Brunswick Music Festival: Lunny & Irvine

The Brunswick Music Festival sent me one of their “keeping in touch: emails the other day which was good because it prompted me to jot some notes down about the concert we went to back in March ( Hey, I’ve been busy). Here is a belated review.

The Date: Thursday 30th March
The Place: Mechanics Institute Hall in Sydney Road.
The Reason: To see two amazing musicians. Andy Irvine and Donal Lunny

One of my friends (Hi Ian) came around and physically removed us (Jools and I) from our computers (“help help” as they struggled… to get to the bar) and rushed us of to Sydney Road. He felt we weren’t getting out enough and as we had missed the Richard Thompson gig a few weeks earlier, he was probably right.

Our evening started out with the warm-up act, a local band called “Triskel” comprising of Sally Taylor on Fiddle , Corey Romeo on Mandolin, Guitar and Gerard Daly on Bodhran, Guitar.

The music was sort of Irish, Scottish?, Breton and was really arranged well, but it was presented as precious “chamber music”. Sad to say there was no real attempt to engage with the audience and it was a pity. Yes I know we were all there to see the other lot but they could have at least tried. The great thing about the Brunswick Music Festival is that a lot of times the “warm-up act can be as interesting as the main act. I know that they go to a lot of trouble to pair the acts up to make sure that we punters get a great night.

I wouldn’t mind hearing them again, but heard nothing that really pushed my hand in my pocket to grab a CD. Don’t get me wrong they CAN play (oh god can they play), but it seems I expect more from performers these days. (Also I cant send you to anywhere you can actually LISTEN to them on the web. Like so many musicians, they haven’t put a sample up anywhere I could find).

Irvine and LunnyWhich after a short intermission brings us to the main event.

The musical combination of Andy Irvine & Donal Lunny is world-renowned and how many people do you know who established a whole new genre in Irish traditional music in the early seventies. The duo were a delight to listen to. Let’s face it, they could have sat up there played a “Plantxy / Bothy Band Greatest Hits” bracket and we all would have gone home feeling well pleased. But NO, instead of taking the easy way out, they played. Boy did they play, we got two brackets of exciting and entertaining music. They took chances, had fun and allowed us to see WHY they are held in such high esteem. No resting on the laurels here.

I had a ball and so did nearly everybody else I could see. The Mechanics Institute is a tiny (200 seats?) venue and at times it felt as though you could reach out and touch the music. Fanciful? Maybe but, you really had to be there.

John McAuslanHere is a picture of our host. John McAuslan. He is the poor bunny, who with his team get all this music together (and have done for 18 years). Thanks John. You will inevitably see us again next year, you always manage to find music that fires me up.

So to the point. To you, our reader. Go and put yourself on the Brunswick Music Festival mailing list. and when they announce the concert lineup next year, if it is too hard to pick between the offerings just shut your eyes and pick something at random. The odds are you will love it.

For more musings of a musical nature, head over to Duggup.

Streaming Suitcase

Adam Hyde has been described as a “tactical media artist” Adam was born in New Zealand and is permanently transient. He is a consultant, developer and artist working at the convergence of broadcasting and Internet technologies.

And why does he get a mention here?

He writes manuals. He writes the kind of manuals you can send to your mum and have her streaming music from her PC without ring you up. (Well almost)

The Streaming Suitcase is his website and is based on Hyde’s streaming workshops using free and open source software. You will find manuals offering plain-language instructions for streaming audio and video across the internet and can be downloaded in PDF, or output in a print friendly format..

Hyde invites us all to ‘have a browse and take what you want. All the manuals are licenced under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Licence. This means you can:

  • download the manual for free
  • distribute the manual to whom you like for non-commercial purposes
  • use parts or all of the documents in other publications / documents as long as it is for non-commercial use and you credit the source (that would be Adam).

To give you an idea of his work, here is the Audio Hardware manual I’m going to send my mum.

The Free iPod Book 2.0

The Ipod BookIt’s just like a real book, full of glossy ads of things you will really really want and cant afford, but at the price (Free) how can you go wrong.

Besides The Free iPod Book 2.0 by is full of really useful info about iPod’s. I should declare here that I don’t own one. I prefer the Creative Zen or my old Sony CD (yep the round one which plays MP3’s) BUT I end-up supporting these things because there a lot of users with them in various clients offices.

Back to the book. There is a section down the back on how to get the most out of iTunes. I am not a huge fan of the iTunes software (Winamp user here) but reading this book I learnt a bunch of things that I will be trying out over the coming week.

If you have an iPod… download a copy. If you are thinking about buying an iPod… download a copy (or at least have a look at the Zen). If you are thinking of buying me an iPod… it must be Christmas.

More on Orchestration

Small OrchestraThis is a follow up post on orchestration ( I touched on this a few weeks back). Garritan who make a rather spiffy line of orchestral samples have announced a FREE Interactive Edition of “Principles of Orchestration” based upon Nicolay Rimsky-Korsakov’s celebrated text. In this Interactive Edition you will be able to simultaneously hear and see examples from Rimsky-Korsakov’s own works realized with Personal Orchestra. You can find it at Garritan Orchestral Libraries and then follow the links.

Here is the hype

Announcing a new on-line course, based on 19th-century Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s lessons on the Principals of Orchestration. There will be 26 in-depth lessons covering melody, harmony and composition on a range of popular orchestral instruments, with interactive activities and feedback.

During the course, 275 animated scores will be used to demonstrate composition techniques, while students can listen to embedded audio examples and experiment with MIDI files. At the end of the course, Garritan plan to announce a competition that allows the students to put their newly-learned skills to the test and have their work performed by a full (and real) symphony orchestra.

This could be a lot of fun.

Philharmonia Orchestra

In any discussion about digital technology and music, you seem to end up with the and people are often skeptical: doesn’t technology get in the way of making music? But lets face it, technology and music have always been interdependent, without technology none of those spiffy instruments would exist. The violin, and the piano and my personal favourite the guitar, are all just bits of wood and wire processed by technology.

So as a composer you would figure that maybe knowing how some of these acoustic instruments work would be fundamental to realizing your musical ideas.

Unfortunately, orchestration books are a minefield for composers trying to understand instruments. Books by definition can’t include musical examples, and the texts themselves are often less than helpful.

So here comes the good news. Imagine a textbook where real players talk about playing, instead of the lone voice of a theorist.

The Philharmonia Orchestra – The Sound Exchange: Home Page explores the instruments of the orchestra complete with examples. They are currently featuring the Harp.

This is a great site. A good way to loose a lot of time.

Neil’s Garage

OK Everyone who DOESN’T like Neil Young. Move along there’s nothing for you here today. Sorry.

For the rest of you, I would suggest dashing over to Neil’s Garage and listening to “Living With War” (jolly little title what?). Yep All of it.

I think that it’s a fairly safe bet to say that Neil has the odd issue with Bush, Blair and Howard (checkout “Impeach the President” Track 7). He produced the entire album in the space of 3 weeks (he started recording on March 29th) as a protest against the Iraq war, and then figuring he had a snowballs chance of getting airplay released it by streaming it from the website. The MP3’s and the CD version are expected to follow along later. It seems he even forgot to mention it to his record company.

Grungy guitars, real drums, real vocals. damn it’s good.

There’s a “Living With War Blog” as well.

Turn it up to eleven. Of course the boss will understand… trust me.