Tag Archive: Music

Altered RPMs


This conversation started on Facebook, and the results were entertaining enough that I thought I would summarize it here. If you’ve already read it and commented there, then just skip this post.

It all started when a friend directed me to a site that had a slowed down version of Dolly Parton’s hit “Jolene.” It was as if someone had taken the 45 single and played it at 33 1/3 RPMs on a turntable. The result was a slow, haunting version that sounds amazing.

I reposted this on my Facebook timeline and got lots of comments. One commenter doubted the veracity of the record, and thought that it had been faked. I suggested taking the original audio file and importing it into Audacity, then slowing it down by 27% digitally. Rather than wait, I decided to do it myself. (more…)

Retirement Playlist


So, tomorrow (Thursday) is my last day in Spartanburg Five. It’s been a long, strange trip, and it’s weird to think that this part of my career is over. It seems only fitting that I go out with an appropriate playlist.

But what to include? I think I’ll skip the obvious “Take this Job and Shove It”. I go in for more subtlety. Eclectic, but subtle. Jimmy Buffett’s “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” will definitely make the list. Modest Mouse’s “Float On” will also be there. I think tops will be this song by the Talking Heads…

“Take Me to the River” will also make the list. Devo’s “Working in a Coal Mine” is one of the more obvious selections.

I’ve got 179 songs on my playlist as it is – far more than the few hours I’ll actually be at work tomorrow. It was surprisingly easy to find songs from my extensive library. Songs about new beginnings and open roads are good selections. Surprisingly, break up songs tend to work well, too. I’d post the entire list here, but it might take up too much space.

So, what do you think? What would make a good retirement song? Perhaps this one will sum it up best…

Music for the Soul


Chamber Ensemble rehearsal

Today the Greenville Chorale Chamber Ensemble presents its winter concert at Furman’s Daniel Chapel. The program is entitled “Music for the Soul”, and the music was chosen to be both soothing and uplifting.

We start the concert with Gabriel Faure’s Requiem as the major work on the piece. I’ve performed this piece several times, and always enjoy it. We follow that with Mealor’s Ubi Caritas, which was written for the recent Royal Wedding, then a setting of O Sacrum Convivium by Dan Locklair. Next up are arrangements of two hymns, My Shepherd Will Supply My Need and Nearer My God to Thee.

The next piece is The Rune of Hospitality, and unusual piece by Alf Houkom that starts sounding like it has a secular text, but ends with a sacred message. That’s followed my Morten Lauridsen’s Sure On This Shining Night, which is a soaring, fabulous piece of music. We end the concert with the King’s Singers’ You Are the New Day, followed by a silly arrangement of The William Tell Overture, and we close with our signature tune, I Have Had Singing by Steven Sametz. It should be a good concert for a cold winter day.

For this concert I’ve been entrusted with making a recording. Every year we do a professional recording, but we wind up using the recordings I always do as a backup. This year they just decided to go with mine. No pressure there at all. Over the past two rehearsals I’ve been experimenting with placement and settings, and I think I’ve got it worked out. I’ll use two portable recorders placed up front, mostly toward the middle of the chapel. I’ll combine the output from both recorders for the final product so that I get a good balance. Here’s a taste of Monday night’s rehearsal recording of You Are the New Day…

Check this out on Chirbit

I also had my GoPro going during rehearsal. We first wanted to try to get Bing to wear it on his head…

Tom Taylor

…but he wouldn’t go for it. Instead, I set the camera up on a tripod and did a time lapse. Here it is set to a sped-up version of the William Tell Overture…

And of course, this being our winter concert, there is always a chance of inclement weather. It’s gotten to be a joke. There is always a threat of sleet, ice, or something on our concert. This year it snowed…


But, today the sun is out, the snow is mostly gone, and it should be a great day for a concert. We hope to have a full house.

Marching Band Season


Furman Football

As my friend Duck Hunter pointed out on his blog, not only is it football season, but it’s also marching band season. The Furman Band has really been sounding good the last several years, and this year continues this trend.

Of course, we’ve taken more interest in the band the past several years since the son and daughter of our friends Alan and Mary have been in the band. Joshua graduated last year, but Caitlin still has a couple of years to go. So, we’ve been following the band’s repertoire closer than usual. (more…)

Beethoven’s Ninth Video


Videographer Valdas Katovas recorded our spring concert, a performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Greenville Symphony Orchestra and Greenville Chorale. This video is the entire fourth movement.

You can occasionally see me on the front row of the Chorale, next to the tympani and behind the trombones.

Beethoven No 9 from Valdas Kotovas on Vimeo.

O Freunde, nicht diese Töne


To Joy

Joy, thou beauteous godly lighting,
Daughter of Elysium,
Fire drunken we are ent’ring
Heavenly, thy holy home!

Thy enchantments bind together,
What did custom stern divide;
Every man becomes a brother,
Where thy gentle wings abide.

Be embrac’d, ye millions yonder!
Take this kiss throughout the world!
Brothers—o’er the stars unfurl’d
Must reside a loving father.

–Friedrich Schiller, 1786

Last night the Greenville Chorale joined forces with the Greenville Symphony Orchestra for a performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.  The 9th is one of my favorite pieces, and I’ve had the privilege to perform it once before.  Last night’s performance, though was one of the most stirring I’ve ever experienced.

For the Chorale, the piece came together fairly quickly.  Many of us were familiar with the music, but also the chorus doesn’t sing that much in the concert.  We’re only there for the last half of the last movement of the piece – about 20 minutes worth. Bing Vick often let us out of rehearsals early, which was a nice change of pace.

However, that is a VERY challenging 20 minutes.  First there is the range.  The piece is written at the extreme upper vocal range for all parts.  I can’t think of another piece that has the basses singing a high F as many times and as long as this one does.  Then there was the tempo set by Maestro Tchivzhel – fast, then blindingly fast.  We had to squeeze a mouthful of German syllables into such a fast pace that I don’t think any of us got all of the words correct, even in the final performance.  Oh, yeah, they had to be on the right pitches and at the right dynamic, too.  It was a bear. (more…)

She Blinded Me with Science


Thomas Dolby

Last night Laura and I went to see Thomas Dolby at The Handlebar. It was the first band we had seen in a long, long time – a great show, and a throwback to our college days.

Dolby is currently touring the country in his “Time Capsule Tour.” The show features lots of steam-punk kitsch, and a mocked up “time capsule” in which visitors can leave a “30 second message for the future” (basically a webcam uploading to YouTube.) The time capsule is a mini camper tricked out with steam-punk accoutrements.

TD Time Capsule

Thomas Dolby at Handlebar


Sacred Music for a Sacred Space


St George from Choir Loft

Sunday afternoon the Greenville Chorale Chamber Ensemble presented its annual concert at St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral. The concert was entitled “Sacred Music for a Sacred Space” and featured sacred music by contemporary composers. The pairing of music with venue was well-planned, and somewhat modeled the liturgy that might be followed in a traditional service.

Saturday morning we had our dress rehearsal in the cathedral, and I brought along my camera to get a few shots of the interior. I started with exterior shots…

St George Exterior 1

…then moved to the interior to photograph the stunning mosaics above the altar.

St George Interior 1

St George Interior 3

St George Interior 2 (more…)

iPad as Effects Processor


Bell Sound Waves 1

So far we’ve looked at iOS devices as digital audio workstations, notation readers and scorers, and as musical synthesizers. This time we’re going to take a look at the devices as effects processors.

The phrase “effects processor” is a catch-all term that refers to just about any way that sound is manipulated before its amplified, recorded, etc.  This could be as basic as adding reverberation to make it sound like your in a large auditorium instead of a small recording studio, or as complex as auto-tuning, looping, or otherwise radically altering the sound.

Effects devices typically took two forms.  There were rack-mounted devices that controlled EQ, compression, reverb, delay, etc.  Then there were performance devices.  These were usually geared toward guitarists, and included the Fuzz, WahWah, Flanger, and distortion peddles.  Now a whole range of effects peddles can be found.  Rack-mounted effects are still important in studio work, but most of those effects can now be found on performance devices themselves, such as keyboards, etc.

Effects apps for iOS seem to look more like performance level devices, and this makes sense.  The portability of the device makes it a great alternative if you needs some quick effects and don’t want to lug all your gear with you.  If you’re doing a jam session or just practicing, these are great.  I’m not sure how it would work in a studio setting, though. (more…)

iPad as DAW



A couple of years ago I purchased a little Akai LPK25 keyboard. I was exploring MIDI sequencing and notation input on mobile devices such like my netbook, and was looking for a quick input device. I was sorely disappointed in what was available inexpensively, and I never seemed to be able to get the keyboard to work with either my netbook or my laptop. The keyboard sat on the edge of my desk for months, unused.


When I got the iPad one of the first apps I found was Garage Band. It was cool, but the virtual keyboard on the device just didn’t seem natural for playing. I missed raised black notes.

I had purchased the camera connection kit for the iPad, and found out from several online forums that the USB connector in the camera kit would work connect the LPK to the IPad. This started my first serious delvings into using the iPad as a digital audio workstation, or DAW.  I’ve now had a chance to work with several DAW apps. Here’s a quick rundown with my impressions. (more…)

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