Still Small Voice

Today’s video is orignal music I wrote using a prayer by fellow blogger Michelle Marie for the lyrics. On December 7, 2018, Michelle Marie posted Still… Small… Voice on Tell Me About It at https://tellmeaboutit.co/2018/12/07/still-small-voice/, and I had a feeling there was an issue with her daughter, Alex, who has serious health problems. I commented that her prayer was beautiful, but sad, and asked how Alex was. Michelle Marie responded that she had been very sick and in ICU the week before. Michelle Marie mentioned that Alex just wants to lead a normal life. I could certainly relate to that having had a lot of health issues myself over the years. I didn’t realize the gravity of the situation until Michelle Marie emailed me with details. Alex almost died.

After getting the full story, I was inspired to write a song using Michelle Marie’s prayer for the lyrics. I was trying to imagine what is was like for Alex to be in ICU clinging to life, and started working on creating an etherial lullaby. I finished recording the song on December 15, 2018, and sent it to Michelle Marie. When I learned that she plays piano, I transcribed a short version of the flamenco guitar into piano and sent her the sheet music. She sent me images to use in a video, but I had to think for a long time how to do a video to go with the music. I finally came up with what I believe is a suitable video.  Here’s my version of Michelle Marie’s Still… Small… Voice.

 

 

When Owls Fly

The Average White Boys haven’t done a parody video in quite awhile. I have several parodies in the works, and I finally finished this one I’m calling When Owls Fly. For anyone who has seen my other parody videos, When Owls Fly is quite different because

1) I arranged the music for the parody
2) I played all the instruments to create the music
3) Several parts of the video refer to the original video When Doves Cry by Prince, so it is more of a true parody compared to the other parodies I’ve done.

I started working on When Owls Fly last summer, collecting video and audio clips of the owls while out walking in the bosque. After I got an idea to make a parody based on Prince’s When Doves Cry, I had a problem because I needed to do my own arrangement of the music to make it work with the concept I had for When Owls Fly.

I hadn’t played my flamenco guitar for several years because of numbness in my fingertips from chemo, and pain in my hands from arthritis. Therefore, I couldn’t simply borrow an electric guitar and lay down guitar tracks — I couldn’t play guitar well enough. I don’t play keyboard, so about all I could do was lay down percussion tracks.

While casually looking at cheap electric guitars on eBay last August, one of the guitars eBay’s auto recommendations suggested was to look at a Gibson Les Paul Studio guitar. The description said it was in very good condition, it was all black, and the price was right. I snatched it up thinking that an electric guitar would be easier to play for me to start relearning to play guitar, plus I would have an electric guitar for parodies like When Owls Fly.

After practicing the Les Paul for several weeks, which is much easier to play than my flamenco guitar, I started figuring out the intro to When Doves Cry. Over then next three months I began to get a little better at playing the Les Paul, so I got out my flamenco guitar in mid November. Those few months of work on the electric guitar paid off, as now the flamenco guitar was not quite as challenging to play. It is nice to be playing again, no matter how rough my playing is.

Last October I started making the video clips for the parody. I laid down the percussion tracks in November, and I finally got where I could play a reasonable facsimile of the introduction on my Les Paul, and recorded the introduction. Next I laid down the rhythm guitar track using the Les Paul, and finally I added the recording of the owls hooting. I mixed the intro guitar, percussion, rhythm guitar and owls hooting together, ready for the vocal track.

After I recorded the vocal track, which is not even a close facsimile to Prince’s vocals — c’est la vie since I’m not much of a vocalist — everything worked well together; however, the arrangement was missing the keyboard in the original song. I don’t play piano or keyboard, so I got the idea to play my flamenco guitar in place of the keyboard that’s in the original song. I laid down the track playing my flamenco guitar last week. My flamenco guitar substitution isn’t anything like the keyboard in When Doves Cry, but I believe it works pretty well for the owls. After adding some finishing touches, I completed the final mix, put it all together with the video clips and produced the video below.

Since I’m using my darkroom for my recording studio, the music comes out a bit raw sounding from the confined space. Furthermore, my mic input doesn’t work on my MacBook Pro, therefore, I am using the microphones built into the computer. The built-in mics are okay for voice, but fall a little short for musical instruments, in my opinion, but that’s what I have to work with at the moment.

If you are not familiar with When Doves Cry, and would like to see the video that inspired When Owls Fly, you can watch it on YouTube at https://youtu.be/UG3VcCAlUgE.

When Owls Fly
Inspired by When Doves Cry by Prince
Arrangement by Timothy Price
Lyrics by Timothy Price

Look and I will take a picture
See you engaged you never miss
The grass I lie in covers me
Oh I see a starling
Got a picture of it

Seems what I see from the backyard
Oh some yellow flowers in bloom
All in sight with the roses
We feel the beat
The beat unseen but herd by you

Now I can see that you’re standing
To fend for yourself in a world so cold
Maybe it goes not withstanding
That you look like your father, so golden
And also you look like your mother
Hooting never so tongue tied
You hoot and peep at each other
This is what it sounds like
When owls fly

I stand back in a black tench coat
Feel how the sweat dribbles inside
I’ve got the dizzy eyes looking up
Can’t see to face you
You are up so high

Now I can see that you’re standing
To fend for yourself in a world so cold
Maybe it goes not withstanding
That you look like your father, so golden
And also you look like your mother
Hooting never so tongue tied
You hoot and peep at each other
This is what it sounds like
When owls fly

Now I can see that you’re standing
To fend for yourself in a world so cold? (A world that’s so cold)
Maybe it goes not withstanding (Maybe your like your father)
That you look like your father, so golden (Ya know he’s so golden)
And also you look like your mother (Maybe you’re just like your mother)
Hooting never so tongue tied (She’s never tongue tied)
You hoot and peep at each other (Why do you peep, why)
This is what it sound like
When owls fly

 

Letters from Madrid – 5th Flamenco Show

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Laurie dancing Alegrías in one the dresses she designed and sewed herself.

Sara Baras didn’t leave much of an impression in the fourth flamenco show. Belen Maya was much more interesting, but singer El Chocolate made the show in the 5th and last flamenco show we saw during our first three months in Madrid.

April 18, 1996

Flamenco
The fifth show included Chocolate and had a more modern dancer, Belen Maya, who was much more interesting that Sara Baras, but had too few moves and became quickly boring. Chocalate was excellent, but the guitarist who accompanied him and the other featured singer was totally boring. The other featured singer is not worth mentioning, as he did nothing extraordinary. What was extraordinary is that Fosforito and the young guitarist sitting in for Enrique del Malchor were special guests again. They seemed to have worked things out, because they were both great. A total change from Tuesday night. The guitarist had toned down his playing a bit, smoothed it out, and set himself to accompanying the cante. I hope he realizes that, his attention to the cante, and playing a slight more reserved, and in a more tastful manner, brought it home to the audience what a fine guitarist he is. It could be that the first guitaist was so boring that the new sound, lightning fast scales, and quick changes seemed fresh and fun in compairosn, where as Tuesday, he seemed busy and overpowering after Paco Cepero masterful playing. On Tuesday, Fosforito and his guitarist got a cool reception from the audience; but this night, they excited the audience, bringing gritos and applause for the great playing and emotionally, heart rendered words pouring forth from Fosforito’s pained, squinting face.

For the next several posts of Letters from Madrid…, I’m going to turn from music for a little bit and get into my observations and reactions to museums, architecture and planning, parks and open space, public restrooms, driving and tourists during our first three months in Madrid!

 
Videos
CHOCOLATE-JUAN HABICHUELA-FANDANGOS https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_9Z2OAVaO0

Mayte Martín & Belén Maya during IV Dutch Flamenco Biennale – Amsterdam, 1 February 2013 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1Yv9CBch5U

FOSFORITO Alegrías de Cádiz – Tesoros del Flamenco 1990  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSpZjAzVqC0

Letters from Madrid – 4th Flamenco Show

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Laurie dancing

The third flamenco show we saw ended with guitarist Moraito Chico dancing a sassy bularias as everyone left the stage. The fourth flamenco show ended with polite applause for the dancer and the house lights coming on the user her group off the stage. 

 

18 April 1996

Flamenco
The fourth flamenco concert was Rancapino and Chaqueton accompanied by Paco Cepero. I think I now understand the difference between being in compas and having a mastery of compas. Paco Cepero was delightful in accompaniment of Rancapino and Chaqueton. He proved to be a masterful accompanist, who left large spaces for the singer, brilliantly followed their cante, and filled the voids between versus with astonishing acts of rhythm with such mastery of the compas that he many times set the crowd roaring with gritos and applause, and delightful looks of approvals from the singer. He was not in the least a flashy player as we generally know them. He only had occasional burst of lightning picado, and his aso pura (a thumb technique) seemed slow by most standards, but his thumb work was very strong and accurate. His flashiness was in the compas. He was so comfortable with it, and so accurate about it, that he made the guitar sing like I have never heard. His accompaniment was soft, and airy during the cante, leaving ample space for the singer to impress upon the audience the full intention of his art in expressions, emotions, and vocal achievement. In some instances Paco would tastefully play the cante along with the singer emphasizing the intricacies and complexities of the compas so masterfully he about brought the house down. There was no better rhythm for Paco to show his superior sense of compas than bularias. He would leave so much space, play so many complex rastiados, and supported the singer so beautifully that his masterful jesting had everyone on the edge of their seats, bringing roars of approval and amazement from the audience, and even slight looks of approving astonishment from the singer. Everybody was amazed by the performance. Both singers were excellent; however, I liked Rancapino best of the two.

Fosforito and the young guitarist, who sat in instead of Enrique del Malchor, were quite a contrast to the masterful playing and great compass of that previously mentioned. The guitarist was an excellent player, very fast and modern. He was not as good an accompanist that night, however. There was a constant tension between the guitarist and singer, the compas was often funny, but not really off, between them, and the guitaist was always busy and overpowering of the singer. The many long, lightning speed scales, and modern chords did not seem to belong as part of the accompaniment, and were really more distracting and overpowering than complinentary to the cante. I could have done without both of them that night.

Sara Baras danced a lame Alegrias. She did not have one interesting move, her hands were ugly, she looked down most of the time, her neck was lost in her raised shoulders, she did all her taconeo with very bent knees, which she insisted on showing us, as she spent more time pulling her “butt hugging” dress up over her butt, exposing her overly bent knees, than she did dancing. I really could of done without her. I saw several members of the audience get up and walk out with disgusted looks on their faces during her performance. The audience was cold to her (refreshing to be among people who know a bad dance when they see it) and luckily she did no more. At the end of her dance, there was a polite applause from the audience, and then the house lights were brought up before the group had left the stage.

Next the fifth and final flamenco show I described in the April 18th letter
Videos:
Actuación Paco Cepero y Rancapino Chico en los Claustros de Santo Domingo Jerez https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYT9wdTmX9U

CHIQUETETE – TE QUIERO NIÑA ( AL TOQUE PACO CEPERO ).wmv https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ir-M2L56CWQ

Fosforito – Cantiñas y Soleá https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yav46gr7mm0

Alegria, Sara Baras Flamenco Flamenco https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNcKVJsUkUI