Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Radio Waves -some of the making of

Radio Waves - mainly 'spy surf' but with some Eastern instrumentation for a bit of spice.

 I needed to occupy my mind (waiting on reports of a relative in hospital), so I finished off this half baked idea over a few nights.

Basically it is a 140 bpm surf guitar tune but i wanted to contrast an Eastern sound with a Western sound in one tune.

Besides playing my trusty old AXL strat copy (which I still like the sound for the surfy stuff), I played real live bass but I thought a Nay, Oud and Tabla sound would make it kind of interesting, though they are instruments from different areas.  The only loops I used were the Western drum
loops otherwise I attempted to play (via midi keyboard) these VSTi's:

The mixed down tracks:

Tabla percussion I programmed

A short clip playing around with the Eastern and Middle Eastern instruments via midi keyboard:

Friday, January 19, 2018

Making of 'Coming Home'

Here's a few minutes of the making of 'Coming Home'

It was really an experiment between using a PC (which is my main method) and iPad which I borrowed. I liked the combinations of sound it produced. The drums are loops and some of the pipes (reversed) but the rest I played or programmed.

Whatever it sounds like to you, I'm personally happy to have extended myself again. I enjoyed the experience on the whole, besides the usual frustration, agony and ecstasy of making music ;-)

I also downloaded Ripplemaker by Bram Bos which was a lot of fun to play around with. I have always respected and used much of his software over the years which is always 'friendly' to the user.

Here's some pics:

And the clip taken up at Anstey Hill I had to wait everytime someone walked past before I filmed the little model. I'm sure someone spotted me and shook their head. The things we do for creativity ;-)

Friday, December 22, 2017

How Apple made me put together 'The Road Rising'

Making The Road Rising (December 2017)

I'm a PC sort of guy, all the music I make is pretty well all done on PC's.

This tune 'The Road Rising' was made totally on Apple hardware. I used an iPad (borrowed) and my very old iPod 3 to make the tune. I did however use my trusty DAW on the PC to compress and EQ the files for more punch. I chose deliberately to stick to the iPad and the iPod because sometimes you find 'restrictions' force more creativity.

I downloaded free synth and looping software just to try and learn how to use the iPad but found some of it sounded so good, I decided to make a tune.

I need to be clear at this point, as with a lot of electronic music, I used preprogramed loops to make the biggest chunk of the song. So I'll list the programs and you'll recognise how I did it....quite frankly....because you'll find the same loops. So if you want to do it yourself it is not that hard.

As a rule I tend to start from scratch when I write music (and I will mostly do this) but this is one time I thought it sounded so good, it wasn't worth reinventing the wheel.

What I -did - add manually were the 

  • 'bass'
  • background 'drone' and 'ambient' notes.
  • I also manually played an iPad Synth lead parts on a couple of synths 
  • and manually played the iPod 'piano' parts.
  • I also manually twiddled knobs and crosshairs and dot charts on the iPad and iPod to get freaking electro FX sounds underneath.
I didn't know how much fun was to be had in an afternoon.
Here are the software programs I used -they are all downloadable for free from the Apple Apps store (at the time of writng this):

Blocs Wave - this is the main one full of loops that made the majority of the tune



 Core Synth



Virtuoso (piano)


Sylo Synth



All of this bing bang bam electronica turned out into this film clip:

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

How I dropped the Anchor of Hope

As usual, I write this stuff as a record for myself because I forget how I make things...and also...I really like to learn from others how they make music, so this is my way of giving back, if anyone may be the slightest bit interested.

Here's the finished song

I like the idea of using 'samples' in production of music because it can really orchestrate the tune and fill it out and make it stronger. 

The problem with  using other people's samples (ie lifted from vinyl records) is that it is a legal minefield.

Sooo...I remembered that I had a stack of cassettes of songs and part-songs and ideas I recorded myself of myself over the 90's and early 2000's on cassette players and 4 Track tape recorders. 

I'm always 'this close' to ditching the tapes into big pile of trash but discover that some stuff can be recycled.

I found myself playing two bass guitar parts I loud and distorted and thought that it would be good to sample them and see what i could do with them...which I did.... There are really only three parts I took and then built the rest of the song around them.

Here is some of the process:

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Making of 'Thin Places'

Making of 'Thin Places'

This is a slightly weird tune weaved and pulled together from a few randomn threads.

LMMS was the main electronic music program I used to make this and then I mixed it and added some more on Sonar LE.

It was a combination of listening to Irish folk music, playing with a Japanese randomn speech synth called 'AquesTone2' and mixing it with a little big beat groove. I was also learning how to use a vocoder at the same time, so I thought I would pull al these ideas together and see what resulted.

I restricted myself in writing the chords and melody purely on the piano roll of LMMS. Often I write the song on guitar but I wanted to push myself out of routine and habital moves.

I actually worked quite hard on the melody and chords to create the feel I was after. When I added the instruments it began to sway away from my original intentions and I decided to follow it wherever it took me, which unintentially sounded more Asian instead of Irish. Maybe it is the pentatonic scale I was using? Who knows?

The title 'thin places' is a reference to Celtic Christian idea of physical places that are 'thin' between the physical and the spiritual. The song itself gives no hint of this, it was a working title when I started and decided to leave it...just in case you were wondering...

In the end, I suspect it is an aquired taste as a tune but I like it because I was able to push a few more boundaries in writing and recording. The journey is personally as important to me, however, if anyone likes it - or 'gets it' than I'm doublely and tripley and quadroopaly happy..

A short video I took while making the beginning:

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Making of 'Candles and Stone"

Making of Candles and Stone (April 2017)

Often I have an idea of a song/tune before I start but this one just sort of came out mostly in one night and then I refined it the next evening and that was it.

I had been watching one of Howard Goodall's documentaries on Western classical music. I'm a pop-tragic myself so generally I don't listen to much classical music which I tend to find goes like a rambling story with no ending.

However, I am trying to understand it a little more and I have vinyl records of some of the great composers, so I am hoping to open that door a little...anyway...I'm rambling like a story with no ending...Anyway, back to the tune: I have gratefully been able to take time off from work and as is my custom, I crashed and burned when the holidays started. Usually I get sick, which I did again, but this time I unwittingly added a bit of melancholy to the mix.

So, not one to be beaten easily, I spent an evening using music to climb out of it, just jamming on my guitar and recording bits that i might use later. I had an idea just to do a two part guitar piece but before I knew it, it turned into a somber 'ambient' tune which became Candles and Stone.

Here's the nerdy stuff

Webcam lead guitar part for Candles and Stone - so this is me playing the lead part live without edit from beginning to end. I wanted to capture the idea even though it was raw:


I really wanted to keep it simple, so I used Sonar LE's on board midi keyboard VSTi's. It is really a demo pack but I managed to salvage (what I thought were) some very good sounds The 'orchestral' parts were made using these four Cakewalk sounds:

 Midi Keyboard 1 'Mutant Orchestra'

 Midi Keyboard 2 'Solo Bass Pizzi (loose)'

Midi Keyboard 3 'Violin Ensemble1'

Midi Keyboard 4 'Oboe Modern Ensemble1'


So the tune is made up of:

Electric Guitar picking chords

Lead Guitar

4 x Midi Keyboard parts

And that's it. have a nice day.

Saturday, March 18, 2017



Here's the clip:

You can download it on soundcloud for free if you like: 

I've been trying to teach myself Ableton Live 9 Lite on and off for the last few months. I actually found it counter intuitive to most programs I have used before. Probably because I am mainly a home-producer and not a performer (except I did last night after a decade of absence) I have been using FL Studio type of programs like LMMS and Sonar.

It was finally after watching teenage YouTube tutorials that I found a foot into it and discovered the differences and how it worked. So I decided to limit myself to making a tune totally on Ableton Live 9 Lite, which I did..well...sort of. I used all the 'on board' sounds to make the tune, which were quite impressive. I added some 140 bpm drum loops later in the tune from the good people at to add some muscle to it.

I also took the raw tracks and edited them slightly in Sonar Lite to bring out the best and minimise the worst parts.

Here's some photos while I was making it to show the sounds I was using if you are familiar with Ableton 9 live lite:

Here are the chords I wrote as I was writing it - now you can play along if you want ;-)