Sunday, March 2, 2008

Carrickfergus

Years ago when I was living in Atlanta, I had a friend who did furniture restoration and faux finishes. One day a guy came into his shop who worked for Elton John. Elton had recently moved to town, and he had just bought a couple of pretty little gilt tables with carved cupids on them, and he wanted them to look older. "Like this," the guy said, grabbing a hammer and bashing the hell out of one of the cupid faces. "Make them look like that."

That's essentially what I did to "Carrickfergus" after our session gig Wednesday night. I was sitting there thinking about my often conflicted relationship with Irish music, and how that's something I've never really explored in my original stuff, and wouldn't it be interesting to try doing an arrangement of a traditional tune? So when I got home I sketched it out, and I finished it up yesterday. Give it a listen and see what you think. Mind you, it might be a little hard to pick out the melody.

If you don't know the song, here's a more conventional rendition of it, sung by Orla Fallon from Celtic Omen Celtic Woman. I'd embed it here, but I have my health to think of. Good luck getting through the whole thing.

11 comments:

Zisbo said...

Now there's my St. Paddy's Day music for this year. Will you be doing "Rose of Tralee" or "Black Velvet Band" next?

Rob said...

Hey, I could do a whole St. Patrick's day party album! That's an interesting thought.

T said...

That would be fucking FABULOUS! And just in time for the holiday! I'm hearing a de-tuned concertina sample in "Danny Boy" in my mind's ear....

Zisbo said...

I'll come to the record release party at the Dubliner. I'm sure it will be fun and violent.

Rob said...

I confess that I fantasize about causing something like the riot at the premiere of The Rite of Spring. One day, by god, one day...

Mike said...

Oh, man, I wish you had played this at that thing for Bill Clinton.

Rob said...

I guess I could tell a little about what you're hearing here. There are three VST synthesizers involved. Two of them are playing the melody of the song in unison. One of these synths is being fed through an effect that randomly plays little bits of the signal it receives, filtering it in various ways and occasionally playing it backwards. All the chimes and cymbals and bowed-instrument sounds are coming from that. The other melody synth, the one that's making the howling wind/siren sound, is supposed to be a turntable-scratching emulator, but it's fun to try to play melodies on it. It tends to react wildly and unpredictably to small changes in its parameters. Believe it or not, this is the best I can do at making it play the melody of "Carrickfergus." The wind sounds are happening because I'm running it through a phasing/filtering effect that's picking up on the highest frequencies of the signal.

The birdsong/xylophone sounds are a granular synth playing the same sample that I used in "Lumpy Variation 3B," viz. my horrible old mandolin being bashed with a wooden spoon. This synth is a "cloud generator;" it creates steady droning sounds by playing a given sample randomly over a selected range of pitches at a given density.

This shit is all kinds of fun.

T said...

What program are you using?

Rob said...

I'm still using Jeskola Buzz. I've also been playing around with a really good clone of Buzz that's still under development, called Buzé. It has the advantage of not crashing as often. Both of these programs are open-source freeware, and they're supported by a worldwide network of geeks cranking out new plugins and sharing them around. It's things like this that make the internet so cool.

Mind you, unless Buzé really takes off, if I'm ever going to actually perform this stuff I'll have to make a transition to more robust and less clunky software, which is a shame.

An Briosca Mor said...

A Worldwide Network of Geeks - not a bad name for a band, in the A Flock of Seagulls mode.

Man, I gotta remember to hit your blog sometime when I'm home so I can listen to this...

An Briosca Mor said...

Well, I finally got home and finally got to listen to this. Probably a good thing, too, since I'm not sure I'd have wanted to hear it over headphones, which is how I have to listen in the land of Dilbert. (And to tie this in with your other post, how about Dilbert without Dilbert? Or even better, Dilbert without any characters who aren't Wally.)

But back to Carrickfergus. Very interesting. And yes, you're right that I'd never have known it was Carrickfergus if you hadn't told me. Indeed, it was the least fergusy version of that CF of a song I've heard since the Richard Harris rendition I blogged about back in the days when my blogging was new and fresh and yeasty like the no-knead bread, not like now when it's as stale and flat and cardboardy as the communion hosts the priests used to shove in my mouth in my younger church-going days.

Just one suggestion for improvement out of me. How about mixing in a little accordion to really take it over the top?