Michaelwclark.com

Just my stuff


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back in the groove

Earthpages has taken a back seat the past few days as I really wanted to get this out asap.

My little blurb at SoundCloud says it all:

You guessed it. I was thinking of Paul McCartney and other 70s feelgood love songs a bit when mixing this. But the tune was written in the late 80s / early 90s. Originally called “Karma Destiny,” it has a melody but I didn’t like my vocals so went with sax improv instead.

Today I question the whole idea of karma. So that title isn’t really me any more. But the music still is!

© 2017 Michael W. Clark

 Paul McCartney & Ringo Starr Recorded Music Together For First Time In Seven Years(stereogum.com)

 Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr Reunite for New Music(aceshowbiz.com)

 Classic Rock Almanac February 9, 2017(wncx.cbslocal.com)

 Paul McCartney sues Sony/ATV to reclaim rights to Beatles music(japantimes.co.jp)

 This Week In History: The Beatles, Compact Discs, Whitney Houston, and Michael Jackson(wcbsfm.cbslocal.com)

 DC, Hollywood Stars Celebrate Valentine’s Day On Social Media(losangeles.cbslocal.com)


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The late, great David Bowie’s “‘Tis a Pity She Was a Whore”

Poor David Bowie. I think of him often. Anyone who rises that high and then slowly burns out – artistically, I mean – well, it must be hard. Classical composers generally get better with age. But it aint necessarily so with pop stars. I guess pop music is all wrapped up in the hopes, dreams and angst of youth. So when the star isn’t a youth any more, it gets harder and harder to connect.

Bowie’s final album had a beautiful song, “Lazarus,” which to me seemed heavily influenced by an 80s band called The Cure. Most people who remember rotary dial phones have probably heard “Lazurus.” And if they were listening to pop in the 80s, I think they’d recognize The Cure connection.

But today I want to talk about another song on the final Bowie album, “‘Tis a Pity She Was a Whore.”

I don’t like this song very much. When I first saw the title I thought Bowie was just being rough and crude for the sake of it, like a relic from a different age trying to be cool. After all, today we talk about “sex-workers” and the term “whore” is totally inappropriate and probably illegal to use in public.

Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

But on Googling the song I found that, as often happens, there was more to Bowie’s work that I’d realized. Turns out there is an English play from 1629 by John Ford called “‘Tis Pitty Shee’s a Whore.” No doubt this influenced Bowie and I have to apologize to his enduring spirit for having judged out of ignorance!


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Shape Dance – A very 90s “Popcorn”

A few years ago I picked up a dollar store CD called Shape Rave, volume 4 (Pikosso records, Berlin 1996). I just got around to listening to it tonight and discovered a nice remix of an old radio hit from my childhood, “Popcorn.”

The pan flute sound is a bit passé (technology has given us a much broader palette today). But as a novice bedroom producer, I can really appreciate the programming, the texture of the underlying sequenced sounds, and the fantastic swing. “Swing” is a feature used in sequencers where the 2nd, 3rd and 4th beats are delayed a bit behind the first beat. It makes it sound less robotic and when done right, gives it, well, swing… 🙂

I like the old-style graphics that the uploader put with the tune. I think it’s the same remix that is on my CD (there are several remixes). Back when the first “Popcorn” came out, that tape deck would have been really high tech.


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Ursa Major, Ursa Minor (Sketch)

A quick sketch of a melody/tune that came to me after seeing the big and little dippers in the dark countryside, by Lake Ontario… I may evolve it some day.. The two musical phrases are seven notes each, just as there are seven stars in each of the constellations…

While looking at the stars I noticed that the big dipper is, of course, bigger but the little dipper is brighter.

I love looking at a clear night sky devoid of light pollution. Finding a place without light pollution (sadly) seems almost impossible these days. But this location was pretty good. Just one small spot emanating from Cobourg Ontario, a town that used to be a hot spot for wealthy Americans back in the day.

Living in Toronto one can see 2 or 3 stars on a good night! Well, maybe a few more. But it is pretty appalling. So whenever I get a chance, which isn’t too often, I take to the country and reconnect with the ancient art of the night sky.

Image – http://www.pinterest.com/pin/445152744395241383/


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Firebrand

This is a pretty old tune that I originally sang. The first recording was done in the late 1980s / early 1990s on a Fostex 4-track tape with a Yamaha mini keys keyboard, an Ibanez digital delay and a couple of foot pedals. Despite the limited tech, the end result was pretty good. (I might transfer it from tape and post it some day for interests sake).

This time around I didn’t feel like singing so just did the main melody with a synth line. And I gave it a sorta i Robot update. Digital age…

But still, I left in retro “Disco Toms” and California-style lead guitar. So it’s a bit of old and new.

All the VSTi plugins are freeware. Some were slightly modified with other paid-for VSTs that come with Reaper, which itself is a very modestly priced DAW (digital audio workstation).

Photo (cropped): www.flickr.com/photos/ihearaviolin/8103585130/


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Rolling thru the years

Image via Tumblr

Just discovered that I’d backed up this old pic of me at our piano on 222 Rose Park Drive in Toronto. I loved that piano, even though some of the keys were broken.

I once told my parents that if I inherited one thing, I would want the piano. Sadly, when they moved to a smaller place, there was no room for the old beast. I still hanker for real pianos. I have lots of VST stuff but it’s not the same.

There are two pianos at a downtown Church that I go to. But I’m not formally registered there, and it seems like a bit of a club (to be able to actually play it). I suppose there’s the library, which has five piano rooms. But something tells me I’d be worried about picking up germs there. Turning into a clean freak in my old age… maybe the spirit of Glenn Gould is influencing me. Apparently he covered his face with a handkerchief to keep out germs.


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June

So ends a pretty terrible month in the news. I started this at the beginning of the month. At some point I realized that it was mirroring the tragic headlines that dominated a good part of June.