Ivory Wave O2 Academy Headline

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Ivory Wave, my band had a headline concert at the O2 Academy3 in Birmingham. Achieving the attendance we wanted and making the event as a whole memorable; something we could qualify as a success needed large amounts of work. Delegation of the different roles and tasks was vital, so this was our first port of call.

Communally, we all needed to contribute to the performance itself. Work on the stage show in terms of transitions, making the leap from a gig (where a band on stage plays some tracks) to an actual concert (where the spectacle is more than just the songs). This was a conscious decision made within the band as a whole. Outside of this we began delegating individual responsibilities;

The members of the band are as follows:

  • George – vocals
  • Luke –  Bass
  • Connor – Guitar
  • Rob – Keys
  • Sebastian (me) – Drums

We immediately decided that promotion should be a major focus in the run up to the concert itself; “promotions refer to the entire set of activities, which communicate the product, brand or service to the user. The idea is to make people aware, attract and induce to buy the product, in preference over others.”(1)

The social media accounts for the band are predominantly managed by George; so he was assigned promotion through this avenue. Email correspondence with promotors is controlled by Luke so he used our mailing list and the contacts we had gained up to this point to reach out to and promote the concert via this route. The other two and I didn’t take such an active role in the promotion; although we would message people privately who we thought would want to attend the event.

Outside of this we decided that the image needed an overhaul, with both the on-stage and off-stage appearances of the band needing some amendments. This was once again done as a group, sitting round we discussed what would be worn at the gig and how we would present ourselves on the day.

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The final result was as follows, two of us wearing white t-shirts, one with a shiny red bomber jacket over the top. The others wore dark colours, accessorised with different jackets and watches etc.

Moving on from this we began to discuss the previously mentioned stage show. For this we decided that I personally needed to acquire a few things; an attachable stand to hold my mixing desk to tidy up my on-stage setup. A printed kick drum skin with the band logo on it. Aside from that, the rest of the band were tasked with getting bits and pieces to make the stage show appear more slick and professional. We also came to a mutual decision that the tickets we sold personally should be sent out with some extra’s, to accomplish this we ordered a batch of stickers with the bands logo so these could be sent out with the tickets.

We setup a bigcartel.com online store to sell the tickets from. Thus gaining us direct contact info with fans in addition consolidating all the sales to one place. Removing the otherwise confusing matters of selling tickets individually and then attempting to manage and deal with all the money coming from different places. At this moment in time we have one setup for our upcoming concert and are following the same framework for the marketing. Screen Shot 2017-02-13 at 12.22.41.pnghttp://ivorywave.bigcartel.com/

As a whole by the gig day we had sold 122 tickets; so we feel that our marketing strategies went remarkably well. We had all communicated about the design for the kick drum skin and had that made. The tickets has been sold and sent out with the stickers, which in turn created yet more of an online buzz.

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We all collaborated on all of these processes and I feel like little could have been done to improve the final result.

In terms of how well we all achieved our own personal goals the results powered through on the gig day. The setup and soundcheck went very smoothly indeed. The gig itself was superb, this being judged both from our own personal opinion as well as the audience reaction.

The scope of my own role was slightly limited in the scope of the overall production as I have no control of the groups social media so my communication with people was limited to using my own means of contact. Although this was not massively detrimental to our overall sales I feel more could have been achieved has I been more on top of these aspects. However, for the production of the skin I used contacts I had myself and had one made to a very high specification for a reduced price. I used Rockstar drumskins; and the skin speaks for itself. (2)

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What will now follow is a risk assessment of the venue, the O2 academy3 in Birmingham.

“a systematic process of evaluating the potential risks that may be involved in a projected activity or undertaking”(3)

Whilst unloading the van we made sure not to overstrain ourselves, splitting up what needed to be carried between everyone. We discussed other things that could cause issues on the day of the concert.

  • Injuries (either on the day of the performance or prior to the date that could incapacitate someone to the point they couldn’t play).
  • Illness (the same concept as above, with someone being ill to a point that they couldn’t play).

Once inside we communicated with the in-house team to see that all cables we taped down. All lights had been double checked. There was nothing obstructing any of the exits. We also recommended to fans that they wore ear-protection.

The date that we needed to have everything in place was the 14th January. We performed the gig successfully on that day so I feel we more than accomplished what we set out to do. Although there we not official write ups of the concert I found a selection of comments on twitter:

We found that all of the items initially mentioned had contributed well; the kick drum for example giving more of a sense of a brand. I do however feel as though we could have benefited from improved communication throughout the whole process, as some things would get omitted due to not being spoken about.

References:

  1. http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/definition/promotions
  2. http://www.rockstarskins.co.uk/
  3. http://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/controlling-risks.htm
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Ley Lines II – EPK

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Wednesdays at Kidderminster College can be quite special. Volume two of the collaboration between Steve Lawson, Andy Edwards and Phi Yaan-Zek. Vol 1 was recorded as a series of improvised pieces, but then Phi edited it fairly heavily – nothing was actually rebuilt from samples, but some fairly big edits were done and song structures carved out. For Vol II, this is as it was played – improvised in the moment. Some of the tracks are topped and tailed to edit out waffle, but this is what we did. It’s not easy listening by any stretch, but hopefully it’s rewarding.

https://phiyaan-zek.bandcamp.com/album/ley-lines-ii

Andy Edwards has played with Robert Plant, Frost* and IQ. Andy’s more experimental or unreleased recordings from the last twenty years have been a testament to his musical expertise.

https://andyedwards.bandcamp.com/

Phi has recorded and performed with the likes of Mike Keneally, Ron Thal, Marco Minnemann, Bryan Beller, Steve Lawson and Lalle Larsson among others. With 6 solo CD releases to his name since 1997, Phi’s dynamic musical vision dances yin-yang style between the polarities of passionate, dark intensity and warm, otherworldly playfulness.

https://phiyaan-zek.bandcamp.com/

The UK’s most celebrated solo bassist, with lots of looped/layered solo albums, & collaborations, most notably with genius singer Lobelia. His music “is the soundtrack to the day you wish you’d had.”

http://music.stevelawson.net/

 

 

Craig Blundell’s Online Presence

Drummer | Educator | Writer | Programmer | Clinician. This is the tag below his title on his personal website; https://www.craigblundell.com/

All of these titles apply and I am going to trawl through his social media and other online areas to provide an analysis of his online presence.

I will begin with his Facebook page:

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On the page at the point I am writing this piece he has 24,830 likes. Although this a a substantial number of people, due to Facebook’s algorithms and paid marketing strategies he is unlikely to reach a large percentage of these people. He has however used things such as Facebook Live, a new feature that will cause all of the people who like his page to be sent a notification informing them that he has “gone live”, this leading to the 20,987 views the video had achieved.

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“The aim of the game is to grow your number of followers – when people hit the ‘Follow’ button under your streams, they’ll get a notification next time you go live, building up your views and engagement with each video.”(1)

So in essence, or theory, a larger and larger online presence can be achieved through successive live videos, building the presence each time. However, Craig isn’t particularly active on Facebook Live, probably due to a highly demanding workload. But he regularly posts, every one or two days, meaning his fans have a constant stream of info and photos they can readily interact with.

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Moving now onto his instagram, again he posts regularly, a mixture of content, from what he’s playing to who he is playing with. He has a smaller following on here when compared to Facebook, but his percentage interaction is significantly higher, due to Instagram not blocking his posts out if he does not sponsor them.

He is also highly active on twitter and regularly uploads a variety of videos to his Youtube channel; but his website, where all of these different sites are collected together is testament to his carefully planned and well thought-out social media presence.

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Everything is intuitively linked, well detailed and aesthetically pleasing to view and navigate. Overall, a cohesive overview to his genuine, charismatic social media presence.

  1. http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/facebook-live-streaming-how-to-use-tips-tricks-a6991741.html

Creative Arts Research Skills

LO1

1.1 review effective research methods for a selected subject area:

This research project will focus on the integration of electronics with acoustic drums. In terms of both acoustic drums, using triggers and playing electronic elements alongside an acoustic kit, and electronic drum kits or drum modules themselves. The thesis, “how much will disregarding technology hold you back as a 21st century musician”, will allow me to explore different avenues of integrating electronics into my own acoustic set up.

I will use combinations of primary and secondary research, “Primary research is new research, carried out to answer specific issues or questions. It can involve questionnaires, surveys or interviews with individuals or small groups. Secondary research makes use of information previously researched for other purposes and publicly available.”(1)

I will use/purchase electronic additions to my set up and use them in a practice and then subsequently in a live set up and measure the value and benefit of them.

I will look at academic studies on google scholar, articles on the internet/in magazines, interviews etc.

LO1

1.2 select and justify academic frameworks that will focus research activities:

I will dedicate equal amounts of time to primary research and secondary research, this in turn will allow me to assess both parts equally and explain the intricacies of each.

LO2

2.1 organise research material using appropriate categories:

Beginning with primary research;

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This is the setup I currently gig and practice with live. I am using a Roland SPD-SX to my left with Roland RT-30 series triggers on kick and snare; the RT-30HR on the snare, dual zone, to capture both head and rim, and the RT-30K on the kick. These are both detailed below;

These run into the SPD-SX, snare into input 1/2 and kick into input 3/4. Again, this is evidenced below;

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Below my SPD-SX, I have a Alto Zephyr ZM-52 mixer. Into this I run a stereo lead from the phones output on the SPD-SX. I also run a monitor feed from the front of house sound engineer; this providing me with my monitoring. The last line I run into this is a feed from the metronome I run the bands click tracks off. From this I run my in-ears out of the phones output on the desk. The individual channels on the desk allow me to mix the levels of all three feeds and give myself the best monitoring sound.

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Following on from this I collected secondary research:

Initially a video from Craig Bundell, Steven Wilson’s drummer, who is demonstrating a similar concept and setup to the one I am using. He shows how they are setup and briefly touches on how he uses them and how they can be used in a powerful hybrid setup.

Following on from this I found a video of Adele’s rhythm section talking about their hybrid setups. Once again they are using Roland gear; and this time I was able to draw more parallels between this and my own setup. The idea of music being fresh and innovative and incorporating electronic sounds alongside the acoustic sound is a very positive one in my opinion. The triggers they use are also the same ones I use, the RT-30 series. Triggering the tracks themselves, running the backings and also using the SPD-SX for the tracklists is also a massive benefit, something that can’t easily be achieved using acoustic drums without using a computer and a launchpad of some kind.

Following on from this, Mark Guiliana shows a few interesting ideas about making acoustic drums sound electric; I believe this runs well in parallel with the mixture of acoustic and electric drums I am talking about in this project as a whole.

Next, one man band phenomenon Jack Garratt spoke about this different Roland elements he uses in his live setup. Pre-dominantly this all came back to the use of the SPD-SX, the industry standard in the area.

Ben Barter, drummer for Lorde discusses his electro-acoustic setup in two videos below. His playing and integration of electronics is very close to the fundamental concept of this whole piece. For me, the most interesting point he elaborates upon is that Lorde hates the sound of acoustic drums and the reason he has used so many samples is that she wanted the entire album aesthetic and sound to be transferred to the live show.

Looking into other areas I researched some competitors to the SPD-SX:

The Alesis SamplePad Pro:

“I have to say that SamplePad Pro left me feeling that it was too expensive for the young user and too limited for a serious professional. Some features, like accessing WAV files on a card, are awesome. Some features, like a very limited tuning range, redundant sound set, and no trigger controls, are less than awesome.”(2) 

Kat KTMP1

“That being said, I feel that the KAT KTMP1 is a good choice for those who want to control a few extra sounds without spending a lot of money. After all, this device sells for just over a C-note. I don’t know of a less expensive way to add electronic sounds to your kit, or firing sounds from your computer using sticks.”(2)

Roland Octopad

“The SPD-30’s pads feel really nice. In fact, the playability comes in a close second to the other Roland’s SX version of the multipad, which was my favorite. The internal sounds cover both the traditional instruments you might expect as well a great selection of sounds that would be right at home in the most current popular music.”(2)

Roland SPD-SX’s write up in this piece:

“The SPD-SX is a very respectable machine. The build quality seems excellent and the feel is outstanding. These pads were the most responsive for my personal playing style. They closely matched what I might expect from an acoustic drum. I had no problem playing quick double strokes, and was impressed by the way the SPD-SX tracked a closed roll.”(2)

LO2

2.2 evaluate the effectiveness of primary sources of research for a selected subject area:

I believe that the primary source of research being my own setup that I use live is highly effective as it allows me to follow, track and analyse the build up and eventual use of my electronic parts of my kit in my own live performance. Regarding my thesis, I have personally decided to wholeheartedly embrace technology and all of the benefits it can bring with it.

LO2

2.3 assess breadth of research by reviewing the validity of secondary sources:

The issue I see with my secondary research is that due to the nature of the area I am researching into a large amount of the content is very opinionated; not in the sense of not having merit or being factually wrong but more in the sense of different people’s opinions on the different electronic elements they use being different and each having their personal favourites.

LO3

3.1 formulate opinions based on the interpretation of research material:

After conducting extensive primary and secondary research I feel that I am ready to begin to formulate opinions regarding my thesis; by interpreting the research material I have found. I personally feel that disregarding technology in this current day and age will massively hold you back as a contemporary musician. By the same token I don’t believe that it is necessary to rely on it completely as to do this could cause massive issues in the case of some failure in the equipment.

In terms of the equipment itself, the Roland SPD-SX appears to be accepted as the best in its area; with other alternatives all having shortcomings. In my personal experience I would have to agree that the Roland is a very practical and well set up piece of kit; with an endless number of possibilities being opened up when using one.

The counter argument to such a full introduction of technology is that by doing so you could detract from the music’s raw vibe. Due to this I would agree that a combination of these two factors could/should be used.

LO3

3.2 apply appropriate methodologies to research information:

LO3

3.3 evaluate the findings, making recommendations for further consideration:

LO4

4.1 select a suitable format to present research information:

The format in which I am going to present the research is as a short essay, using a citing parts of the research I have conducted earlier in the project. To do this I will take parts of all of the research and use it to evidence my findings.

LO4

4.2 realise and present the outcomes of the research using a recognised format:

The integration of electronics into acoustic drums, while commonly becoming the norm, especially while regarding the pro circuit, is it turning into a necessity for drummers to be able to use? While there is an extensive range of products on the market, starting from products such as the Kat KTMP1 at under £100 pounds up to products such as the Roland SPD-SX priced at £599. Between these there are a variety of different options, all with varying capabilities and prices. For the sake of this piece I will be focussing on the Roland SPD-SX which I own and have used extensively live.

To begin with, what are the benefits of having and using electronics alongside an acoustic drum kit? Fundamentally, you can add massively to your live sound and performance without needing a horde of session musicians. Using backing tracks, with extra keys, synths and horns can add a dynamic to a live performance that would not otherwise be possible with the lineup of a band. In addition to this, playing electronic sounds and layering electric sounds over acoustic drums with the integration of products such as the RT-30 trigger series from Roland can again add to the live performance. To tie this into a professional context, Ben Barter, the drummer for Lorde uses triggers on both his kick and snare to layer the sounds from the albums into his live set. She allegedly “hates the sound of live drums” and he is therefore bound into using predominantly electronic sounds and triggers while performing live. Another example of this is Jack Garret who uses a range of sampling equipment and other electronics in his one man live set, but centers the performance around the SPD-SX.

My personal experience of using one live has been predominantly positive. Using a combination of the pad and the triggers, I have been able to run backing tracks for the band

References:

  1. http://businesscasestudies.co.uk/food-standards-agency/market-research-and-consumer-protection/primary-and-secondary-research.html
  2. http://drummagazine.com/multipad-madness/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Song Analysis

Love The One You’re With – Stephen Stills

The song is in 4/4 with a simple beat but the song has a full texture.

The instruments include:

Acoustic guitar: The acoustic guitar introduces the song but has a weird fade in to it. It fades in more on the left first and then fully comes in on both sides to start with. The acoustic guitar is very trebly and sounds as if it has chorus effect on it. The guitar runs over two chords for most of the track.

Roland Keyboard: The Roland comes near the end of the second chorus but it is very quiet and playing once every bar. But then it bursts up and does a solo. The producer made it louder for this part. The Roland doesn’t play in the verses after than only in the chorus’.

Congos/Percussion: The percussion starts at the start of the song. Wooden blocks or clicks play at the start with a heavy reverb. Congas play continually with their own rhythm. There are also more wooden blocks with different pitches on the last chorus, again with reverb applied. A xylophone is used at the end chorus hitting two notes at a time running over four chords until the end. These all give this song an African style to the folk song.

Vibraphone: They start on the first chorus playing individual notes giving the song a very atmospheric vibe to it. The notes drone and it could have been recorded in a large room or it might have just had reverb added to it. These only play in the chorus’.

Vocals: Backing vocals

Sweet Talking Woman – ELO

The rhythm of the song is a simple 4/4 beat all the way through the song.

The instruments of the song include:

Violin, Cello and strings: The strings start the song with a very clean recording track. Then the whole string orchestra (which has reverb on) after the electric guitar plays a little riff before starting the verse. The strings do not play in the first verse. They start playing again a little before the chorus. They seem to play  little runs up and down the pentatonic scale during the chorus. Also other strings play long chords following the same as the guitar chords during the chorus. The strings are using a chorus effect in a certain section. Its only used for this section where the whole band stop playing except for the chorus effect string until the whole band come back in to play the chorus again.

Electric guitar: The electric Guitar starts with a little riff that fades in before the song properly starts. After that during the verse the guitar plays chords played as stabs. Also in the bridge and chorus the guitar plays stabby funky styled chords with a few little riffs played too. During the chorus the electric guitar is mainly panned to the left. Theres also a second part where the whole band cuts out, but this time its only the vocals, guitar and bass drum. The guitar tone is trebly and has a little bit of compression to make the notes sound more stabby.

Acoustic guitar: The guitar starts in the build up to the verse strumming one chord. The acoustic guitar is playing the chords through all the song. On the chorus the guitar plays the chords with a beats structure playing on every beat except cuts out in-between the second and third beat. The track also pans the acoustic guitar to the right. I think it also has reverb on it, this is because it sounds full with a drone effect on the singular strummed chords. Its also very treble heavy.

Bass guitar: The bass guitar starts at the same time as the acoustic guitar. The bass guitar rhythm is matched with the kick drum. The bass is mainly following the root notes with a few notes in-between. The bass tone is very bassy I don’t think much effects were on the bass. It is panned in the centre.

Vocals: The main vocals sound very smooth and sounds double tracked. They are slightly compressed and a little reverb has been added.. They are panned centrally too as they are the main vocals.

Harmonies/backing vocals: The backing vocals are common for bands in this era, such as ‘The Beach Boys’ as they used a barber shop quartet style singing with a band. So you can hear bass vocals singings over some of the bass lines. Some of them are singing higher than the main vocals and harmonising with them. I think most of the harmonies could be fifths or thirds of what the main vocals are singing. The back-in vocals represent the use of other instruments such as brass, bass, high strings. This gives more of a full texture to the song.

Drums: The drums come in at the same time as the bass and acoustic. It keeps a constant beat throughout the song. The drum kit is very compressed as you can hear when the drums are hit, they sound dampened. But the cymbals don’t sound too compressed. But I think the drums cut off some of the noise and it suddenly stops the ring of the drum, especially on the snare. This is because they used a noise gate on the drum track.

Vocoder: The vocoder is like a voice box and it isn’t used that much in the song but it does get used in the intro. It comes in when the full orchestra comes in at the start but then cuts out for the rest of the song. You can only hear it again at the end of the chorus. The vocoder has a chorus effect on.

Piano/Keys: The piano starts at the same time as the acoustic again. The piano mainly plays the same chords as the acoustic but plays stabs on the verse but I think it follows the electric guitars rhythm on the chorus. it has reverb on as an effect, but sometimes the piano is very quiet and is panned more to the left.

The song uses more techniques. When the instruments cut off for the little breakdown parts the whole track is cut except for the few instruments playing. This is because you can hear the instruments just cut off instantly at the same time. Also at the end, the whole song fades out.

Craig Blundell’s Strengths and Weaknesses Concept

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Craig Blundell, drummer for Steven Wilson, became a guest lecturer at Kidderminster College for a day. Performing a masterclass, talking about and demonstrating technique and improvement methods as well as giving a drum lesson he unloaded a wealth of knowledge.

The point he explained that I am going to focus upon is his practice regime and his weaknesses improvement scheme. Craig has said while talking about landing the SW gig; “I was inexperienced at this level, and a bit out of my depth, but, i’ve worked dammed hard every day, pushed myself harder than ever before”(1) and I think this sums up his method perfectly.

He takes a central hub (called ‘perfection’) and then surrounds it with 10 chains of 10 circles each. At the end of these he chose his 10 most prominent weaknesses. He then decided what percentage of the way to being happy with them he was. In the photo above you can see he is 10% happy with his sight-reading. The idea was that you worked on the weakest areas and gradually ‘filled up’ all the circles to bring them all up to the same point, therefore improving yourself as an all-round player. (it is worth noting that these came from different people in the group, not Craig himself).

Following is my own diagram I drew up:

The improvement areas are as follows:

  1. Variety – I currently only play one style of music in one group and would like to diversify what I do.
  2. Accuracy
  3. Rudiments
  4. Groove
  5. Endurance
  6. Sight reading
  7. Weakest Limb
  8. Soloing
  9. Theory
  10. Technique

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He then followed this up by dividing up half an hour of practice into 15 minutes of something you can’t do, followed by 15 minutes of things you can do. He conducted this as a effort and reward system. When you had completed the practice on what you had selected you were rewarded by being able to do something you enjoyed. The lines on the photo above showed how due to progression over time you would spend less and less time on the can’ts as your skills improved.

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I aim to improve the areas outlined above over a two week period, and will detail the progress over the following two weeks.

— video of my playing rudiments before and after —

I worked, using a variety of exercises on the things detailed above; all of them improving due to the practice method. In variety for example I began playing with a rap group, sessioning for them at a concert on Monday 16th Jan.

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1 – https://www.craigblundell.com/blog.html

Unit 48: Songwriting Skills and Techniques

All of the songs included in this are songs that I wrote with my previous band, The Hoaxx.

Glass of Wine

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B0Foiwkyb1QYUTg5WC1FQWl2bzg

Scotty’s Got a Gun

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B0Foiwkyb1QYcWhwY014cEFScGc

Time

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B0Foiwkyb1QYWERNbTdhOTJDbnc

Groundhog Day

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B0Foiwkyb1QYdlV5ZmtPU1BzeWM

Mile Run

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B0Foiwkyb1QYWHh4Ql9yOGQtN1k