youngraven: (suffer)
So as of last week, Bríd acquired a sister: Ainé. She's a 12" amber coloured goat. I jokingly remarked to my sister that if I manage to come across a drum with a white rim, I can row them up and make a Tri-colour. Up the Republic, indeed. It occurs to me that doing this might be taking things a bit too far.

So. I think Bríd is a bit jealous, but needn't be, as I fully intend to give both drums their due.

...'cos they're so different like. Bríd is quiet, polite, and mellow - whereas Ainé is shaping up to be a force of nature. Bríd's head seems a bit more susceptible to changes in a room's overall climate than Ainé. Since I've only a case for one drum, I left Ainé out on a table for a week. Bríd's tone would have run the gamut (I believe calfskins simply do this), whereas Ainé stayed steady. 

So that at the outset was interesting - and she only varied the wee-est of bits at sesh last night, and that room can never make its mind up whether it wants to be dry or wet. 

Ainé is never quite so forgiving as is Bríd. Bríd is warm and mellow-sounding enough to hide the occasional dodgy pitch or dropped beat, whereas Ainé calls out 'OHAI! Heard what you did there! Guess what - so did everybody else!!11 XD' 


I really did need the excuse to tighten it all up. Laxity amidst one's mates is all too easy, really. This isn't the first time that I've been manoeuvred into changing up my style by Mr Alfonso's wares. XD

youngraven: (suffer)

Do you believe in love at first sight?

It was the latter days of 1990; I was seventeen and full of the usual sorts of pipedreams and frippery. You were a small drum played in a way that I'd never seen before, and to be quite honest, couldn't quite work out by simply watching. 

But the sound of you. It was deeper than a heartbeat and older than primal. I could liken it to the echoes of the Big Bang and not only would that be grossly florid, everybody knows that the Big Bang remnants sound a bit more like eeeEERRNNNKKkkk (seriously - look it up, it'll set your back teeth vibrating. Ah, the dulcet screech of the creation of everything). 

All silliness aside, I was instantly fascinated and fixated on this thing: I had to get my hands on one to find out what it would do. A few months later, I was afforded my chance. Not long after that, I began spending rather much time in its presence, working out how to give the sound of it that primordial thrum. 

Now I feel strange when it's not somewhere nearby. So much for being a rock star. 
youngraven: (suffer)
That's an odd title for an entry, innit?

Only it's true: the smell of the curing contact cement adhering the neoprene made my head a bit swimmy.

Or in English, Bríd's back home, and I think she'll be alright. She played well tonight, I think. I'm going to mind how I treat her though. I'm still a bit spooked.

youngraven: (suffer)
So. Here's how it happened: I was in the middle of a gig when a circular patch in my drum's head went slack - never mind that the outer rim of the head surrounding that patch was alarmingly (as in 'take cover, she's going to blow') taut.

I did what any staid and stoic semi pro would do: I panicked. At the break, I raced behind the pub to phone Albert and gibber like a scared wee thing whose drum has just gone thmok when it should have gone something near to a G.

Silently, I did lament to myself how it seems I end up with a drum with a fouled head (although, in honesty Caitrín may have a fine head; I simply don't like the tone she produces). Got to be player error somehow. I'd got used to plastic drum heads that don't require the care and feeding of natural heads.

Since Albert's convinced it can't be a dodgy skin, there are two possibilities that come to my mind barring the skin being wonky:
  • I've been too hard on the head
  • It could be the weather
(I heart bullets, don't you?) 

If I've ballsed up the head. it's for lack of a crossbrace (this is my first ever drum without one, so I could have done). Over the years, I built my playing style round using that crossbrace for leverage. I'd use a crossbrace, 'cos till recently, most drums were too large for me to control without one - I've explained this many's the time before, so. Only I never felt myself pushing that hard, and Albert (who's seen me since then) has never said 'AAAAHWhatAreYouDoing1111!!11Eleven!!BBQ!11' And he would do. In fact, that would be a direct quote, barbecue and all. 

(Sings) Oh, god - could it be the weather? It could be, in fact, the weather. Albert's the first to say that his drums favour a certain level of humidity, and there's still rather a drought. A few times when I fetched her out, it required me using both hands to work the tuning keys. It startled me once; I feared the head would split, and so I began the practise of downtuning her after a night's play. Apparently, that's the very thing Albert had told me not to do for at least six months. I've no recollexion of this, but in my haste to get my hands on her, I could have spaced on that one. I do know, now, without a doubt that I'm bonding to this drum: I was reluctant to have her back to Albert for repair. I mean, I had to make myself hand over the drum, and then I felt weird watching him leave with her. 

I may well see him tonight - whether he's got Bríd all sorted out...I doubt it. I suppose I'll bring Caitrín to the 'work seisiún' and we'll see what I get out of her. Sigh. Or I could bring Grainne - never mind the plastic head and the fact that she doesn't much like me, she still sounds better than Caitrín. 

I'm exing digits. I want my Bríd back. 

Addendum: Albert's just after phoning, and I will have her back tonight. He's not thrilled with the sound she's giving, so it may well be that she goes back home with him tonight for a new head. I really want this drum to be The One, so I'm actually a bit tense about it.  


Sep. 30th, 2010 10:39 am
youngraven: (suffer)
In which I whinge about how my instruments do batter me.

I caught cold at Labour Day weekend. Shaddow was visiting, and we'd agreed to help a friend out at Dragon*Con (which is a post for another day or never at all). I'll not say that the commitment was more than I'd expected it would be, 'cos this friend helps us out at A-Kon, and well he knows the sheer wealth of hours we put into that show (fairly all hours from Wednesday to Monday, and a bit of Tuesday as well); this was a great lot fewer. However, there were many more people, and no established place to hide from them. Needless to say, I was never immune to all of them, and come Monday I was fagged beyond belief.

As a result, Shaddow and I didn't make the Monday seisiún at Fadó. ...and then I didn't make the Wednesday night one at the OBD ...and then had to think better of the next Monday's Fadó seisiún - such that I was beginning to pass out of reality and into mythology as far as my seisiún mates were concerned.

Virii aren't a common occurrence for me. Usually when they come rapping at my immunity's door, they're met with a scoff and a vicious dog. It takes rather the determined microscopic organism to wriggle its way past the usual defences. Creme de la natural selection creme, really. It's the especially sprightly ones that tend to do me in for a little while. Since I never wanted to find myself at the quack shack being told what I already knew ('You've caught a virus. Sorry.'), I laid low, and my instruments hung about in their cases, twiddling their tuning pegs). my age (waaaail), I do really need to handle each one for a little while every day to keep the organic mechanisms from freezing stiff. I


I understand that after a bout of ailment, it can take one a space of time to bounce back. I understand, as well, that my right hand (I know, I'd suspect the left one first myself, but it's assuredly dexter - the one I'm supposed to be keeping loose. Oops.)  feels as though I'm after landing a palm heel strike against something solid - a wall, say.

I have played guitar a bit since then, so my fingertips didn't suffer the same fate, but everything's dusty. I suppose it's a bit dismaying at how little time it took for that much dust to gather, but there you are. Time is marching on whether I give it permission to do or I don't do.

And we were playing rather faster than usual last night, so.

But still. Ouch.

In other related news, a piper I play with is after telling me that I 'need a real guitar'. Ouch again. Dorian (which is a funny name, really, 'cos I'm fairly sure I don't play much in dorian mode), the black Ovation that has been my stringed companion for 21 years now, is quite possibly banjaxed beyond repair. I injured it badly once (1996, I think it was?), which necessitated a stay in Ovation hospital (we can rebuild it; we have the technology), and it did come back good as new. Only in recent years (perhaps two), I've noticed a bit of trouble with the low E. I can tune it up perfectly, but when I attempt to play a note? Sharp - and it isn't as though I can merely down-tune it to compensate, 'cos then it's flat when it's played open - which is rather often, actually. I've had it round one luthier's thus far, and they're after telling me that the space between the nut and the bridge is too short, and that's mucking up the waves coming from the sound hole.

'...the divil?' sez I. The thing didn't come back from hospital with a new top. It simply didn't do - unless they nicked and scratched it in the identical places it'd been nicked and scratched before merely to throw me off. There would be signs in the varnish of the bridge having been shifted. Fullstop. So...unless the neck ended up shorter (which...sure - but why is it only recently become a problem?), I cannot see how this distance could have been shortened over the years. Not that much (yer man at the luthier's suggested adding at least half an inch), I'm sure. However, this luthier's is not an Authorised! Ovation! Shop!TM and anybody who loves them will attest to them being curious beasties. They simply aren't like other guitars, so it really would serve me to have an expert look it over. Fortunately, I've found one (mostly) nearby.

So, we'll see. The thought of a new guitar chokes me a bit. Sigh. Entropy blows goats, dunnit.
youngraven: (Default)

One might think I'd have little else to do but lurk round in my flat posting journal entries, and yet...


It's been a month and a day since Stillwater, so it's high time I gave it at least a paragraph's worth of my effort, don't you think?

So, Stillwater...
The week before the festival, I played the seisiun at Trinity Hall. Ken did sort of a Jedi mind trick (he really did do - it was at least a 6 on the geek--o-metre - geeker counter? Sure, jeez. Argh.) on shaddowshoes and myself, and we decided that what we needed more than anything else was to run away for the weekend. With my impending slog out to Georgia...we needed time to ourselves, and driving up to Oklahoma for a few days afforded us that.

We left late in the evening Friday, and mostly enjoyed the drive - there were a few foolish traffic jams, but the first one at least afforded us the opportunity to listen to a radio programme, which we were on the cusp of being out of range to hear. It was Together Time. :) We arrived to our hotel at round 1 o-clock in the morning, and it was off to bed with us.


The Stillwater festival is...right round three years old, so it's still rather young, and thus still a bit small, but I think it shows promise. The venue is a county fair ground, and the local laws permitted that at least the lower alcohol beer could be served. A regional brewery was there flogging its wares, so I had a go at the Irish red ale. Not bad - I could tell that it wasn't as aggressive as its stronger sister would have been, but drinkable all the same. I wish I could recall the name of the brewery, but I'm fixated on Atlanta's own Sweetwater at the moment, and thus it's gone right out of my head.

You know, if the Celtic Heritage Festival could have found itself a venue such as the one that the Stillwater festival uses, it might well have made it - or at least kept its head above the water. (Incidentally, I've heard rumour of a new festival in Denton - anybody who went out to it, do tell me what you thought of it, please.) But no matter, yeh? What's done is done.

The programming tracks were a bit off and Ken's booth was situated near to a stage (but then, there was a stage in each of the spaces used, so I don't know how that could be avoided), which meant that his idea of stopping at his booth and playing when he hadn't another commitment wasn't going to come to pass. I think we had a reasonable number of people wander by and ask about the retreat, so. I couldn't give an actual number, 'cos I ended up sitting in with a local band during their sets, so there were a few hours in which I wasn't there watching the crowd.

It was lovely when there was time for choonz, however, and I much enjoyed playing with Bill and Patti from Arizona. I'd met them at a Trinity seisiun before, but I think we all had a better time this go. Shaddow and myself stayed at the hotel seisiun till we were faced with 'leave now, or curl up into a corner and go unconcious'. Gone are the days that I could play marathon seisiunna and...well...keep playing. By the end of the weekend, the back of my hand was bruised and a bit blistered. One does suffer, yeh.

Kevin was there as well, and it's also really grand to play with him; he's a fantastic guitarist. He told me that he'd spent rather some time in Vinings (my current neighbourhood), and offered up a few recommendations. The Old Vinings Inn topped his list; I've yet to go there, but perhaps in September when Shaddow and Yo come for a visit.

We lingered sunday till mid afternoon. Shaddow bought some wine from a local winery, and we wandered back home at something of a leisurely pace.

Then, it was back to reality and the last of the packing. What do you do, eh?
youngraven: (suffer)
I've been looking at bodhran videos on YouTube. At the moment, I'm 'tuned' (if you would) to a woman called Michelle Stewart. Her videos are concise and clear - about the only suggestion I might offer her is to drink a sizeable glass of water before pressing the record button; her voice gets steadily raspier as she talks, and I find I grow desperate for her to clear her throat. I've been in that sort of situation before (in which I'm going all croaky and I can't stop to do anything about it); it's highly frustrating. I feel for her on a very visceral level. :D

I'm in search of practise tips, 'cos I need them. Of all of the instruments in the world that I could become intrinsically attached to, the bodhran was the one that made the last cut, and...I'm becoming a bit disengaged. Sunday was grand - I was in good form despite feeling like hammered shite and longing for a B12 shot. I hate shots; that I craved one is saying something. The Saturday Ken's house...I'd an Off Day. (A good rule to follow: don't shit the lot in front of the boss, yeh?) Sure, we all have them, I know that. This isn't a cry for pity nor a cry for the cat-o-nine.

Rather it's me realising that...well, I'm becoming a bit disengaged. Some times the first way to put it is the best. So I've been practising more. On my own. To Yes and Phil Collins (and Patrick Ourceau) to be exact. It's an idea that came to me as I was studying Stewart Copeland play at the Police concert in 2007. I thought more about it a few months later as I was paying especial attention to Neil Peart at the Rush concert.

Why shouldn't I take cues from rock drummers? Well, I will say that it's a fantastic way to work at keeping in lock-step with another percussion player. Beyond that...I don't know whether I'm getting out of it what I wanted from it, so I'm re-considering it all.

And adding hyphens where they likely don't belong, but no matter that, really. Snort.

The stream of consciousness is a grand place for a paddle, innit?

So, anyways... I've been thinking and thinking about Practise and how to get the most out of it - and it isn't merely for the bodhran, mind. My voice could do with a bit of spit and polish (and my damned third octave back, le do thoil), as could my guitar playing, and...whereas I've decided that I'm likely never going to be a mandolin virtuoso (and this is a mechanical thing, rather than me suspecting I lack the talent), I'm still keen on playing the thing in seisiun - 'cos that's fun (and it serves to help my bodhran playing - see how it all comes back to my bodhran? surrrrre.); which means I'd do well to learn a tune or two.

The vocal bits...I've got vocal runs I can use to practise, and songs that I can learn - so I'm not that worried about that bit (it would be grand to find a teacher, but not now - I'm not feeling it's right now; the same goes for the guitar and mandolin bits. The bodhran...

...over the years, I've got the most out of playing with people. Or with music, rather - it needn't be actual live people - but some sort of musical tapestry (again, if you would) with holes in that I can fill. Only I wonder...does Mark do it that way? Does Albert do it that way? What about Craig? Am I cheating myself out of some sort of basic technique that I know, but I can only describe in the context of everything else?

I read something recently that stated 'maediocrity doesn't concern itself with the basics' or something to that effect. The phrase that followed that was something to the extent of Maediocrity being bored by the basics.

Uh-oh. Well, I don't much care for that, now do I? Seriously, what's the point in me giving the lion's share of my musical expression over to an instrument if I'm only ever going to allow myself Maediocrity? Erm...we're worth more than that. Myself and the drum.

Och. I mean that, too. Every syllable. Since that last bit (above this bit) was written, I've spent round...two hours following link after link. They led me to Mae West. Now I know that she was a supporter of gay and trans-gender rights, but my head is Pounding, and I can't for the life of me recall how I'd planned to end this thing.

You know, beyond saying 'sure, jeez - I should practise more'.

So, we come back to it, don't we do?
youngraven: (whack-fol-lol-de-ra)
I know I've got other things that want posting, but prising the words out of my brain isn't an easy task at the moment, so you'll have to make do with something cross-posted from my Myspace page (that's awkwardly phrased).

Oh, for feck's sake - you've got a Myspace page?! you might be thinking to yourselves. I do, actually - and no, it isn't to meet BOYS or for any other stereotypical usage. It's mostly to hoore myself out as a bodhránaí, 'cos...well...that's what I do. Sort of thing. At any rate, more importantly, my band has got a Myspace page as well. You can find us at spriggancelticmusic (you can find mise mi fein at gypsy_youngraven). If you yourselves (I'm not entirely sure how that would be said in Irish, so) have got Myspace pages, then go and add us to your friends list. I'll wait here till you get back.

Right then, here's the posting:

We'd rather a lovely seisiun - there were people who came out that I've never seen at our seisiun before; I hope they weren't put off by us. (Joking)

I didn't play quite as much as I'd thought I'd do. I was a bit manic, and I fluttered about from person to person gabbling frantically at them. Well, perhaps it wasn't so frantic, but the thought of 'Networking' (rarrr) makes me feel a bit odd, so.

There were a few false starts, but otherwise nobody bit anybody. Sure, I've got something more to say about it than this, right?

Hrm...perhaps I don't. Well, that's sad.

Oh, right - I almost forgot. I'll be playing the Trinity Hall seisiun this coming Sunday as well as the one after that, so if you've a scorching need to come and gawk at me, this is where I will be.

Also, SPOT Albert are playing at TH tomorrow night. They're friends of mine (well, at least one of them is - the other I've not actually met yet - beyond accusing him of being Albert's brother. He let me keep my nose. Charitable fellow), so come out in support.

'S all I got. Try not to choke on it.


youngraven: (Default)

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