Archive for the ‘Audio’ Category

The Lodger – Hitchcock Restoration & Score by Nitin Sawnhey

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012


The BFI have been involved in a campaign over the last couple of years to ‘Save the Hitchcock 9′. These 9 early films shot by renowned director, Alfred Hitchcock in the 1920’s are in great need of restoration and thus a funding campaign was set into motion, involving a big donation made by Martin Scorsese’s charity, The Film Foundation.

There is no doubt that the genius of Hitchcock in the world of cinema is ingrained within our lives and culture, References and homages will continue, as the years progress. The BFI are celebrating his genius with a season of every one of his films through to October 2012.

What makes this project very interesting is giving an audience to his first foray into a genre that would define much of our understanding of him. Being a member of the British Film Institute, which I would highly recommend, gave me early access to purchase tickets to see ‘The Lodger’, Hitchcock’s first thriller, a silent film that follows a series of ‘Jack The Ripper’ style murders around London town by a character known as ‘The Avenger’, based on a book that purported Jack The Ripper to have lodged in a local guest house. Released in 1927, this movie showed the thinking behind many of Hitchcock trademark approaches to theatrical filming and his unique approach to storytelling through the lens.

Nitin Sawhney & Band + London Symphony Orchestra

Colouring and toning effects were employed directly to the negatives, giving the movie added depth and colour cues. We were given an introduction to the project and a quick extra glimpse into the restoration process with before and after shots. Although this movie was remastered fairly recently, current digital technology has allowed a much clearer and precise restoration.

The Lodger also gave us Hitchcock’s first cameo appearance.


Part of the restoration process involved commissioning a new score, and musician Nitin Sawhney was tasked with delivering his interpretation . The audience in the Barbican and those in cinema theatres around Britain were the first to experience the fully restored movie with a score performed LIVE by Nitin Sawhney’s Band and the London Symphony Orchestra. The acoustics and performance worked wonderfully I initially found it hard to just watch the movie, but after the first couple of minutes immanaged to focus my eyes away from the musicians and just let them do their thing. It was impressive the way the lighting for the orchestra synced with the negative colouting/toning used between the scenes, as the screen hues changed, so did the illumination around the orchestra, it allowed for an immersive experience and the ears to follow the sound and the eyes to stay on the screen.

Nitin Sawhney in Q+A after 'The Lodger'So on the whole I was impressed by the score. Beautiful strings, voices and motifs used to create narratives that weaved between the suspense, comedy and love story. It worked suprisingly well, given the nature of the original novel by Marie Belloc. Great use of drums and percussion throughout, mixed and performed extremely well.

I couldn’t help but notice traces of Nitin’s work from previous albums creeping into the soundscape, subtle string phrases reminiscent of Nitin’s earlier album Prophesy sprang to mind. It was diverse and fitting with a lashings of Psycho and North By Northwest, add in some period atmosphere and a bit of Metropolis. I heard some much Hitchcock in it, yet it had such a distinctive sound that was very much Nitin Sawney. The score sounded full and timed perfectly, my congratulations go out to the Nitin, the band and the LSO.

Experiences like these are what make the world of cinema so special. I fully intend to try and catch future movies with LIVE accompaniment. It is just that one of my pet peeves about the cinema industry centres around poor projection or care in the sound department, something that is changing with digital cinema. When its being played LIVE for you, its a totally different experience. The Barbican has great acoustics, so it is well worth catching performances there if you can.

Nitin Sawhney Signing

You will be able to see The Lodger with the new score at the BFI from Aug 10th – there will also be a conversation with Nitin Sawhney that evening.

Further information:

Nitin Sawhney on twitter @thenitinsawhney

Nicki Wells on twitter @nickiwellsmusic

British Film Institute

The Barbican

Digital Economy Bill – Insane Law

Friday, April 9th, 2010

There has been a huge surge and outcry at the pushing through of the Digital Economy Bill through parliament which was today made law!

This insane practice by the UK government, from pressure via Music Industry lobbyists has shown how corrupt the current government and inept the Conservaties and Liberal Democrats are.

This week the term #debill has been trending on twitter globally as technology savvy individuals have seen through the wash up process and have tried to contact MPs in a plea, not to ignore that the digital infrastructure in britain needs attention, but that if you’re going to pass law on the digital world, then understand it, scrutinise it and listen to the people. None of this has happenned.

Protecting music Industry copyright has been the main driving force behind the bill’s passage and all the other issues around it will be collateral damage in making the bill a reality. It seems that even the MPs who’s stand directly behind it are ignorant to the technicalities of the internet itself.

Here are some links for you to see the absurdity for yourself :

Debilitated Internet Mashup – showing the stats / outcome of the Debacle

Christian Payne on BBC5 LIVE yesterday (start playing the show 1:06)

And read the / follow the hashtag #debill on twitter

I think the only solution here is for all labour and conservative voters to swing and vote for Lib Dems – I support the Green Party so if you want vote for them, but definitely do not vote for Labour or Conservative.

Stu Hamm – Bass Clinic

Friday, March 12th, 2010

One of my resolutions for the past decade has been to engage myself more with the live music scene, something I desperately want to do, but find time and money to be two of my most immediate hurdles.

As a part-time hobby musician – playing bass guitar in a live band, and tinkering around with some songwriting ideas, seeing talented musicians live is always a treat. And well worth doing often if you can afford it.

My last proper gig-outing was to see Massive Attack play at Brixton Academy, quite a different experience to small intimate gigs where you’re practically sitting next to the musicians.

So I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email from my local Dawsons music shop announcing that Stu Hamm would be holding a Bass Clinic and showing off the latest Hartke amplification. I’ve known for a small while that the store would be axing their Ampeg Bass Gear, I had just bought a 2X10 cab from them 2 months ago and had been given a heads up that the Ampeg kit was just too expensive for most of the customers.

So I was half expecting the clinic to be sold out – and thus I replied to the email the following day and surprisingly got a response saying my name was on the list.

Bass clinics – go to them, especially if you have a talented musician doing his thing. I wasn’t quite sure what would happen, but being greeted at Dawsons, after checking in with Foursquare, with nibbles, juice or beer was a nice welcome.

Stu flew in especially for this Clinic, which surprised me being in the sticks known as Reading. After warming up with some amazing solo work with a track, title something like “My boss drives a Mercedes whilst I’m working a minimum wage”, we were treated with the amazing cover renditions played entirely on the bass plugged into the Hartke rig.

Songs such as :

Star Spangled Banner
We Will Rock You
Going To California
Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds

Were performed by Stu & Mel (his Bass Guitar)

Outstanding musicianship.

Freakshowcial Media Mania

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Dramatic blog post titles aside, I’ve been quite busy this weekend attempting to get an OK’ish mix of 3 tracks online for the band.

I’ve been using Cubase since buying the Saffire unit, and am very happy with the results it gives me, but still find it incredibly challenging to get the mixes done satisfactorily with limited monitoring and mixing time available to me. I tend to pop on over to the Home Recording Forum for  very down to earth advice and get your mixes bashed by other listening engineers, I would highly recommend spending some time there if you’re ever in need of audio recording help of any sort.

Brandon Drury – who set the site up from lack of good information on recording, has spent the last 2 years collating a Killer Home Recording suite of eBooks that will take beginner/amateur and working engineer through the gamut of the band recording experience, keep your eye open for that. one on his site. Forum users were treated to a preview release of his book.

Also I’ve been following @solobasssteve who put me onto Bandcamp and a bunch of other musicians, who provide good tips/advice and new sites/ resources tracks etc, from around the web, that can help you discover new technologies that will help you take your creative projects out into the digitial domain and beyond.

Ket  - Bass

I’ve branched out getting involved in the social web explosion (one benefit of being a geek) – And gone for an all out approach to promote the band  through use of the web and social media sites. Some sites offer free streaming/downloads/revenue generation/profile management etc ..

Here are the sites I’ve signed up to so far:

So for this experiment, I’m going to run through how a band that plays part time (We are all in full time jobs) and wants to gig occasionally, sets up an internet presence and uses the social media tools around you to get a digital shout/light box. Hopefully I’ll be able to show / chart the progress we make and the fruits of our labour.

Audio Overload

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009

Longplayer LIVE

I’m a keen follower of many twitter users, especially those that are quite embedded within the social media movement. One of the users I’ started following soon after the G20 protests was Christian going by the twitter username of @documentally. It was through his ‘tweets’ that I responded to:

Twitter is a great medium to promote technologies and events, so much so that @doumentally – as part of his promotion of the event, he had 10 tickets to offer bloggers and twitter users to cover/attend/participate in the Longplayer LIVE event.

The concept of time measured with sound and the mathematical detail required to bring a project like this to life was my main interest in Longplayer, not to mention the use of Tibetan Singing Bowls, which is an instrument I have great respect for.

Armed with my Stereo Data Maker Rig – I set out to capture some images, although I was planning on bringing more than the SDM digital rig, I got terribly paranoid about security, the event being held in the Roundhouse got me concerned that I would be refused entry fo an all day event and would miss out on it. So I opted to travel light. There was a nice surprise waiting for me in the form of a photographers wristband, courtesy of @documentally (thank you)

Longplayer is an ongoing 1000 year composition that is being played out in the UK for the past 9yrs (it was launched at the turn of the millenium) – broadcast all across the world through the power of the internet. It was conceived of by Jem Finer &  originally commissioned by Artangel

Longplayer Space in the Roundhouse

Longplayer LIVE at the Roundhouse

The image above shows you how the concentric arrangement of the bowls filled the space within the Roundhouse. What is most special about this arrangement is that it signified an instance, or a snapshot if you will of the entire 1000 year composition. The arcs where you see the musicians and tables represents the LIVE 100o minute performance exists within this epic ever changing soundscape.

Each musician had specific roles and tasks to play the bowls – to achieve a live performance, of something that was until now being controlled by a computer program (I think) required a slightly alternative approach to scoring, a very interesting notation system was developed by Jem Finer to instruct how the bowls were to be played and for how long, running through iterations, offset by time.

Longplayer Visual Score - soundwaves in a circular pattern, with waveforms

Longplayer Visual Score - soundwaves in a circular pattern, with waveforms

The tables themselves had a time line system used by the musicians so they could keep time

"The tables themselves had a time line system used by the musicians so they could keep time"

It was one of those events were you had to be there, saying that you can experience it for many years to come, I feel there will be more performances in the future. In the meantime, there are tons of resources out there on the project and ways you can explore, research and experience this.

The Longplayer Trust is set up to keep it playing until 2999!

For everything longplayer related – I would encourage you to visit the space, check the net for images / broadcasts and info.

All my flickr images from Longplayer LIVE event

Longplayers Posterous blog & the @documentally blog posts on Longplayer

Learn more about the Longplayer project from their website

My Eco Wedding

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

I recently got married and organised the wedding with my now wife, we wanted it to be as eco and green, so we decided on using as many Ethical Junction companies as we could for the the big day, there is a little write up about it on Ethical Pulse – the EJ members’ blog

Unfortunately the Eco Bass Guitar wasn’t ready in time, Simon Lee suffered to a biking accident that caused a smashed finger, putting him out of commission for a few weeks, however he is mending and the components are coming together, the Delano pickups have arrived.

Simon was able to join us at our Reception and got to see the band play live !

Sustainable Bass Guitar Project – part 2

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

Eco Bass Guitar – Illustrator Overlay (A4)
Originally uploaded by spiritquest

I received some sketches of the body shape this week, I’m really liking the new headstock design.

I will probably need to do some research on the ergonomics of guitars myself, along with some alterations to help find a shape that I’m totally comfortable with.

I always have issues with the Gibson Grabber Copy that I play, especially with its wide bottom end !

Hoping to remedy that with this layout.

Sustainable Bass Guitar Project

Monday, March 30th, 2009

It was on a impromptu trip to the London Music Show in 2007 that did 2 major things for me.

  1. It got me playing the bass with my old band again.
  2. I met Simon Lee, a guitar maker, and my road towards building a sustainable bass guitar was under way

Image courtesy of Simon Lee Guitar – Panola Bass Guitar (more…)