Rain Poems

Fine-tuning the mixes. Listening, making notes, making small changes, listening some more. Switching between a couple of different speaker pairs and a few headphones. Oh, this is fun!

SPAT again

A few months ago I looked into audio localization software for binaural and transaural mixing. I downloaded two different solutions and ended up not trialing neither because I started recording again and when the muses visit you must not stop and you must not interrupt them. You do as they say and you say please and thank you. 

When I received an email from Flux this week, about their 50% off sale, I took it as a sign and bought the SPAT Revolution Essential software for $199. 

Once I am happy with the stereo mixes for the 18 tracks of Rain Poems, I shall begin to experiment with SPAT. 

The summer promo of 50% off continues until Monday.

Rain Poems – update

I think the recording has been wrapped up. More of Jon’s bass tracks arrived via the cloud. The next step will be mixing and more mixing. Perhaps several singles… I enjoy creating covers for individual pieces of music and the concept of singles will let me present different versions of a track. 

I am so happy with this album! Really, I am thrilled. I put together a new studio in a backpack and figured out how to record high quality sound outside of a traditional studio. I learned a lot. This will open all sorts of new possibilities for the future. I enjoyed the the playful place I was able to occupy. So many cool guitar sounds, using a sponge and pieces of paper and cloth to prepare the guitar. My head is already humming with ideas for the next album…

I will have a little under two weeks to concentrate on mixing after returning from my retreat and before leaving to play duets with Jon. Then another week before playing in Seattle and Denver with the trio, and more than three weeks from the end of that run until the east coast tour starts on 11 October. During all of that time new singles will appear on Backstage. 

In November I will be in Japan for several weeks. I will walk around a mountain on an ancient trail and will experience a few places I never visited but always wanted to. Then a little time off in December before we start it all up again with a run in Texas in January, followed by our traditional three week tour in California in February. 

Does it fit…

I had this idea for a guitar rhythm the other night, a swinging arpeggio played with the sponge under the strings, and recorded it right away. The next morning I listened and came up with a guitar melody I liked. As I listened to the piece, I wondered where that melody came from. I played the melody with my thumb and I think playing that way made it feel more like something I might play on an electric guitar. The first guitar rhythm was played with a lot of swing so this morning I played a second line that didn’t swing at all. The combination of those two rhythms created a beautiful forward movement. But what is this, I wondered (out of habit?)… It doesn’t matter WHAT it is, I told myself. I love the feel of it, my head keeps nodding to it, and I keep playing it on repeat. What more do I want?! I am out of the streaming music game and don’t need to fit into a genre. Now less than ever. LOL. Next came some chords, plucked softly and only on the two and four, like a backbeat. Then I found a bit of rain that fit the tempo and feel… How can rain drops be so funky? LoFi Flamenco guitar? Does it fit? Yes, it does. Hm, and what will Jon do with this one??? 

El Sponge Oud

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My guitar with a piece of sponge underneath the strings. The sponge shortens the sound and renders it almost oud-like. Hence the title of this post, the name a friend gave a track I recorded with it. (is the Oud masculine in Spanish??)

This last phase of recording Rain Poems has been about altering the guitar sound a little bit. Prepared guitar. Making the sound a little less pristine, less clear, less of that singing quality, and with more fuzz, a more percussive sound. Home-made wine. Moonshine. Kitchen food, not restaurant food. I used a cloth, woven through the strings and this sponge. I used a piece of paper, woven through the strings, on an album a few years ago. I bet nobody recognized it as a guitar sound. 😁

I often like limiting my palette because I have found that a small palette can inspire new ideas within those borders. There is so much one can discover through working with only a pencil. I suppose this is akin to having a tradition that limits what one is allowed to do. I don’t follow a tradition but perhaps I am creating my own for each album? There is an enormous difference between being told what we can and can’t do and choosing to draw our own lines within which we choose to work. 

I have arrived at a point where I no longer want to use an electric guitar, or even a steel string guitar. I also  haven’t used a synthesizer in a long time. I may use other instruments at some future time but right now I am loving everything about the Flamenco guitar. And, to be clear, by that I mean the instrument, not the tradition. 


My black back of guitar stuff always contains glue and acrylic powder, nail silks, strings and a wire cutter, an assortment of files, an extra saddle, IEMs, and a green piece of foam that was cut to a little longer than the width of the strings and about an inch wide. I have used the foam, shoved under the guitar strings, to practice in hotel rooms late at night as it dampens the strings nicely. 

Yesterday I put the foam under the strings and right up against the bridge. This created a short, slightly percussive and mellow sound. Rest strokes didn’t sound great but free strokes sounded quite evocative of an oud. And so another piece was born. Now up to 16 tracks and about 55 minutes of music. A lot of great guitar sounds. 

I am happy to report that my ears have been fine although I have been using IEMs, with foam tips, every day for more than an hour at a time. I am wondering whether the silicone tips I was using for a while were the cause of my allergy/infection. 

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