Phenakistoscope

February 6, 2017 3:44 PM

I wrote this instrumental fingerstyle song half a life ago, but I wanted to try out the electric piano and drum set that I bought recently, so I pulled it out of the vault.

I played a gig of fingerstyle guitar songs once with my friend Brian on drums, so I decided to use that instrumentation here.

posted by umbú (9 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

This is beautifully done. Thanks for posting it!
posted by saulgoodman at 10:16 PM on February 6


This is super nice. Really interesting melody. The drums settle in really well in the second half - are they quantized in the first half?
posted by greenish at 7:09 AM on February 7


Thanks, saulgoodman and greenish. No, the drums aren't quantized in the first half--I just played them throughout the song. The first half just has a different feel with less swing than the second half--closer to metronome-like straight 8th notes.
posted by umbú at 10:36 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


The guitar and wurly gel so nicely on some of the higher strings; it's that amazing thing of when you play two instruments together and they become this third, new thing. Nice feeling to this one.
posted by chococat at 8:11 PM on February 9


That is a super intro to begin with, and also how it subtly changes; if it had stayed on this theme I would have been satisfied. But then the second part is an excellent swerve off onto a very different road on the same map. The change in rhythm and tempo are very swingy. But overall, I love the way the single notes are paired together, the choice of which notes in the chord-as-a-whole to play in which order. And the electric piano combined with the acoustic guitar creates a nice lush texture. It reminds me of like, if Bela Fleck or Michael Hedges downthrottled their sound to be more accessible and soft – but that's about how far they could downthrottle, so while it's accessible, it's still complex.

Very nice to the ears, thanks for making this!
posted by not_on_display at 10:37 PM on February 9


A question, sorry for the derail... is "quantizing" (as greenish asked upthread) the act of nudging the notes/beats so they align more with the metronomic beat; or is it the opposite – to sort of scatter them a little, but so that they're less and less lined up like soldiers? I always get confused. (I like that the computer can correct me, but I also like that I can tell it not to correct me TOO much.)

(I'd also like a function that can do this with the intensity of the hit of a drum, because it's sometimes more easy to write the notes down, but a pain in the ass to nudge the intensity so that you can get nice non-robotic sounding accents in there. This is still a slog for me, and I have mostly given up on it unless I give a lot of shit about it.)
posted by not_on_display at 10:44 PM on February 9


Thanks, all! n_o_d, quantizing is snapping the notes to a grid, and humanizing midi is randomly scattering them a bit. With quantizing, in most DAWs you can apply it to a particular percentage, which means that the quantizing process doesn't have achieve perfect kraftwerkian precision.

That said, I think that greenish's response might be the result of the fact that I'm just not that great of a drummer yet, and I decided not to take the time to fiddle with it or combine enough takes* to make it fully lock in. I always struggle between wanting to polish and polish something, vs. just sending it out into the ether because it is probably good enough.

Anyway, not to get shmoopy, but I really appreciate that there are a few of you out there who have listened and thoughtfully commented on my recordings through the years. I play to try to keep my musical chops from getting too rusty, and it's nice not to do it in a vacuum, even if it is a small scene around here. Speaking of, has micayetoca been around lately?

*which I prefer doing rather than quantizing in most cases
posted by umbú at 7:46 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


has micayetoca been around lately?

There have been a couple of comments and favorites left lying around recently, evidence of a micayetoca...

Listening to this again, I'm also picking up a west-african kora-type vibe to this song. I like it a lot.
posted by not_on_display at 9:23 PM on February 10


Exactly what chococat said about the guitar and that electric piano, like a third instrument is created. So great, and what a nice surprise to see a new umbu recording this Saturday morning.
posted by Corduroy at 11:10 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


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