Also in this section:
Music Production: recording
09/10/1999 recording: soundtrack

Most of the film soundtrack from years back can be found at "http://www.mp3.com/maurice/" in a funky rotation somewhat related to my whims. My section of the site apparently went live in June, and I've had a number of downloads. No listener input yet, but a couple of "fellow musician, please contribute your songs to our business/benefit/etc." solicitations. Check it out.

09/10/1999 Instruments: Kalamazoo rehab part 2

The Kalamazoo is back from the refret and other refinements--and it's way fun to play. Now I just have to rewire it again: I've never been a 2-volume/2-tone fan. It's probably going to get a master volume and pickup blend control, with a conventional (but maybe beefed-up) tone control, but I'm undecided on what to do with the remaining potentiometer. Suggestions can be sent to the usual address.

08/08/1999 recording: MP3.com

A number of us have gotten the promotional "103 best artists you've never heard" mp3 CD, and, um, if that's the best they can do, I should stop editing myself so damn hard.

07/15/1999 random musing: music production

Most importantly, I've been able to increase my practice time, which will ultimately bear some production fruit.

04/25/1999 recording: Dope Den

Started recording again with a longtime friend of mine I used to record with some years back. It's interestingly different, since the levels of our skills have changed over time, and our method seems to be different--we used to turn on the tape machine and go, but now we're doing more pre-planning. It looks for the moment like the pieces are going to be somewhat more structured and complex. I can't, however, describe what it's going to sound like--already it isn't sounding anything like what I thought it would. Arrangement, though, looks like two guitars, possibly voice, and maybe a few other things thrown in for variety. It's entirely possible that you'll be able to hear some of this eventually.

04/25/1999 Instruments: Kalamazoo rehab

I'm about halfway through the guitar rehab. It turns out that some of my fears were unfounded: while, yes, it does need a refret, it so turns out that the truss rod is not rusted, and the adjustment nut is turnng acceptably. I've rewired it to reduce noise and shock hazard, and I put an adjustable bridge/tailpiece combo on it. I've shimmed up the neck, too. It's getting close to the guitar that it could be. I now think that yes, the body is some kind of wood-derived composite, but it is sturdy. And it sounds pretty good through the Alamo amp. Direct into the board (with appropriate input trimming) it sounds fantastic--extremely bright and Telecaster-like. I'm wondering if the aluminum pickguard (which sits over a sizeable body cavity) has something to do with this. The vibrato, if I string it to take advantage of it, is pretty stiff--more of a surf trill than anything divey. Right now I've got it strung through the stop tailpiece, though. And I put on new machine heads, as well. Getting somewhere.... I've noticed a few of these come up on ebay every now and again; go to the Musical Instruments section and do a search on Kalamazoo. 

03/07/1999 Instruments: Kalamazoo guitar

Okay, I'll stop complaining for the moment about the instrument search, but I still reserve the right to complain about the Western Pennsylvania area. I picked up another guitar--on ebay--a Kalamazoo Type-S. This was apparenty Gibson's attempt to compete with the Fender Mustang. It didn't work, obviously, but it's a nice little guitar. It's got that thinner Mustang-style body, a little less gratuitous tail material, and a scale length that's--surprise!--slightly longer than my Univoxes. I'll mention that before it arrived I did some research and learned that there was a Kalamazoo beginner's guitar with a Masonite body and a good neck. At first I thought mine would be one of these, but this is no Masonite body. It's a solid slab of wood.

I need to find a bridge for it (closing in), new machine heads (bought the wrong ones this weekend--too wide), knobs (jury's out here), and...what I hadn't counted on, a refret. Oops. I didn't ask about this one, so let this be a lesson to you if you're buying a used guitar over the net, or in any long-distance deal. In any event, the price ended up being fairly low. On the plus side, the neck seems good (we'll see how it holds tension--although the truss rod adjustment nut seems frozen to the rod...yikes!), the seller refinished it a pretty good candy apple red, and he replaced the pickguard with a homemade aluminum job that's pretty sharp. Given my taste in used guitars (Univox Mosrite copy in the '80s for $120; Univox 335 copy in the 80's for $60), consider yourself warned about the Kalamazoo Type-S. I've seen a complete one selling on the net for $250 (significantly more than I paid), so it's conceivably within reach.

02/05/1999 random musing: music production

I've been working out some pieces, this time actually mapping them out, rehearsing, the whole bit, before recording them. This gets around the problem of playing-and-forgetting, which I used to have happen all the time, although a basic recording isn't a bad aid to memory. It's an interesting process, and while I'm butting my head agains some other limitations, I'm playing better than I have in ages. (Part of the problem is my technique evaporating when I'm working on those long sustained-tone pieces.)

11/30/1998 Instruments: Farfisa

I had an interesting experience over the holiday weekend--I was walking to the Post Office to send in a shareware registration, and checked out a house sale in the neighborhood, where I found a Farfisa Compact organ...for $20. It does need some restoration--about 60% of the keys don't sound in one or two of the three registers; the vibrato doesn't work; the E and Eb keys are out of tune, and I need to replace the power cord and the output cord. The name "Compact" is a bit optimistic, and the handle on the case is a cruel hoax. But it does function, and it's a Farfisa. (Just about anyone who knows me won't be surprised that I'm thrilled with this find.) Moral of the story: register your shareware.

11/07/1998 Instruments: cheap guitars

So what's up with this city? A friend and I went out today, doing a grand tour of music stores and pawn shops that in the past had some pretty good deals, but today we came up empty. All the cheap low-end vegematic gear we could comfortably justify (and the occasional unrecognized gem) is gone, replaced by $300-$500 average, industry-standard, middle-of-the-road blandness. The beauty of bottom-feeding in the guitar market was that all the trend followers were pursuing Les Pauls and Strats, driving those prices way up, but leaving just about everything else affordable. Why were Jazzmasters, for example, the guitar of choice for people like Tom Verlaine and Sonic Youth? Because in the late '70s and early '80s they were the cheapest good guitar around...but no longer. Even Mustangs and Duosonics have been sucked into the vintage vortex. Hell, today I saw a Bronco--a Bronco!--with a "$600--serious inquiries only" sign. I think they must have misspelled "delusional."

There was one pedal I'm still thinking of going back and getting, if I can talk the guy down, and there was a guitar at a pawnshop that, while it didn't call out to either of us, reaffirmed my faith that deals could be had. (It's a 60's or 70's-era Epiphone solidbody with a bizarre DIY wiring job. Decent tone, good player, good price, but it needs some work I don't feel like doing. But if you're interested, Email me and I'll clue you in.)

So if you're aware of a cheap and weird guitar (think, oh, Teisco, Microfrets, EDO, Univox [I know, I know, but c'mon; they're really only $75 guitars], or something you can't identify), and if you know of something cheap you can't identify, or a beat-up or funkified-beyond-any-vintage-valuation name brand guitar, Email me. Do it if you know of a store that's stocked with these things, too. I'm looking for a lap steel and funky effects boxes, too. I'll confess to being picky about action (that's the distance the strings are off the frets; for you drummers, less distance is better) and semi-picky about shape/paint job. But get in touch with me anyway.

10/13/1998 Instruments: lap steel

Still keeping my eyes open for that lap steel guitar, by the way. I'm leaning toward 8-string.

10/13/1998 Instruments: Alamo

Got the tube amp I was looking for: an Alamo Montclair Reverb, which is pretty much a Fender Deluxe Reverb without the price tag. Alamo apparently made amps in San Antonio (of course) from the late '60s to the mid-'70s. It's a sweet amp--with tremelo. I can get a variety of good tones out of it, as well. I've heard that it distorts nicely when pushed, but I haven't been in a position to check that out lately. A 12AX7 and two 6V6s, for you tube snobs keeping track at home. I can think of a few maintenance things I'd like to check out on it, but I'm quite satisfied.

I should mention that I found it--of all places--on ebay. I watched it for a week and nobody bid, so I ended up getting it for the minimum the dealer was willing to let it go for (no, not $1). Apparently, a lot of sellers make their money when auction novices decide that a) they have to have the item, no matter what, or b) the point of an auction is to "win" an item, or both. I always thought the point of an auction was to get a bargain. I'd think one should set one's maximum at the point past which the item won't be a bargain anymore, and if someone else wants to pay more, let them.

I got a good deal on the amp, and I was talking to a friend about this weird phenomenon with all the good cheap musical equipment we bought back in the '80s. (These would be guitars and effects that were unfashionable then, but decent--the kind of equipment that you're glad is cheap, because it would be easy to pick up another if you found one.) It seems that over the past, oh, five years these have all been hiked way up in price. Univox guitars come to mind. Really good guitars for the pittance they were going for. Now they're somewhat harder to find, and very hard to find at their still-a-deal price (say, around $100). Of course, some of that scarcity could be explained by Kurt Cobain smashing so many of them. (The kid who had my Hi-Flyer before I bought it seems to have tried to set it on fire and smash it, until he remembered that he was just renting it and would have to pay for the whole thing. Why are these things such smash magnets?) I've seen ads on Usenet looking specifically for Hi-Flyers. These shouldn't be guitars one sets out to find; they should be guitars one finds unexpectedly, as a pleasant surprise.

08/17/1998 Aliquippa project: Surrounded by Memory stolen

I just learned that "Surrounded by Memory," my installation in this year's Aliquippa Embraces Art festival, has been stolen. Someone removed (at least) the four tape machines from the installation space; at this time I don't know if the visitor-response tape was stolen also. At the moment, I'm still planning on giving a talk about the piece on August 29; I just won't be able to refer people to the piece for examples. It's a shame that the relationship between the piece and the community has been ruined by some moron who couldn't see more than a bunch of free radios.

As I think about it, this episode is emblematic of a sector of Aliquippa's problems. It seems likely to me that it was the tape players were lifted by somebody young (stereotyping here, but such an opportunity crime says "young person" to me). The tapes in them, I'm sure, are gone with the players, probably to be erased. What you would have in a case like this is a young person who can't see the value in what the older people of the community have to say. (Most of my interviews were with older Aliquippa residents.) If the person who took the tape players valued the teaching and the memory of their elders on the tapes, they'd leave the piece in place. Instead, they overlook the wisdom and see only the chance for immediate material gain, missing the long view for the short view.

What do you do to correct this? I don't know.

08/16/1998 Instruments: lap steel

Still looking for that lap steel guitar, as well as a funky old tube amp. And I'd be interested in a substantial guitar, like a 70s Travis Bean or an old Jazzmaster.

07/31/1998 Aliquippa project: Surrounded by Memory

Surrounded by Memory, the piece I've been working on for this year's Aliquippa Embraces Art festival, is done and installed. I talk more about that over in Listening.

07/20/1998 Gear lust: Subway Guitars

There's some amazing looking stuff at Subway Guitars. I haven't shopped there yet, but there's a healthy emphasis on the cheap and weird guitars that I really go for.

07/20/1998 Aliquippa project: Surrounded by Memory

Most of what I've been listening to is a piece I'm doing for this year's Aliquippa Embraces Art festival. It's called "Surrounded by Memory," and consists of 45 minutes of music and segments of interviews with Aliquippa residents. It'll be installed in the second floor of the former G.C. Murphy building (now the Broadcast Café) on Franklin Avenue in Aliquippa. The festival opens to the public on Saturday, July 25.

I'm in final editing stages now, using the (free) version 3.4 of ProTools. Considering the amount of work it's been using the digital system, I'd probably be gnawing my own leg off by this point if I was editing analog like I did last year. The music and interviews were initially recorded on analog tape, and the final presentation will be analog, too. So this is a rare case of an A | D | A recording.

The sound source for the music is all guitar. The tempo is very slow, and notes are held for a long time, with an Ebow. My plan for the final piece is to separate interviews and the four voices of the music on four different tape players--that's right, quadrophonic sound. With the '70s revival active for a couple years, it's inevitable that quad would make a comeback, but this time with a difference: it's completely wildtracked. And you don't have to wear petroleum byproducts while you're listening to it, unless you really want to.

04/08/1998 random musing: music production

I am, however, developing ideas for a piece incorporating both the Web and music, and finding a way to make it interactive, and participatory. If it gets clearer, you'll see it here.

03/16/1998 Aliquippa project: Rise, Fall, Rise

Last summer I did an audio installation at the Aliquippa Embraces Arts festival. It's been reinstalled at the AIA Pittsburgh Chapter gallery, 211 9th St.

It runs until March 27 and the gallery's open from 9 to 5. The piece is half music (long sustained guitar tones, in four parts) and half interviews I conducted in Aliquippa.

Both halves are played simultaneously; running time is 45 minutes.

03/11/1998 Aliquippa project: Rise, Fall, Rise

I'm currently composing a piece using sliding string tones. If anyone's selling an electric lap steel guitar, please let me know.

As for the price, bargain is the key word.

And if you've got a small '60s-era electric organ like a Farfisa, Vox, or Acetone, let me know.


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Interstellar Radio
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snwv: Howlers
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Live at Black Forge, January 2, 2016
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snwv: Output
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Live, November 5, 2015
snwv: Live, November 5, 2015
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live at the Garfield Artworks, July 27, 2014
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snwv: Troy
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snwv: impulse
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Live at the Thunderbird Cafe, November 9, 2011
Maurice Rickard: Live at the Thunderbird Cafe, November 9, 2011
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Wave Space, Cleveland OH, September 16, 2011 4?:?34 PM?-?5?:?37 PM
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snwv: snwv
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Music for Dance
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Tell Ya One Thing And Then Some
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Death Pig (Live, July 2, 2003)
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Circuits of Steel Tour 2003: Chicago, St. Louis, Muncie
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Guitar Clouds
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Lady of Pain: Live, June 2, 2003
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Live at the Quiet Storm, November 2, 2002
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