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From: Chalkhills <owner-chalkhills@chalkhills.org>
To: chalkhills@chalkhills.org
Subject: Chalkhills Digest #10-59


         Chalkhills Digest, Volume 10, Number 59

                Thursday, 16 December 2004

Topics:

                 Re: Editorial Decisions
                      Play at home.
                        Re Canada
                     RE: Objectivity
                       Songwriters
        RE: the whole music experience in general

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Countdown to Christmas / 9 days / Countdown...

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Date: Thu, 9 Dec 2004 12:51:15 -0800 (PST)
From: Benjamin Lukoff <blukoff@alvord.com>
Subject: Re: Editorial Decisions
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.44.0412091249010.30761-100000@vaal.killerlink.net>

> From: "*Hobbes *" <hazchem25@hotmail.com>

> Which leads me to my problem with my album: it has been written as a
> song cycle.  18 songs, about 58 minutes.  I believe great albums are
> generally around the vinyl length (40-45 minutes).  Unfortunately I'm
> too close to the material to think any of it is particularly weak, as I
> know how much effort writing, rewriting and editing went into each song.
> They also tell a story and removing one seems to remove a link in the
> chain. So if I am ruthless and cut it down, since the single or EP are

If it's really the case that removing songs will remove links from the
chain and diminish the album, I say leave it at 58 minutes.

> pretty much dead in the water, what do I do with the extra tracks?  Or
> do I leave it as a long album of raw materials for the listener to strip
> down and shape into what they want to hear the way I've been doing? Or
> does that run the risk of making a tight album seem like a lazy album?
> Any suggestions?

But if you really do want to cut it down (and I tend to agree with you re:
album length), why *not* go the EP route?

------------------------------

Date: Thu, 9 Dec 2004 23:59:49 +0000 (GMT)
From: Mark <bigdoubleya@yahoo.co.uk>
Subject: Play at home.
Message-ID: <20041209235949.28645.qmail@web26305.mail.ukl.yahoo.com>

Hi all, Mark here, long time fan (went to see them in
Belfast on the Go 2 tour) and lurker here.

I've just been looking at the website and I can't
believe how much great stuff there is there, I've
found a new home for a couple of months at least.

Anyhow, I reckon I've a video with this on it and
might just get around to transferring it to dvd at
some point over the xmas period if anyone's
interested.

AFAIR it has some great songs on it including "Human
alchemy", "love on...." and also an interesting
segment with Andy explaining about a game he'd
invented.

Anyway enough for now from someone who's last
purchase, chronologically, was Nonsuch!

Mark

=====
Bjarne Stroustrup (inventor of C++)

"There's an old story about the person who wished his computer were as
easy to use as his telephone.  That wish has come true, since I no
longer know how to use my telephone"

------------------------------

Date: Thu, 9 Dec 2004 20:12:22 -0400
From: "Kevin Brunkhorst" <brunkhorstk@hotmail.com>
Subject: Re Canada
Message-ID: <BAY15-DAV132F48093BA212E920BAEDB6A80@phx.gbl>

"Scott Barnard" <brainiacsdaughter@hotmail.com> writes presumably from One
Of The More Crowded Provinces:

The Prof said:
(Prof? What are you, a student?)

>Canada is not an exciting place to live.<

Thanks for illuminating our ever-so-fascinating identity crisis, Doc,
but it really should have read: "A fishing village in the arse-end of
nowhere with an admittedly good school is not an exciting place to
live". Thank you. Meow.

Well, that's true too.  But there ain't no fishing anymore in Antigonish,
and most of Canada is the arse-end of nowhere.

I should've been clear that it's my warped perception of (this particular
arse-end of) Canada.  I didn't say I didn't like it.  Americans have an
unhealthy need for stimulation, which is why they watch shit like Fear
Factor or The Apprentice (or whatever the fuck it is), and invade other
countries. Here in Canada they have curling, or as I call it, 'ambient
hockey'.  It's cool with the sound off.

Kevin
Antigonish (accent on last syllable)

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 10 Dec 2004 07:39:06 -0600
From: "Johnny Daytona" <johnnydaytona@hotmail.com>
Subject: RE: Objectivity
Message-ID: <BAY17-F37DC9B39B18A751369AA86B3A80@phx.gbl>

Some advice,

>So if I am ruthless and cut it down, since the single or EP are pretty much
>dead in the water, what do I do with the extra tracks?  Or do I leave it as
>a long album of raw materials for the listener to strip down and shape into
>what they want to hear the way I've been doing?
>Or does that run the risk of making a tight album seem like a lazy album?
>
>Any suggestions?

In all likelihood, you are way too close to make an objective opinion.
Eighteen songs and fifty eight minutes is likely too long.  Chop it to
twelve songs, stick the others on your website with instructions on how to
correctly assemble the album, if a consise twelve song album is not enough.

The most useful thing to any artist, wether write, musician or graphic, is
an editor, to make the decisions you are far too close to make yourself.
The things that seem far too important to cut can often be given the axe
with no real impact on the work other than making it shorter and therefore
(usually) better.  Regarless of howcarefully thought out your song cycle is,
I would bet you can cut a number of the songs without really effecting the
end out put, other than making it tighter and more listenable.

My two pence.

Darren Kramble
--
www.thekissingtime.com

------------------------------

Date: Sat, 11 Dec 2004 11:29:30 -0500
From: "Christopher R. Coolidge" <cauldron@together.net>
Subject: Songwriters
Message-ID: <a06110401bde0cefa5daf@[64.91.164.15]>

At 12:13 PM -0500 12/9/04, Chalkhills wrote:
>Which leads me to my problem with my album: it has been written as a song
>cycle.  18 songs, about 58 minutes.  I believe great albums are generally
>around the vinyl length (40-45 minutes).  Unfortunately I'm too close to the
>material to think any of it is particularly weak, as I know how much effort
>writing, rewriting and editing went into each song.  They also tell a story
>and removing one seems to remove a link in the chain.
>
>So if I am ruthless and cut it down, since the single or EP are pretty much
>dead in the water, what do I do with the extra tracks?  Or do I leave it as
>a long album of raw materials for the listener to strip down and shape into
>what they want to hear the way I've been doing?
>Or does that run the risk of making a tight album seem like a lazy album?
>
>Any suggestions?

   I have about the same number of demos I've transferred to my
computer from the original 4 track cassette and digital 8 track
sources, the 4 track stuff dates from the early 90's, the digital
stuff from a one year period immediately before my twin daughters
were born in early '02. Some of the 4 track stuff I embellished with
new overdubs by mixing it to two tracks on digital 8 track, so
basically I've labored over the resulting tracks for so long, like
you I can't tell whether they're any good anymore. We both need a
producer, or at least an unbiased ear(my wife and mother don't count)
to tell us what we can do to make the tracks better. I know I've got
some good songs, but I'm not sure I'm the one to sing them; I'm a
songwriter first, a keyboardist second, a singer a distant third. (I
have an OK but rather expressionless voice, unless I try to bellow
like John Cale, in which case I kill houseplants and scare small
children and cats)

------------------------------

Date: Tue, 14 Dec 2004 13:30:49 -0800 (PST)
From: The Colonel <captainextraneous@yahoo.com>
Subject: RE: the whole music experience in general
Message-ID: <20041214213049.34812.qmail@web41212.mail.yahoo.com>

Hobbes:

You make a lot of interesting points about chopping
down albums for the best quality material, versus
their commercial presentation. I am involved with
several different original musical projects of my own
at the moment, and am therefore often dealing with
these same issues. I also routinely make my own
compilation discs of favorite artists. How many times
have I thought that a great album was ruined by
sticking most of the best material in the second half?
Or maybe there's just a few really excellent songs,
and the rest is filler. Who's to say, really? At the
end of the day - as an artist, songwriter and musician
- I would hope that listeners at least give my version
of the project a chance before making their own... But
in this day and age, and with such technology easily
available, it's crazy to think that music fans
shouldn't take advantage of it to cater to their
individual tastes.

As for your "song-cycle"-styled album, you're right,
that does somewhat complicate the editing situation. I
would make a couple of suggestions. First of all,
since you are very close to the material, having been
involved in its writing, recording, performance, etc.,
it may be adviseable to have a couple of people you
know - preferably with some knowledge of music and
interest in the type of material you're going for -
give it a listen and provide some feedback. If you
find over and over that no one is into a particular
track, maybe it's one to save for the EP or b-sides
project a few years from now...

One thing I find that helps me also is to simply let
the material sit for a couple weeks and come back to
it. Why not take some time off from it and come back
with a fresher perspective?

In the end, you have a particular vision you're trying
to get across with your project, and you're the one
who's going to have to make the final decision about
what, if anything, should be cut (unless of course you
have a record company breathing down your throat ala
the Andy & Virgin Records situation).

Of course there are pros and cons to the short versus
longer album formats. I put out a disc a few years ago
that originally was to have 19 songs on it. It seemed
overlong even though most of the tracks were around
the 3-minute mark, and in the end I cut a couple of
tracks. Going back to it now, though, I find that I
would have much preferred cutting even more and having
a tighter release. A concise 35-minute album of all
the best material can be great because it's more
immediate, and you can easily listen to the whole
thing in a single sitting. On the other hand,
something longer like, say, the Beatles' White Album
also has its merits. Maybe it's a little bit of a mess
at times, but it's cool because of its diversity. I
guess I would say that if you go the longer route,
just be sure that each track is pulling its weight b/c
it's going to be harder to hold the listener's
attention for the duration.

So hopefully this helps you at least a little bit. As
I said, I deal with the self-editing process often and
am routinely thinking about track sequencing and album
presentation, so I thought I'd give you my two cents.

-Patrick

P.S. For the record, the bands I'm currently working
on material for include:

The Madeira
(exotic 60's-style instro/surf band, kind of like Dick
Dale meets The Shadows)
http://surfguitar101.com

Hipster Zero
(a poppy, punky rock duo, which we jokingly describe
as a cross between the White Stripes and Stryper)
http://hipsterzero.i8.com

Destination: Earth!
(hard-rocking, twangy sci-fi themed band, comparable
to Reverend Horton Heat, Man Or Astroman, etc.)
http://destinationearth.htmlplanet.com

In Stitches
(power pop band with odd/funny lyrics, kind of like
They Might Be Giants, Fountains Of Wayne, etc.)

------------------------------

End of Chalkhills Digest #10-59
*******************************

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