Performance day

Set up in the Playhouse

Set up in the Playhouse

Wow, what a buzz! Despite some last minute preparations and a rush to the finish line, the Music by Degrees group as a whole brought everything together beautifully – a very smooth operation from beginning to end, and some truly inspired performances. All groups went well beyond what was required of them to bring about a final production that was eminently worthy – we can all be quite proud of what we have achieved.

Last minute preparations

Last minute preparations

To our credit, our soundscape group pulled off the performance magnificently – the weeks of preparation for this performance certainly paid off. Alex and Ben did some sublime work with their audio samples up front of stage, Blaise held down some tasty grooves and licks, and Tom and myself had some great interplay between parts, synchronising beautifully for the key change into A minor and then back to C#. It was very, very good, I couldn’t fault the performance at all – the acoustics of the Performance Space at UWS probably had a great deal to do with the openness and subtlety of the performance.

Blaise getting ready

Blaise getting ready

The entire show was recorded for the UWS broadcast unit TVS, and will be used in promotion of the Bachelor of Music for the university, so I’m keen to see how everything panned out – being backstage for almost all of the production, I hardly saw any of it, but it certainly sounded great!

This will be my last post for this category, but I look forward to posting more news on my university studies, and sound and video experiments in the future… stay tuned.

The Music by Degrees team

The Music by Degrees team

Recording the soundscape

A quick entry, only because I have so much work to complete this week: as well as the final preparations for this project, to be performed on Thursday(!), I also need to submit a ‘Statement of Intent’ for honours next year, which is proving more difficult than I thought – try to distil your entire reason for playing music for the last thirty years and how you intend to incorporate this into an intense final year of study in 1000 words, and you’ll see what I mean!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe group as a whole decided we would need for our final portfolio presentation a recording, as a document of our process this far. I booked the small studio at UWS for Thursday, and though several of us arrived early, we were beset by technical issues for most of the morning; by the time we were actually ready to record, it was about 11.30am and as there was another group following us, we had to get the soundscape right first take. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFortunately, I believe we largely pulled it off – apart from the occasional suspect gesture (keeping in mind this is a soundscape, so there are no ‘bum’ notes as such) it hung together fairly well. Again, I believe we’ve pulled better versions in rehearsal, but we’ve had to make do with what we have. I mixed the recording the following night, taking care to  clean up the studio sound (there was much spill through the piano and percussion microphones) and I think the soundscape came up fairly well – although there’s an elements of hit and miss, there are certainly sublime sections which I find are not dissimilar to some of Eno‘s early ambient work and some references to Pink Floyd, no doubt from the slide techniques I’ve been using. You can listen to it here:


The guys in the band  - from L-R, Blaise Parnell, myself, Tom Hodson, Ben Turner, Alex Salazar.

The guys in the band – from L-R, Blaise Parnell, myself, Tom Hodson, Ben Turner, Alex Salazar.

It’s been an interesting ride, but I’m exhausted: I’m also designing the program for Music by Degrees, which has taken up much of today to put together and design. It looks great, but I need to get on with other assignments, and especially need to finish this Statement of Intent which is due in on Tuesday. At least we now have an interesting document of this entire experience, rambling and chaotic though it’s been at times, and I’m quietly proud of our little group – not a bad bunch of fellas either. 😉

Music by Degrees – the brand

Here’s the idea I’ve had in mind for a while, as a possible brand for the project, which I’ve submitted to the group as a whole:

music_by_degrees_brandYes, there’s a bit of a visual pun going on here, but it’s a not a bad one – the temperature analogy suits the progression of events (from novice students entering at the ‘cool’ end of the spectrum, to experienced students departing at the ‘hot’ end) and as we’re leading into a hot summer here anyway, it would appear to be appropriate. Visually it works too, I can see this easily working as possible projections in between performances. As yet, I’ve only heard from a few fellow students, but feedback so far is positive.

I’m hoping we get consensus on this soon, as we’re performing in a little over a week: rehearsals start this coming Friday, so we need to get cracking!

Presentation day

At last the day arrives – a relief to have the presentation finally out of the way, and thankfully well documented, though the proof will be in our final performance on October 17, barely two weeks away: time is flying before our eyes…

The 'final' score - for now.

The ‘final’ score – for now.

After a couple of run throughs in a final rehearsal this morning, the soundscape appears have taken form, and in referring to a ‘final’ version of the score (updated by Alex to reflect last minute changes, see above), we were ready to go. There was some discussion following run throughs between Tom, Alex and myself over some details of structure, which was followed by an impromptu improvisation, purely for enjoyments sake – I believe we were getting such a kick out of the sounds we were generating that we just needed to keep going!

The performance in itself was perhaps a slight letdown, as I believe we had performed better versions in rehearsal: nonetheless, it was still entirely capable and well received. I made a minor blunder in forgetting to locate my guitar slide beforehand, ensuing in a unsuccessful rummage through my backpack mid-performance (not a good look) but in any case, no-one appeared to notice and I carried on the performance regardless, albeit in a somewhat modified fashion.

We will reconvene next week and decide what aspects need tightening up, and in the meantime I’ve devised some graphics for the overall project, which I’ve run past the larger group as a whole – rehearsals for the entire project begin next week, so we need to get things happening pretty fast. Music By Degrees is underway… to some degree at least!

A demo of todays recording below: