-On on my favourite turquoise velvet cushions (I just love that colour!), and loaded up the recorded song therein, and hit Record on my Galaxy S4’s video cam.

OK, so now I had a video and a recording.  That’s where I came unstuck again.  I couldn’t figure out how to load the video to iMovie in my Mac, and then the digital recording from Garageband to iMovie too.  I had intended to load the video with its sound muted, and use the sound from the Garageband recording instead.  Bugger!  So, taking the low-tech approach again, I decided to upload the video recording, complete with analogue sounds, to YouTube instead.  And, as I’d already loaded the song to iTunes from my Mac, and onto SoundCloud, I could just include a link to the SoundCloud track for those wanting a clean, digital recording.  Far from ideal, but needs must.

The title “Far And Dear” is a play on the word “foreign”, and the piece is about friends, who are faraway but dear to my heart nevertheless.  These are the friends I left behind when we moved from Ireland to Australia in 2010…many of them keep in touch via Facebook and Twitter only.  You know who you are, if you’re reading this!

The reason you don’t see me holding the Tenori-On and triggering the various buttons as the song is playing, is because this is a video of the actual recording, and not of the initial performance during the recording.  Like I said, I don’t have enough hands! :-)  Also, what you see visually is just the layer containing the theme tune, there are at least 5 other layers behind that.  You may notice that I’ve put in several visual clues – expanding or contracting circles, squares, diamonds, crosses and plus signs – these are triggered off by the sounds in the layers behind the one you see.

I hope you enjoy this song, dear friends.

http://youtu.be/ZiqfGd0eCtg

And to those who want the clean, digital version without any inadvertant ambient noise, here is the link to “Far And Dear” on my SoundCloud page:

https://soundcloud.com/alyzenmoonshadow/far-and-dear

This was my first Tenori-On piece ever. When I first got my Tenori-On I had no idea how to go about composing music on it. So I looked to YouTube for inspiration. There were numerous examples of Tenori-On music, including “official” videos from the inventor himself, Toshio Iwai. But most of the examples I watched demonstrated the Tenori-On being played live and ad-hoc. I wanted an example of a “proper” musical piece that had been programmed beforehand and then played out.

And I found it in a Tenori-On piece by Gattobus. Gattobus has several Tenori-On pieces on YouTube; he also uses the instrument in conjunction with other synthesizers. But, of all the YouTube videos I saw, one in particular stood out. It was “Dreaming” by Gattobus. (I am unable to share his link here as it seems to always revert to an “video unavailable” message, but if you search YouTube for “Gattobus Dreaming” you can watch it directly from there).

And so, armed with this inspiration, I set out to create my own Tenori-On musical style.

I wanted to be able to create pieces that had discernible patterns or themes, and to be able to play variations of those patterns. I also wanted my compositions to have distinct beginnings, developing middle sections and satisfying resolutions at the end. And all this within the constraints of 16 “blocks” with which I had at my disposal. And the piece had to be playable in one sitting, without relying on recording one composition and then layering another over it to fill up the musical layers.

That proved hard to do. So I had to think outside the box. Somehow, I had to be able to create a sense of many layers of sound, like many instruments playing their own part, but I also had to make those parts stand out on their own and not become a muddy jumble. I also devised a way of “expanding” the music by programming some layers to move at a slower or faster pace than others. This meant that even though the same block was being played twice or even four times over, to the listener it wasn’t apparent, as at each turn the different layers would all be playing a different point of their cycle, so it sounded like a variation of a theme instead. And that is why in some of my pieces you can hear some themes developing at a slower pace than others.

To further separate the many layers of sound, I used different volumes for each voice. There are also several Tenori-On voices that I like to utilise for their prolonged flanging tones, that aren’t just a flat sound, but which evolve over a period of time and thus add further interest to a piece.

Here is my “Ballade”, you can play it directly from my Soundcloud page or via Internet Explorer or whatever browser you use. I hope you enjoy listening to it!

http://soundcloud.com/alyzenmoonshadow/ballade

Posted from WordPress for Android.

http://www.alyzenmoonshadow.wix.com/alyzenmoonshadow

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