Category Archives: Recording

Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP)

In October 2011 I applied to participate in a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP). Under the mantle of Creative Learning Networks, the idea was to enhance creative learning in the (public sector) workplace – school, community etc. One spin-off would be that silos who have neither time not opportunity to communicate would have reason to come together, in the interest of learning. This very much appealed to my cross-curricular mind-set.

Under the leadership of Ruthanne Baxter – then Arts Education Officer and Manager for Creative Learning Network in East Lothian – I was paired with Caroline Mathers at the John Gray Centre in Haddington, soon to be moving into its new premises in Lodge Street. Various ideas were discussed and two projects were agreed:

  1. a short series of videos where working composers would give tips to pupils to help with the composing/arranging component of the SQA Music courses
  2. an online course in the basics of sound editing – using the free program, Audacity and aimed at oral historians

The latter idea seemed especially fitting for two reasons:

  1. the John Gray Centre is, among other things, a museum devoted to local history and community
  2. this seemed, to me, to fit the cross-sector brief

Five composers were initially scheduled to be involved in the video interviews but, due to various commitments, two were unable to take part. Nevertheless, I feel that the three videos we have will be invaluable to students of composition.

I shall post each of the two outcomes individually.

Morten Faerestrand

I was pleased to receive a Youtube friend request from a great jazz guitarist and teacher – Morten Faerestrand. In addition to great videos – nice sound good film quality – there is the option to sign up for TABS for each of the lessons – all of it FREE.

You can find Morten’s site here.

In the meantime, here are a couple of samples: [kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

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East Lothian Showcase Concert 2011

Many thanks to all who participated in the East Lothian Showcase Concert last night in Edinburgh’s Queens Hall. The pupils really enjoyed the venue and the performance. Thanks to James Leslie for the use of his video-camera tripod and to Don Ledingham for agreeing to operate the video camera:


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Bohemian Rhapsody

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Thanks to David Gilmour for making the audio recordings featured below. Perhaps pupils – especially those for whom this was the final Showcase – would like to download these mp3s as an iPod memento.

Rondo Birdland Bohemian Rhapsody

Many thanks, also, to Julia Wilson of NBHS who supplied the group with 20 clip-on tuners. Holding the tuning of 34 guitars  (204 strings) under the glare of stage lights is a nightmare and these were a great help.

Thanks, finally, to David Ryan (S6 @ Knox Academy) for agreeing to lead the group. You’ll see this particularly in Bohemian Rhapsody, where a nod helps the group navigate some severe changes of tempo and time signature.

Well done to all involved.

p.s. bereft of software to divide the original video into three separate ones, I downloaded some nifty, free software here.

Sight-reading, rhythm, recording…

Coping with the abstractions of music, when teaching, often relies on analogy to help pupils grasp otherwise elusive ideas. Consequently, you end up with a bank of ideas of all the things to which music seems comparable. However, this doesn’t often run the other way round – and, in my experience, people using music as an analogy for something else often don’t quite hit the spot.

Listening to Radio 4’s Open Book the other day, I caught an article about a new, unabridged audio book version of George Eliot‘s Middlemarch. At nearly 36 hours on 28 CDs, recording this 800-page novel is a gargantuan task. The reader, Juliet Stevenson, completed it in 12 days – a feat of which many musical recording artists would be extremely proud. She talks here about the many features involved – notably rhythm (of character and also of writer), inhabiting character, and coping with paragraph-long sentences – scroll forward to 19′ 20”

p.s. if this doesn’t seem like a big deal, why not try recording yourself reading a few paragraphs?

Knox Academy Christmas Concert

The snow continues leave its white print on school and community life. The original plan for today was to have an afternoon concert (for P7 pupils along with family/friends of performers who couldn’t make the evening event) and the traditional evening concert. Weather and transport difficulties meant that we had to make do with only the former. Nevertheless, the pupils turned in commendable performances.

I left my Zoom H2 in the capable hands of Mr. eduBuzz – David Gilmour – who was seated at the back of the hall – already engaged in making a recording, in the hope that some of these performances may soon be able to reach those for whom they were originally intended. He recorded the two pieces played by the Knox Academy Guitar Group. On reflection, I think the distance was too far, as the rustling of nearby programmes seems to rival the volume of the distant group. Still, I feel that they played very well on the day, despite the pressure of lost rehearsal time.

Walking In The Air features the full group (18 members – normally 19 but one was ill today). Maria de Buenos Aires features 6 senior players (S4 – S6) along with one courageous S1 player!

p.s. David has been in touch to provide links to the recordings he made (see “Comments” below)

NBHS Christmas Concert(s)

Try as it might, the snow did not manage to disrupt this year’s NBHS Christmas Concerts on Mon 13 & Tue 14 Dec. We lost rehearsal time during the week of blanket closures. Even when pupils returned, not all could get in and some of those relying on buses missed another rehearsal. However, thanks to a bit of give and take between schools, some replacement rehearsal time was found and the Guitar Ensemble turned in two of their best performances to date. I was particularly pleased with the sensitive phrasing in the Sicilienne by Paradis – not for the want of my droning on about this topic, I can assure you – still, worth it in the end – I hope you agree.

Sicilienne Merry Christmas Everybody

Ideas are one thing and what happens another (John Cage 1912-92)

I must be getting younger and here’s what draws me to this unlikely conclusion. Have you ever had the experience where, relating an event and estimating its vintage, you discover that it took place, say, eleven years ago and not five? Does the tempo of life’s passing seem to hit home at such moments? Well, this morning I had the opposite experience. I heard that today marks the five-year anniversary of the official launch of YouTube – the Beta version having emerged some seven months earlier. I couldn’t believe it! Youtube – the third most visited website, after Google and Facebook – seems to have been part of my life for longer than I can remember. I can recall who first told me about Google and Facebook, but I don’t recall being led to YouTube – it just seemed always to be there.

What better way to mark this occasion than to stumble upon (if our networked world still permits such electronic happenstance) a video of the recording of a version of John Cage‘s 4′ 33′ by Cage Against The Machine (CATM). I’ll let The Guardian explain the provenance.

This much misunderstood and maligned piece is thought to be about silence – and only that. However, Cage’s intention was to allow listeners the time and space to notice and enjoy life’s everyday sounds, which we often take for granted, undervalue and ignore.

This film has some nice touches: introductory remarks to the musicians; performances phoned in by artists not available on the day of recording (4:00 into film); a variety of responses to the situation – some having fun, others perhaps a little self-conscious and some looking reflective/reverential. I’m no authority, but I suspect that John Cage would have been happy at recent events and would have smiled at those in the film, smiling and swaying, arm in arm and in time.[kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

p.s. Re the title of this post – have a look at the story of CATM (the text on grey background) here.