Saturday, November 14

KatzenSteeler is a tribute to Katzenjammer and Dr. Steel. Basically, it's a medley of "Overture" (Katzenjammer), "Old Grey Cat" (trad.), and "Slapped by Moe" (Dr. Steel), with a pinch of "Finnish Polka" (trad.) and "Bogeyman Boogie" (Dr. Steel).

Lazy, lazy, lazy. It's been more than three years since I'd envisioned this musical project, and I didn't even complete the score until November 8, 2015. Here it is, anyway, in six parts:

  1. KatzenSteeler, Part 1
  2. KatzenSteeler, Part 2
  3. KatzenSteeler, Part 3
  4. KatzenSteeler, Part 4
  5. KatzenSteeler, Part 5
  6. KatzenSteeler, Part 6
This is also an experimental overdub, which I've never done to any great extent, in which I play every instrument. The instruments, roughly in order, are: Chemnitzer concertina, Moog theremin, duck call, kaval, party whistle, keyless chromatic Irish flute, English concertina, marimba, log drum, didgeridoo, and Star Trek (TOS) toys. Here is the arsenal:

More to come, hopefully, as I get off my ass.

In the meantime, here are some pictures that I also took over three years ago:

Sunday, November 22

The Chemnitzer concertina parts are all recorded. This is the most challenging instrument to play, since the button arrangement makes no sense to me (compared to the English concertina, for example). Nonetheless, it has a wheezy, grotty, antique sound that makes for a good bass line. For certain parts, I'm adopting more of a staccato approach, which makes it easier for me to record shorter passages and stitch them together for repeats.

[FYI, the Chemnitzer concertina is indeed an antique: Star serial #410, made in 1935.]

I've also recorded the "coach" track for the theremin, which will help me find my pitch as I play it. For this, I use the English concertina, since it's a favored instrument with a wider range of notes than the flute.

Monday, November 23

The first theremin part is complete: two more to go. It didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped, but this is not an instrument I play very often. Like the Chemnitzer concertina, it spends most of its time in storage. However, I do like to break it out once a year for Halloween.

Wednesday, November 25

The second theremin part is complete, but the third and final part is not turning out at all well. I'll give it a rest for tonight. I've also spent some time practicing my 4-mallet marimba tremelo, but it's still too slow and uneven. I'll keep on it.

Friday, November 27

The third and final theremin part is complete: not to my complete satisfaction, but as good as it's going to get. I may move it into the background and play flute over it.

The kaval, duck call, and party whistle parts are also complete. Practice continues on the remaining parts. I hope to start recording the English concertina soon.

Sunday, November 29

I recorded a few flute parts today, and nothing at all yesterday. So much for the big weekend.

Tuesday, December 1

Flute parts are finished. Using it at the end of the song didn't work out, so I'll need to do some more thinking about that. In the meantime, I've started on the easier marimba parts. While working on part 5, I spotted an error in the score, and fixed that.

Wednesday, December 2

English concertina and marimba parts are complete except for the "Old Grey Cat" parts, which are the most difficult and will require more practice beforehand. The drum part is complete, although I may yet start the piece with a drum roll.

Thursday, December 3

Didgeridoo and Star Trek toys are done.

Sunday, December 13

Recording is finally complete. Although "Old Grey Cat" runs right off the flute at full speed, I ended up having to cheat and record the concertina and marimba parts at half speed. An opening drum roll was also recorded, but I didn't like the sound, so I dropped it.

The piece still needs some processing, but at least I have all the raw material now.

Saturday, December 19

The final mix is complete. I could have applied some compression to the percussion to allow more volume, and some reverb to fill the piece out a bit, and maybe tried to EQ out the button clicks from the Chemnitzer concertina, but decided not to bother. It hasn't turned out as well as I'd originally imagined, but it was a good exercise anyway.

YouTube's help recommends using iMovie to add an image to the audio, but iMovie 10.1 is absolutely unusable! Obviously the instructions are ancient and don't match the current version. Fortunately, I discover that you can easily make a slideshow with music in iPhoto, and life is good again.

Here's the link: https://youtu.be/TDD_I3ps1io

Yeah, I know: don't give up my day job.

[BTW, this is also meant to be a propaganda piece for Toy Soldiers Unite.]

December 19, 2015

The Circular File