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Chris Harris's Blog

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Current: October 2015

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4 October 15 (permalink)


Even though it's a beautiful day outside this morning, I can tell that the balmy days of summer are over. The creeper on the side of the house has turned a most spectacular shade of scarlet. The evenings are drawing in quickly and the temperatures are dropping accordingly; last night the bathroom mirror misted over when I ran a bath. I wonder if I'll make the target I set every year of getting to the end of October before I fire up the central heating once again? Back in 2012 I'd done so by the middle of September, but in fairness I'd spent the preceding months in San Francisco and Vancouver, so I'd become accustomed to a warmer climate. Right now the sun is shining in through the windows, the house is warm, and I have a big mug of coffee. I think I'm good for the time being.


Fifty/Ninety closed for submissions on Friday and by the time the dust settled I'd got 65 songs on my profile pages. That's ten more than last year, so I've been feeling pleased with myself this weekend. But quantity's not the most important factor for me and I think the quality's up on last year's efforts, too. The final song I uploaded is definitely one of my better efforts.

It all came about because I noticed I hadn't written a song beginning with the letter "J" this summer. Sometimes a simple fact like that is enough to get my muse musing, and once I'd come up with yet another three word title - "Just The Thing" I was off and running. I wrote this one on the Korg M3 and with an electric piano riff set to a drum pattern in EZDrummer2, it's turned out to be a bit of an homage to Steely Dan. I was rather pleased with the guitar and even the vocals didn't sound too bad after I ended up singing them an octave lower than my initial attempts. The whole thing took about four hours to put together from start to finish.

It's been a fun, music-filled summer. Fifty/Ninety is a bigger commitment than FAWM so it tends to attract fewer participants, but this year 38 people, including me, managed to cross the finish line. There are over 2000 users registered on the site, and I've got to know some of them quite well over the last few months. They're a good bunch of people. Some are lyricists, so their focus is on writing the words for others to sing, but there are a fair few of us who produce finished pieces of music each time around.

This summer I ended up doing a lot more collaborations. I took part in three Exquisite Corpses and they turned out to be amazing things - the longest of them is twenty four minutes long. I also found a kindred spirit in Paul, a fellow FAWMer who records under the moniker Pipewrench67. We did a couple of pieces together that I'm really proud of, and the second one - a piece of ambient music that is positively symphonic - is twenty minutes long:

I enjoyed playing Fripp to Paul's Eno and I hope we'll be working on some more collaborations over the coming months. As you might have gathered from listening to that piece, I've been using my eBow a lot this summer - more so than I thought I would. It just seems to be a good fit with my playing style and I love the sounds I'm getting out of it. I reckon a good 10% of my output on 50/90 has me using it at some point. And I tend to use it with the nine string Ibanez, as the sounds it's capable of producing are extraordinary.

It's been a good summer. It's been both productive and highly therapeutic and I feel like I've made real progress as a musician this year. And the year's not over yet!


A year or so ago I ordered a copy of Planet X's album "Quantum" from Amazon. It was a pretty good price. Too good, as it turned out. Amazon sent me an email every couple of months that said "We're having trouble sourcing your order, do you want to cancel it?" I didn't want to. I wanted the album. Stupid question, really.

Eventually I looked on Amazon again for the album, and noticed that despite their emails telling me otherwise, it was described as "in stock" - but at a higher price. Maybe that's what the "trouble" Amazon was referring to, I thought; I'm cynical like that. To find out, I cancelled my existing order and ordered at the new price.

The CD arrived within a week. My opinion of Amazon is now lower than it's ever been, and that's saying something.

And listening to the CD just now I found myself thinking, "Wow, that's a great sounding Allan Holdsworth pastiche. I wonder who it is?"

I looked at the sleeve notes. It was Allan Holdsworth. His appearance on the album was the reason I'd originally ordered the CD in the first place. It was so long ago since I placed the order that I'd completely forgotten.

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