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April 1st – April 11th, 2016

As we entered April, I managed to keep up with posting short stories daily to my new Facebook page and to the short stories tab on this WordPress page. I intend to start posting some of the stories in blocks here as well so that they are a bit more visible. Southampton began to show even more signs of Spring arriving, with new leaves opening and more flowers than I was expecting. I also spotted fluorescent yellow butterflies making their way around the Common, but am yet to capture this on video or in my photographs. On a visit to Lloyd at the University, I witnessed a moorhen nesting in the reeds in one of the small ponds they have as a garden feature, and was delighted to discover that she had a number of cute, speckled white and brown eggs. While we were observing the pond from a nearby bench, a number of people approached to have a look at her nest, and someone had put a small ladder-like ramp from the water up to the edge of the pool, presumably to assist the chicks, when they hatch, to get in and out of the water, since the pond is manmade and the edges are abrupt. Lloyd also took me on this occasion to the university cafeteria for lunch, where the food for staff and students is very cheap and very nice, so it is worth braving the crowds.

 

Over Easter my ex-dance student Maddy had arrived to take up a job in Salisbury, by strange coincidence, so we were able to meet up early in April for tea and an extended catch up chat. It was fun to have my first visitor to the flat, and my earl grey and rosewater shortbread, which Lloyd does not especially like, actually got eaten. I also spent some time making a channel ad for my YouTube account, which I have not had before, and which was a bit of fun to make. It allowed me to promote my journals and writing activities as well as the new endeavour I will talk about next in this entry.

PhDancer Channel Ad

Our main activity over this period was the decision to try to record some of the music we have been creating together. Lloyd had composed a large number of pieces of music on his new guitar and has also been learning scales and teaching himself to play the melodies of some of the traditional Irish music he knows how to play on the whistle. We realised that the novelty of Irish dancing music on electric guitar might be something the dancing community would be interested in, and since we had a few other pieces for which I had finished lyrics, we decided to blend the two vague categories of music we play into one music duo which bridges the space between traditional Irish music and modern rock, and is open to adventures along the way including references to medieval and mythical things or geekery. We called our duo ‘Feathers, Wood ‘N’ String’ because we wanted a name that reflected our being Fletchers, and had relevance to archery, adventure and mythology. The three items are all required for old fashioned arrow making (fletching), and we felt they could also be the kind of things a child would pick up on a walk, or might use to craft something from their imagination. The feather could also be a quill, which reflects my writing, the wood is the usual material for guitars, drums, lyres and so forth, and guitar and lyres also have strings. Finally, Lloyd’s whistle is a woodwind instrument, so the ‘wood’ in the name reflects this as well. I got busy right away designing a logo that includes all three elements.

Our first step was to buy a few cables which could be used to connect Lloyd’s guitar headphone amp directly to the computer’s microphone port. This allows us to record what Lloyd plays without any echoes or outside sounds that might be picked up if he were playing into a microphone. The playing is recorded directly into Audacity audio editing software. As soon as these cables arrived, we made a start by recording Lloyd playing a bit of a favourite hornpipe electric guitar style. After recording the melody he normally plays, he was able to go back and add chords, making the hornpipe snippet sound especially epic. This was our first taster track, and I uploaded it to YouTube, and then later choreographed a dance to film to it. Next we recorded the guitar parts to two of our songs, Epic and The White Sea, but we were unable to record vocals or add whistle to any of the tracks yet because we had not yet received our special high quality computer microphone. This special purchase limited our travel funds this month but has given us plenty to do in the meantime!

Recording journal video 1

Dancing to the electric guitar hornpipe

When the microphone arrived, we were finally able to put together a full length version of Epic with vocals, and this we posted on YouTube as our first full example track. The plan is to eventually try selling our tracks online, but we hope to build interest in Feathers, Wood and String first and give free access to selected tracks to some of our key supporters who have helped spread the word. In the meantime we have put together a recording schedule to try to get through a list of Irish dance music and all the compositions Lloyd has completed so far, which will take a number of months at a minimum. During this time we hope to keep extending our audience through regular updates on various social media channels. This music work is occupying us thoroughly on the weekends when we are not busy keeping in touch with Australia, so it isn’t much bother to skip a few trips to new places while we save up some funds again. The danger is of course, that we will be tempted to obtain more instruments to work with instead of going on weekend trips; some percussion would certainly add to our work, however we’re doing our best to work with what we have for now. It’s quite satisfying to see what we can produce in our little flat, with a few cables and a mic, instruments we already had, and a computer.

Feathers, Wood ‘N’ String Facebook page

‘Epic’

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