north shore – week two

Okay, let’s start off with some things I’ve observed this past week:

  1. Nobody is able to put up a tent without swearing in front of or at their children
  2. If you play flamenco guitar in a campground, sometimes your super-sweet neighbours will make you an extra piece of pizza
  3. Two weeks of camping are enough to make me stop caring about garbage in my car and instead start using the cupholders to store dirty socks.

Musical productivity continues in week two, and I’m currently based in Rainbow Falls Provincial Park. Although the shoreline I’m travelling is all on the same lake, it’s pleasantly surprising how varied things can be as you go. It would be impossible to capture the total variety of sounds and visuals here without actually just making the project a two-month time-lapse, but having too much to capture is a good problem to have.

In my week one update, you may recall, I made observations (read: complained) about human noise. And then I got to thinking, well, the project is about soundscapes along this shoreline. It’s damn near impossible to get away from human noise, and it’s now part of this soundscape. Where I am now, near Rossport, a single car on the highway can be heard for about a solid two-minute stretch as it approaches and passes my position. Rather than go to the effort of editing it all out or scrapping “imperfect” recordings, perhaps it would make a statement about how we have impacted our environment to simply leave some of the noise in. Much in the same way as I leave breathing noise, chair creaks, and string slides in my studio records. It wouldn’t do to clean it up too much. Of course I can’t record actual individual people (legal reasons), but the things we’ve built – cars, trucks, trains, planes, boats – make up a lot of noise pollution. Besides, I like train noise. It’s comforting to me in the same way people find fans comforting in bedrooms when they’re trying to sleep.

The songs* themselves are coming along quite well. So far I have a guajira and a bulería (in granaína tonality, oh myyy) finished and several more well on the way. I think they sound more … carefree, perhaps, than my usual stuff. More “fun”. I think a lot of my stuff sounds quite serious, but I always wish I could more easily write music that doesn’t sound like it takes itself too seriously. Well, now here we go.

(*note for pedants: for the record, I know they’re called “pieces”. I call them “songs” for the same reason I liberally sprinkle parallel fifths into my music, if you can guess why that is.)

I also finished off another Moleskine journal this week. It’s a cool feeling, flipping through the pages of a full-to-the-covers music notebook and thinking of all the hours of ideas you put into it. There’s a small sense of growth, of pride, perhaps, that comes from flipping front to back to see how ideas and processes have changed over time.

Unfortunately my music handwriting seems to have gotten worse over the past year though, soooo … there’s always room to improve.

Also, and this’ll seem out of left field here, but solar power is freakin’ cool!!

I’m running my recording gear off a lead-acid battery, which is also charging my phone so you can get nifty little posts like this one. The rig runs at about 55 watts, which gets about five or six hours out of the battery alone. While the panel I have isn’t enough to keep up with that in real time, I can recharge the battery in about three times the amount of time I spend using it, on a clear sunny day (which, surprisingly, there have been a lot of so far). I know this is sort of old news, but it’s really cool and really satisfying to watch your gear get powered by a metal square harnessing the power of the freakin’ Sun. I love it. It’s sort of like playing with magnets when you’re a kid – you can learn how they work and they may be in common usage, but that doesn’t stop them from being really really cool.

This may sound like I’m saying “guys, go get solar panels, they’re really neat and fun and exciting” – aaaaand you’d be right!

Tune in next week.