Surprise EP of Scottish Songs for St. Andrew’s Day!

Here in the U.S. St. Patrick gets parades, green beer, and buttons telling people to kiss you, and everyone becomes Irish for a day. Everyone goes to the “pub” and sings along to “Finnegan’s Wake” even though the song isn’t nearly as hilarious as the book.

But mention St. Andrew and you get looks of “huh?” which, coincidentally, is also the reaction most Americans have to songs in the Scots dialect. Some people know what a caber is. Everyone knows Robert Burns’s “Auld Lang Syne,” or rather, they know a single verse and chorus sung to a different tune than the one Burns wrote, because they sing it around his birthday. (News Years is close enough, right?)

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The wild haggis in its native environment.

There’s no swilling copious amounts of Scotch that’s been dyed blue or wild haggis hunts. We don’t run around calling each other “Jo” and dancing the fling, except by accident.

We don’t even get to see the St. Andrew’s Day Google Doodle in the U.S.! This year’s is Nessy winkin’ at ye. Look at it. Loooook!

st-andrews-day-goo_3513533a

I love that Scotland allegedly invented a lot of its history and culture during the 17th century because everyone was doing it.

I love that possibly their most famous citizen ever, Robert Burns (or at least he was until that Braveheart movie came out — you know, that movie staring the crazy racist Australian living in a America) was not just a writer, but a songwriter, and one who wasn’t afraid to toss off a bawdy verse or two. I love Scottish music and songs, especially the really dark stuff that comes from the ballads throughout Britain — stuff that doesn’t survive as well in other Celtic folk music traditions.

So in honor of St. Andrew’s Day, this year, on a whim, I decided to spend the last week recording an EP of five Scottish songs plus one that’s American but has a connection to one of Robert Burns’s most famous songs, mostly in the original Scots. Silly? Maybe. A peculiar thing to just up and decide to do on a week’s notice? Maybe that, too. But it was fun.

Here are dropbox links to the MP3s if you don’t want to use Bandcamp:

Twa Corbies
Glenlogie (Bonnie Jean o’ Bethelnie)
Battle of Harlaw
MacPherson’s Rant
The Blackest Crow
Is There For Honest Poverty

Twa Corbies

Midway Fair listeners know that I included my modern rewrite of this song on The Distance of the Moon at Daybreak.

There’s a bunch of misinformation out there about the original version of the song, probably the most egregious of which is the notion that it’s from the 13th or 14th century. Although the original lyrics come to us anonymously and it’s impossible to know its true age, the version I sing here — which is the most common version of the words, recorded by Steeleye Span, Old Blind Dogs, and dozens of others — comes from the book Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border collected by Sir Walter Scott. In 1803. The oldest version of the song is from Ravenscroft’s Melismata, published in 1611, which does at least make it one of the oldest entries in the Child Ballads, but that version of the lyrics is quite different. It’s also tangentially related to another ballad called “Three Ravens,” which is much less gruesome.

There’s a fantastic in-depth post over on Mainly Norfolk about this song, and I highly recommend reading it for further information on the history of the song. I used a lot of ideas from the Steeleye Span version for the harmony structure.

Lyrics and gloss

As I was walking, aye all alane,
I heard twa corbies making a mane;
The tane untae the ither did say-o,
‘Where shall we gang ere we dine the day?’

‘In ahint yon auld fail dyke,
I wot there lies there a new-slain knight;
And naebody kens that he lies there,
But his hawk, his hound, and his lady fair.

‘His hound is tae the hunting gane,
His hawk tae fetch all the wild-fowl hame,
His lady’s taen anither mate,
So we may mak oor dinner sweet.

‘Ye’ll sit on his white hause-bane,
And I’ll pike out his bonny blue een;
And wi ae lock o his gowden hair
We’ll theek wir nest when it grows bare.

‘Mony an ane for him makes mane,
But nane sall ken where he has gane;
Oer his white banes, when they are bare,
The wind sall blaw, aye, for evermair.’

As I was walking all alone, I heard two ravens complaining. One said to the other: “So … who’s on the menu today?”

“There’s a dead knight in that ditch over there. And no one knows that he’s there, but his hawk, his hound, and his lady fair. His hound gone hunting (without him), his hawk’s chowing down on whatever the hound catches, and his lady’s already found someone else to shack up with. So let’s eat. You’ll sit on his breast bone, I’ll poke out his pretty blue eyes, and we’ll use some of his golden hair to thatch our nest. There’s going to be a lot of people sad that he’s gone, but they won’t know where he is. Over his white bones when we’ve picked them clean, the wind will blow forevermore.

My friend Dave Benham recorded some native American flute on this, essentially learning the song on the spot. He’s fun to work with.

Glenlogie (Bonnie Jean o’ Bethelnie)

One of my favorite ballads, in part because the story is so concise and accessible. It’s child ballad no. 238 and you can read the various versions here. I do the lyrics from Dick Gaugan’s definitive version, but the way I sing it is closer to Jim Malcolm’s version because to be honest Gaugan’s version is astoundingly difficult to sing. I also copped some of the instrumental bits from the mandolin part John Hardy plays in the (pre-Jim Malcolm) Old Blind Dogs recording.

I wish I could say that I managed it perfectly in one take, but it’s composed of a pair of good takes. No overdubs, however.

Lyrics and Gloss

There was fower and twenty nobles sat doun in the king’s haa
And bonnie Glenlogie was the flower o them aa
There was fower an twanty nobles rade thro Banchory fair
Aye and bonnie Glenlogie was the flowor o them there

There was six and six maidens sat down in the king’s haa
Bonnie Jeannie o Bethelnie was the flowor o thwm aa
Doun cam Jeannie Gordon she cam trippin doun the stairs
An she’s chosen Glenlogie o aa that was there

Saying, “Glenlogie, Glenlogie, gin ye’ll prove sae kind
My love is laid upon ye an I’ve tellt ye my mind”
But he’s turning aroun lichtlie, as the Gordons gaze on
I’m sorry, Jeannie Gordon, but I’m promist awa’

And now she’s caad tae her maidens for tae mak her a bed
Wi’ ribbons sine wi’ napkins tae for tae tie up her head
Bit it’s up spake her faither an a wey man was he
“Ach, I’ll wed ye tae Dumfendrum, he’s mair gowd than he”

“Och, hide yer tongue, faither, this willnae be
Gin I get nae Glenlogie for him will I die
But her faither’s ain chaplain, a man o great skill,
He’s written a braid letter an indicted him weill

A pox on ye, Logie, nou since it is sae
There’s a lady’s love’s laid on ye, must she die in her woe?
And a pox on ye, Logie, nou since it is time
There’s a maiden’s love laid on ye, must she die in her prime?

When Logie got the letter, he bein amongst men
It’s up and spake Glenlogie, “What’s this young woman mean?”
And when Logie’s read the letter, a right laugh laughed he
But ere he read oe’r it, the tear blinds his ee

Saying saddle me the black horse, saddle me the broun
Bonnie Jeannie o Bethelnie will be dead ere I win
But the horses werenae saddled, nor lead on the green
When bonnie Glenlogie was three miles his lane

An it was pale an wan was she when Glenlogie cam in
Aye but reid an rosie grew she when she kent it was him
Where lies yer pain, lady, does it lie in yer side?
Where lies yer pain, lady, does it lie in yer head?

O nay, nay, Glenlogie, ye’re far fae the part
For the pain that you speak o’, it lies in my heart
Turn around, Jeannie Gordon, turn around on yer side
It’s I’ll be the bridegroom if ye’ll be the bride

Now Jeannie’s gotten married an her tocher’s doun tauld
Bonnie Jeannie o Bethelnie was scarce sixteen years auld
Bethelnie, o Bethelnie, ye shine where ye stand
An the heather bells around ye shine on Fyvie’s land
Bethelnie, o Bethelnie, ye shine where ye stand
An the heather bells around ye shine on Fyvie’s land

There were twenty-four nobles and knights who came to party down with the king. They had a tournament, and the Lord of Glenlogie beat the snot out of everyone else there. There were sixty-six girls at the afterparty, and Jean of Bethelnie was the prettiest one there. She came up to Glenlogie and said, “Okay, you’re my boyfriend now.” Glenlogie said, “I’m flattered, but I, uh, have to go to … somewhere else. Not here.”

The next day, she has a hangover but decides that it actually has something to do with the rejection from Glenlogie, so she calls for her ladies in waiting to bring her some nice hot towels. And her dad says, “That guy’s a jerk and not worth it. I can set you up with my buddy Dumfendrum. He’s way richer!” And Jeanie says, “Ugh, dad, you just don’t get it. If I can’t have Glenlogie, I’ll just keel over an die right here.”

So her dad goes to his clerk and says, “Hey, you’re pretty wise. Any ideas?” And the clerk writes a nastygram to Glenlogie saying that there’s a young lady that’s going to just die if she doesn’t get to marry him.

Glenlogie’s at another tournament and kicking butt as usual, when someone gives him the letter. And he says to his bros, “Chicks, am I right, guys?” And he reads the letter and does the thing that everyone in folk songs has to do when they get it: First he laughs, and then he cries. And he says, “Go get me the black horse. And the brown one! I need two horses!” And they go saddle up the horses, and by the time they come back, he’s already run three miles, either on foot or on the horse he forgot he already had.

So he comes into her bedroom (it doesn’t say if she’s alone, so let your imagination run wild) and she’s all pale. And then she sees him and she gets all flush. (Woo!) And he says, “So, uh, you said you were dying. I mean, I’m not a doctor or anything, but is it a headache?” And she says, “Dummy, it’s in my heart.” And he puffs out his chest and says, “Let’s get married!”

And they do. And there was a wedding, and he gave her a huge … dowry … and then some flowers grew on the hillsides in Fivie.

The Battle o’ Harlaw

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Memorial to the Battle of Harlaw.

Child Ballad no. 163 — a tale of one of the bloodiest clan battles in Scottish history. Wikipedia has a great history of the real battle:

The Battle of Harlaw (Scottish Gaelic: Cath Gairbheach) was a Scottish clan battle fought on 24 July 1411 just north of Inverurie in Aberdeenshire. It was one of a series of battles fought during the Middle Ages between the barons of northeast Scotland against those from the west coast.

The battle was fought to resolve competing claims to the Earldom of Ross, a large region of northern Scotland. Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany, Regent of Scotland, had taken control of the earldom as guardian of his niece Euphemia Leslie. This claim was contested by Donald, Lord of the Isles, who had married Euphemia’s aunt Mariota. Donald invaded Ross with the intention of seizing the earldom by force.

First he defeated a large force of Mackays at the Battle of Dingwall. He captured Dingwall Castle and then advanced on Aberdeen with 10,000 clansmen. Near Inverurie he was met by 1,000–2,000 of the local gentry, many in armour, hastily assembled by the Earl of Mar. After a day of fierce fighting there was no clear victor; Donald had lost 900 men before retreating back to the Western Isles, and Mar had lost 500. The latter could claim a strategic victory in that Aberdeen was saved, and within a year Albany had recaptured Ross and forced Donald to surrender. However Mariota was later awarded the earldom of Ross in 1424 and the Lordship of the Isles would keep the title for much of the 15th century.

The ferocity of the battle gave it the nickname “Red Harlaw”. It is commemorated by a 40-foot (12 m) high memorial on the battlefield near the town of Inverurie, supposedly by the church at Chapel of Garioch, and by ballads and music.

The song takes some obvious liberties — the numbers are exaggerated as is the extent of slaughter — and there are appearances by some folk characters that appear in other battle ballads, including James the Rose (who has his own ballad, Child no. 213), but for the most part, the song matches up fairly well with the real history.

This one has some really fun words in it: a “pilliarachie” is a hullabaloo, but presumably someone thought that hullabaloo just didn’t have the same gravitas. It’s actually something called a “nonce” word — something made up to fit the meter, and this song is the origin of it and several variations. The chorus, in case you’re wondering, means “bla bla bla.” Rick Vaeder played approximately one million flutes and tin whistles on this and also added gang vocals and harmonies.

I learned this from Old Blind Dogs. The Corries version has a different chorus and is less complete lyrically. Plus doing it without the key change lacks a certain something. There are some other interesting recordings, including a field recording with the lyrics that I used (and which match the Old Blind Dogs version closer than the original Child text).

Lyrics

As I cam in by Dunideer and doun by Nether Haa
There were fifty thousand heilan men a-marching tae Harlaw
As I gaed on and farther on and doun and by Balquhain
It’s there I saw Sir James the Rose and wi’ him John the Graeme

“It’s cam ye fae the Heilands man, cam ye aa the wey?
Saw ye MacDonald and his men as they cam’ in fae Skye?”

“It’s I was near and near enough that I their numbers saw
There was fifty thousand heilan men a-marching tae Harlaw.”

“Gin that be true,” says James the Rose, “We’ll no cam muckle speed
We’ll cry upon wir merry men and turn wir horse’s heid.”

“Oh na, oh na,” says John the Graeme, “This thing will nivver be
The gallant Graemes was nivver beat, we’ll try fit we can dae.”

And as I gaed on and further on and doun and by Harlaw
There fell full close on ilka side sic straiks ye nivver saw
There fell full close on ilka side sic straiks ye nivver saw
And ilka sword gaed clash for clash at the Battle of Harlaw
The Heilan’ men wi’ their long swords, they laid on us full sair
And they drave back wir merry men three acres breadth and mair

An’ Forbes tae his brother did say, “Now brother, can’t ye see
They’ve beaten us back on ilka side and we’ll be forced tae flee”

“Oh na, na, my brother bold, this thing will nivver be
Ye’ll tak yer guid sword in yer hand, and ye’ll gang in wi’ me”

Well, it’s back tae back the brothers bold gaed in amongst the throng
And they drave back the heilan’ men wi’ swords sharp and long
And the firstan stroke that Forbes struck, he gart MacDonald reel
And the neistan stroke that Forbes struck, the brave MacDonald fell
An siccan a pilliarachie of the likes ye nivver saw
As wis amongst the Heilan’ men fan they saw MacDonald faa
Some rade, some ran, and some did gang, they were of small record
For Forbes and his merry men, they slew them on the road
Of the fifty thousand Heilan’ men, but fifty-three gaed hame
And out o’ a’ the Lawlan’ men, fifty marched wi’ Graeme
Gin anybody spier at ye of them that marched awa’
Tell them plain and very plain they’re sleeping at Harlaw

MacPherson’s Rant

This is a popular fiddle tune. The story behind the song is very interesting, though: Jamie MacPherson was a real highway man, and supposedly composed the tune and lyrics the day before he was hung. From Wikipedia:

Sir Walter Scott says that MacPherson played it under the gallows, and, after playing the tune, he then offered his fiddle to anyone in his clan who would play it at his wake. When no one came forward to take the fiddle, he broke it – either across his knee or over the executioner’s head – and then threw it into the crowd with the remark, “No one else shall play Jamie MacPherson’s fiddle”. The broken fiddle now lies in the MacPherson Clan museum near Newtonmore, Inverness-shire.

I use the (purportedly) traditional lyrics, but what does that really mean? I listened to a ton of versions of the song and threw them all in a pot, added the girl group beat, and this is what came out. Rick played harmonica on it. There’s a couple bars of another famous tune mixed in near the end as a lark.

Lyrics

Fareweel, ye dungeons dark and strang, fareweel, fareweel tae ye,
MacPherson’s time will no be lang on yonder gallows tree
It was by a woman’s treacherous hand that I was condemned tae dee
Above a ledge at a window she sat and a blanket she threw ower me

Chorus
Sae rantinly and sae wantonly, sae dauntinly gaed he
For he played a tune and he danced aroon, below the gallows tree

The Laird o Grant, that Hieland saunt, that first laid hands on me,
He pleads the cause o Peter Broon, tae let MacPherson dee
Untie these bands frae aff my hands and gie tae me my sword,
And there’s no a man in all Scotland but I’ll brave him at a word.

There’s some come here tae see me hang, and some come tae buy my fiddle
But before that I would part wi her I’d brak her through the middle
And he took the fiddle intae baith o his hands and he brak it ower a stane
Sayin, nay other hand shall play on thee when I am dead and gane

Oh little did my mither think, when first that she cradled me
That I would turn to the roving trade and I’d hang on a gallows tree
The reprieve was comin ower the Brig o Banff tae set MacPherson free,
But they pit the clock a quarter afore, and they hanged him frae the tree.

The Blackest Crow

This is a bit of a wild card. It was a popular song during the American civil war and has experienced a bit of a resurgence in recent years with old-time singers, probably thanks to Bruce Molsky making it popular during the transatlantic sessions.

So what the heck is it doing on an EP with a bunch of Scottish stuff? While I was researching the song, I found out that the song form and the lyrics matched up pretty well with Robert Burns’s “My Love Is Like a Red Red Rose.” Burns wasn’t shy about copping inspiration. The lyrics follow the same form and most of the same sentiments.

I use Molsky’s chords, but wanted to make it sound like “not an old-time song.” Most of the drums are programmed. Sorry about that. I also skipped a verse because honestly I just don’t like the line “I wish my breast was made of glass.”

Lyrics

The time draws near my dearest dear when you and I must part
How little you know of the grief and woe of my poor aching heart
Each night I suffer for your sake, you’re the one I love so dear
I wish that I was going with you or you were staying here

The blackest crow that ever flew would surely turn to white
If ever I prove false to you bright day will turn to night
Bright day will turn to night my love, the elements will mourn
If ever I prove false to you the seas will rage and burn

And when you’re on some distant shore think of your absent friend
And when the wind blows high and clear a note to me pray send
And when the wind blows high and clear pray send a note to me
That I might know by your hand light how time has gone with thee

Is There For Honest Poverty (A Man’s a Man for A’ That)

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Lookit this pimp.

Robert Burns’s paean to egalitarianism. The message is simple, so the recording was simple, a single take with just guitar and vocals on Sunday night. So far as I know this is the original tune; I don’t even think I’ve ever heard another.

Lyrics

Is there for honest Poverty
That hings his head, an’ a’ that;
The coward slave-we pass him by,
We dare be poor for a’ that!
For a’ that, an’ a’ that.
Our toils obscure an’ a’ that,
The rank is but the guinea’s stamp,
The Man’s the gowd for a’ that.

What though on hamely fare we dine,
Wear hodden grey, an’ a that;
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine;
A Man’s a Man for a’ that:
For a’ that, and a’ that,
Their tinsel show, an’ a’ that;
The honest man, tho’ e’er sae poor,
Is king o’ men for a’ that.

Ye see yon birkie, ca’d a lord,
Wha struts, an’ stares, an’ a’ that;
Tho’ hundreds worship at his word,
He’s but a coof for a’ that:
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
His ribband, star, an’ a’ that:
The man o’ independent mind
He looks an’ laughs at a’ that.

A prince can mak a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, an’ a’ that;
But an honest man’s abon his might,
Gude faith, he maunna fa’ that!
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
Their dignities an’ a’ that;
The pith o’ sense, an’ pride o’ worth,
Are higher rank than a’ that.

Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a’ that,)
That Sense and Worth, o’er a’ the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an’ a’ that.
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
It’s coming yet for a’ that,
That Man to Man, the world o’er,
Shall brothers be for a’ that.

The Recordings and Gear Used

For All ThatSince I know some of my friends are gearheads, I’ll include this section as usual. Most of the recording process was straightforward this time around, but there are a few things worth noting. I had a much more comprehensive mic locker this time: since February, I’ve added an Austin ribbon microphone I built, an Electro-Voice RE20 (a really accurate dynamic), an MXL 990 that I modified with an RK47 capsule (makes a great vocal mic and a darker room sound when used as an overhead), and a pair of Line Audio OM1s (awesome tiny omni mics made in Sweden that arrived in the middle of the session). I also built a Baby Animal Neutral mic preamp, which came in handy for getting more gain with less hiss for the ribbon and RE-20. In some ways, the reason behind this recording was to get really familiar with the new stuff for a recording project with a couple friends in December.

Most of the vocals (“Twa Corbies,” “MacPherson’s Rant,” and “A Man’s a Man (For A’ That)”) were the RK47, and the Sennheiser Mk4 for the remaining tracks.

There are a pair of acoustics to lay down the main foundations of most of the songs. I used a pick with the Crafters of Tennessee and my Larrivee for all the fingerstyle parts. On every track except “The Black Crow” I used overheads (most often the RK47 but also the OM1) with the acoustics in addition to close-micing. My living room (where I was recording) is untreated but has some interesting character. Using overheads for a lot of the instruments was something that really improved the sound of the recordings because I didn’t have to rely so heavily on digital reverb. Close micing for the acoustics was done with the Austin ribbon for the Larrivee (to make it really soft and huge sounding) and the RE-20 with its high pass filter on for the Tennessee; the dynamic to gives it some immediacy and keep the transients prominent but the RE20 seems to pick up more of the sweetness of the guitar than something like a 57, and it’s more accurate on the top end.

The electric guitars used were the Don Quixotecaster and red tele (with Kinman broadcasters). I used the Austin ribbon for close-micing and then the RK47 about 4′ from the speaker, except on the Blackest Crow, which used the MK4 for close micing on the red tele and the ribbon for the Don Qcaster with no secondary microphone (the parts were being doubled anyway). All the electric parts are fingerstyle except the kind of weird palm muted part in “Twa Corbies,” which is the Don Quixotecaster played with a pick. The only pedals I used for guitar this time around were the Bearhug, the Winnie the Pooh and Some Bees fuzz, the El Capistan, and an EB volume pedal.

The bass is an Epiphone Viola Bass. I had John Benson rewind the pickups in it (he also made the pickups currently in the Donquixotecaster), and then I redid the wiring to allow series and parallel pickups instead of blended volume controls. I used the parallel pickup setting on “Twa Corbies” to give it a kind of funky, phasey sound with a bit of extra finger noise, and the series setting for a really deep sound on everything else. I used the Bearhug compressor on “The Blackest Crow” and my build of Ray Ring’s MOSFET Compressor for all the other tracks.

My Sakura champ is the only amplifier used. (I used it on the bass as well.)

The keys on “The Blackest Crow” is the Roland FP-5; for the piano parts I have to EQ it within an inch of its life, then add an expander, transient designer, and blended compression just to get it sounding like something that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike a real upright piano. But hey, at least I don’t have to get it tuned, right? The organ sound is decent enough with Logic’s rotary speaker plugin.

This was my first time recording real drums — I used a floor tom, snare, and a shaker. On the “Battle of Harlaw” I played them separately so I could do some marching snare type things (poorly as it turned out, but I’m going to go ahead and call that “character”) as well as some deep tom rolls (which came out better than the snare). I used the RK47 like an overhead above the snare on that song, which made for kind of an interesting sound, and the RE-20 on the tom. I did a little better on “MacPherson’s Rant” and “Twa Corbies” (practice, right?) by setting them up like a partial kit and playing them simultaneously. The mics used in that setup were a Sennheiser e609 on the snare, RE20 on the tom, and Rk47 (MacPherson’s Rant) or OM1 (“Twa Corbies”) for the overhead. This worked out reasonably well I think, or at least, it sounds much better than the programmed drums I’d been using. Any other drums and any cymbals you hear are programmed. The drums on “The Blackest Crow” are also all programmed (sorry about that — I ran out of time and probably couldn’t have played what I programmed anyway).

The mandolin is my Weber Bitterroot. I usually use the MK4 to mic this but used the RE-20 for MacPherson’s rant, which I think was a mistake because it ended up a little chunky in the mids.

The banjo on Battle of Harlaw is my Good Time with the back taken off. The bridge has been replaced and it got a new setup this year, but it’s still pretty limited in what I can use it for. I used the RE-20 on it to beef it up a little.

The fiddle on MacPherson’s rant is the violin I had gotten way back in 1999 or 2000: I actually started playing it before mandolin, and ended up getting a mandolin a little while later because the violin was so hard to play. This is the only instrument I’ve ever had formal lessons on: I took them from Jim Fox while I was in San Antonio, who eventually played fiddle on the Hard Times album. It was at my parent’s house for years because I thought my niece was going to learn how to play it, but she opted for drums instead. The fingerboard had come off a few times and I actually thought it was broken, then on Thanksgiving I pulled it out of the corner and found that it had been fixed. I tuned it up and promptly broke a string, then tied the string off and took it home and discovered that I could, in fact, still make sounds. Then I spent the next several hours practicing MacPherson’s rant and laid down a couple tracks that I was okay with. Not bad considering I haven’t played the instrument in years. I used the MK4 to mic it.

Rick’s whistles and vocals and Dave’s flute were all done with the OM1.

The shaker was done with the OM1. Rick let me borrow it, it’s just one of the little egg things. This sounds silly, but it was the first thing I did with the OM1 closer to the source, and when I played it back, I kept looking at the shaker thinking I was accidentally shaking it. The mic was just that accurate.

I didn’t use a ton of plugins, mostly Logic’s built-in “small hall” reverb bus and the channel EQ (I let up a bit on my EQ ban for this recording). I did, however, abuse the Klanghelm MJUCjr variable mu compressor, which I absolutely love as it has just the right amount of springiness. I also used his effortless character comp in a couple places I needed a track to really smooth out (like the swells in “Twa Corbies”). For the “mastering” I used Tokyo Dawn’s Proximity (slightly altered “touch of vinyl” setting) and Kotelnikov. I also used their slick EQ in a couple places.

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3 responses

  1. Wow! what a surprise. What is a Sekura Champ Amp? secura are red shrimp according to my googling. Really an interesting read. You might be way over the head of the average sound guy there. Certainly amazing stuff. I can’t fathom how you got where you are but I’m impressed and it sounds impressive—and it’s a great recording!

    1. Sakura, not secura. The little amp. “Sakura” is a Japanese cherry tree, like the one in our front yard. (It’s also a given name.)

  2. Ah, and then came the light! this would be an amp I know well. But the wood we used in the cabinet was Brazilian cherry! Then again I suppose those trees you painted on the faceplate decor were Sakura?

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