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Post new topic String Quartet + Pedal Steel Guitar = Substratum
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Author Topic:  String Quartet + Pedal Steel Guitar = Substratum
Susan Alcorn


From:
Baltimore, MD, USA
Post  Posted 3 Nov 2018 11:38 am    
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Here is the”video” for the recording of Jeff Snyder’s piece “Substratum” which features Brooklyn New York’s Mivos Quartet along with yours truly on the pedal steel guitar. This is a groundbreaking work in so many ways, and I’m honored to be a part of it.

I hope you enjoy the music.

https://youtu.be/3AexIA2vzsM
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"So this is how you swim inward. So this is how you flow outwards. So this is how you pray."
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Last edited by Susan Alcorn on 5 Nov 2018 3:39 am; edited 1 time in total
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Howard Parker


From:
Clarksburg,MD USA
Post  Posted 3 Nov 2018 12:06 pm    
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I dig it!

Thanks, Susan!
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R. E. Miller

 

From:
Nowhere, Near Home.
Post  Posted 4 Nov 2018 11:34 am    
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Great colors! Fantastic performance.
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Jim Norman

 

From:
Virginia, USA
Post  Posted 4 Nov 2018 8:55 pm    
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Fantastic!
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b0b


From:
Cloverdale, CA
Post  Posted 4 Nov 2018 11:42 pm    
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Amazing! What wizardry is this?

How do you get that super clean tone, Susan?
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Susan Alcorn


From:
Baltimore, MD, USA
Post  Posted 5 Nov 2018 3:37 am    
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What wizardry? I don’t know.

As for the tone, sometimes I like the tone I get when I record, and at times I struggle with it. The clean, and I hope somewhat warm (I’m traveling now and haven’t heard it on a good speaker) may come from my recording setup which is usually this:

Steel guitar into volume pedal into analog delay(a bit of slapback) into an Eden WT-550 amp head. The Eden is a bass amp with a sound I really love; it is solid state with a tube preamp.I use the speaker out (which everyone has told me not to do, but I’m not a big fan of direct outs.

This goes into an old Lexicon 200 reverb with a plate setting which is dialed into a sound I like then into a Mytek AD converter (which preserves the reverb tails) and then into Pro Tools.
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"So this is how you swim inward. So this is how you flow outwards. So this is how you pray."
- Mary Oliver
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Chris Templeton


From:
The Green Mountain State
Post  Posted 6 Nov 2018 4:02 pm    
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Hi Susan. I'm curious. How much of this was written out, or keys given?
I did a gig for a painter once, with a jazz band when I was living in in New Mexico in the 80's, and the only instructions that were given were that he was going to point to an area in his painting and we were supposed to play anything we wanted. A different gig.
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R. E. Miller

 

From:
Nowhere, Near Home.
Post  Posted 6 Nov 2018 8:21 pm    
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I'm curious about that too, Chris. Is there a conventional score involved in a project like this, Susan? Maybe some type of intervallic short hand?
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Susan Alcorn


From:
Baltimore, MD, USA
Post  Posted 7 Nov 2018 1:54 am    
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Chris and R.E., for this piece there was indeed a score. What I did was trabscribe it into tablature and then I worked from that. There is a live version of Substratum on youtube. If you look at that, you can see a page turner sitting right next to me (there were quite a few pages as I remember). His job was tricky because he had to read the score and know when to turn the tablature pages. I think you can see me nodding a couple of times for him to turn them at the right moment.
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"So this is how you swim inward. So this is how you flow outwards. So this is how you pray."
- Mary Oliver
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R. E. Miller

 

From:
Nowhere, Near Home.
Post  Posted 7 Nov 2018 5:41 am    
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Ahhh... When I read Chris' question, I immediately pictured sitting behind a steel staring at a manuscript chock full of nightmarish accidentals and arcane rhythmic figures...then passing out.
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Susan Alcorn


From:
Baltimore, MD, USA
Post  Posted 7 Nov 2018 5:51 am    
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The score was a lot like that - tricky timing and very little that sat comfortably under my fingers (and I play a lot of weird music). There was some back and forth with the score as to what was physically and practically possible. Reading tablature, for steel, is easier in some ways (there are 20 places to get a middle C on my guitar), but I don’t think that reading tablature live is ideal. I think it’s better to memorize the score (not ideal for longer pieces) or memorize it and read the score for reference.
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www.susanalcorn.net

"So this is how you swim inward. So this is how you flow outwards. So this is how you pray."
- Mary Oliver
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Chris Templeton


From:
The Green Mountain State
Post  Posted 7 Nov 2018 6:02 am    
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Thanks for the quick response, Susan!
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b0b


From:
Cloverdale, CA
Post  Posted 7 Nov 2018 9:13 am    
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I'm not a very good reader, but tab is so cumbersome! I often mark up music with fret numbers and pedal hints once I've worked out the best way to play what's written. Fewer pages that way.

What you've done is far beyond what I'm capable of, Susan. Your tab method obviously works for you. Congratulations.
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Charlie McDonald


From:
out of the blue
Post  Posted 8 Nov 2018 5:21 pm    
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The bass sound from the MSA (?) was great, and grounding for a complex piece.
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R. E. Miller

 

From:
Nowhere, Near Home.
Post  Posted 8 Nov 2018 8:16 pm    
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Thanks for elucidating, Susan. The performance has a touch of alchemy. Soothing Dissonance. Magic. And it now seems as though the process may be nearly as engaging as the results. Thanks again for performing and posting both versions.
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