While Zoom was a welcome break from the chaos of working from home plus homeschooling or the monotony of furloughed lockdown last time around, there is always a need to keep things fresh and find new/better/fun ways to keep the music playing.
Blocking out the whole of Sunday evening to be online isn’t going to feel like the best way to use our time but then, what’s a Sunday without BFC?
So we are going to Zoom on a Sunday. But we’re going to Zoom on a Sunday to have a beer and a laugh, just the length of a single freebie Zoom meeting. Chew the fat. Have the craic.
The music? Well there’s no BFC without the music. Sunday proved that!! So use the time you have, make your music the way you want. Record it how you want: a single audio track, a smartphone video, a full multi track recording, whatever. Share it on the WhatsApp group. Get your family singing and playing. Whatever floats your boat and whenever that tide rolls in. Want to make more of it? Get other BFC crew involved, share and collaborate. Create together although apart. If you think you have something to accompany someone else, do it, record it, mix it and see where it goes. If you don’t have the tech for mixing etc, just record your contribution and ask, there are enough of us with enough technology and basic skills to make it work.
There is no “what should I record?” It should be whatever you want to share, whatever you think could be another of our barnstorming collaborative numbers for when we get back to the pub, part of a wider project, anything goes.
We have SO much talent between us, let’s see the current situation as an opportunity to build not an impediment.
If you don’t get how it could work, I implore you to check out The Ciderhouse Rebellion and their “incider” sessions. What they did in spring lockdown is just ridiculous, stupidly technical and a beacon of “making sh*t happen when all the cards are stacked against you”. Their music is utterly beautiful too. https://theciderhouserebellion.com/the-incider-the-outcider-sessions/
So without the waffle, it looks like this:
- Sundays, let’s just get together on Zoom, enjoy the craic and have a beer, Andy or I will host each week and make sure you have the links to join.
- Meanwhile, work on your music, get others involved, make something awesome.
- Share it on the WhatsApp group.
Some resources to help over the coming weeks:
Zoom and some notes about making it work (which were written for playing music over zoom but probably still useful) – http://www.bamptonfolkclub.org.uk/music-sessions-on-zoom-a-guide/
Musescore is the best music notation software out there and best of all it’s free! Brock and I have started using it and I’ve uploaded musescore files for all the stuff I’ve done with it to the filecloud. For those like me who are trying to learn to read at the same time as a billion other things, it’ll also generate tablature for whatever (fretted) instrument you play, and it will play a MIDI synthesized track of the music for you to get it stuck in your head and to play along with. Download it here: https://musescore.org/en
And talking of the filecloud, it’s here: http://owncloud.bamptonfolkclub.org.uk If you don’t know how to get access, just ask.
Recording and mixing
Recording and mixing software is pretty much always a pain. On mac and iPhone there are two good tools – garageband has been used to produce amazing stuff but I just fail to get it to do what I want it to, you may well get on better than I did. The other thing is “MusicMemos”. Again, it’s Apple’s own software, a tweaked version of Voice Memos adapted for music – super simple, works a treat. No idea what equivalents are out there for Android I’m afraid – if you have good suggestions please share!
On the PC there is one really good piece of freeware, Audacity. It will record directly from instrument pickup or microphone attached to your PC, record multiple tracks, mix them, correct any little timing issues (what? me? never…). Basically it’s a full featured on screen mixing desk. Get it here: https://www.audacityteam.org/
You’ll need some way of getting a signal from your instrument to the PC of course, and that varies with the type of pickup you have. But at the very least you’ll need a 1/4″ male instrument jack to 2.5mm female converter and a 2.5mm male to male wire into the microphone jack of your PC. You’ll find those very cheaply on eBay or Amazon. It may also be, if you have a little, modern, amp that it has a USB output that you can just shove into a usb port on your PC.
That’s all well and good if you have an instrument pickup… For singing and non-electrified instruments you’ll likely want a better microphone than on a laptop – they’re just awful. The first place to look is your phone, they are surprisingly good nowadays and the audio processing software behind them does an amazing job. That said, I’ve ordered a USB mic for much cheapness from Amazon which by all accounts should be perfectly good for completely acoustic instruments and singing. https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07W6ZZZWK/