Saturday, December 15, 2012

Cavalcade of One

This is the sixth installment of my blog about the songs on the new Walking Eagle CD.

Here is a link to the song, so you can listen while you read:

This odd little, hybrid instrument in the duclar - which is the Armenian duduk with a clarinet mouthpiece replacing the traditional double reed.

I wrote "Cavalcade of One" in a hotel in Omaha, along with about 15 other pieces. My inention was to create some stand-alone guitar parts over which I could play different instruments from my collection. This song was originally written for my Prayer Rock (also known as Anasazi) flute. The Prayer Rock flute is a recreation of an ancient American, endblown flute. It was modeled after fragments found in the desert of Arizona, at Prayer Rock, that are believed to be over 1,000 years old.

In this picture, the top flute is the Coyote Oldman Prayer Rock flute. The bottom one is the Coyote Oldman Desert (also know and Mojave) flute.

I wrote the piece in Ab to accommodate the flute, but found that the song was much too upbeat and jazzy, and the slow-responding desert flute didn't work.

I searched my collection for another instrument that worked well in Ab. The duduk plays well in A - and the clarinet mouthpiece option causes it to play a half-step lower. Perfect!

The guitar part I wrote swings because most of it is played off the beat. It creates an interesting syncopation, but is very tricky to count. While Dick was recording it, he was extremely careful to play it accurately, and we got some very good takes of it.

After he left, however, I realized that in our care to play the piece precisely, we had recorded it at about half the speed it was intended. I tried working with the track as it was, but it was just painfully slow, and defeated the point of the song.

We recorded it in Logic. Logic does not have a good tool for changing the tempo.

So, in the middle of the night, it dawned on me - I would take the song to Garage Band, which can easily change the tempo, and then save it as a loop. So I doubled the tempo, and used it as a loop back in Logic. It seemed to do the trick. It was also easier to swing the duduk with the clarinet mouthpiece, so that all seemed to work out well.

Dugg added the final track on the bodhran. Dugg plays the bodhran probably in the ancient way. He does not use a tipper, just his hand. It gives a softer sound, and he better able to play unusual rhythms this way.

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