There’s a glockenspiel on my coffee table…

… a freakin’ glockenspiel!

(It’s actually Alex’s).

There is also the score for the glockenspiel part of the next Sonic Triangle song, sitting there inviting me to practise it. Just when I’d finally got used to having the keyboard, viola, tin whistle, bamboo flute and stylophone here. (This is actually the first time we’re using a real acoustic instrument in one of our songs. Previously everything was either keyboard, drum synth on the computer, or vocals. Plus a few weird sound effects such as me impersonating a station announcer, and Heather and me screaming on Oblivion at Alton Towers).

I can probably say goodbye to getting anything useful done at the flat as long as this situation persists. I’m supposed to be working from home today but c’mon… this is like shutting an eight year old in a room with a bouncy castle in one corner and a fully functioning chocolate making machine in the other and expecting them to get on with their homework unsupervised. By the time I’ve finished hammering out the tuned percussion parts from every song I can think of, there won’t be much time left for programming.

It’s also reminded me that I always wanted a set of tubular bells to play with, not just because I love the album of that name but also for the sheer coolness. I’m guessing they’d be expensive though. Especially if you take into account having to find somewhere else to live after I get evicted for disturbing the neighbours.

Sonic Triangle: how it’s done

What better way to inaugurate this new blog than with a post about how our band records our music? (Well actually, there are probably lots of better ways… but this is my blog so I’m just going to do whatever the hell I like 😉 )

We’ve done 8 songs and a video so far. In the video you get to see my flat, my office and most of my drive to work as well as some random locations around Edinburgh. We’re a bit of an unusual band. It’s difficult to say what our style is or who we’re similar to, so draw your own conclusions. For those who are interested, the music (apart from the drums and vocals) is all played on one of these:

…my faithful Casio WK-3000. Considering Casio isn’t exactly a renowned synth company I’ve been continually amazed at how nice it is. The sound quality and number of features are excellent, far better than I expected when I bought it. With touch-sensitive keys and a proper sustain pedal plugged in it even works as a decent portable piano. The one drawback of that is that the keys aren’t very weighty compared to a proper piano’s, but you can’t have everything.

There are typically up to around 10 keyboard tracks per song. We record them one at a time in high resolution using an external SoundBlaster box connected to my laptop and a free program called Audacity (though currently switching to Goldwave instead due to Audacity’s infuriating tendency to crash suddenly right at the end of a good take of something long and difficult). Then Alex fiddles with them and mixes them using Magix studio (I think… or maybe he’s switched to a Sony studio now), imports the drum track which is done in a program called iDrum, and mixes in the vocals. None of the software or hardware we use is particularly expensive but we’re pretty happy with the results. (Mostly… the bass lines could be better. The keyboard bass voices aren’t its strongest point. Maybe we’ll find a way to improve on them).

We’ve never played live yet. It would be a bit of a challenge but I’d really like to. Alex has recently bought himself one of these:

which I’ve had a play with and I reckon we could do passable live versions of some tracks with the 2 keyboards. He has a glockenspiel now as well, but that isn’t used in any of the tracks so far… those are all-electronic apart from the vocals.

(My own taste in music is pretty much as weird as the band’s style. I expect I’ll say more about that in future posts).