Soilse in Darkness is a strong, intense and exciting piece. It is dark, with a powerful surging light shining through.
During a dark and intense tropical thunderstorm I was jamming with a tabla player in Sydney. We were working with Indian rhythms that he learned during his time in India. In the session I created a melody I called "Ode to a Tabla" I have bedded the melody in Soilse in Darkness, along with a heavy metal inspired melody and rhythm, and a Celtic nod. The left hand plays pizzicato with the third finger whilst stopping the melody line with the other fingers. I also call the piece Solace in Darkness. Soilse in Darkness means "lights in darkness" Soilse means "lights" in Irish and pronounced a bit like Sweelsha…and I like that my name is in the word…
I went into the studio a couple of weeks ago with composer/guitarist Fergal O'Connor and violinist Tom Crowley and we came up with some cool string parts for this soundtrack, check it out! I'm looking forward to reading the book, hopefully it's as fun as we had jamming in Claycastle Studios! Afterwards we went for the most moody winter walk along Youghal beach as the light was draining from the clouds. Very atmospheric to match the music…
Another fun recording session for Caroline Fraher's new CD with the lovely and brilliant producer/guitarist Steve Cooney. As well as being a producer and guitarist, he has an amazing method for unlocking and teaching music, which I hope he writes the book for! Caroline has a lightly sparkling, shimmering voice, and is singing gorgeous songs. This CD is going to be a winner for her, very beautiful.
Recording sessions take alot of concentration on the fine details.
The important things to remember are:
Give every note the right feel and placement. This means keeping relaxed and open to the music, and finding a way for your sound to blend with the other recorded instruments as though you are playing in the same room with them. You have to become part of the band.
Listen to tuning constantly. Especially relative to the track. This can become very difficult playing along with out of tune instruments already recorded, and very easy with a nicely tuned piano. Although if you have been playing alot with other stringed instruments, playing with the equal temperament of the piano can take some getting used to. It can feel like the tuning goes against what the ear naturally wants to hear. Keep tuning your instrument regularly throughout the session and listen for the blend of your notes with the other voices. You are looking for a place for your note that doesn't poke out. Unless poking out is called for…
Keeping the arms, neck and body relaxed whilst playing is essential. It is easy to start letting the tension sneak up after a few hours or even a few minutes of intense concentration. Get up, walk around, have the breaks you need, but mostly, consciously relax your right arm into each bow stroke. Release all the arm muscles just before each new drop in point/entry. You should do this all the time anyway.
Be prepared. If you are not being given a specific part to play, make sure you have the songs sent to you beforehand, and write out at least the structure, but also chords and melody line as well as any ideas you might have. Writing out the bass line of the chords and the melody or lyrics on top helps. The more prepared you are the more relaxed.
Don't talk too much while recording. Try not to explain your mistakes. When given ideas, take them on, and try them. Be like a grassy field swaying in the wind!! Nothing worse than arguing and getting stressed about ideas. Be gentle… you know the rave. Big egos are not needed when you are hired to do the job!!!
And enjoy it!
I was recording with Marianne Lee, putting cello lines on 5 of her beautiful songs. She had an American sound engineer/producer, Kramer, come all the way over to Ireland to set up studio in her house. It's in Dublin and the road is busyish, so we were stuck to record in a tiny hot box room. Despite this, Kramer managed to get an amazing sound for the cello, using handmade microphones and Logic Pro. Check out his site and music!
This is my composition/film called Love & Fissures. I recorded four cello tracks with the C-string tuned down to various levels of purr. The film is of my Irish hand woven blanket which I have had for 10 years. It has a life of it's own, and sneaking up behind it, I finally caught it doing it's strange dance on film!
Did a recording in Donncha Moynihan’s studio in Bishopstown last week with Malcolm Sean Urquhart. You can hear the two tracks on his my space the tracks ‘Into these arms’ and ‘Exit Wounds’ are the ones with cello.