I have been recording nearly every day this week. Since Wednesday I recorded three new pieces. One new piece each afternoon. It’s a walk to the frontier, to the fog that obscures the mountain. I thought these pieces would take me into foreign territory but they feel truthful, right and beautiful. Prepared guitar, half-speed guitar, anything I can think of. Having a ball. The high of the flow. 

Rain Music Notes

After spending a couple of hours recording, and feeling that I wasn’t getting anywhere, I took a break and wove a small piece of cloth through the strings of the guitar, over, under, over, etc.

Prepared guitar. The cloth muted the sound in a very interesting and organic way and within half an hour I had a new piece recorded, using a rain rhythm I had created last year. Jon wrote that it reminded him of the Opium album recordings. I’ll take that. My partner says it’s her new favorite.

Lesson: sometimes a small change of sound can inspire something new.

I also learned that with the relatively close mic position – about a foot distance – I have always preferred I don’t have to worry so much about background noises. I even started using the trusty Neumann M149 a while ago. It picks up more ambient sound than the laser-focused Earthworks mic but it’s fine. Classical guitarists usually record with the microphone several feet away and that, I’m sure, would be problematic.

Getting Closer

I realized that I have recorded 12 pieces for the new album. Over 40m of music.

Title might be: Rain Poems

Poems don’t have to be words. I have had food that was a poem, seen images and paintings that were poems. I couldn’t tell you what makes one painting a poem while another won’t be. 

Discovered a tip. Make a verse too long and see whether you can fill it with something interesting. When a verse is long one is pushed to try different things, maybe new things. One melody won’t do… there have to be other elements, more elements. The easy solution would be to make the verses shorter. More interesting was to rise to the length. Have been listening to the result many times now. Feels good. 

I should make a list of tips for recording. Can think of several right off the bat. 


I saw this new offering from Ableton: SPAT

Use SPAT’s audio localization technology to transform your mixes into binaural and transaural soundscapes. Create realistic-sounding spaces for your sounds to inhabit, or experiment endlessly with advanced panning algorithms and convincing psychoacoustic parameters.

SPAT Stereo | Ableton

On their website they have a couple of impressive examples of mixing with SPAT – always seems like the past tense of spit to me – India Song and En Mis Recuerdos. Have a listen! The sound stage is pretty amazing, especially on headphones. To me it sounds more immersive than my experience with Dolby Atmos on headphones. 

The SPAT software was developed at IRCAM, the famous French institute dedicated to the research of music and sound.

While I sometimes use Ableton Live I don’t ever mix with it, so I looked for a SPAT plugin for ProTools, which is my platform of choice. I found a website called Flux Audio that offered such a plugin. SPAT Revolution Essential looks like it could work for me. Have you had any experience with either the Ableton pack by Music Unit or the plugin by Flux?

I see there is a thirty day trial offer. That’s what I should do. 

Let me know if you have a bad reaction to the two song examples I linked to above. Some humans can’t stand Noise-Cancelling headphones, for example, and these convincing psychoacoustic sound spaces are no less head-tripping algorithms than noise-cancellation is.

I am listening to En Mis Recuerdos again in the morning, with fresh ears. I remember how awful some of the earliest algorithmic processes sounded. At least, I assume that’s what they were. Those buttons on a Sony boom box with a cassette player that would say Space or some such. Late Eighties, early Nineties, if I remember correctly. Sounded truly awful. This SPAT sounds different, much more interesting. 

Lost in Ear Space

Yesterday I recorded rhythm guitars for a piece that I had been thinking about for a long time. It took me a while to figure out how to play the rhythm for the first bar of the chorus melody, which has an extra beat in it. The piece is in 4/4, except for the beginning of that melody, which is 5/4. Turned out well, I thought. Today I started recording a guitar melody for the piece. Didn’t love the tone of the guitar and began moving the mic into different positions to find a natural solution to the problem. Always better when one can create the desired sound with the mic itself instead of using lots of EQ settings. Took a while but found a great sound. (I have the Negra here in Lisbon and I had not yet found the right sound for a melody with the that guitar.)

There was a notification on my phone and I pulled the IEMs out of my ears, to take a break and read the message. Perhaps I wasn’t paying enough attention, or maybe I didn’t grab them at the best angle, or maybe the tips weren’t held tight enough on the earphones, but one silicone ear tip stayed in my ear. Bummer. What to do? I could go to the emergency room and wait for a medical person to pull it out. Safe option but time consuming. I could try to pull it out myself. My fingers were too big to get a grip on the little thing. I didn’t want to try for too long because I worried the tip could slide deeper into the ear canal. I could ask someone to look at my ear but here I don’t know anyone well enough to do that.

So I went to a pharmacy in the neighborhood and bought a pair of tweezers. Didn’t bring my own this time because I didn’t fly with a suitcase.

Sat on the sofa and stabilized my hands by putting the elbows on my thighs. Started gingerly moving the tweezers into my ear. There that’s it. No, ouch, that was a hair. A few tries later I got the damn thing out. I guess I’ll try the foam tips next time.

HuHeartDrive Mobile

Did some work on a new piece this morning. This is the HuHeartDrive Mobile in situ in Lisbon. The Genelec are powered monitors I bought in the mid Nineties. Carried them here in a suitcase a year ago. I use them to play music in the apartment, normally plugging them straight into the computer. In this case they are plugged into the headphone output of the MixPre6. The second screen, on the left, is my iPad and it’s attached to a foldable magnetic stand by a company called Lululook. I carried the stand in my carryon bag. Left of the laptop are the MixPre6 and the Euclid IEMs, to the right is a vertical Bluetooth mouse by Logitech.