For the longest time, Lauren Moore and I have been bandying about the idea of doing an album together. The fact that we are both extremely busy with other stuff, coupled with the fact that we live on opposite sides of the planet has meant that until recently, it’s only been a discussion.
But this year we decided to do FAWM together. It’s an online creativity event where the aim is to write a song every two days during the month of February. We used the structure and pace of the event to provide us with the motivation to get the writing done, with Lauren doing most of the lyrical heavy lifting, and me doing the noises.
It’s been a wild ride. The disparity in our schedules plus the fact that I now have an ankle biter to look after (did I mention I have a kid? I have a kid) meant that I got up at 2:00AM every day to work on this, since that was the only free time I had. It has, however, been one of the most exciting and musically satisfying projects I have worked on in a long time.
With 14 songs now successfully written (and in possession of our first FAWM win), we have begun work on post-production. All of these pieces were produced in a very short time, so there are clearly things we’d like to refine, change, and add to, and we’ll spend the next few weeks (as long as it takes) tweaking and polishing.
Currently, for me some highlights of the work so far (and you can click through to play the songs) include:
You’ll Never Change
A pop music explosion. We didn’t intend for it to come out this dancey, it just headed that way organically. And once it’d started down the path, well, we had to follow.
The Calm Storm and the Dull Shine
Deep, orchestra-infused groove with a lovely vocal delivery, this is, in my opinion, one of the loveliest lyrics Lauren has ever written. I love this track.
Might As Well
We went full synth-pop on this one, with very satisfying results. This track has massive hair, tight leather jeans and shoulder pads.
Possibly the sickest thing I have ever written, in all senses of that word. This track is seriously dark, but so is my sense of humour, which is how it happened.
For a limited time (I think FAWM shuts down at the end of March) you can hear demos of all 14 tracks on my FAWM profile. We will be releasing this album in its final form towards the middle of the year.
I’ve noticed this meme doing the rounds at the moment, and I felt compelled to do one for my industry.
School hats on – today I’ve added a new tutorial on how to export stems (or separates) for a remixer. When you’ve decided to get a track remixed, it usually isn’t as simple as just sending your remixer your project data. We prefer getting your recorded material in the form of stems: clean, unprocessed recordings in separate files, with just one sound in each file. Means we can do a lot more with it.
In this article I talk about what a remixer needs from you, and how to go about packaging up your sounds for delivery. I use FL Studio, but I’ve done this in a platform agnostic way. So whether you’re preparing stems for a specific remixer, or making a pack that you’ll upload to the Pirate Bay so you can pretend somebody “leaked it”, this will explain how it’s done.
Read the article here.
2011 was one of the most challenging years of my life to date. I posted very little content to this site, but I have what I think is a legitimate excuse: I spent most of the year project managing the building of our new house.
For the record, I don’t recommend self building – it’s one of those seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time sort of things. The house took two years to progress from a Sketchup drawing to finished architectural plans (thanks Andre Thompson), about three months of material prep, and seven months in the building, running a mere four months over schedule. It still isn’t 100% complete, but we’ve moved in anyway, and it will provide lots of DIY fun for years to come, I’m sure.
It was a challenging process that wrecked my general faith in humanity (all suppliers are bastards), but the end product is … well, it’s even better than I expected, to be honest. And for all it’s incompleteness, check out the space I’m going to be working in from now on.
It’s like a freakin’ space ship. This loft studio faces east, the main window providing an unobstructed view of the Letsitele Valley, and the mountain range beyond. It has an equally splendid view looking north over the Tzaneen dam in the distance. The room is warm and light, and generously proportioned for a project space – about 7 metres by 5. I’m itching to make music in it – just got to get it all set up first. Since this photo was taken, those holes in the wall have been filled up with power outlets and LAN ports (yes, there’s CAT-5 in the walls), and the beginnings of furniture.
So there’s a lot of catching up to do, but this is going to be a great year. I currently have two album projects I’m grinding on – one cinematic, one electronic, plus a musical in the works. Over the next few weeks I’m going be posting new material I’ve worked on for Slide, Lauren Moore, Tumi Lane, Thato Nhlapo, and more, plus some tracks from my own repertoire. I’ve also got new technique articles and FL Studio tutorials to post.
Oh, and I have to build a staircase so you can reach the studio more easily …
I’m feeling immeasurably pleased right now: PheloB gave me a shoutout on XtraLargeTV at his launch party. Feels good, man!
Working in the production side of the industry, you don’t typically expect to be acknowledged publicly by artists – after all, you’re being paid for providing a service, and the focus is supposed to be the product.
So I think that the fact that Phelo took the time to acknowledge me by name in a interview about himself speaks volumes about what a classy guy he is. Thanks Phelo!
If you’re receiving this via email, and the above embedding doesn’t work, you can watch the clip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sHoBzYU5vI#t=4m40s
Not everyone has access to professional recording studios – and with the sheer wealth of virtual synths available today, not everyone needs one. But when it comes time to lay down vocals, having a quiet space to record them in is indispensable. If you’re thinking about recording vocals at home, I’ve written a quick guide to give you some tips on the best way to go about it. It’s full of neat ideas to give you the best possible quality with the equipment you already have.
Just because you don’t have a pro vocal booth, doesn’t mean you can’t make good, clean recordings. All you need is a little bit of determination and some creativity.
Read the article here.
Hey, just a quick note to say that I’m alive and kicking. I haven’t updated this blog in a while, but that’s because I’m snowed under with work. Starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel on a couple of projects, so hopefully I’ll be posting some new sounds to listen to here soon.
Currently putting in a lot of work on a movie score for Kaugoomi, which is a huge amount of fun. Shot on 35mm, the project is something of a hybrid between spine chilling ghost story and hard hitting crime tale. Not sure how much I can say about it at this stage, but you can expect snippets from the soundtrack once the movie comes out.
I’m also working with talented artists in the US and the UK, producing some kickass remixes which are sounding awesome, plus there are a couple of updates to the tutorial series I’ve been writing. In the coming weeks you can expect new articles on filter techniques, how to back up your data (from a muso’s perspective), and a new personal bugbear of mine: how to encrypt your data.
Terry Pinana (aka Uncle Terry) is one of the most prolific producers I know – this guy literally eats, drinks and breathes music. Reading over his discography is like checking out a list the players in the local music industry. He’s done work with Osunlade, TKzee, KB, Guffy, Gug Shezi, Dantai – the list goes on, and that’s not even touching his work for film and TV. He’s like a musical ninja – you don’t see him, but you feel the effects of his passing.
The track we’re talking about today is something he recorded for his self-titled solo album. Ultimately, it didn’t make the cut (you can only fit so many songs on a 70 minute CD), but the vocal was compelling, and I got a shot at remixing it.
I struggled with this track for a long time. Lyrically, it was uplifting, but in stark contrast to the melody, which was minor key and very dark. It kept dragging me to places I didn’t want to go. In the end, I was inspired by another UT track where he used Melodyne software to completely change the melody of a difficult vocal.
So that’s what I did. I completely tossed the minor key melody and wrote a new tune that went with the lyrical content. Then I used Melodyne to shift the individual notes of the vocal performance to follow my new melody. This is the result. It makes me happy, and I’m hoping it does the same for you.
Music (Mdavisto’s Mix) by mdavisto
Note: I’m experimenting with embedding SoundCloud‘s music player widget because Feedburner’s been stripping my player code out. If you’re reading this via RSS or email, would you mind getting in touch and letting me know if you can see/hear the track above this text? Cheers.
So, a week ago I wrote about this page on The Session getting pulled off Google because of a DMCA complaint lodged against their site. The company in question, who I still won’t link to, has discovered the Streissand Effect.
I received an email from them, as I am sure everyone else who contributed to this effort did, offering a thousand apologies for their actions, and assuring me that it was all a big misunderstanding. Jeremy Keith has since accepted their explanation for events, and although I’m not so sure I do, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.
According to their mail, they periodically do a google search for the name of their product plus the term “torrent“.They then submit the resulting list to Google claiming a DMCA violation, as these sites must obviously be hosting illegal copies of their software. So it was a case of attempting to stem piracy, not to remove a site containing many instances of the term “perfect pitch” from the Google index.
As plausible as this explanation is, I have a problem with it. It seems clear that nobody is checking to see if the sites that turn up in the search results are actually infringing or not. For example, by including the phrase “boucherle pitch torrents“, there’s an excellent chance that they will launch a DMCA complaint against me. No one will be checking to see if I’m actually hosting any torrents, or if torrents are even being discussed.
Which brings me to my next point. The page on The Session that was pulled contains the following statement:
The David Lucas Burge one is available as a torrent.
That’s it. In the entirety of the discussion on the page, that’s the whole reference. It doesn’t encourage people to download it, it does not mention where one might find such a torrent, nor does it even debate the relative merits and morality of downloading torrents. It just says, plain and simple, “a torrent exists”. Which is probably a fact.
How is simply discussing torrents an illegal activity? And even if someone did link to a torrent in the comments (which they did not), the jury is still out on whether this constitutes an infringement. If there ever is a ruling to that effect, Google themselves will get sued into the ground. How many references to illegal torrents do you think exist in the Google Cache?
To give an analogy, it’s like the mere act of giving someone directions to a house of ill repute makes you responsible for what goes on there. In this case, no directions were given. Someone merely stated that the house exists. See why this is ridiculous?
Now, it could be – as they argue in their letter – that the employees of this company are merely hideously incompetent, and not actually evil. I am, in fact, inclined to believe that this is true. Which means they’re using the DMCA in an entirely cavalier manner on all sites that contain elements of their key search terms, without first checking to see whether their targets deserve the legal broadside they’re receiving.
But it also means that my original charge against them still sticks: if you accept their explanation as true, the boost they receive in Google rankings is an unintended (yet hugely beneficial) side-effect of their fight against piracy. And the fact that the tone of the discussion on The Session was largely uncomplimentary towards their product didn’t come into it at all.
Regardless, the apology letter is rather marred by a ham-fisted attempt to sell more copies of their training course at the end of the letter – at a discount, of course, because they feel bad about the terrible misunderstanding. Tacky, chaps.
In the interest of fairness, the full letter is quoted below, with links removed. I’m prepared to let them have their say, but not to use my site as a sales platform.
Here at [URL redacted] we made a big mistake.
We instructed Google to block a blog site [actually, The Session is not a blog] managed by Jeremy Keith, citing that they were in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyrights Act (DMCA). As per our request, Google did indeed remove this page from their search listings.
We wish to formally apologize to Mr. Keith and his bloggers for this mistake, for which we are deeply regretful.
Please understand that we had no intention whatsoever to suppress the speech on Mr. Keith’s page. Please know that we are ardent supporters and advocates of free speech for everyone.
We recognize this was a careless error, and there is really no excuse for this. Nevertheless, please permit us a moment to explain.
Here’s what happened:
We were actually submitting to Google a list of sites that were illegally distributing copies of our copyrighted intellectual property. We of course have every right to request that Google have these sites removed from their search engine results because we believe these sites violate the DMCA, which prohibits the illegal distribution of copyrighted materials over the internet.
To our shock and horror, an employee of ours mistakenly included Mr. Keith’s site in our list, merely because it made a reference to illegal copies of our course[not in the way you're implying]. Naturally, this is not grounds for removal of this page at Google. Our intention was only to remove actual pages where the course is being illegally distributed, and not any pages of free speech, such as Mr. Keith’s blog [The Session is not a blog]. This was a misjudgment and error on our employee’s side, and on behalf of our company, we sincerely apologize.
This event has never happened to us before when reporting illegal distribution of our materials. Please rest assured that we will redouble our efforts to ensure this never happens again.
We have requested that Google immediately reinstate this page in their search results, along with our apology to Google as well.
If we have offended any potential musicians who wished to purchase our best-selling, university verified ear training methods, again, we sincerely apologize. To make it up to you, we would invite you to try our courses at a substantial discount not offered to the general public, valid until the end of this month. Please go here to retrieve your special offer with our apologies:
[spam URL redacted]
Again, please accept our sincere regrets for this goof.
Happy blogging, everyone.
I’m posting this because I want to do my bit to help out with a particularly sleazy issue that has just come to my attention.
The American DMCA is a piece of law designed to protect intellectual property, but its increasingly being used by slimeball companies to get a boost in Google rankings: as a search engine optimisation (SEO) technique.
Here’s what you do: do a Google search for your company, and if other companies are ranked higher than you, use the terms of the DMCA to allege a copyright infringement.
Google will de-reference the supposedly offending content for however long the DMCA process takes to run its course, and you’ll probably lose, but in the interim, your real objective will have been achieved: you’re one step higher up the Google rankings. Rinse and repeat: SEO gold.
Today I read a post on Adactio about just such a scummy attempt that is being made against The Session, a website about traditional Irish music. Now, they just happened to have a forum post where people were discussion perfect pitch – being able to detect absolute pitch with just your ears.
It’s a fairly innocuous post, with people chiming in with their own experiences, and arguing about whether perfect pitch even exists based on the fact that the tuning A=440 is pretty arbitrary when you think about it.
But because the page contains the term “perfect pitch” so many times, it’s crawled higher in search engine rankings than the web page of a company (who I will not link to) that offers a course that purports to teach everyone’s ears how to detect perfect pitch. Whether or not they are snakeoil salesmen will not be discussed here. I’m sure you don’t need perfect pitch to detect which company I’m talking about, though.
This company has launched a copyright infringement claim under the DMCA against The Session, causing the page to be dereferenced from Google for the duration … and in so doing, pushing up the company’s search engine ranking.
As an experiment, Jeremy Keith has asked that people post blogs titled “perfect pitch”, just to see what happens. Since I think any company that would genuinely use the DMCA in this way are scum, I’m doing my part.