Musical Presents

It’s always so difficult to know what to buy people as presents. I like to buy people CDs, DVDs or books that I think they would like. The trouble is that if I think they would like them, they surely they must have thought that about some of them too and bought them for themselves, unless of course I have grossly misjudged their taste? However if I think it is hard to know what to buy people, I have been told that it is considerably harder to get me something. The trouble is that when I like something, most of the time I just buy it straight away. I have never been a good one for holding off, giving hints and then seeing if anybody gets it for my birthday or Christmas.

Maybe it’s because I get very excited looking forward to something being released and then going to buy on the day it comes out. I remember when I was growing up there was always an agonising choice between going down the shops near where we lived in the hope that Woolworths have a copy in stock, or going into town after school and going to Our Price. If I got it wrong it meant that I would have to wait to the next day, which felt like torture to my teenage brain. But if I got it right it, I would get a copy in my hands and then excitedly read all the sleeve notes or CD booklet on the way home. Once there I would play it on my Akai midi hi-fi system in my bedroom or if I really wanted to give it a good listen I would play it on the hi-fi system in the front room, watching out the window at all the people walking by outside wondering why they won’t listening to this album too. Maybe they hadn’t heard of it yet, seeing as it had only just been released. Smug teenager alert.

Everything is different now with downloads and internet shopping of course. Now you can pre-order everything either to be delivered or downloaded as soon as it is available. Of course if you are a little bit shifty, you could get hold or stuff weeks before that too. So where does that leave all of the lovely people that have decided that I have been a good enough boy that year to be rewarded with a present? I’ve made lists of things that I will hold off buying myself, but it doesn’t really fell very personal for those getting the gifts.

So this year for Christmas I decided to ask people to get me any kind of musical instruments that could. In fact it didn’t have to be an instrument, anything that made an interesting noise would be brilliant. Taking a bit of a nod from Imogen Heap, Thomas Dolby and the Art Of Noise and also remembering all the messing around with sampling that I used to enjoy doing, I thought that it would be interesting to see what sounds I could coax from them, or manipulate in the computer afterwards into new sounds.

Wanda put the word out for me and I must say that I was very impressed, grateful and excited with all the lovely things that people bought me. I thought I would share them with you all.

I got a rainmaker from Wanda:


An child’s accordion (it actually plays like a harmonica) from Mum & Dad:


Swanee and penny whistles from John & Maggie and a recorder from Wanda:

Recorder and Swanee & Penny Whistles

An ocarina and a train whistle from Wanda:

Ocarina and Train Whistle

I have already had some great fun recording some of these. The first recording I have made is on a little instrumental track I have been playing around with called ‘Buckle’ and so far I have used the rainmaker and the ocarina. I recorded the rainmaker at work and then played around with the audio, slowing it down, speeding it up, filtering it and then tuning it into a scale. I put the resultant sounds at the beginning and end of the track as a bit of weird sounding percussion.

Then I started playing around with the ocarina and after messing around for a bit, I managed to get some notes out of it that were in key with the track (B flat) and recorded them. I pulled them into tune a little bit as the ocarina seems to be little bit flat (nothing to do with my playing obviously), then after a more than healthy dose of compression and an ocean of reverb it ended up sounding very spooky, which was nice, so I put this on the last few bars at the end of the track. I particularly like that you can heard me taking a massive breath afterwards, which I thought sound nice so I left it in.

Why not have a listen and see what you think:

Buckle.mp3 – Direct Link

So here’s hoping that this will continue for as long as I’m a good boy and people still want to get me presents.




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