Archive for April, 2010

Tad front more or less painted

April 29, 2010

Here is a pic of the tad front. I think it is more or less done now. I feel a tad ambivalent about the tad. Maybe it has become a tad too heavy metal in its appearance. Still, for better or for worse, this is what it now is. I think the front is so busy that the back needs to be a plain colour, possibly a dark green.

Front of body for the tad

Spheres appearing on the tad

April 26, 2010

I have started to airbrush some spheres onto the front of the tad. So far, it is working out ok.  I have also positioned the bridge plate, volume and tone knobs, and John Smith’s logo to get an idea of how it might look.

tadcaster front spheres

Progress on the tadcaster

April 25, 2010

First paintings

This is a very short blog. I just want to say that the first stages of the tadcaster body painting have now taken place. For technical reasons, I have decided that the background has to be painted last and this is coumter-intuitive, I know, but I have to live with it.

I am hoping that painting will move forwards quickly over the next couple of weeks so we can get to the electrics before summer breaks out.

The final rite of passage

April 15, 2010

Today I have decided to go to the funeral of Dr. Brian Ewart who I worked with for many years in the university psychology department. He recently died unexpectedly from a heart attack at the age of 56. As far as I am aware he was physically fit and well, being a keen horseman. I wish to make it clear that this will  constitute neither an obituary nor an appraisal of his academic work. Rather, I present my stream of consciousness as it has been diverted by the news of his death.

Brian and I had been closer in terms of friendship some decades ago. I remember cooking a particularly spectacular meal for him and his partner, Kate, at one point towards the end of the 1980s. I looked through my records and found the menu. I started with home-made puff pastry vol-au-vents with prawns and anchovies in a bechamel sauce. Then I did a brocoli and cheese souffle with a ginger carot garnish. The main course was a lamb cutlet and peppers on croutons with a veloute sauce (this was a Roux Brothers recipe). Finally, I made pears poached in red wine. As the meal progressed I consumed glass after glass of wine in the style of Keith Floyd. I think this was the best meal I have ever cooked in my entire life. At one point, I remember Brian exclaiming that what was going on in our little kitchen diner was precisely what we were all watching back then in the UK, as the TV chefs took English cuisine by the scruff of its neck and shook it about until the austerity years of the 1950s were banished once and for all from middle class dining tables.

Latterly, Brian and I drifted apart somewhat. For a long time we were simply work colleagues and I had not seen him at all since my retirement from the university several years ago. It was one of my dear friends, Sophie, in the old department at the university who yesterday sent me an email giving me the sad news of Brian’s death.

At first I wondered whether I should go or not. However, a funeral is not exactly an occasion for family and close friends. It is a public event, in this case announced in the local press. One sometimes wonders who will turn up on the day; one can even catch oneself in the act of speculation about who will be the mourners at one’s own funeral. I do believe in the importance of these rites of passage and, although yesterday I didn’t really have the stomach for a funeral, I am now decided to make the journey. Even though we may have drifted apart over the years, I wish to pay my respects to a long-time work colleague. The paying of respect has a slightly old-fashioned ring to it in today’s world but it makes a lot of sense to me.

At the risk of sounding trite, death comes to us all. There is no optimum time. Childhood lukemia or teenage suicide seems far too early. My father died in his 40s shortly after I was born and I have always thought that was a pity. My mother lived to 103 and towards the end, in the last few years, her body gave out biologically and could not adequately sustain her vibrant personality; for her, death came a tad too late. Some of us can tweak probabilities a little by forcing ourselves into a healthy life-style or acting in such a way as to accelerate the likelihood of death (perhaps by chain-smoking cigarettes, drinking a bottle of whisky a day, or whatever). My view is that most of us rub along as best we can and it is the luck of the draw when we go.

Death is the point at which the scope for autobiography vanishes but it defines the final chapter in biography. There can be no definitive biography for a given life. Biography is always told from the perspective of the biographer, even when that person is merely collating the versions furnished by family and friends. That does not mean that biography is a mess of relative values, since value judgements are inevitably made and can be supported by evidence drawn from any point in the individual’s life trajectory. It is at the point of death when people can step back and say “He was a good man, may he rest in peace”. I think that really means that those of us who remain in life may be the ones who can relax and rest in peace, knowing that no bad things live on beyond the grave or crematorium.  Of course, for bad or evil men and women, the converse is true.

The dead leave their mark upon the living in various ways. For those who have had children, they pass on  their genetic contribution for the generations to come. For those with wealth, the beneficiaries of the Last Will and Testament become better off financially. Possibly the most potent legacy lies with those who have most closely interacted with them in life. For a good person, it is as if they speak to us in times of joy and sorrow for the rest of our lives: “What would he have done in this situation?” or “How would she have handled this?” are questions that can sometimes be answered in wonderfully insightful and creative ways. That is the mark of a life, positively lived. Bad people spill their bile into our minds and it may take a considerable amount of talk in the future to get that purged away, if the psychotherapists are to be believed.

Although death remains a personal tragedy for the bereaved, it seems to be a double-edged sword to me. It is the case that death represents the loss of all the good times we might have enjoyed, were we to have lived. Yet it is also the card that takes us away from World War III, from the nuclear holocaust, from the fierce ravages of climate change, from famine and draught, from a panoply of potentially painful and difficult physical and mental illnesses, from the development of corrupt or totalitarian political systems: in other words, from all the bad things that we might have to live through, were it not for our own death.

… I went to the funeral. The chapel at the crematorium was packed with family, friends, and his work colleagues. The service was conducted quietly and sensitively. Although a general invitation to return to the house afterwards was made, I did not feel up to that. It was a pensive drive home for me.

So, Dr Brian Ewart, may you rest in peace.

The tadcaster with a white undercoat

April 14, 2010

I have been having trouble with the tadcaster guitar project. The white acrylic base did not take on the final (possibly 6th or 7th) spray coat. I sanded down and have attempted to respray today. This project is taking a very long time. I haven’t even started doing the final artwork on the body.

The white base coat for the tadcaster

Yesterday I visited my cousin and his family who were on holiday in Yorkshire and we had lunch at a very comfortable pub in Richmond. This is a very old English town with a lot of military history behind it. However, I have to say I was more interested in eating my roast lamb dinner than in delving into the distant past.

The weeks flash by

April 8, 2010

I have two milestones in my week: the piano lesson on Wednesday and the full English breakfast on Friday. It is now Thursday evening and I am already looking forward to meeting up with my mate Tom for the full English tomorrow. We are going to a local garden centre which does a mighty fine breakfast IMHO. The ambience is a tad junglesque and one occasionally gets a whiff of potting compost. However, it is an ace location for the consumption of bacon, eggs, and much, much more.

The trouble with weekly milestones is that you can easily see what has and has not been done since the passing of the previous one. I know that last week I bought lawn feed, patio weed killer, and a packet of cabbage seeds, all of which have stayed resolutely untouched in their plastic bag in the shed. A week of good intentions gone to pot (and this is not a reference to cannabis, although chance might well be a fine thing).

There has also been only small progress on the tadcaster project. I do now have a wider range of airbrush acrylic colours: magenta, violet, sepia, cyan and more. We have yet to discover how they will be deployed.

Of course, I have not been a total slouch. I have now produced four pieces of artwork for my tracks. And I am looking forward to sorting out many more in the future. There are two sides to this. One is laying down a half decent music track. The other is making the drawing for the track artwork. Each of these paths have their own set of hurdles. I hate athletics, btw (unfortunate reference to hurdles, there). Indeed, I do all I can to avoid watching sport on TV.  The thing that really bugs me about competitive sport is the presumption that there might be enough people with nothing else better to do than be spectators. I think if competitive sports could be played privately somewhere, where nobody other than the players and related officials ever knew the result or the fact that the event was taking place, that would be just fine. Then the folks who want to do that sort of thing could get off on it without bothering the rest of us. All this mass media bollox and interminable post-mortem stuff is beyond the pale. I mean, to speak American for a minute, who gives a rat’s ass?

I might be being a trifle hypocritical here since music performance usually, but not inevitably, has an audience. I shall ponder that one. Talk to you later.

Building my fyrmusica bandcamp site

April 6, 2010

It has been a while since I last blogged and for that I do apologise. I have had to spend some time re-working my Lewis Music website. For reasons I need not go into here, the system I had for offering mp3s for purchase and download became inoperational. I think the world has moved on somewhat since I set that up. Anyway, some of my friends on the Second Life live music forum (EvaMoon, Toby, Krell, and others) came up with some suggestions and pointed me towards the Bandcamp site. Having looked into it, I have established my own page with them and have started on a plan to eventually get all my song tracks up there, so that you can download them should you so desire, my dear blogophiles. My thinking at present is to offer the bulk of them as free downloads but with the option for the person downloading to make a small PayPal payment, should they feel the urge. I have yet to sort out all those details. Here is the link:
And those of you who know me as Fyrm Fouroux, the live music performer in Second Life, will notice that I have chosen the name of my SL fan group (fyrmusica) as the name for my pages on Bandcamp.

One of the exciting things about taking my stuff to Bandcamp is that they encourage musicians to put up a piece of artwork for each track. This has prompted me to get back into a some digital drawing and I have so far made sketches for ‘Fish n Chips’, ‘Mrs Growbeck’ and ‘The Annual Car Service’. I am currently wondering about using paper media, as opposed to digital. The only reservation I have is that I don’t have access to an A3 scanner any more and taking a digital photo of the artwork has not worked too well in the past. If I draw in pencil, pen and ink, or pastel, I could probably do it on A4 drawing paper and that would be ok.  I know, too much detail….

Some of the sound files I have of my songs date back to the early 1980s. Although this is of some interest to me, I have decided that I would ideally like to make fresh recordings for this new venture. However, it is not going to be possible, from a financial point of view, for me to go into a proper recording studio. I do have the Cakewalk Sonar software which enables me to record separate tracks (e.g. voice, rhythm guitar, lead guitar, piano… bla, bla, bla) but that way of doing it is very time consuming. I am much more attracted to capturing tracks from my live performance in SL; somehow I feel that the freshness that comes with live performance outways the minor technical blemishes that may arise (and even the odd bum note). I have tested this out with one song: ‘The Annual Car Service’ and I think it works really well. Maybe you could have a listen and let me know what you think? I am able to take a copy of my live performance with the SimpleCast software I use for streaming the sound up to the internet. I then tidy up the sound file in Sonar, with minimal editing involved.

There is one problem with doing this. I had the urge to record a sax track over some of the verses of ‘The Annual Car Service’, using a nice saxaphone voicing on my digital piano. When I set up Sonar to record this track over the live vocal-guitar track, I suddenly realised that the guitar, although in tune with itself, was slightly sharp compared to the absolute pitch of the piano. I shall have to watch this in future.

Finally, a word about the tadcaster guitar project… It has been too cold to do much in my external workshop so I have been waiting for better spring weather to do my airbrush painting of the body. I think the time is coming to get started, and I look forward to giving you pictorial updates as they arise. Talk to you later.