Kingston University, London is proud to host An Evening With Tony Visconti - legendary record producer in-conversation, discussing highlights of his career. The evening will take place in the newly opened Visconti Studio and draw particular focus on Tony's work in arranging for strings.
There'll be time for Q&A, and a drinks reception afterwards. Tickets are available to book via this link:
******** UPDATE ********
What a great night! Definitely one of the coolest things I have ever been a part of. Photos by Alex Evans:
Our partners on this project include the British Library and the Science Museum, and Tony Visconti will be a key contributor to the project's research and enterprise outputs. One of record production's great innovators, he is synonymous with ground-breaking music and has worked with some of the most dynamic and influential names in pop, from Marc Bolan / T-Rex and Thin Lizzy, to David Bowie, Morrissey and U2. The project will see him working with students and staff of Kingston University, as well as invited artists, to produce records. The studio will also be available for commercial hire.
Based around an extraordinary 300m2 octagonal live room and stocked with vintage and rare recording equipment (Studer, Neve, Neumann, Universal Audio), the tape-based studio also features a unique collection of instruments including a Mellotron, a Hammond organ and Steinway concert grand piano.
The Visconti Studio will officially be opened on the 19th September 2016.
Full site launch will happen soon (with info about courses, events, research opportunities and studio hire)... for now we have a holding page with some information about our launch event in September:
You can also like our FB page if you're interested in following our progress:
Based on the Emmy Award-winning short film of the same name, Notes on Blindness is the debut feature from Writer-Directors Peter Middleton & James Spinney, whose work explores new approaches in the documentary form. The project is based on the audio diaries of writer and theologian John Hull, who – after decades of steady deterioration – became totally blind in 1983.
To help him make sense of the upheaval in his life, he began keeping a diary on audio-cassette.
Over three years he recorded in excess of sixteen hours of material – a unique testimony of loss, rebirth and renewal, which excavates the interior world of blindness. Neurologist Oliver Sacks described John’s account as ‘the most extraordinary, precise, deep and beautiful account of blindness I have ever read. It is to my mind a masterpiece.’
Embedding original documentary elements within cinematic interpretations and textured sound design (from acclaimed Supervising Sound Editor Joakim Sundström), the filmmakers take the viewer on an illuminating and deeply personal journey deep into what John calls “a world beyond sight”.
The film will be released in the UK on July 1st with Curzon Artificial Eye.
Then I took out the core element, the improvised piano solo, and just left the "around" sounds. It's an interesting result, the empty space left by the missing piano part is almost like a silhouette.
[edit: I've since taken these demos down, since they became The Waiting, both versions appear finished on the Feather Hammer album]
I'm reminded that I've done this kind thing before - back when Helzuki were writing in the studio, many of the arrangements started with piano parts that I had written. As band members added their layers to the arrangement, we all found the song worked better if we took the original part out, leaving all the stuff that had been constructed around it to hold the thing up.
Imma try out this method some more. It suits me, since my improvs sometimes come out sounding a bit basic and obvious. This could be a cool way to use that material in a backwards kinda way.
In other news, the My Lithium & Me project is being noticed and listened by the best people: sweetoblivion blogged about it, Boy George downloaded and listened to it, and it was featured on David Bowie's very own site as a news item. Fair to say I'm absolutely chuffed at the reaction it's getting. In little over a week since releasing it I've had over 5700 plays and nearly 2300 downloads via soundcloud, which is just awesome! Thanks everyone!
Update - here's a video demo by Matthew Greasley to go with the non-piano version of the track:
Kinda like what John Adams tried to do with his "Book of Alleged Dances" in the mid nineties with the triggering of prerecorded loops during string quartet performance, with Ableton you could create such loops on the fly while a performance is in progress... you could even bank these loops as they are made and re-trigger them in various combinations to create interesting textures and harmonic colours. Such exciting possibilities... and I imagine much more exciting and gratifying than watching a performance played along to pre-recorded material on CD (which, unfortunately, is what happened in the end to Adams' project).
I really love this idea of recording being temporal rather than definitive - to capture something quickly and manipulate it instantly. If only I could find a cellist who would be happy being my guinea pig for a day or two...
I just posted a clip from Peter Sant's latest video art piece, "Cadence" on the media page of this site (for the full length version - check out http://www.petersant.com ). Despite my computer-related woes of late, I really enjoyed working on this project - camped out on the dining table with my MIDI keyboards and controllers strewn around the kitchen.
I originally got the job by responding to a post on Composition Today (truly one of the ugliest arts-related sites ever to exist on the interwebs) - the artist was looking for a keyboardist/composer, and I took the bait. He responded in kind with a list of musical limitations and rules by which I needed to adhere. Also, I was to only receive the foley track, and not the footage, to score to. Here were some of the rules:
- begin at precisely 2min 30 secs
- contain a 'light' and discretely 'anticipatory' motif
- never be 'dark' or 'suspenseful'
- contain the following, in order of their relative quantity:
- plus an optional extra (but not percussive)
- not occupy more than 70% of the allocated time
- operate at a tempo slower than a clock
There was a lot of back and forth - a few changes, a few edits. It was refreshing to work in this way, separate and remote from the visual element yet very close to it at the same time. Here's an example from the final score - the first occurrence of the main theme, beginning at precisely 2min 30secs...
Cadence [excerpt] by leahkardos -----
In other news, Matt has managed to give himself Pharyngitis and I feel the same thing creeping up on me slowly. Just in time for Easter holidays, which is rather crappy indeed!
I’ve decided to spend these next two weeks coughing and moaning about my sore throat, sitting on the couch drinking tea watching my boyfriend finish playing Saints Row II. In the down time maybe I’ll work on a new game-soundtrack-oriented-demo reel. I just joined this wonderful online community called G.A.N.G (game audio network guild) in an effort to learn more about the medium and have found myself very inspired and surprised at the openness, friendliness and supportive nature of the group. I’m used to composers being bitchy, petty, jealous and snippy at each other. Seems these game audio people are just in it for the love. A nice change!
My man Shostakovich allegedly once said
In the long run, all things in life can be separated into the important and the unimportant. You must be principled when it comes to the important things, and not when it comes to the unimportant. That may be the key to living.”
I say ‘allegedly’ because his famous ‘Testimony” memoirs, which were published after his death have had their authenticity disputed for a long time. Regardless of who actually said it, I think they were right. There is a right time to stick to your principles and there are definitely times when it’s more appropriate to be flexible.
Whereas once I would believe in and insist on absolute mastery of techniques, now I can package that knowledge for a specific individual so that they can easily add a simple string arrangement to their grime tune -- and not feel dirty afterwards like I’ve just personally offended the muses, but actually feel happy in the knowledge that this student wouldn’t have otherwise bothered with the concept of harmony if I hadn’t been able to flex.
The key to living. I remember a time when I tried to be principled in every aspect of my life - I wanted to be the living breathing embodiment of everything I believed in. How boring. How exhausting! No, I can’t write music that is too commercial. No, I can’t be part of THAT project, since it’s not what I’m about as an artist ... No, I can’t like that composer’s music because it is too derivative. No, I can’t go to that gig because that band went big and ‘sold out’. No, I can’t be friends with that person because they don’t like the same art and music that I do. What a load of hogwash. Life is more fun when you say ‘Yes” to things, when you are prepared to bend your strict principles a little, when the situation calls for it.
Things that are important: my creative output, my friends, my financial well being, my health, being charitable. Things that are unimportant: haircuts, websites, xbox games, what music my friends like, what people think of me and my work, being right all the time.
And Dave just sent me the DVD cover art. Nice. I sure hope it wins in a few festivals - I think it deserves to. Seeing my name credited on DVD covers always makes me feel like Steve Martin’s character “the Jerk” when he sees his name printed in the phone book. .. “This is the kind of spontaneous publicity - your name in print - that makes people! I’m in print! Things are going to start happening to me now!” heh. Yeah I WISH... anyways, I find myself wishing he went for this design...
I did this score over three nights during a work week ... and I think it turned out alright considering that David saw fit to use the first draft I sent him of the score. I get a bit of a kick out of working quickly like this, efficiency is an underrated virtue these days - especially in music - so often having too many ingredients spoils the dish. I limited myself to 1 melodic motif and a sound palette of piano, celeste, strings and backwards reverbs. I created the creepy animal-like sounds by putting piano reverbs through Logic’s vocal transformer and messing with the formants. Fun!
You can check out some more of David’s short film work HERE.
In other news, I got my Michael Jackson tickets! 30th of July, me and Liz will be there ready to either be blown away by the best and biggest pop comeback of all time, or slightly disappointed but yet fascinated by a train-wreck of gigantic proportions. It’ll be music history either way. And I’ll be there! Whoop!
Eyelashes of Gina swept into my little studio for three days last weekend and left behind two shiny new song nuggets. We uploaded them to the band’s website (which is linked just to the right of this blog). If you actually go and listen to the music I want you to keep two things in mind: 1, remember that it’s only supposed to be a laff.... and 2, that all tracks were conceived, brainstormed, performed and recorded in a few hours. Keeping in mind those two points, I think things turned out ok!
I thank the gods for creating Melodyne! Man I love technology...
3 days and five pages of dire note-against-note counterpoint for a cantus firmas in every mode later ... I feel like dying. I continually remind myself: Beethoven found this useful and referred to it constantly. Was this the reason he was such a cranky man?
I guess I will continue with it for a while, since the better I remember all the rules, the better I will be able to break them. I don’t want to begin writing The Quartet until I have a clear idea about theme and structure. At the moment my head is swimming with a million ideas with nothing really pinned down. On Thursday night I got into a cab and found myself overwhelmingly inspired by the Punjabi folk music playing on the car radio. Doesn’t help that the commission is supposed to be in neo-classic style.
*sigh* Hopefully the concept and design with hit me in the face sometime soon or else a Neoclassic/Punjabi mashup may happen, and surely only bring discomfort and misery to the world!