Archive for June, 2013

to the east!

Here we go – to the east, to the dry side. Six shows by Monday or bust! I’m going to try to get recordings entirely on battery; I make no promises. If you’re in Richland, we’ll be at the Greenwood Faire, listed as Leannan Sidhe; there are time schedules, tho’ I don’t have one handy.

Whatever I record, I must say, cannot be as awesome as this:

…because it simply would not be musically or physically possible.

And we’re out. Zoom~!

batleth bagpipe

I keep trying to see this bat’leth bagpipe and not think “keytar: the next generation.” And it’s not, it’s a generalised midi controller, and acts more like a guitar than a keyboard.

But as much as they try to differentiate it from the keytaur, all I can think is KEYTAR KEYTAR KEYTAR.

Or, you know, bat’leth bagpipe

I still want to play with one tho’. If it’s actually any good, there should be entire bands made up of Klingons playing it in shows at conventions.


bat’leth bat’leth bat’leth bat’leth bat’leth bat’leth bat’leth bat’leth KEYTAR KEYTAR

what is making it

Hello, The Future! appeared with Glen Raphael on Geeky and Genki, talking about working the geekmusic scene – or, at least, one of them. Obviously, this ties right in to my whole series of posts on music in the post-scarcity environment, and covers a lot of the same ground, but in convenient podcast form.

A couple of the comments she and Glen made were kind of interesting and even vaguely surprising to me. First, she’s in the no-backing-tracks-live camp. I think that’s probably true for her section of the geekosphere, absolutely. But at the same time, I look at chiptunes bands, nerdcore artists, occasional geekrock people, quite overtly using the backing tracks – typically from an iPod or laptop – and wonder whether some of that won’t make its way over. It’s something I’ve explored but haven’t tried yet.

There’s material I just can’t do solo that I’d really like to do solo – if I used my phone or laptop or something. I guess for me the differential is faking it; if you’re up there with your zouk or guitar or whatever and actually playing and singing it, and not pretending to do so, is there an actual problem with an effects track or extra-instruments track? I go back and forth on it myself.

Two other takeaways, for me. First, that the “friendship buy” is also known as the never-going-to-listen-to-it buy. And that’s still very nice of them, and supportive, I think, but it doesn’t build a fanbase because they aren’t going to listen and then tell other people. I’ve seen this expressed before, but I just love that terminology.

Also, and I’ve worried about this: both Nicole and Glen asserted in strong terms that putting as much as you can out there doesn’t hurt you, even if some of it isn’t, in the end, very good. Even if some of it is kinda bad. You can talk about contaminating the potential fanbase, but what they both point out is that the listeners will do the sieving for you, so it’s better to have more production and less filtering on the artist side.

This is the total opposite of the photography scene, and the fine arts scene, which I suspect has to do with relative sizes of potential audience. But I’m just speculating.

Anyway, it’s a good overview, and they talk about lots of things other than I am in this post. It all applies to any creative endeavour, so give it a listen if you’re trying to get your work out there.

no talking day

Overdid it a bit singing last night at rehearsal, so today is NO TALKING DAY. Well, not much talking day. I’m okay, really, and will be fine for shows this weekend, but it just shows how much you just have to be careful with songs at the very bottom of your range.

Talking of, I’m really excited that we get to do King of Elfland’s Daughter. We’ve worked out how we’re going to make it work with me having to drop out on rhythm in order to do the bridge solo (on flute, rather than fiddle) then come back in; Wednesday will be echoing me on guitar throughout and will just step it up for that section.

Anybody have advice on what to take for a series of shows where you’re camping instead of crashing with people? There’ll be water but no electrics. I’ll be loading up on batteries and chemical cold-packs because it’s supposed to be nearly 40 for all of these shows. Uh. Nearly 100F. Ish. I am going to die. Dead dead dead. Just bring back the recordings, will you? And put them on Bandcamp. 😀

on players and websites

It’s been about a month since I rebooted the website, and I wanted to talk about early results! First, hi all you new people! Thank you for coming by and I hope you like it here. ^_^ This is a DIY post; I try to do them on a regular basis, usually on Wednesdays.

So! A recap of what I did to the website. It wasn’t a major redesign; it was more a reimplementation – and better implementation – of the original idea. I overhauled the blog to look like the rest of the site; I put in my own videos page instead of linking off to my YouTube channel; I did a lot of general cleanup and fine-tuning.

I also threw in some collections of themed posts (the studio buildout series, the travel case construction series, and music in the post-scarcity environment), and added links to them, and started linking the Podcast page in a bit.

Finally, I simplified the hell out of the front page, throwing out lots of crap. I’d fallen into the throw-a-little-bit-of-everything-at-the-front-page trap; it’s awfully, awfully tempting to do.

All the refreshes/re-implementations followed the principle of each page having a primary goal (gets the most space), a secondary goal, and, optionally, tertiary goal.

The big goal on the front page refresh was to get more plays on in-site players. The big goal on the blog was to get more views – and particularly depth of views – with a secondary goal of getting some plays.

Here’s what the reboot has done for my music plays via embedded players on the website. Each dot is a month; the most recent dot is not yet an entire month:

Embedded plays this month are more than the entire previous year combined.

Now, some of that is going to be cannibalisation of plays from the bandcamp-hosted “music” page; those aren’t counting as embedded. Let’s look at total plays:

Plays this month are about equal to plays of the last two and a half months combined.

That’s rather dramatic, isn’t it?

Now, I have had a bit of a traffic spike this month, mostly related to the SFWA debacle. But I’ve had those before – actually, larger ones – and I’ve done the math for comparison.

In this spike, people played 17.3 times as many tracks per 100 page visits as in the last major traffic spike, despite having the same players on the blog, just in a different and apparently less clear place.

I would say that while this is early, the preliminary results here are very promising. Some of it is a result of newness, but hopefully not all.

Now, about depth of views. That’s much less dramatic and a little less clear.

A lot more random people are finding the blog on searches; those collection-posts are search-engine magnets. That’s led to a climb in the ‘bounce’ rate, where people hit one page, go nope, and bounce off.

Subtracting out the SFWA bounce, pageviews are up about 158%, at 258% of the month before. As mentioned, bounce rate has climbed by 10%, rather than dropping as I’d hoped; but at the same time, the amount of time spent on per page by viewers has climbed (only by about 3%, but that includes those bounces), and the pages per visitor appears to have climbed by about 17% – a healthy increase.

So, less clear, particularly with the rising bounce rate, but still elements of promise.

The biggest surprise, by far, though, has to be discovering that trackbacks still matter. I didn’t get a big SFWA bounce by writing about SFWA’s sexism and fails; I got a big SFWA bounce by writing about SFWA’s sexism and fails and linking to other blogs which support trackbacks so people could find me.

I had no idea people followed trackbacks. But they do. Sometimes, in flocks. HI!

Anyway, to sum up: I think the three-goals approach is so far proving effective. We’ll have to see how it stands up over the next few months, of course, but it’s off to a good start. Consider it when designing your own website.

As for further goals: I’d like to see more comments on the band blog home proper; most comments are usually made on the echo which is cross-posted to Livejournal, with Dreamwidth also regularly seeing comment traffic, and some at Tumblr and Facebook. The advantages of echos outweigh the lack of centralised comments, at least for now, but I really wish there was a way to copy them over to here. That’d be awfully nice.

atTENTtion get it ar ar ar

I’ve never used a tent on tour which is kind of unusual amongst the people I know in music, but for these Leannan Sidhe gigs I need it. SHITTY CELL PHONE PICS, AHOY!

jfc this is a big tent

i really do not remember this tent being so big

This is actually one of TWO tents I own. The other is older because I bought it used and it’s five people, not four like this one, but I think it’s about the same size actually. But MUCH harder to set up.

fred wants to know wtf i am doing with a tent that big

honestly i have had dorm rooms smaller than this tent

I timed taking it down, which is going to be the part that needs to be done most quickly because of schedules: 14 minutes from fully set up (which it wasn’t in these pictures, a kind of rain cowl goes over the top) to fully packed in the single carry bag. I’m going to do it again later for practice because I haven’t used it since I don’t even know. 2005?


audiobook giveaway

Anna is giving away both ebook and audiobook copies of Valor of the Healer. This isn’t the universe the soundtrack is from, but it is the same writer, and you should go enter!

The soundtrack has been dragging on, and how long it’s been taking has been getting on my nerves in a serious way. There’s not all that much to be done about that; I wasn’t ever intending to play melody on the traditional Irish Tune portions, then had to, which means I had to learn tunes playing well enough to do it in studio, and then when some of the selections weren’t going to work in a traditional set type arrangement, meant I had to learn to write tunes, or portions thereof, in a way that sounded right.

We are moving along, tho’. Slowly. We had Ellen Eades in last week, recording hammer dulcimer for one set, and Sunnie Larsen will be in tomorrow, recording more fiddle. I’m desperately hoping that between having to deal with the remains of Sewer Implosion 2013 and rehearsal tonight with Leannan Sidhe for their six shows over on the dry side that I’ll be able to rebuild the Chapter 1 track project, which corrupted itself after a crash.

Don’t worry, we didn’t lose any data, it’s just… jumbled a bit. So I have to import everything into a new project. It’s not difficult, just incredibly annoying and a bit time-consuming.

But that’ll depend upon letting the CD labeller get finished with the short run of CDs that are being printed up for those aforementioned shows. See how everything stacks up and gets in the way of everything else? So frustrating.

Whup, sounds like a certain wallboarder has had to get out a larger saw. I’d best check what’s up.

return of mechasnail

How goofy is it that the same day John Scalzi updates about Snailquake – as a proposed companion piece to Sharknado – I simultaneously dig up 20 year old goofy fanzine art I did on Bad Ideas in Mecha Design: MechaSnail?


I actually think that MechaSnail would make a fitting opponent for Sharknado. They’d be highly effective as long as the Sharknado isn’t saltwater OH NO THE SAME FATAL FLAW STRIKES AGAIN WHY DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING MECHASNAIL NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

more of a raindot

It’s less a “rainbow” and more a “raindot” or maybe a “rainsmudge,” but it was pretty, in its own little -68db way.

Solstice in Seattle

And after the way the internet has been filled with assholes this past week (like eliminationist much? and goddammit Mike Krahulik makes it hard to be a Penny Arcade fan sometimes*) and, I thought, hey, we could all use a little of something not entirely horrible.

At least Kickstarter apologised for the horrible rape-manual project, which meant I didn’t have to decide about (and feel horrible about) either backing or not backing Abby’s webcomic. Because that webcomic looks awesome and I wanted to back it. And now I can. Yay!

I think I need something to kickstart my motivation. Or maybe it’s just that had-to-get-up-early-to-meet-the-plumber kind of 1am-the-next-day guh-just-kill-me-already feeling, because I can’t even get up the motivation to go to bed. How fucked up is that? I should invent a GO TO BED RAY or something. I can’t just repurpose the Fukkit Field, because that just makes you not do anything and you end up typing on the internet…


Did I leave that on again? Damn.

*: Seriously. It’s like, I’ve been a fan since 1998. I have the original ill-fated Year One book. I look forward to PAX months in advance. I get to play all the games, and as videogaming events go, it’s one of the less hostile and sexist. But despite that, you get horribleness like this. So I’m torn, right? I’m torn between, “Fuck you, you can’t force me out of here” and “Fucking hell, how the hell can I support these assholes?”

your presenter today

It’s time to play everybody’s favourite quiz game, “What the hell is this?” Featuring me! And a found musical instrument at an estate sale*, which I rescued, and which appears to be some kind of recorder variant. But doesn’t entirely act like the recorders I’ve known. Is there a name for this thing? Check it out:

Your Mystery Guest

It’s in F! For FEAR ME. Which really should be PH for PH33R M3 but it’s probably too old for that. The head is totally recorder-like:

That’s a recorder reed right there

But it has keys! And thing is, there was a recorder right next to it, which did not have keys, but was in the same size and has the usual double-holes at the bottom, and which also sounded a lot more like a standard recorder.


This doesn’t sound completely unlike a recorder – it’s still obviously a woodwind and all that – but there’s just some qualities of it which sound different. Maybe that’s just being what I suspect is at least partially hand-made – check out these holes, they look like ones you find on handmade bamboo flutes, only shorter. Also, the upper octave is played – in my experiments trying to figure it out so far – unlike a normal recorder.

Handmade or just sloppy?

Anyway, it’s clearly some sort of recorder variant, but does it have a name?

* IF THIS HELPS: the estate was of a Jewish couple originally from South Africa. There’s acres of old original-8mm-size movie film marked things like “Rhodesia road trip, 1954,” and a projector for the film. Also acres of slides going back 60 years. And pottery supplies priced in South African Rand. If you’re a visual artist, contact me, I’ll tell you where.

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