Category: audio recording

On location–shooting a short film

Here are a few snaps of your humble author, hard at work shooting footage “on location” as it were.  An overgrown lot in small town Saskatchewan, old farm buildings that we spotted alongside the highway.  Whenever we identified something that might fit our overall concept of “abandonment and desolation”, we’d pull over and do our thing.

I handled a DV camera we bought off the internet a number of years ago.  Very creaky, the technology practically obsolete.  I can still find tapes for it at places like London Drugs in Saskatoon but I wonder how long that will be the case.

Sherron, meanwhile, was using her iPod, employing a number of settings and filters to grab some neat effects.  We’ll load all the footage onto my computer and I’ll get to work trying to compose something out of what we’ve compiled.

The reason for this flurry of cinematic activity is that I’ve created a delightful seven and a half minute piece with Garageband and it’s so evocative and interesting to me that I thought it deserved some visual accompaniment.

If anything comes of this grand experiment, I will, of course, add it to the blog for your perusal and analysis.

Many thanks to Sherron for her collaboration and input.  It’s a thrill to work with someone as creative and visually attuned as she is.  I’m quite confident her footage will be the best we shoot—the combination of my ancient camera and ineptitude pretty much works against my ever becoming a proficient DP (director of photography).

I’d better get back to work.

Happy Labour Day to my fellow Canucks…and I dearly hope the Saskatchewan Roughriders get their asses kicked later today.

God, I hate that team and its moronic, watery-brained fans…

“The Midnight Detective” (Spoken Word)

Couldn’t get into serious writing yesterday–still catching up on research on my western novel, The Last Hunt, and I’m not yet at the point where I can begin to tackle necessary revisions.

My science fiction story needs one final polish/run through before I send it off.  I’ll likely get that done today.

And so…yesterday.

Decided to create a little something with Garageband.  The first effort wasn’t very good but the second tune had promise (as soundtrack music for the creepiest film ever made maybe) and then came the third number…

Well.  I didn’t really set out to create a spoken word bit, but that’s how it came out.  I was poking around my notebook and came across a series of phrases that, if you put them together, would almost make a kind of narrative…

I plugged in the microphone and gave it a shot.  The very first vocal track was perfect and then I started building and shaping music around it.

The end result is “The Midnight Detective”, a 2 1/2 minute effort that plays around with noirish conceits and comes together for a rather tasty finale.

This piece should work on whatever audio player your computer employs (if it’s fairly new) and, of course, you’re free to download it and share it with pals and like-minded folks who might get a charge out of my whacked out, postmodern detective.

You’ll find more of my musical noodling and spoken word efforts on my Audio page.

Click here to listen to Midnight Detective

* This post is dedicated to Caroline Ames–Happy Birthday, kid.

A statement of policy…and some new music

A brief post this time around, lots on my plate and not a whole lotta time for blogging.

Recently I received a couple of notes from folks who took issue with my comments re: the arrogance and stupidity of amateur/wannabe writers.  Not surprisingly, perhaps, these individuals chose to hide behind silly aliases so they could spout their venom with impunity and congratulate themselves for their courage.

After a close encounter with a nasty little troll a couple of years ago, I decided not to publish remarks from folks who lack the guts to use their real names, accompanied by a valid e-mail address. Say what you want about me kiddies, call me “arrogant”, “elitist”, an “incorrigible asshole”, at least I never hide behind a nom de plume when putting forward my point of view.  I have a “Moderate” function on this blog and I use it, not to screen out folks who have differing points of view, but to exclude those who are  1) psychos or 2) chickenshit or 3) abusive to other respondents. Follow the rules and your comments, pro and con, make the cut.

In the four years I’ve had this blog I’ve been thrilled (for the most part) by the quality of discourse and the clever, articulate people who pop in to see what I’m up to.  You’re welcome to drop me private notes as well—send ’em to blackdogpressATyahoo.ca.  Usually I get back to you within 48 hours but no promises, I’m a busy dude these days.

I’ve been editing my ass off for the past couple of weeks but I still managed to squeeze in time for another great passion of mine, making music with Garageband.  I’ve posted samples of my weird, ambient efforts previously (you can find them on my “Audio” page) but here’s a brand new number, just finished today.  It’s called “Idyll” and it’s one of my best pieces yet.

Not nearly as spooky and depressing as my usual efforts.  No, really.

Click on the link below, kick back…and let ‘er rip.

Meanwhile, it’s back to work for me.  Chat with you again soon…

Click here—Idyll

Listen to my work on audio

imagesWith the help of the tireless Anthony, a support staff member with WordPress, I’ve figured out how to add a special “Audio” page to my blog.

You’ll find it by looking to the right hand side, under the “Stories” widget.  Just click on “Audio” and you’ll discover a large selection of my stories, poems, commentaries, even an excerpt from my novel So Dark the Night. All available for free listening and downloading onto whatever device (iPod or cell phone) you currently favour.  Many of these pieces are accompanied by music, which provides dramatic highlights, a soundtrack that is either pleasing or provocative (or both).

The most recent offering is a six-minute chat about “indie” writing I recorded because I’ve received a host of questions, both here and in various forums where I hang out.  People want to know what it means to be an independent writer…and I want to do what I can to dispel this notion that one goes the indie/self-publishing route because your work can’t cut it with traditional publishers.  Hey, kids, I chose to go my own way because after 20+ years of dealing with inept, sociopathic, moronic editors, I’d had enough.  New technologies like blogs, podcasts and print-on-demand put more control into authors’ hands, a situation I welcome with open arms.

For the record, here’s what I said–

Indie Writer

–and after giving it a listen, I hope you’ll have a clearer understanding of what I’m trying to accomplish with this blog.  And please check out the rest of my audio releases, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the production values and the power and intensity of the work.

Theatre of and for the mind…

The Scariest Story Ever Told

imagesGot a little Hallowe’en treat for you, kids.

I’ve been in a somewhat grim state of mind of late, for a variety of reasons I won’t go into.  So I was sitting down today, nursing a blue funk, pondering the imminent arrival of All Hallow’s Eve.  I turned on Garageband and started playing around; came up with some wacky tracks of music and thought about adding a few words, flipped through my notebook for something appropriate…and for some reason recalled “Darkness”, a poem Lord Byron wrote wayyy back in the early 19th Century.  Dug out an old Norton poetry anthology, found the poem in question…and my face split into a nasty grin.  It was perfect.  Went with the music I’d laid down so nicely it sent a chill through me.

Here it is, a little something for the ghoul that resides in each of us, the darkness beyond the edge of town, as Mr. Springsteen would put it.

Enjoy…

Darkness (Words by George Gordon, Lord Byron)

“Death Threats” (Short Story)

images-1It’s been awhile, hasn’t it?

All this fun I’ve been having with Garageband means that I’ve been a trifle negligent with new blog posts and for that, my apologies.

But I’ll try to make it up to you by posting a new short story that I absolutely love.  This time it’s a longer effort, around 2000 words–titled “Death Threats” for reasons that will become clear as the story progresses.  I’ll post both an audio version and a PDF for those of you who either don’t like the sound of my voice (understandable) or who lack the ability to download the recording.

I have a great deal of affection for this story, which was written in mid-late May (2009).  Have no idea what took me so long to add it to this blog.  My guess is that this tale sort of fell by the wayside while I worked on the four linked stories that devoured my entire summer.  This is a stand-alone effort and I feel quite confident that it will find favor in your eyes (and ears).

Enjoy, my friends and please do let me know what you think:

Death Threats_ (Story)

Death Threats (PDF)

“Atmospheres and Interludes”

imagesThat’s how I refer to them.

My tunes have no shape, they flow and twist enigmatically, illogically.  Mood music for troubled minds.  Score for a science fiction film never made.   Shimmering in the air around you, disappearing without leaving behind so much as a sprinkle of fairy dust.

There’s a strange dichotomy at work here:  I’m using this advanced, amazing computer to simulate and record almost any instrument known to humankind…and flubbing and screwing up and patching and improvising…and ending up with some in-teresting stuff.

I’ve got over an hour of music stored in an iTunes folder.  Every note of it selected, struck, plucked, bowed, strummed or sampled by yours truly.  Using virtual instruments, of course, since I’d be virtually useless if you gave me a real one.  Sue me, I’m an eejit savant.

So far this one is our favorite.  Hand’s down.  A bit of spoken word but just about all instrumental.

I call it “The Departed” and dedicate it to absent friends.

And awayyyyy we go…

The Departed_ XIII (V.2)

Fire up your iPods, folks…

imagesOh, yes…

Time for another selection from my growing library of audio experiments.  Learning something new with each tune…and this time I’ve combined a fairly lengthy (well, okay, three-and-a-half minutes, but right now that’s lengthy for me) instrumental piece with an old prose poem from my violins in the void collection.

Sherron and my sons think I’m starting to get the hang of this technology.

But, friends, I’d like to know your opinion.  Give it a listen and then speak your mind:

Atmospheres XVII (V.2)

(Note:  After getting word that the recording level might be giving some of you trouble, I went in and boosted the output, raising the volume some.  Hope that helps.  As previously advised, probably best to listen to my stuff through headphones.  That way you get the full effect…)

More of my fiction on audio

imagesI warned you I had fallen in love with Garageband and that there would be more of my stuff recorded and set to music.

Here are four short-short stories, my version of “flash fiction”.  Ethereal, odd, evocative.  Literary and auditory Rorschach tests.  Give them a listen…and then tell me what you see.

Submitted for your approval, as my old pal Rod Serling would say:

Cliff Burns Reading Prose Poems (V.2)

For your listening pleasure… (Blog Post #100)

imagesWell, this is cause to celebrate.

This happens to be blog post #100 and, if that isn’t enough, later on this week this site will receive its 50,000th visit.

Wow.  That’s an overwhelming number of people coming to a blog devoted to a Canuck writer who has eschewed the big time, stubbornly maintained his singular vision with an orneriness not often seen in writing circles.

God bless you, folks.  You’re all the proof that I need to reassure myself that the indie path is the one for me and I shall continue to produce work that fits no niches or stereotypes or genres, confident that smart, discerning readers will find me…and help spread the word.

To mark this auspicious occasion I’ve recorded three of my favorite short-short stories, adding music and sound effects to enhance the experience.  Once again, Sherron lent a helping hand, pulling the whole mess together.  The final result surprised and delighted me to the extent that I think it’s safe to say there will be more such efforts in the near future.

Ah, heck, enough of my jabbering.  Have a listen to these pieces and, as always, I encourage you to leave a comment, letting me know what you think…

Cliff Burns Reading Short Stories (V.2)