Light of Other Days

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This improvised guitar duet represents the first time that I played with my good friend Dave Spector. It was recorded in 1999 soon after we graduated from  LGU where I had built a MIDI enabled guitar.    I had loaned Dave the guitar  for a gig at the college where he had skillfully demonstrated the instrument’s capabilities.   Upon returning the guitar, Dave was also making arrangements for me to retro-fit a hex pickup and necessary circuitry into his new guitar (Yamaha Pacifica 821D) for use as a MIDI instrument.    At the same time, we decided to jam together as a celebration of graduation.   Dave is one of the most talented guitarists that I have played with but instead of finding this a daunting experience, I enjoyed the opportunity to provide an accompaniment that might serve as a platform for Dave’s skills.   This is the first piece that we played on that occasion and was intended as a warm-up whilst checking the recorded sound levels.   It was improvised without use of a click track or drum machine.
 

Light of Other Days [720p/1080p HD]

 
I used a simple, spontaneous progression of Am, Em and Dm chords that I played throughout, using some inversions and added 9ths as occasional variations.   When I later listened to the recording, the melancholic feel of the minor chords combined with the ‘pulse’ effects generated by Dave’s finger tapping, created an atmosphere that I immediately associated with a 1960s short, story by Bob Shaw involving a substance called ‘slow glass’ that allows viewers to witness scenes from the past.  During my youth, I had read the story in a science fiction anthology and been profoundly moved.   Annotation by the editor (Arthur C. Clarke) explained that the story’s title, “The Light of Other Days” was derived from a poem of the same title by Thomas Moore (1779–1852).   This poem had been included in the Oxford Book of English Verse that I had read when at school and as a result of Bob Shaw’s  reinforcement of the theme, it then became a favourite.   I therefore retained the musical recording under the title, “Light of Other Days”.

 

Technical:

For guitar sounds, the standard output from my guitar was used with a Digitech Studio Quad FX unit and a Marshall JMP1 preamp.   For sampled sounds, the MIDI output was connected through a Yamaha G50 guitar/MIDI convertor to an E-mu ESI-32 digital sampler.    For the strummed chords, I used both the hex and standard pickups to play guitar and sampled sounds in unison.    Towards the end of the piece, I switched between pickups to alternate between the guitar sound and a high-pitched pipe (sampled) sound.   David played an Ibanez guitar through a compact multi-effects processor.

The piece was recorded using a Fostex D90 digital 8-track recorder.   I later used a MIDI keyboard with the sampler to overdub the panning pulses heard at 0m 32s – 0m 37s  and 1m 41s – 1m 46s and also the bass tone used for the closing, fast fade.  The tracks were then mixed directly to DAT tape.

 

MIDI Guitar

My MIDI Guitar

 

Location:

The recording was made at my (former) flat in Highgate.   The exterior of the building will be familiar to those who have seen the film “Shaun of the Dead” –

 

Shaun of the Dead

From “Shaun of the Dead”

 

 

References:

Credits:

David Spector – lead guitar
Warwick Conway – MIDI guitar; keyboard overdubs; mixing

“Through the Clouds” video loop from Movietools

Links:

1.   “The Light of Other Days”  poem by Thomas Moore 1779–1852
2.   “The Light of Other Days” 1966 story by Bob Shaw

 

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