Wednesday in Santa Fe

02010-03-11 | Music | 10 comments

Spent a while chasing down a strange sound I heard on the guitar track. Sounded like a brief electric hum of some sort. Turned out to be a bizarre string buzz on a certain note-combination.

In the evening I listened to several mixes via the Weiss D/A and my Stax headphones and was in heaven. We have captured an amazing sound. Decided that while I will use my usual compression – the same I have used since “La Semana” – on the CD, the HD version will be uncompressed.

That is part of a chorus, the last three of four repetitions. As you can tell, if you compare it to this rehearsal version, I changed the melody so that instead of simply repeating four times, the melody has a different ending on the second and four time. Yesterday I added a little hook you can hear on the left side, coming in for the third and fourth repetition, to further vary the chorus.

By the way, you might notice that the snare sounds different than on the other recordings. For this track Michael removed the dampening ring that normally lies on the snare, which allows the drum to ring louder and longer. It’s a more traditional R&B sound, which works very well here. Also, I played this on the Blanca guitar.

Nation Shudders At Large Block Of Uninterrupted Text – The Onion
Dumbfounded citizens from Maine to California gazed helplessly at the frightening chunk of print, unsure of what to do next. Without an illustration, chart, or embedded YouTube video to ease them in, millions were frozen in place, terrified by the sight of one long, unbroken string of English words.

The Mister K font – more on this here, in German – uses the unique cursive writing style of Franz Kafka. It brings up an interesting art discussion for me. If we can make a computer write like a human, if we can make a guitar, via a midi-pickup, sound like a flute, if we can make a trombone, with distortion, sound like an electric guitar… should we? I mean, what’s interesting about playing piano with a guitar – I personally can’t stand it when Robert Fripp plays piano via the midi-pickup on his guitar. Sampled pianos still sound like, well, sampled pianos. If one wants to play piano badly enough one should learn how to play the piano.

That is different from, say, playing the guitar in the style of a piano. Or, playing bird-calls on the guitar, or anything that widens the vocabulary of the instrument. This I find interesting.

(((I like handwriting and have re-learned how to write cursive script over the last month, using some of my father’s beautiful handwriting as a guide.)))

What do you think?


  1. Matt Callahan

    I never cared for the look of my own cursive writing and stopped as soon as soon as the teachers permitted it (say around seventh grade). I’ve written in my own form of all capitals since then. I think the biggest problem I had with cursive was the fact that everyone’s writing had to look the same. Teaching methods allowed no room for an individual style while staying within the boundaries of recognition (A T didn’t look like an F).

    My youngest daughter wants to learn to write in cursive but it’s not yet part of the curriculum. She practices at home and will ask me for help from time to time. I have to really rack my brain to remember how the letters are formed.

  2. Thomas Faes

    Piano on guitar is dull, yes. Purity should be the way. I think our organic system yearns for that. Sublime music (Italian 17th century music does that for me the most) can be like medicine, that brings clarity to the chaotic minds of the listeners today.

    In 21 century we should work deeper into, and with, the fabric of the pure elements we can find, than mash everything up in the name of a, often overrated, artistic phantasy.

  3. Brenda

    Yes, an amazing trio of music to our ears… Conversations and sharing about cursive writing makes me remember learning to write cursive in grade school and finally the permission to use a fountain pen at school at the age of 13 and also homework. Little blue catridges of ink, that somehow would always run out of ink, but I loved always puting in a new catridge and the wait for the ink to begin to flow to begin again. I would love to have my handwriting of age 13 again, it is long gone after many years of handwritten dispatch instructions, notes, letters,signing payroll checks, etc . but in the last few years, I have chosen to slow down in making my cursive letters again, after my mother questioned my signature. Thank you for helping me to remember. Yumi’s writing is so beautiful and thank you for sharing your father’s precise penmanship.

  4. Gerry

    ‘Decided that while I will use my usual compression – the same I have used since “La Semana” – on the CD, the HD version will be uncompressed.’
    Can I ask – what is your usual compression? I would bet that it’s not one of the presets. I’m using pro tools Le and compression is the one thing that I find most difficult to use (tastefully).

  5. Ottmar

    No, it’s not a preset. It’s also nowhere near as much compression as most recordings are nowadays subjected to. One has to very careful, because the nylon-stringed guitar is very sensitive to compression. (((Years ago I played a solo on a Celine Dion album and the guitar sound became absolutely horrific after the producers applied their usual mega-compression to the music.))) You will notice that the attack becomes sharp and unpleasant. Just twiddle the knobs until you hear something you like. Push it too far, so you can back off into more pleasant territory. I’ll note some of my settings later and will add to this comment.

  6. Brenda

    Which Celine Dion album? You know, I was listening to one of her songs just two days ago , I thought, I wonder if that is Ottmar….

  7. Carol

    If it sounds like Ottmar, it’s Ottmar..

  8. Gerry

    Thanks for the advice Ottmar, your guitar is always beautifully recorded. I’ll try out your suggestion next week.

  9. Adam Solomon

    The blanca/negra difference is really clear between this and the older version in the linked post. This sounds a lot better, guitar-wise. I guess part of the difference is that this mix is louder, but the tone of the guitar is really noticeably brighter here, it fits the song very well.


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