Author: Gwad Moc'h

DIY hardware, Musicians' Diary

Using our PA speakers as monitors on stage.


Some venues may have big PA’s, but in most cases… no monitors. Well, we always have our own PA at the back of our car while touring, so why wouldn’t we use it as an onstage monitoring system ?

Here is a loudspeaker, actually a sat from the LD System.

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A way to use sats as monitors could be that one :

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Ok, let’s try to figure out how to improve that without having to bring a whole case of books onstage !

A few leftover pieces of wood and screws, a couple of hours of calculations to design the right shape…

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Black painting should make it more nice-looking onstage :

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And the final result :

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Various tilts make it even easier to fit to various stage sizes :

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§ Yann

 

 

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DIY hardware, Musicians' Diary

The new DIY laptop stand


The following can be seen as the continuation of a previous topic entitled “The DIY table“. After lots of touring across Europe, we realised we needed something more compact to put all my electronic stuff on stage, with some specific requirements such as :

  • It as to be able to contain all my electronic stuff (Laptop, soundcard, cables, 5 power supplies (laptop, soundcard, effect processor, volume pedal, footswitch lightings), 1 5-socket powerstrip).
  • It has to be compact and strong enough to be carried and quickly moved at the last minute to the stage, with no cables hanging around. This can be extremely useful when you have 10 minutes maximum to switch bands, as it may often be the case in british festivals for instance !
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My old system, see all these cables hanging around !
  • It has to be removable, and quickly buildable, and fit in a case with all the other hardware.
  • It must be nice looking and hide all the cables that usually hang around.
  • It must enable the audience to see my nice beautiful handmade enlightened footswitch !!
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Can you see the footswitch ?

After some research from the web, I found these ones :

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But I didn’t want to feel like working in an office when performing on stage, and I didn’t want the audience to feel like they’re watching someone working in an office !

Moreover, it doesn’t really solve the problem of cables and power supplies hanging around…

This one appeared to be very attractive :

LS21D-DJ-Laptop-Stand

But heavy (9 pounds !), and not that stable on an uneven ground, like those you can find in very old venues. Moreover, the hanging cables problem still remains…

The only remaining solution was to build my own (as usual !!) laptop stand, which I did…

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First steps of the designing process…

And the final result :

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My old system, see all these cables hanging around !

I need no more than 20 sec to assemble the parts !

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My old system, see all these cables hanging around !

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My old system, see all these cables hanging around !

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My old system, see all these cables hanging around !

And the overview :

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§ Yann

Musicians' Diary, Pics on Tour

Busking in European cities – Part 2


Let’s talk today about busking in the German world, which means Germany, Austria and Switzerland (sorry, I will not be talking about german minorities from Hungary, Czech republic, Romania or Serbia…).

Germany : it seems that there’s no particular regulation as far as I know (maybe I’m wrong !), but what I can say is that you should never busk in front of a bank or a jewellery. You’ll get kicked off by security staff even before you start playing ! 😉 I had this experience in Ulm.

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Ulm, next to the Cathedral.

The other thing I know from my own experience : don’t expect to earn much money from busking in Germany ! It is a very different atmosphere compared to Greece (for example), my feeling (maybe wrong) is that people look somewhat anxious !

Switzerland : Rather complicated, each city has its own rules. You may generally be supposed to ask a permission from local authorities, to pay around 70CHF for their agreement, plus around 7CHF per busking day. Beware ! Unless you know tips from experienced buskers, for example “wild” busking is allowed in Basel after 7pm !

Austria : When no regulation (Salzburg), you’ll be competing with local gipsies. People obviously fed up wouldn’t even notice your presence !

A different situation in Innsbruck, where people may be quite sensitive, unless you perform in the main touristic street (Herzog-Friedrich straBe), full of Asian tourist, they won’t drop you a single Euro (I tried ;)), maybe unless you play major-scaled accordion dressed up in a Tyrolean traditional costume !

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A good busking place in Innsbruck. You can see the entrance of the touristic area at the other end of the square, that you should definitely avoid for busking 😉 !

Let’s point out something else : I have nothing against Tyrolean music, its major scales and its highly non-modal structure (1) ! I can prove it, we found a pub with a session inside with local musicians :

Graz : They have special regulations. The police was extremely friendly and gave me this brochure, specially dedicated to buskers ! Thanks to local authorities for their extreme devotion toward buskers 🙂 ! Everything you should know !

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Busking regulation in Graz – Austria

Rules are simple, just get a free authorisation from Town Hall, and you can play in the whole pink area from 11 to 14 and 15 to 21 (is 13 the nap time ?), you have to switch place every 30 minutes…

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Graz (Austria) – The main square.

(1) According to me, breton music and kurdish music for instance, are much closely connected than Breton and Fado, or Breton and Tyrolean music, which are TRUE western music 😉 !

§Yann

Musicians' Diary

Busking in European cities – Part 1


Let me start a new topic let’s say busking-oriented. What you have to know before busking in any european countries… When touring, I always want to give a try, it’s always a good way to feel the ambiance and meet people, in other conditions than in a concert place.

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A nice busking session by 0°C last winter, I even got a pastry !

Each country has its own rules or regulations regarding street performances such as busking. If for instance, UK is a quite “busker-friendly” country (see this older post  ), it may be another story in other countries…

Let’s start today with Greece ! Greece is actually a good example to convince you (and myself) that it’s always usefull to know the local regulations.

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The local police station main door !

I must say I’ve been busking so many times in the centre of the same city, which is really a pleasure as people are extremely friendly with buskers. They smile at you, even old retired people give you coins, although most of them got their pension reduced by a half because of Troïka.

But last time, after 15 minutes busking, police asked me whether I had an authorisation !! I’m almost sure I saw the police ten times at least in this street ! As well as many buskers, and without any problem ! And none of my greek friends ever told me about these rules…

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It used to be one of my favourite places for busking.

They asked me to follow them to the police office. A bit rough in the beginning, just treated as a beggar, and I don’t mean a beggar deserves being treated this way even though they got much more friendly at the end, when they realised I was not busking in order to bother people, but mostly for my own pleasure. “But you’re selling CD’s, that’s illegal !” “Don’t worry, I haven’t sold any !” I said… I wonder if the right reply would have been “Do you get a receipt when you leave a banknote on the icon of the Virgin in a church ?” but I might have gone into deeper troubles 😉 !

After one hour and a half filling forms, they kept… 1€60 as a proof, and told me I’d receive news from the court (Yes !) within… two years ! OK, nothing dramatic, but if you’d like to try busking in Greece, please ask for your agreement from local authorities before !

§Yann

Music, Musicians' Diary, Pics on Tour, Sound & Video

Recording/mixing another (irish folk) band ?


A few weeks ago, time had come for us to go to the east of France and get our prize from the Jotinette contest, which actually was a perfect excuse for us to go and meet musicians from this area ! Not only we met them and had great time there, we even recorded a demo for one of their bands called Hop Corner. They play traditionnal Irish folk music.

I thought it could be quite a challenge as well as a valuable experience to record and mix a band in an extremely acoustic setup (fiddle, irish flute, bouzouki/guitar), which is somehow far opposite from what I am used to do with Astrakan Project…

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The recording studio, actually a nice room dedicated to music ! Look at this gorgeous wooden floor.

The recording was made “live”, with stage microphones, actually what was available in the house !

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Sam & Zsófi, actually the landlords of this amazing house !
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Julien & Sam.

It was actually a nice and extremely friendly recording session, followed by a couple of days mixing / mastering…

And this is what it sounds like, we hope you will like it as much as we do !

You can hear their full 5-track demo from their website, and it really worth it : http://hopcorner.fr/

…and follow/like them on Facebook ! 😉

Music

The right gavotte tempo !


Today, as I was working on a “gavotte” tune, that I hadn’t listened to for ages, I grabbed my fiddle and quickly recorded a couple of rounds of the tune. Then, I found an original recording in my database…

…and pasted it in my DAW in order to check if my tempo was right… And this is what I get !

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The upper track is my fiddle recording, the lower one the original singer recording. Can you see how my tempo is exactly the same ??? Unfortunately, you won’t get a chance to hear my recording right now…but at least, you can see the tempo is right !! 😉

§Yann

Music, Musicians' Diary

Breton music workshop


We had a nice session with La Contrebande, a nice folk band from the east of France. As they would like to add breton dances to their repertoire, we had a nice workshop about those deep rooted breton dances called “gavotte” and “plinn”…

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There were actually many fiddlers there…

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Simone and I are looking forward to hear the breton sets they will shorlty set up !

You can listen to their band there :

And here is their Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/lacontrebande.bal

§Yann

Musicians' Diary, Pics on Tour, Sound & Video

A documentary about busking ?


Yes, everything may happen in this world ! We met Peppe Lovino last week as I was busking in Cardiff’s main street (Wales – UK), who is a student currently setting up an international documentary about busking.

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I must say that for musicians  – professionnal or not -, street busking is something pretty usual as well as recognised in the UK, also a reason why we distinguish “busking” from “begging”, which is supposed to be totally different.

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According to Peppe, buskers have in many cases very interesting and unusual experiences to share, which gives enough reasons and material to build a full documentary about it. This is a first rush of his footage :

You may have noticed that I mostly play irish music while busking, I indeed use this time to play some of my favourite irish tunes, and to intensively practice my irish fiddling under hard conditions (for example, the weather was freezing like hell, as you can see by the fact that I was wearing woolen gloves, specially designed and made for winter busking by Simone 😉 !

§ Yann

DIY hardware, Musicians' Diary

And the “footswitch project” ?


You may remember when I was trying to shortly explain how to make your own “DIY USB footswitch” for the sake of using loops on-stage… Here is the post I wrote a few months ago about this : https://astrakanproject.com/2014/01/22/building-a-usb-footswitch/

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A quick reminder !

And this is what il looks like on-stage so far :

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On-stage setup !

When we were touring in Portugal last summer, we had the idea of asking to someone working in a mold factory (a speciality from Leiria area in Portugal) to think about a way to build a transparent footswitch, with lights inside !

After some more accurate designing…

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Designing the new footswitch using Excel
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Designing the new footswitch using Excel

We finally got this ready :

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The plexiglas footswitch !

The next step is of course making this fully fonctionnal, by adding all the switches, the cabling and… the colour lights inside !! Can you imagine this shining diamond on-stage ?

By the way, have you seen our new video of a Flemish song  ? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJF1pP-C6V4

§Yann

DIY hardware

The DIY table ?


Each gig you may have as a band may always teach you something… Last gig we had was so. This is the table that I use on stage for all my devices (computer, soudcard, desk etc…)

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You may have noticed that there are many cables / sockets / power supplies around. This is that can makes life difficult when for some reasons I need to move all the stuff between the soundcheck and the show itself. This is indeed what happened at our last gig in Ipswich Library (UK). Therefore I had to find out a tip to solve this problem, that’s what I did today as soon as we got back from England 🙂

First, this is to fix the table feet :

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in which I cut small holes in order to…

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…insert a lower shelf as shown below :

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Ok, as you can see, I have used various parts of an old chair and an old cupboard. But this has to fit in a (small) car in which you may still be able to sleep (with two guitars, two uds, a turkish saz, a fiddle, clothing for at least two weeks, a whole PA and a kid !)

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Now let us have a look at the table in use, this is before the addition of the lower shelf :

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And this is afterwards :

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A close look from below should make things clearer 🙂

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Now suppose I have yo move everything to quickly make room available for the band that will perform right before us :

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A view without the top shelf :

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And it works out !! 😉

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§ Yann