album recording

Update: What’s going on with the album?

After three long years in drydock, the Hold the Door Open album is back in production. I’m excited and scared. My ambitions for this album are a bit loftier than they were for Hidden Gold. Some of that is by design, some of it is by circumstance.

  • My target is once again 12 tracks, but, well, the album is gonna be longer, with (I’m hoping) a little more variety of sound and style.
  • I’m digging a little deeper on authenticity for the period music, and there is a little more of it. Hidden Gold had two Elizabethan-period tunes on it, one of which included the lute part (performed heroically by Dave Lambert), and the other of which was done with synthesized harpsichord (thank you Arden). For this one, I will be recording 3 or 4 lute pieces, one of which is an original composition in Elizabethan style. I intend to record myself doing the lute (-guitar) on most if not all of these. On the one hand, studio recording allows me to record using as many takes as I need to. On the other, a recorded song needs to sound rock solid on repeated listens, and I have no idea whether my lute skills are up to the task.
  • The harmonies are more ambitious. Hold the Door Open has two original songs on it that include four-part harmony and counterpoint, for longer stretches than any of the songs on the first album. I’ve had to invest a lot of time to make sure these harmonies serve the songs and won’t distract or make them harder to follow.
  • Probably the biggest difference is that I’m operating almost entirely without my one-man Swiss Army knife, Arden of Icombe (aka Paul Butler). My initial plans for the album were to bring in a broader array of musicians for the sake of variety, but last year, when I started trying to figure out how to get the project going again, I decided to scrap that and see if Arden could jump in and bring his incredible talents for arranging and recording an enormous range of instruments to bear in the interest of time. Ultimately, Paul, like so many of us, has had an attack of life, and his availability for this project has been extremely limited. So I went back to my first plan and started exploring my musical network for musicians who could provide what I needed either locally or remotely. It also meant that I had to figure out, if not specific arrangements, how to shape and vary up the sound on each song on my own. I think the lessons I’ve learned from Hidden Gold and Sing for the East are going to bear fruit, but only time will tell.

I’m going to try not to play my cards too close to my chest this time around. I want to blog about this a little more, and show my work. I know there are other people out there dreaming, pondering, and planning to record their own music, some of them with as little experience or formal background as I had over a decade ago when I started. Sharing our knowledge and experience is one of the things that makes the communities I’m part of so special. So here we go.

album recording

Studio week: Cedric Fithelere

I have had the great good fortune to become acquainted with Cedric Fithelere of the Bedlam Bards through my wife. (Thank you, Jess! Thankyouthankyouthankyou) Cedric has accepted my invitation to record for the Hold the Door Open album. Jess offered me a fiddler for my birthday and flew him out from Texas.

Can you tell I’m excited?

album recording

Remaster of “Tam Lin” with Heather Dale this weekend!

I’m re-releasing a favorite track this weekend. Saturday marks the 5 year anniversary of Hidden Gold, my first (and so far only) solo album, and I wanted to mark the occasion. I have completely remixed and remastered “Tam Lin of the Elves”, featuring the magnificent Heather Dale. I love that song, and the recording is unquestionably the most popular track from the album. But honestly, the album in general, and that track in particular, suffered from my complete lack of experience with mixing and sound engineering. The mix is solid, I know…but Heather’s ethereal descant vocals really don’t come through the way I wanted them to.

I will be posting a deep dive for recording geeks breaking down how I reworked the track to get the sound I felt was missing from the original. But this weekend, anyone who cares about this song will get to hear it like they’ve never heard it before.

album recording

Studio Day: “Plant Your Feet” with Bird the Bard

An evening geeking and recording with Bird was just what my soul needed this week. They’re extraordinarily talented, but even more, they’re incredibly loving, kind, and open. They bring out my best self, as they do with most everyone I know.

Since they moved to Michigan, opportunities to see them are rare (though there is of course Pennsic). But I was grateful they were able to make time for this session, since I very much wanted their imprint on “Plant Your Feet”, which is a song for and about bards.

We had a blast together. And tomorrow I get to edit and mix Bird’s vocals, French horn, and tin whistle into the song and see what we have. (They also provided a bright beautiful harmony for “Shine, Child”.)

album bardic concert Pennsic

Off to Pennsic!

The Oranwood clan will be on the road to Pennsic this evening. Some of the places you can find me this War:

  • We are camping at McGuire’s Marauders (block N06, next to Ansteorra Royal). Feel free to say hello.
  • My concert will be War Wednesday from 8-9 pm (between House Sans Nomen and Heather Dale–still don’t know how that happened, still not questioning it), and planned guests include Efenwealt Wystle, Bird the Bard, Cedar the Barefoot, Sólveig Bjarnardóttir, and my son Spencer Oranwood. There will be new original songs. There will be lute. More importantly, there will be new and even more ambitious Hamilton filk.
  • My dear friend Cedar the Barefoot is performing their first concert Middle Sunday from 6-6:30 pm. I’ll be watching, because I wouldn’t miss this and you shouldn’t either. Apparently, there will be new Lin-Manuel Miranda filk performed here as well, and any suggestions that I might have instigated said filk would be grounds for legal action. (Shenanigans? ME?!?)
  • Efenwealt Wystle and I will be hosting the annual Bardic Expo on War Monday from 2:00-4:30 pm. Come perform, and come see others perform.
  • I am teaching “My Persona’s Guitar Is a Lute” on Peace Thursday from 11-12 pm and War Wednesday from 1-2 pm. This is a new first time offering.
  • I will be at McGuire’s infamous Chocolate Bardic on Peace Thursday, and I will try to get to other bardic circles whenever possible throughout the War. (There are rumors of a “secret bardic circle” during peace week, possibly at Highrafters, but the first rule of it is that you don’t talk about it, and the second rule…)

As for music:

  • The Sing for the East CD (as well as the new Companion Songbook) will be available at Camelot Treasures (booth 30) and Designs by J (booth 162). You can also find my first album Hidden Gold there if you don’t already have it.
  • Efenwealt Wystle’s new music sampler CD together for this Pennsic, featuring some really well-known performers. Somehow, I got a track of mine, and one from bright star Juliana la Badele, on this thing.
  • You should be looking for any music you don’t yet have when you have the chance. There are a ton of hard-working artists creating amazing, high-quality recordings within this community, and they deserve your patronage.

Hope to see you at War!

album bardic concert SCA

Ready for East Kingdom 50 Year!

The East Kingdom’s 50 Year celebration is this week, from Thursday to Sunday. I am looking forward to it, and want to mention a few things if you’re going to be be there:

  • Friday, 3:30-4:00 pm, Performing Arts Stage: I will be performing some of my songs with my dear friends Bird the Bard and Donal Artur of the Silver Band. It promises to be a lot of fun–and the set includes a new song!
  • Saturday, 2-3 pm, Performing Arts Stage: Join the the bards of Sing for the East for a live, sing-along concert!
  • The Sing for the East CD will be on sale at Kate’s Kafe throughout the event, along with other popular SCA music (including mine).

Click here for the EK 50 site map. (The Stage is next to the A&S Classrooms, but you’ll probably need to zoom in to see it.)

Hope to see you there!

album charity fundraising SCA

Our first donation!

Good Gentles,

This weekend, we mailed our first donation, just over $1,400, to the East Kingdom Royal Travel Fund. This exceeded our fondest hopes. It was made possible by the contributions of dozens of talented artists, and scores of generous patrons, in and out of our kingdom. Without your enthusiastic support and encouragement, this project would never have come to fruition. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

In grateful service,

The bards of Sing for the East

album Pennsic

Note from Pennsic about the new album

Something I'm noticing at Pennsic: a number of people have the impression that Sing for the East is a collection of "inside baseball" songs that will only appeal to East Kingdom folks or those who know our history.

Not true at all. This is a collection of well-made SCA folk songs that celebrate who we are and what we do. Most of the songs have the word "East", or "Tyger", or "Oriens" in them, but that's it. They are by current or former EK Bards, and the album addresses a grievous gap of Eastern recordings.

But if you could use some fresh, quality SCA music to listen to on your drive home, I promise you this CD will not disappoint. (Available at Camelot Treasures and John Ap Wyn.)

album recording

The Making of “We Are the East”

So…I went rather quiet for the past month. (Had to find a new day job, couldn’t be helped. Happily, it didn’t take long, but it required some focus.) Now it’s time to get ready for Pennsic, and as Jessa and I race to do that, I wanted to take a moment and reflect on Sing for the East in a little more depth.

My Laurel, Mistress Zsof, has invited me to do more in-depth blogs about what I am learning as I continue to explore bardic. I realize that the sorts of entries she is talking about are usually more A&S focused (meaning, on period and period-inspired works, like “I asked of thee a boon”). At the moment, though, my most recent project was an album, and my entry on that collection was an original kingdom anthem. I learned a great deal putting the track for “We Are the East” together, and applied a number of lessons I learned about music recording and production from my solo album Hidden Gold.

album podcast

Bardcast Episode: The East Kingdom!

The much-loved Knowne World Bardcast has returned, with an episode featuring music from Sing for the East! Check out the podcast, available in your podcasting app right now!