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Jun 202010

“French soldier in World War I preparing his correspondence ” (Soissons. Aisne. France. 1917). Courtesy of http://www.worldwaronecolorphotos.com

For podcast 24, we bring you Writing Home, a solo set I performed live in front of an audience at Scarritt Bennett Center Gallery F in Nashville on May 29th, 2010.  My set was part of an art installation called Writing Home, featuring hand-written responses to the prompt, “Write a letter home.”  (Find out more at our previous post here.)

For my set, I continued experimenting with my Scoop & Loop project (see podcast #8 Pit of Roar).  I recorded samples of the other musicians playing that night, sounds of nature, and short interviews with audience members answering the question, “What do you miss about home?”  The result is a pretty decent start to a live project I want to continue perfecting.  For the next iteration, I’d like to break up repetitive word samples by adding in pauses, take unmusical phrases and build melodies out of them, and make things generally flow better.

I did the live mixing and editing.  Writing Home features recorded samples of Gallery F. curator Sabine Schlunk, Maya Moore, Charlie Rauh, Ezzy Harrold, The Human Snowglobe JJ Jones, Brandon Donahue, Mike Hiegemann, Matt Christy, and Robert G. White Esq.  Thanks to Sabine Schlunk for inviting me to play, to the other performers, and to the very patient audience.

Before the show, hear a never-before-re-aired Theatre Intangible promo made during the WRVU-era improv Blind Strings, an episode made entirely with de-tuned string instruments.  Look for the full episode in the near future.

If you like the show, tell a friend, share on your social networks (share link below), and leave us a review on iTunes.

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Mar 142010

Nine of us sat in my cold basement, sitting on amplifiers arranged in a circle and armed with guitars of all shapes and calibers.  We had just recorded a level-check for the all guitar episode, and Charlie was uncomfortable.  I shared his worry that the episode may degenerate into a cacophonous kludge of competing frequencies, each guitarist in his own little world.  We solved the problem by dividing the show into mini-concepts lasting between 5 and 15 minutes each.  It wasn’t long before the tape rolled and JJ sprang into action as one concept’s conductor; waving, pointing, raising and lowering his appendages, signaling players when to play and with what intensity.  After an inspired smoke break, Will Floyd orchestrated the theme of a bank heist as told through guitar.  Charlie played the carefree bank customer whose happy notes took a turn for the sour when the bank robbers shot up the place with distorted axes.  Charlie’s departed ghost rose from the grave and played a sweet coda as the bank concept ended.

All in all we recorded an hour and seventeen minutes worth of material — some good, some bad, some golden.  When I edited the show a month later, I had forgotten most of the themes, which was probably for the best.  Free of our intentions, I was able to edit simply on what sounded good.  The parts that didn’t work or felt too much like a jam band got thrown to the side, leaving a brisk thirty seven minutes.  All Guitars stars Anthony William Herndon, Brey McCoy, Charlie Rauh, and first-time participants Ben Lowry, Brady Sharp, and Adam Louis.  Each brought something unique to the table, and I look forward to having them on again.  Will Floyd and JJ Jones each directed a segment.  We recorded live to my Tascam 80-8 reel to reel tape recorder.  I did the live mixing and editing.

We had a great time making this one, and I hope you get the same pleasure out of hearing it.  All Guitars.  Enjoy.

Mar 072010

We had a great time at Podcamp Nashville this year, and our show went off without anything disastrous happening.  Apparently, planning does pay off.

If you haven’t been reading our previous posts, Podcamp Nashville is an un-conference about podcasting, blogging, and social media.  We rocked the socks off of twelve or so bewildered attendees with an improv set that fed audience live tweets into a speech synthesizer.  Any tweet that used the hashtag #pcn10ore was read live on air, and we had no control over the content.  One guest tweeted, “Are you guys on acid?”   We peppered the tweets about us with tweets featuring random keywords that the audience picked.

All in all, not a bad day’s work.  Featuring Craig Schenker on saxophone, Lawrence Crow on Supercollider, Chris Murray on Casio SK1 and various effects, JJ Jones on vocals, Melody Holt on vocals, and myself on tweet-synth and SKI.  I mixed the show live on my Mackie 8 channel mixer and recorded on a Marantz digital field recorder.   Aside from some compression and clicks and pop removal, I did very little post-production work on this show.  You’ll hear it in it’s entirety, warts and all.

While I do wish the festival was more about podcasting (as the name implies) and less about business-focused social media strategies, I’m very pleased with our experience.  (Ironically, that is the strength of the Barcamp principle — it’s about what the attendees and speakers want it to be about.)  The major plus is that it got us tons of free press with write-ups in the Metromix and the Tennessean.  And it was a pleasure to watch some of the other sessions, highlights being David Beronja‘s Skype session, Mitch Canter‘s WordPress session, and Dave Delaney‘s talk about geo-location services such as FourSquare.  Maybe we’ll incorporate Foursquare in a future improv.  (Ideas anyone?)

The tweet-to-speech program was a modified version of this open-source Python program by Jayesh Salvi.  While Jayesh’s program searches for tweets in the logged-in user’s timeline, our program searches tweets based on keywords.  I’m a complete Python programming newbie, and I couldn’t have done the modifications without the help of Bryan Kemp.  I also added some lines to filter out certain words (like our hashtag #pcn10ore) and to replace others  (Festival has an annoying habit of pronouncing the symbol “&” as “ampersand,” thus I replaced the “&”‘s with “and”‘s).

You can download our modified code here. (Right click and “save as”)

If you have Python, Fetival, and Curl (if you don’t, in a Linux command line, run “sudo aptitude install python curl festival”), you can use this script in your own musical adventures.  Feel free to modify it as you will.  To change the keyword, replace “keyword” in the following line with the keyword of your choice.


Add a “+” between words if you want to search for multiple keywords (ex. peanut+butter) and a “+OR+” if you want to search for one word or the other (ex. heaven+OR+hell).  Replace “30” with the number of twitter messages you want the program to read before it ends.  I left in the commented-out lines of the original program, so you can experiment.  Future improvements: I’d like this program to automatically filter any tweets previously read through, and, of course, it would be nice to be able to plug in the options from the bash terminal when you run the program instead of in an editor.  I’d love to see what you guys can do with this program.

Jan 312010

Turn the Page featuring Cody Bottoms, Lola Wilson, Gordon Roque, Melody Holt, JJ Jones, Kri, and 24-7.  Originally broadcast on WRVU 01/13/2008.

The idea behind Turn the Page was simple.  Six vocalists were presented with a group of index cards.  Each card had a specific instruction for something to do with their voice.  The card might say, “bark like a dog,” or, “speak German in a sinister voice.”  The card might even say, “Pick up the cd player headphones and hum the melody line you hear.”  (Before the show, I had recorded a few instrumentals using a Casio SK-1 keyboard.)

What results is one of our most entertaining episodes to date and by far the fan favorite.  Turn the Page features the vocal talents of The Human Snowglobe JJ Jones, Lola Wilson and Cody Bottoms from A Parade, Kri, Melody Holt, Gordon Roque, and 24-7 from the Billy Goats for a brief moment at the end.  Right before the show, you’ll hear an unreleased Theatre Intangible promo the band Call It Anything created when they were on the show for an artist showcase.  The background music in the intro is from an episode called Blue Green Black.  We’ll release both in the coming months.

If you like what you hear, please write us a review at iTunes.   Enjoy!