Tag Archives: recordings

Tonight with Craig Doyle

On Saturday I was on Craig Doyle’s show, singing with James McMorrow. My fellow backing singers were Jill Deering and Peter Ryan and I did some tambourine, too. We sang a track from James’s album called ‘This Old Dark Machine’ and, unusually for telly, did it completely live and acoustic.

Here’s a link to the lyrics of the song, on James’s website…

It was a great thrill to be part of the show. It’s recorded on Wednesdays and we were shown to a dressing room (with a nice big box of jelly beans to munch on), and had a lovely runner guy who took our dinner order and got us whatever we wanted. We were all too nice to ask for a while, but then I ventured a request for a Diet Coke (rock’n’roll, eh?). Doubtless the guys were summoning all sorts of debauchery after I left and they got a bit more bold 😉

Here’s the clip (the song starts at 03m13s…):

Thankfully the TV people taped our bit first, as I had to rush off to play piano for my girls choir at Loreto Senior Primary in Crumlin. They were doing their Spring show and I had two choirs to play for: the 88-strong group that had taken part in the Hallelujah Chorus project (massed school choirs get together each year to do a concert with a full orchestra), and the younger ‘school choir’. The 88 did an Abba medley and the school choir did two songs I’d been working on with them this term – ‘Colors Of The Wind’ from Pocahontas by the amazing Alan Menken (look him up and marvel at his body of work) and ‘The Peanut Vendor’, a Cuban song about a dude who sells peanuts. I got there with minutes to spare before I was meant to be on…I think the poor head teacher was a little emotionally frayed by the whole experience! Of course, I breeze in with not a bother on me 🙂

Here’s the Abba medley:

And here’s ‘The Peanut Vendor’:

The Rainbow Connection

A few weeks ago I did a recording for one of my fellow tenors in New Dublin Voices, jazz pianist Stephen Kenny. He has formed a duo with a Finnish singer called Milla Mamia and they needed a demo so they could advertise. I used my Zoom H4 recorder in my kitchen to make the recordings. Firstly, Milla and Stephen did the song and I took a direct stereo output from my Nord Stage piano. Then, I was able to have Milla listen back to that piano track through headphones and sing into the Zoom’s built-in stereo microphones. I then did some editing to do in Audacity, the final stage of which was adding reverb to Milla’s voice.

Check out their website: midnightbluejazz.com

One of the songs they recorded was ‘The Rainbow Connection’ by Paul Williams and Kenneth Ascher. This song was pipped for a Grammy in 1979, the year Kermit the Frog sang it in The Muppet Movie. It’s been covered by many people since then (check out the list on Wikipedia’s entry for the song) but I couldn’t find one I liked as much as Milla & Stephen’s. Actual tears!

Kermit is, of course, the benchmark 🙂 I love the attention to detail – the way his hand moves on the chord changes and he strums the correct pattern. Genius puppetry.

Poisoned By McDonalds Blues

My friend Jonny posted this as his facebok status about an hour ago:

POISONED BY MACDONALDS BLUES went to macd’s for a wispa mcflurry now im running to the toilet in a hurry went to macd’s, got me a big mac spent the next day flat on my back went to macd’s for a diet coke outta my way im gonna boke went to macd’s, got me some fries now i feel like im gonna die i aint ever goin back to eat that food although i hear the big tasty is quite good i got those poisoned by macdonalds blues

So I did a wee recording.

The angels appear to the shepherds

A friend of mine put this message on Facebook this morning:

Looking for an easy chorus for a small choir of very young angels to sing in a nativity when visiting shepherds…anyone?

As if I hadn’t procrastinated enough this morning, I got the guitar out and came up with this little offering.  Have a listen:  Key’s a bit low for little ones, maybe?  Any other thoughts?

A     F#m  E                       D
Fear not! You must be pretty scared
A       F#m E                                  D          E
We’re not something that you’re dreaming
A        F#m E                         D
We’ve got some amazing news to tell
A        F#m E                   D      E
There’s a king born in a stable

A  D          E         A       F#m Bm    E     D/F# E/G#
Hosanna in excelsis, Hosanna in excelsis
A  D          E         A       F#m Bm    E     D/F# E/G# A   D E A    A D E A
Hosanna in excelsis, Hosanna in excelsis           deo

I know you’ve never seen a halo
But now we’re off to see the baby
Your sheep will be fine, sure what do they know?!
You should really get a move on

Hosanna etc.

I reckon this could be fun to sing.  There’s definitely room for some actions 🙂

Breaking radio silence

It has been too long! Jen and I have just moved house and yesterday the nice man from chorus ntl came and installed my lovely new 12Mb connection (we’ll see how that works out, but it’s pretty zippy; eircom’s top package is only 3Mb). What’s with all these internet providers and their lower case names?! I am partial to a bit of lower case myself, it must be said.

Lots has happened over the last couple of weeks:

  • spent a lovely weekend in Donegal, like Mediterranean lovely! I brought the guitar along and my book of Michael Hedges transcriptions. Have discovered an out-of-tune fret on my guitar which I’ll have to get the guys in the shop to have a look at.
  • New Dublin Voices went on a trip to France to compete in the 37th Florilège Vocal de Tours. We had a crazy time getting there – our 6.25am flight was diverted to Lille…driver we’d booked wouldn’t wait or drive to get us…the coach company had made us pay in full in advance…we had to splash out for the TGV to Tours…!! After all that we had to perform in the qualifying rounds once we got there. Amazingly we got through to the final of the class for choirs of 14-24 singers, disappointingly losing out to choirs from Iceland and Ukraine. (Apparently it’s not ‘THE Ukraine’). We did, however, win a special prize for performance of a new work: Enda Bates’s mesmeric Sea Swell. Here’s a recording of the piece that Enda made last week in the Unitarian church on Stephen’s Green where we rehearse:  Here’s a recording, too, of our performance of Poulenc’s Hodie Christus natus est in the final:  Such a good weekend and I’m sure there’ll be pictures soon. It was, as ever, good to hear other choirs and to get to spend a bit more time together as a group 🙂
  • Last night NDV undertook the mammoth task of recording all the pieces we worked on for the competitions this term. We had the use of the Church of Ireland’s educational centre chapel, which has a lovely acoustic and gave us the aural gratification necessary to get us through the sixteen-odd pieces! I took the opportunity to try out my new Zoom H4 recording device and it’ll be interesting to hear how it compares to the more expensive mics that Derby was using to record us.

sing six songs and make friends

New Dublin Voices made the annual pilgrimage to Cork this weekend for the International Choral Festival. Although we didn’t have any luck impressing the judges this time, it was a really fun weekend. We sang four pieces in the big competition:

  • Nicolette – Ravel
  • nine(birds)here – Ian Wilson
  • Unser leben währet siebnzig jahr – Schein
  • Iuppiter – Michael Ostrzyga

The choir that won, Consono from Köln in Germany, were the choir that Iuppiter was written for and, in a flurry of slight inebriation and giddy exuberence, we aurally assaulted the innocent bystanders at the festival club on Sunday evening by singing the piece all together. Great fun, although in retrospect perhaps a little out of place amongst the piano-keys neckties and close-harmony jazz sounds of the festival club…! Down in the bar earlier we had great fun singing The King’s Singers’ Humpty Dumpty (a piece we performed at last year’s festival) with Molto cantabile from Switzerland, who sang it this year with some great choreography.

We also performed, as all the international competition choirs did, in the gala concert. By this stage we knew that we hadn’t won anything and so, with a kind of joyous indignation, we put our all into the two pieces:

  • Wade in de water – Allen Koepke
  • Drive my car – Lennon & McCartney, arr. Simon Lesley

We haven’t got any pictures from the weekend yet (and hopefully there’ll be some video footage made available, too) but here’s a recording that was made of us last year singing a piece called Rotaļa by Juris Karlsons:

Scoil Angela

The 5th class girls from Scoil Angela, Thurles

Here are my fellow songwriters and rappers, who we worked with last week in Thurles. The final performance – for their parents and the rest of the school – went really well. Aingeala conducted the half-hour concert which began with all the girls simulating the rhythm of a heart beat and moved through different sections. They did some improvisation over some grooves that we’d been working on during the week. Each girl had a percussion instrument and another instrument – between them they had tin whistles, flutes, violins, a guitar, a harp and three keyboards. The rap and the song went really well and the audience gave them a huge, well-deserved ovation at the end.

In June, they’ll come to Dublin and perform some of their pieces with the other schools that have had projects this year. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a recording of them singing the song but here’s a version I recorded in my hotel room last week to give you an idea: