Saturday, 28 May 2011

Yacht rock, remixing some filth and the death of a legend.

Just a quick weekend update of the DHC world.

The Seahawks Logo
On Friday I found myself at the Cornish basecamp of Lo Recordings working with Jon Tye and his go-to chord monster Alik PD on some pretty far out stuff for their Seahawks project. It's been put into the rather interesting catagory of 'yacht rock' for it's chilled summery vibes which I rather like and it's certainly different to the norm with it's mix of lo-fi delays and reverbs and left field approach to vocals and instrumentation.

This all resulted in a rather tasty recording session, routing my beloved soprano sax, (weapon of choice for many previous recordings with the Lo crew,) through a harmoniser unit controlled by Alik on guitar. We got some pretty good sounds out of it, from a straight up sax with an intelligent chorus behind to some weird breath controlled guitar chords using the sax to trigger them. I'll keep details vague for now as we work some more with it, here's hoping to see that setup used live in the coming months!

On a more personal note, I'm sallying forth on another of my dubstep remixes, this time in response to a challenge from Hoo Ha over at Hoo Ha Fashions who digs the tune Papa's Got a Brand New Pigbag. It's one of those tracks that makes the sax famous and there's plenty of scope for getting grimy so bear with me and check it out when I post it!

Finally, as you all probably know by now Gil Scott Heron has passed on to the great gig in the sky. As an instigator of rap in the jazz/funk genre he's greatly influenced much of the music I've grown to love, big love. He will be missed.


Tuesday, 24 May 2011

So music education doesn't matter anymore?

It appears music in the UK is having a bit of trouble. As a musician in the South West looking for a bit of work via public sector I have found out how much of a PITA it is.

So, a few weeks ago I decided to really try and push the teaching side of my business a bit more. I saw how well some of my colleagues were doing out of private lessons and it's not as if I don't have enough spare time.

I thought that working through an agency or county music service would be a good place to start and definitely look good on the old CV so after doing some research and finding a number of prospective places, I boldy got in touch with a bunch of them via phone and email...

...only to receive; some no replies, a few straight up 'no's and a rather large amount of places telling me that they'd happily put me on their books, but wouldn't be able to take me on in any professional capacity due to funding problems.

At first I thought it was a reasonable start to 'be on their books' until I really thought about what that meant, namely, having my digits scribbled on the back of a bit of paper or in a notepad document to placate me and having them filed away somewhere and ignored. That's great, but of no immediate use to a starving musician with knowledge to push into peoples heads.

After failing with that route I tried going straight to the schools and from that was recommended to contact a chap with a email address that dealt with music in the South West. I briskly sent him an email telling him my woes, and he briskly replied with his own to add to mine. Now this, dear reader, is where my problem lies... He told me that:

1.  Plymouth City Council have placed a moratorium on recruitment.  We are not permitted to take on staff irrespective of any requirement for tutors.
2.  All Music Services currently face an uncertain future as the Government decides the way forward with music in schools.
Now I don't know if it's just me being silly because of my recent investigations, but doesn't that sound bloody ridiculous? I have no problem with the fellow I spoke to, but he seemed like a great guy working for a stupid system.
Firstly, they're not allowed to recruit anyone even if they need them? Great strategy there for sure. Alan Sugar would be proud. I mean, I can understand not needing a few peripatetic music teachers, especially ones encouraging the blowing of noisy tubes, but it sounds like they mean anyone, irrespective of their trade. Secondly, I don't really understand what options there are regarding the 'way forward with music in schools'. I thought that when you were in school you were allowed to pick an instrument and then get to make noises with it for a certain amount of time. If you wished to have lessons you could, if you didn't you still had to spend 45 minutes a week in class being told about other people who made noises with instruments. Your choice. It's not like they're going to remove it from the national curriculum.....or are they?

So what mostly boggles me is where did the money that was being spent on music go? It was doing alright 10-15 years ago when I was a wee lad so what happened? I know, I know, economic downturn....blahblahsnore, but if them folks at city hall have enough cash to get up to no good with expenses scandals, why not do some good too? It's not just music that's suffering either, a whole smorgasboard of other services are getting it in the neck as well. Perhaps downsizing a few things here and there is ok, but when did music become so unimportant? More people than ever will be going to music festivals this summer and the number of tracks being downloaded is still huge so someone out there still thinks music is worthwhile!

So, the upshot is, I'll be looking in the private sector instead and bypassing music services simply beacuse they're only looking to keep themselves afloat in these uncertain times and have no spare time to put into expanding. 

Look out for me in a shop window near you!