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If you asked me a request today and I didn't know it, I'd go get the sheet music tomorrow and learn it so I wouldn't be caught the next time - Carl Martin, interview with Jeff Todd Titon

Author Topic: The Low-Fi Laboratory  (Read 2394 times)

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Offline CF

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The Low-Fi Laboratory
« on: April 29, 2010, 07:43:37 AM »
Hey guys, I recently started an audio blog project collecting lo-fi recordings I've been making for the last few years, initially with the free Audacity recording software & now with a handheld Sony IC Recorder. This thing is meant for speech recordings but I really like how well it captures music . . . I've been listening to so much 78 era music now for so long that I've developed a taste for 'low-quality' (of course they're not all low-fidelity) sound recordings . . . also, I love the freedom & the immediacy of recording music this way. Studios are mostly a drag. So I plan on being a bit of a junior Lomax, recording impromptu jams & cataloguing my repertoire & etc. A large part of my recordings will be of my own blues tunes & the many covers I do of classic blues material so it may be of at least passing interest to some of you here.
Check it out here

http://thelow-filab.blogspot.com/
Stand By If You Wanna Hear It Again . . .

Offline Parlor Picker

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Re: The Low-Fi Laboratory
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2010, 08:52:48 AM »
When I went to your Soundclick site, I automatically clicked on "Play Hi-Fi", not "Play Lo-Fi". Perhaps I made a mistake?

Maybe you could find another old cassette recorder, Mike. A healthy bit of tape hiss would enhance your recordings no end.

One thing I've been thinking about lately is the liking amongst country blues players and fans for cheap guitars. Surely, if it had been available, the old blues guys and gals from the 1920s and 30s would have used state-of-the-art recording equipment and all played Martins, Gibsons or Larsons and not cheap old Stellas, Kalamazoos, Regals, etc. This "country blues sound" a lot of people hanker after would not have been the aim of Messrs. Johnson, Blake, etc. if the recording technology had been more advanced and they could have afforded better instruments. So, come on guys, sell those crappy old guitars and get yourselves a nice shiny new one! [ >:D]

Cue discussion...
"I ain't good looking, teeth don't shine like pearls,
So glad good looks don't take you through this world."
Barbecue Bob

Offline CF

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Re: The Low-Fi Laboratory
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2010, 09:57:33 AM »
PP I think you've misunderstood what I'm going for here.

This handheld recorder allows me to, right now, record & share music with you. I come from a pretty busy scene of singer-songwriters, folkies, rockers & etc. 90 percent of their music is recorded in a studio setting, is tracked, & requires all the things a hard copy product requires for a listening public to hear it. Most of the people who have heard me play music have either heard me live solo or with a band or on the several Cds I've been a part of. I've never felt like the deeper elements of my playing have been captured in a studio (or, often, live for that matter) because of the stale setting & the overt conscious aspect, the microscopic attention. BUT, home recordings, relaxed & off the cuff, represent what I think is a better music-making situation. I'm not embracing lo-fi because I think lower quality recordings are cool but because they are cheap & I can make them with little effort. I'm embracing my situation, which, if you will, is a low-fi situation.

Also, I'd like to add, I'm not into horrible sound quality. These recordings I'm posting are not bottom of the barrel audio files, they sound alright. They're just not what we would commonly call 'studio quality'. And they are often made in a situation that just couldn't be captured by a studio environment.

How would Patton have sounded had he been recorded playing at Dockery's or at a bootleggers instead of a hotel room with engineers telling him that he should really try not to make any mistakes or say certain things for fear of the expense of ruining a take?

The whole concept of cheap is better because it's ironic or cool never entered my mind, I'm just trying to share mine & my friends music in a way that can be more interesting than our studio recordings.  
« Last Edit: May 09, 2010, 10:49:02 AM by cheapfeet »
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Offline banjochris

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Re: The Low-Fi Laboratory
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2010, 05:26:40 PM »
One thing I've been thinking about lately is the liking amongst country blues players and fans for cheap guitars. Surely, if it had been available, the old blues guys and gals from the 1920s and 30s would have used state-of-the-art recording equipment and all played Martins, Gibsons or Larsons and not cheap old Stellas, Kalamazoos, Regals, etc.

I'd agree about recording equipment but I don't think that's necessarily so as far as guitars go. H.C. Speir spoke about Stellas having a much better bass tone than Martins, talking about why the country blues players used them so frequently. Also I can think of Mance Lipscomb, who usually in the '60s played a Harmony Sovereign. He was given a Gibson J-200 by a fan and used it occasionally but says in his bio that he preferred the Harmony. My ears agree with him 100% (at least for his style of playing).

Also, think of all the modern players who eschew Martins, etc. in favor of Kalamazoos or Stellas and price has nothing to do with it. I know Martins are fine guitars for many styles but for myself and the way I play most of them I've tried sound terrible for blues (same for many Gibsons I've played); for someone else that mightn't be the case.
Chris

Offline sustaireblues

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Re: The Low-Fi Laboratory
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2010, 07:50:00 PM »
Great sound and super playing and singing! I just listened to Lonesome High Blues and love it! I want to play like that! On the recorder I just went to ebay and punched in sony IC recorder and seems they run from $25 to $200 and $300, which one are you using? I need a recorder but just get overwhelmed with all the tech available and the cost which I can't afford.

Thanks,
Joe

Offline frankie

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Re: The Low-Fi Laboratory
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2010, 08:04:51 PM »
hot damn  - that Lonesome Home Blues is fantastic!  Nutty take on Jack O' Diamonds, too...  I say keep it up.

re: equipment and price - expensive/latest/most advanced isn't always best...  didn't we just have a thread about the subtle pleasures of music recorded on cassette?

Offline Parlor Picker

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Re: The Low-Fi Laboratory
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2010, 01:05:16 AM »
Points taken, Mike (and other posters). My initial comment was meant to be decidedly tongue-in-cheek and hopefully the  >:D which appeared at the end of my guitar comments would indicate I was playing devil's advocate in order to prompt some discussion.

I fully agree with what Chris says about the Stellas - a more expensive guitar is not necessarily a better one.  Speaking personally, I love all steel-string acoustic guitars and find the whole subject fascinating. However, I sometimes can't understand the craving for one of the poor-sounding, all birch or all laminate models, when you could get something nicer for the same money, (then again, of course, I play a Kalamazoo KGN-12 which has laminate maple back and sides...). But that's part of this whole world we country bluesers inhabit - different people have different tastes, and that's a good thing. Variety is the spice of life, and all that.

One point I meant to include in my first post which I somehow missed is how much I enjoyed Cheapfeet's performances. Superb!
« Last Edit: April 30, 2010, 01:07:06 AM by Parlor Picker »
"I ain't good looking, teeth don't shine like pearls,
So glad good looks don't take you through this world."
Barbecue Bob

Offline CF

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Re: The Low-Fi Laboratory
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2010, 06:49:22 AM »
sustaireb, it's a Sony ICD PX720. I got it as a gift for xmas but I believe it retails for something like $60. Doesn't it sound great? It comes with a USB cable & software that you use to convert the recordings into mp3s. It's highest quality bit rate is 192 kbps. I recorded a rehearsal with some friends, we had guitar, vocal, electric bass & another on snare & when the bass player heard the files coverted to mp3 & playing on my computer he couldn't believe how great it sounded. I think he too is presently looking for one. Apparently these things sound even better with an external mic. I've just been using the internal mic so far.
I'm going to provide the link to the Amazon product page. Lotsa good reviews & most of the bad ones are from Mac or windows 7 users who are having a hard time getting the provided software to convert to mp3 but it seems there may be a solution to that problem.

http://www.amazon.com/Sony-ICD-PX720-Digital-Voice-Recorder/dp/B001RB1XVQ/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

And thanks for the compliments. I'm going to have a good time with this blog . . . already envisioning all the jamming/recording I'm going to force on my friends! I think I'm going to do a series of recordings of 'Jack O' Diamonds' with all the different characters I get to play music with. Stay tuned.
 
Stand By If You Wanna Hear It Again . . .

Offline Johnm

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Re: The Low-Fi Laboratory
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2010, 09:12:59 AM »
Hi Mike,
You do a really nice job on "Keep It Clean", a song in which I think it's hard to avoid singing the guitar part, since it's so non-stop and gabby (in a good way!).  Your rendition gets the vocal melody good and strong and I like your pronunciation of "water"--good attention to detail, and a lot of fun.
All best,
Johnm

Offline David Kaatz

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Re: The Low-Fi Laboratory
« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2010, 09:24:47 PM »
Nice stuff.  I like the relaxed feel of everything, because nobody is worried about it.  I'd be too conscious of the recorder going.  Tho I guess if you record everything, then eventually you don't worry about it.
BTW, I got bit by a garter snake as a kid.  Surprised me too, as I'd handled plenty of them before, but this one just got pissed and laid into me.  Funny feeling, not painful at all.

Dave

Offline CF

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Re: The Low-Fi Laboratory
« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2010, 11:25:17 AM »
Hey all, I used to be in a wild & wooly blues duo with my cousin & we recently reunited for one gig & here's some of the night over at the Low-Fi Lab. Also, the previous post has an original song by my bud Al Tuck (one of the Canadian East Coast's best songwriters) called 'Compass News Blues' in which he utilizes the 'Big Road Blues' theme.

http://thelow-filab.blogspot.com/
« Last Edit: July 19, 2010, 11:51:41 AM by cheapfeet »
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Offline blueshome

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Re: The Low-Fi Laboratory
« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2010, 11:48:37 AM »
I missed this thread first time round for some reason. Once the age of purely acoustic recording was over it is surprising how much information was captured on 78's, whilst not necessarily the highest of hi-fi, the amount of audio information was well above lo-fi as many well remastered testify.

On the point about guitars, my experience is that instruments withe that old, middy sound (as from ladder braced) tend to record very well even with modern technology.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: The Low-Fi Laboratory
« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2010, 11:28:08 AM »
I only now listened to Lonesome Home Blues, I guess I missed that one earlier. Fabulous, just a pleasure.

Offline CF

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Re: The Low-Fi Laboratory
« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2010, 09:41:23 AM »
Thanks for that Andrew.
I recently posted mp3s & pics from my buds' electric blues band project for the summer of 2010. Hear me do Elvis & Johnny Cash impressions with them on 'A Boy Named Sue'!
My next post will be about early 1990s metal & punk from my hometown.
You've been warned :)
Embrace the Low-fi!

http://thelow-filab.blogspot.com/
Stand By If You Wanna Hear It Again . . .

Offline Slack

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Re: The Low-Fi Laboratory
« Reply #14 on: September 25, 2010, 11:12:08 AM »
Quote
I recently posted mp3s & pics from my buds' electric blues band project for the summer of 2010. Hear me do Elvis & Johnny Cash impressions with them on 'A Boy Named Sue'!
My next post will be about early 1990s metal & punk from my hometown.

Haha!  Sounds like you got into it...

Careful Mike, you'll get addicted to that band thing.  You've been warned!  :P

Offline CF

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Re: The Low-Fi Laboratory
« Reply #15 on: October 22, 2010, 11:36:37 AM »
Bluegrass, a pair of songs from the Brothers DesRoches & '2-track' Singer-Songwriter music recorded on ghetto blasters at the Low-Fi Lab

http://thelow-filab.blogspot.com/
Stand By If You Wanna Hear It Again . . .

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