My Creole Belle

This tune is taught on both John Miller’s DVD and on Happy Traum’s DVD. I’ve incorporated elements from both arrangements here. I used a stereo micing position like the last recording, with one mic pointing a little above the spot where the neck meets the body and one pointing at the body just below the bridge.

My Creole Belle

Angeline the Baker

Here’s a fiddle tune I’m learning from Duck Baker’s book and CD. These suckers are hard. This is the easiest one and as you can hear I’m still having some trouble.

For this session I used two mics in a stereo position instead of using one for reverb. I guess I’ll have to get a third mic if I want to keep using this technique and still use a mic for reverb, but the stereo arrangement gets a nice sound I think.

Angeline the Baker

You’ve got the Pocketbook, I’ve got the Key

A lovely little tune I learned from Stefan Grossman’s collection. I got two decent takes so I’ve posted them both. The alternating bass line is unusual in that, except for the break in the middle, it goes hi-low hi-low and avoids the root note of the chord.

I got a lot of help learning this one from my former teacher, Vernon Black. The songs in Grossman’s collection are not fully transcribed, and I have trouble figuring out the parts that are left out, especially if they are very different from the transcribed sections. Vernon’s ear could pick them out just fine, though.

You’ve got the Pocketbook, I’ve got the Key — Take 1

You’ve got the Pocketbook, I’ve got the Key — Take 2

It Won’t Be Long

New strings equals new recordings! I’m trying a new microphone position recommended by a book my friend Tobin lent me. The mic is one foot away, pointing midway between the sound hole and the beginning of the neck. Plus another mic in the corner of the room for reverb.

I learned this from Stefan Grossman’s collection.

It Won’t Be Long

Mama, Your Papa Loves You

Just got back from vacation and feel like recording. This is “Mama, Your Papa Loves You”, an Elizabeth Cotton tune that goes by several other names. Cotton is one of my favorite guitarists for fingerstyle blues and this song is one of her best, I think. I notice my tempo gets faster as the song progresses, but Cotton tended to play them that way too.

I can’t decide whether the bass is too heavy on this recording. I think I like it, it sort of envelopes the melody. Yeah, that’s it.

I learned this song from John Miller’s lovely DVD.

Mama, Your Papa Loves You

Shake That Thing

Ok, my first recording. This is “Shake That Thing” which is the first song you learn in Stefan Grossman’s excellent collection of country blues songs. My “studio” is our second bedroom which is why you can hear the sound of a car screeching to a stop at one point. There are words to go with the song, but I’m not ready to sing just yet.

Shake That Thing

Linux Audio, or Why I Love Open Source

I started learning to play the guitar a few years ago and I recently decided to try home recording. I’m going to post my recordings here as I get comfortable with the equipment and learn how to use the recording software.

I’m happy to say that all my recording software is open source, running on my Debian Linux system. My limited experience with audio on Linux several years ago led me to believe I would have to get myself a Macintosh and some commercial recording software like Pro Tools.

But I decided to try and stick with my open source roots; a few minutes of Google research revealed that Linux audio has been catching up fast.

First there is the ALSA project, which has drivers for a number of different audio devices, including some fairly high-end gear. I picked up an M-Audio Delta 1010LT card, which seems to be a popular choice among Linux audio people. The ALSA project includes a tool called envy24control (envy24 is the name of the chipset used on the card) which can control the settings on the Delta 1010:


That brings us to the JACK system, a piece of software for routing streams of audio between software modules and input/output devices. JACK itself has no graphical interface, but you can use qjackctl to start and stop the JACK system and patchage to route audio between systems. Here’s a shot of patchage connecting one of my audio inputs to the Ardour package, which is connected in turn to my audio outputs.

Patchage at work

That brings us to Ardour, which seems to be the crown jewel of Linux audio. Ardour is a Digital Audio Workstation, or DAW, with features that are often on a par with commercial DAWs like Pro Tools. It’s also a great deal of fun to use. Here’s a shot of an Ardour session with a recording of my wife Beth‘s voice.

Ardour DAW

Beth needed to record the instructions for a vocal relaxation exercise to put on her iPod. After recording it, she realized that the pauses between the instructions needed to be longer. I was able to use Ardour to chop them up and space them out. I was also able to remove a couple mistakes she made in vocalization. Messing around with audio is great fun.

This is just scratching the surface of the Linux audio world. The Linux Sound page has a ton of links to other audio projects including synthesizers, MIDI programs, drum machines, effects processors, and more. So much for getting a Mac!