An Application For Rubber Grommets

If, like me, you’ve got cupboards full of small rubber grommets, I’m sure some days you sit around and try to think of a use for them. Maybe make an evening of it, open a bottle of wine, draw flow charts and diagrams in a vain attempt to just find some use for the things.

Well, I have it, the holy grail of surplus rubber grommet applications.

To stop sympathetic overtones on my mandolin.

Sorry, what’s that?  What the *** are you on about, Andrew?

Oh, I’d better explain a bit, then. With photos.

Sometimes the strings behind the bridge – the bits you don’t strum/pick – resonate in sympathy with what you are playing. unfortunately, since these bits aren’t tuned (or even tunable) the resulting tones are discordant and unpleasant. They are sympathetic overtones, or something like that.

Some players thread leather laces through the strings to damped the unwanted sounds, and some use small rubber grommets to stop the vibrations. So that’s what I’ve done. The grommets are slightly wider than the gap, so they get squashed slightly, but i don’t care.

 

Dad’s Vinyl: #1 Ticket To Ride

Dad recently had a long-overdue clear out of his double garage, which isn’t where he keeps the car, as there is no room. He had threatened for years to offload his vinyl collection on my and my brother, and this year he finally did it.

It’s not a huge collection of records, but there’s some good stuff in there. There’s also some terrible stuff in there, which I’m going to leave in the box.

There have been some disagreements with my brother about who gets what, but mostly our tastes differ enough that things haven’t got nasty. He was adamant that he was having  the ‘Strawberry fields/Penny lane’ single, and ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ EP.  This leaves me with all the rest of the Beatles stuff. Including this one:

'Ticket to Ride' by The Beatles 7" single

‘Ticket to Ride’ by The Beatles 7″ single

I don’t own much Beatles stuff (White album, Revolver. That’s it.) so I’ve not really heard much of their stuff, not since my 70’s childhood when they were on the radio all the time, or so it seemed. I’ve certainly not really listened to the songs, not properly.

This one comes bursting out of the speakers, sounding not unlike a less weird ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ with a better melody, and some great harmonies.

Someone once said that the secret of The Beatles’ best songs was that something happens every 5 seconds or so, either a harmony, a guitar hook, a drum fill, a standout lyric or even another section to the song*. It goes something like this:

Rickenbacker jangle – burst of drums – singing starts almost straight away – harmonies come on second line – harmonies move up a notch on 3rd line – chorus comes in – last line of chorus harmonies move up a notch – etc etc**  . The ideas never stop, and your ears aren’t given any time to get bored as there’s a new thing along in a few seconds. Ok, it helps that the melodies were pretty good.

 

Copyright reasons (I’m guessing) mean that the YouTube videos are blocked or taken down, so this is the best I could find. But you know how this goes anyway, don’t you?

* In this case the “I don’t know why she’s riding so high..” bit, that’s not only different from the verse and the chorus, but has a wildly different drum  rhythm. I’d say it was the middle eight, except they play it twice.

**I was going to go through the track and list everything – with timings – but that would be almost as tedious to read as it would be for me to do, and turntables don’t have pause buttons… so I didn’t.

Song-a-Day 07: Being Human

I’m not entirely happy with this one, but I’ve been in bed most of the day with the lurgi and I’m not in a very good mood.

I’m happy with the bass line, I should play more bass guitar.

This is possibly the last song from this week, I’m helping friends move house tomorrow so won’t have time for any music. I might be able to write a song on Sunday, I’ll see how it goes. And then next week? That’s Possible.

Song-a-Day #5: Unfamiliar Constellations

Song-a-day #5: Unfamiliar Constellations. For some reason, when I do the ‘song a day’ thing (about every couple of years, on average) I end up with a ‘doomed sci-fi’ song. This is another. Don’t ask me why, because I have no idea.

This is the first one this year with synths on it, I like doing floaty interstellar pads. I really struggled with the chord changes on this, I knew it should have a key change/modulation but I couldn’t get it to sit right. In the end if was an E minor to F major change that did it.

‘Passengers’

I heard this on the cover CD I got with an issue of the much missed Word Magazine. I think it’s one of my favourite things Lou Reed did. It is from an album called ‘Recitement’ by Stephen Emmer, a Dutch composer, with a different speaker on each track.

I thought it was maybe a poem that Reed was reciting, so I was slightly surprised when I googled some of the phrases to find that it was prose, and from a book that I had read (although nearly 20 years ago). It was from the introduction to Paul Theroux’s ‘The Great railway Bazaar’, which is a marvellous book.

This started me reading Theroux again, in some cases re-reading books of his I read years ago. My current copy of ‘The Great Railway Bazaar’ I got from the Red Cross charity shop in Aberaeron. I’ve no idea what happened to my original copy.

The Independent newspaper recently featured the whole of the first chapter in their travel supplement – read it here.

 

Saxophone! Don’t Kill The Piglets!

image

This will not come as news to my neighbours, but I have started to play my saxophone again. It is one of those instruments that only works at loud volumes. Luckily for them, I don’t have enough strength in my jaw to play for more than five minutes before the muscles give up and it sounds like I’m murdering piglets, and I have to stop.

I am teaching myself to play, so it’s taking a while, and i hadn’t picked it up for almost a year before last week. I am slightly put off by just how loud it is, and that everyone in a 2 mile-radius can hear the squeaks and howls when it goes wrong.

The saxophone might look fiendishly complicated, but it’s not nearly as bad as it looks as if it might be. But it’s hard enough.

#16 – ‘The Portals’

#16 in my Song-a-day project. And it’s not, strictly speaking, a song, more like spoken-word with music. This is based on (quite closely as it happens) the weird dream I had last night – and I don’t usually have freaky Sci-Fi dreams, either. What if Alien life-forms were insubstantial, like flickering lights, how long before we noticed them. And could we stop them?

(There is possible ‘Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ influence, as that features ‘hyper-intelligent shades of the colour blue’, which sort of ties in with what happens here. Plus ‘sub-etha transmissions, that’s a HHG steal!)