Welcome (back) to Crow Caw Music Works

last modified 16 may 2013

Welcome.

This is the place for all things related to and about the musical productions and writings of tim p scott, producer of electronic post-rock instrumental compositions since before there was post-rock.

First let me say thanks for your patience as I work through this new site design. Obviously this is on WordPress and the basic underling design is called “Sandbox 1.6.2″. My intention is to spruce it up a bit using CSS–basically this means the site may look a little broken and weird till I get it sorted out.

If this is your first visit, glad you’re here. This is the permanent landing page. Up above there are the main (“What”, “Who”, etc.) menus. You can go to the page “Listen” for samples of tps music, “Who?” for some biographical material, “What?” for general information about this site, and “Where?” for contact information. “How” discusses various aspects of what used to be called “DTMP” (Desktop Media Production).

If you’re returning, welcome back. We’ll try to keep current information about both tps musical projects and the state of this site in the posts below.

Finally; while we try to be realistic and flexible about copyright law (who wants to spend all their money on lawyers and lawsuits [besides certain churches]?), we sincerely hope you’ll at least have the grace to give credit to tim p scott and/or Crow Caw Music Works if you use anything from this site. So please try to do the Right Thing, as they say in the Islands:

“It No Kill You”

Cool things I want to review – ZAR recovery program, Sony Walkman and Media Go…

8 Mar 2014

In the last few months I’ve been collecting notes on a bunch of odds and ends that are making my musical and computer life better. I hope to burp out some posts in the near future and share with you the excitement…

But currently I’m reconstructing my studio which I had occupied by a temporary lodger for a few months and was out of commission…

16 Aug 2014

Well, our lodger moved on, sayonara, and now we have another squatter in need…hopefully this will only be a temporary solution as well.

Meanwhile, here’s are few remarks on the things I wanted to review:

  •  ZAR Recovery Program

When I trashed the directory structure of my music computer, I knew I was in big trouble. Fortunately I had another hard drive I could use for the boot drive so I was able to CAREFULLY try some public domain and even Linux software to attempt to recover my precious system. I could probably have reassembled it from a huge collection of DVD backups but I had the feeling only the file system structure was damaged; not the data itself…(to be continued)

Page#21/last modified 20140816

Zoom R8 recorder – further impressions

…briefcase-sized 8 track recorder…!

For various reasons I wanted something very small and portable I could use as a songwriting/scratch pad. I looked at several from Boss and Tascam but settled on this unit. It can be actually battery powered with AA batteries; and supports rechargeable AAs (which is an extreme rarity.)

The recording medium is an SDHC card. It ships with a 2 GB card containing a lot of excellent drum loops, but you can install up to a 64GB card. I copied the loops to the larger card and there is tons on room now for projects and takes.

Two mics are built right into the device.

The audio effects and processing options are very good. In particular, the guitar effects are great. With an electric or acoustic guitar, or a piano and your voice you can create really good tracks.

I cannot recommend this too highly! One of the things I’m finding out is that I’m more likely to record a passing idea when I can boot this up in 20 seconds, plug in my guitar or sing (or even take a voice note!) into it. Later on when the whole studio is booted I can easily transfer the audio files to Reaper or Live.

Maybe it’s just my own personal taste, but I demoted my Line6 PodXT off my desktop and only use the Zoom to record guitar tracks into my computer.

Last modified 8 Mar 2014

Mr Blue Sky: genius of Jeff Lynne in great documentary

Yes, there is probably some element of marketing in this, with Lynne about to release new albums, but if anyone deserves to be exposed to music fans it’s Mr. ELO. This guy, besides his stellar career in ELO, has produced Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, George Harrison and the re-formed Beatles (you have to see the documentary for explanation). This is a short (60 min) production but packed with meat including drool worthy shots of (apparently) his home (walls covered with gold and platinum records) with expensive condenser mics and instruments in every room. Yet Lynne comes off (to me) as a modest, hardworking journeyman who just happens to be one of the five best producers in pop/rock music. See it if you can (I caught it on Palladia).

Last modified 2012/10/13

Lost gems: Sami Takieddin tracks from 2000-2001

In the early 2000s there was a site called mp3.com. An artist whose work I discovered there named Sami Takieddin released two albums of really great new-agey tracks. Digging around a bit I did find a third one “Stories” on last.fm. Outside of that I don’t know what happened to him.

I would like to make a couple of tracks available for you to hear, but I don’t own them. I’ll try to track the artist down and see if I can talk him into this…they say the internet never forgets but I am not sure that’s really 100% true…

Updated 4 Jan 2014

What the hell am I doing? Nothing??

update 2012/05/11

Well, as the grave draws ever nearer I am stuck in an obsessive-compulsive loop working on a couple of new pieces. Besides Life As Usual, the main thing delaying progress on these works is my attempts to play parts that are way beyond my musical abilities. But the good thing is that I believe I have SOME perspective on my own work. My best technique is to put aside a piece for one or preferably two weeks. When I return to them, I strip out whole chunks of them or even abandon them.

update 2012/02/18
I did buy a beautiful 25 inch LCD monitor from Fry’s Electronics in San Diego. Of course, within a week or two there were 27 inch models for less money. But I guess I can’t chase technology around forever.

I really like this monitor. Now I can see more stuff in my DAWs with less eyestrain.

update 2011/10/22
The good news is that I have a full time job = income again. The bad news for finishing songs is that it’s a full time job. I am not looking the gift horse in the mouth. For one thing I finally was able to afford upsizing my monitor again. As I get older I need larger and larger screens!

I’m in too-many-choice-hell again with Ableton Live. I have been working on a piece for about a year, it has 50 killer riffs and leads in it, and I just can’t seem to prevent myself from adding new or better ones. At least I’ve got it mostly arranged. But I think the years of 1 album per year are not to happen now unless I win the lottery or retire…

update 2011/10/22
Since finishing Pangur Ban I revisited some older tunes. And I’m wrapped around the axle on those as well, partly because I am obsessed with not throwing anything out. I got the bright idea of not working on anything for a week or so, hopefully when I get back to work I will hear pieces with new ears.

The other thing that I do that’s a huge time waster is spending a hour on a snare drum sound, or half a day of a 2 bar rhythm groove. I think it’s pretty obvious at this juncture I would not really be capable of writing anything to deadline…

update 2011/09/12
No one ever accused me of updating this blog too often. Since March 2011 I have actually had a full time job. Really more than that as I am averaging 10 hour days. Not so easy for someone of my advanced years. But it’s nice being able to pay my bills without draining my meager savings. At last I have finished my piece called “Pangur Ban”. For more info and a link to a player for it, see this page. And here’s the background on what Pangur Ban is from Wikipedia..

I’m content enough with it. I gave it its own page since I think it has some interesting production aspects. Briefly, it started with a sample from the OLPC that I thought was interesting. When I slowed it down like 75% it revealed an interesting melody — sort of reminiscent of something you’d hear out of the Buddha Machine. So I arranged, orchestrated, looped and generally mangled it into the new piece. I’ll try to get it loaded on SoundCloud soon with a link to it here. update 2010 11 30Yeah, even though I have time I have urped out nothing new in too long a time. Well, I’m trying to finish this piece:

46-channel Ableton Live set

Well, that and buying some new toys for my studio… update 25 Dec 2010 OK, I finally finished “Haborthelem” (what does that mean? I have no idea but I probably should.)

update 11 jan 2011 The good news is I have more time to work on music. The bad news is that I don’t have any more income for the time being…

update 17 feb 2011 Yesterday I attended a lecture on Pd. This is the Open Source software reminiscent on Opcode’s venerable Max audio programming system. It’s sure come a long way since I last looked at it five years ago or so. At that time it was only partly ready for prime time, but the current version appears much more stable and functional. I’m going to update my comments about it on the “Free or cheap music software” page.

Long overdue review of 19 A.D.D. “Dead River”

19 A.D.D. “Dead River” cover

19add review (odt format)

19 A.D.D. “Dead River” (2010, 36 Records)

Is your favorite music the likes of, for instance, Lady Gaga, The White Stripes, MGMT, or Arcade Fire? Then stop reading now since you are definitely in the wrong place. However, if bands like King Crimson, Tool and Mahavishnu Orchestra get you excited, then you are in for a huge treat.

19 A.D.D. is a trio from Colorado mainly playing electric guitar, bass and drums. With that seemingly conventional instrumentation they have hammered out a monstrous, fire breathing set, one of the very best I’ve heard from a long time.

To try to get a point of reference, I suppose you could characterize it as “instrumental progressive/experimental jazz/metal.” Besides the bands named above, in my opinion it contains elements of Dysrhythmia, Liquid Tension Experiment, Black Light Syndrome and Attention Deficit, but is not by any means imitative or derivative of them. The songs are primarily complex, joyously loud and brutal, and leavened with odd little sound sculptures and breaks just to add interest and variety to the mix.

The 45 minute release consists of 15 tracks. 6 of them are short sound collage or experimental pieces (one sounds like a 50s Ken Nordine riff) , mixed in with 9 somewhat more conventional pieces. Conventional is probably not the operative word, as the band manages to throw in countless tempo, key and time signature changes into their tunes, still managing to keep the flow and power moving.

Musically I give them a 9 out of 10—I feel like they’re still going to get better.

If I had to carp about anything, I guess it would be the hypercompressed mastering. For their style of high power music, I know it’s common and does make sense, but I can’t help but wonder what their material would have sounded like with the limiters backed off a tad. The CD release not surprisingly sounds better than the MP3 versions, but both have plenty of beef. Obviously…you must have this. On top of that, the CD artwork is beautiful. Don’t just rip or get the MP3 of this, actually go out and buy the CD.

(As of late 2011 their second record GAIA has been completed. More about the band etc is at www.19add.com)

Track list

1 0:57 Siddhapur

2 3:46 Diadem

3 3:45 Spoim

4 0:40 Patan

5 3:48 First World Paine

6 4:33 Sailing Blinde

7 8:37 Slomosexual

8 0:56 Umari

9 3:45 Tendre Crotch Play

10 1:08 Danta

11 3:24 Carnivalium

12 0:53 Jamhuri

13 1:21 Khapan

15 2:52 Bikarni

You should get this and Gaia! Highly recommended.

Updated 4 Jan 2014

NWEAMO San Diego – Feb/Mar 2012

I feel really blessed to have this wonderful event just a few miles from my house. Sometimes I think it’s a pity that more people from the community don’t attend.

This year there is a very nice article, mainly based on an interview (with a handy description of the festival schedule) with festival adjuvant Dr Joseph Waters, that hopefully will raise the series’ profile. But unfortunately it is still 90% music students from SDSU attending.

Tonight the Partch ensemble is playing; I only hope it will not be sold out before I can buy a ticket.

Spotify and Pandora

Update 2011 Nov 18

I still had the free Spotify account. So this is supposed to be the future of streaming music? Well, let’s give it another spin.

I sign in and the first thing it wants to do is connect me with Facebook. Besides the fact I quit that service, I can’t understand why I should care what other people are listening to. Why on earth should I want to do that? Furthermore, why should anyone care what I’m listening to? Is this really such a big deal to people?

So I skip that screen. I say to myself, let’s listen to some Ozric Tentacles…one of my all time favorite bands. Search the name, wow, quite a few tracks and albums show up. Impressive. Wait a minute, “Epicus Doomicus Metallicus” is not an Ozrics album! Yup, they have a Candlemass album (which happens to be a metal act I do love) listed as an Ozrics album. I submit  a problem report.

Finally the song ends, what’s it, 4 minutes? A chirpy female voice comes on with some kind of long message about scrobbling. I don’t care about scrobbling, but I can’t listen to anything else until that message ends.

Spotify? You have got to be kidding. I’m so out of here. Premium service is better, you say? Well, then I’ll go back to Pandora. I would like to be able to specifically choose albums and songs, but not that badly.

Original post

I got an invite to sign up with Spotify this week. I’ve been hearing all this buzz about it, so why not?

It has a lot of tracks. Not everything but a lot. It’s nice being able to hear tracks from artists I’ve heard about for free.

Naturally being ad-supported, the free version has limitations.

It will only sync up the tracks on your local machine with an iPod. It might not work with generic mp3 players, but it any case I don’t care.

You can’t download the streaming tracks. Not too surprising.

You can queue up tracks.

However, after 10 minutes or so of listening it plays commercials. You can’t fool the commercials by muting or even turning the volume down low; the timer stops until you raise the volume. That’s mega annoying.

For my kind of listening Pandora was much better. It now has a big enough library that you get a good variety of new tracks once you set up a station.

I suppose Spotify is better if you know pretty much exactly the artist/album/tracks you want to hear, Pandora if you want to find out about new things (I stumbled upon Animals as Leaders, set a new channel up with that and have already learned about a dozen incredible new post-rock outfits.)

YMMV of course..

last modified 18 Nov 2011

Scary developments

update 2012/02/19

Well, that turned out to be a false alarm. I’m back to my version of black metal compositions for the time being.

I still reserve the right to do vocals some time in the future. Maybe I can be the Gordon Lightfoot/Leonard Cohen of my generation (*snerk*)

original post: 2011/07/27

OK, confession time.

Probably giving my age away pretty badly; in my rotation of CDs to listen to during my commute, I pulled up my old Talk Talk collection.

The embarrassing admission is that I actually sing along to them in the car. So what the hell? I thought. I hooked up a mic on an improvised stand (adapted from an old camera tripod I had), hooked it to my ART preamp, and sang along with a bunch of songs on “The Party’s Over” and “It’s My Life.”

So far, I am persisting in my folly but I’m sure reason will return before I make too big a dope out of myself. My plan at the moment is to take one or two tunes and cover them. Basically, I’ll gradually build the track back up using my own tools around my own lead vocal.

This is a lot of fun, even if the tracks never see the light of day. For instance, one track I want to slow down just a few percent which is not much easier with the better elastic audio tools available in most decent DAWs.

Meanwhile I’m also working on a couple other tracks I started as long ago as 10 years which I hope to finish before I get too old to know what I’m doing. Hopefully there will be more frequent progress reports than I’ve been making.

(posted 2011/07/27; updated 2012/02/19)

“The Producers Conference” notes: San Diego 14 May 2011 stop

See the description here

This was well worth the nominal $35 admission fee. It’s difficult to get good technical and business information about the music industry so these rare events are very welcome.

This seminar struck a great balance between technology and industry. The first two presenters, Matt Piper of Line6 (Reason’s US distributor) and Kurt “PEFF” Kurasaki (Reason expert from its earliest days) concentrated on technique, focusing on the Neptune pitch correction tool and advanced compression methods in Reason 5/Record 1.5. Even for producers not using Reason this was valuable info.

Ted Breuner then spoke about his journey into the innards of the music industry from his days as an amateur songwriter in his hometown band to working with L.A. A-list artists. At first I thought he minimized the business aspects in favor of “touchy-feely” concepts, but what he was trying to get across was that, if you enter the business to get rich it will be a miracle if you do, but with passion, commitment and persistence you will be rewarded. You could argue this point but I wouldn’t with someone as experienced as him.

Finally, dance music production wizard Jake Stanczak of Kill The Noise showed some secrets of producing monster tracks using Reason. But with his intensity and commitment, he could probably make fantastic tracks using a handheld cassette recorder and the contents of the average kitchen. Props to him for sharing so generously of his experience as well as his techniques.

I hope there are more of these sorts of events in the San Diego area.

It’s ironic how pop music production seems to have returned back to L.A. again just as it was decades ago…

Last modified (fixed page title!) 2012 01 12