On the Value of Old Friends

2:46 pm General

One of my oldest friends, Brian Malouf, emailed me at about 2 this AM to remark on the Giant City music files archived on the Compositions page. Blasts from the past and all that. It occurred to me that there were actually a number of other tracks I hadn’t uploaded and linked to. Fixed that. Brian also offered some thoughts on digital recording that triggered my finally locating the answer to earlier confusion about mixing multiple audio tracks to a single stereo track using SONAR. The answer came as a function of looking for the information I needed to accurately pose the question. Duh: File / Export… It was almost embarrassing. Obviously, I’ve used these tools too long with just MIDI (and simplistically at that), and still haven’t completely shaken the “analog studio” thinking from the old days – where a mixed performance in its entirety would be recorded onto two-track. Computers… 30+ years and some aspects of them still escape me. Thanks, Brian.

And by the way, I was sorely remiss in not mentioning on that page that the guy who was actually responsible for collecting all the Giant City stuff in one place (i.e., two Audio CDs) some years ago was another old friend, Bob Bruning (faculty member at Hamilton Academy of Music). Thanks, Bob.

While up in MA training for my new job, I got together with another old friend, Brian (not Malouf ;-), from my Army days in Berlin back in the ’70s. We spent some time reminiscing about our off-base apartment on Paulinenstrasse (near Andrews Barracks), the enormous amounts we used to drink, the wacky schedule we used to work (and the wacky place in which we worked). Brian and his wife Barb also introduced me to one of the best margaritas I’ve had in a long time (several, actually). Thanks, Brian. I’m working on reverse-engineering the recipe… though it may take considerable experimentation!

Another old friend finally came back into the picture on Friday: on my way home from MA I stopped to pick up my Lyle 12-string (acoustic) guitar. The Lyle was a birthday present to myself when I first got to DLIWC (Monterey, CA) back in 1973, and I think I’ve mentioned elsewhere here that it’s one of the oldest things I personally own. Over the years it had gotten pretty literally beat to sh!t though, thanks to being lugged halfway around the world without a decent case, being stuck 8” into the sand one day when I took a soft spill on my motorcycle (it was bungie-corded to the sissy bar), being left in extremely dry air year after year here in CT, etc. Eventually the top warped, the neck bowed, it became virtually unplayable, and sat in an old cardboard guitar case (heh… one I got from Brian Malouf back in ’78, IIRC) for about 10 years.

With the resurgent interest in music last year, I recalled the number of times the sound of that guitar – just an inexpensive Japanese instrument of no real note (NPI) – had been complimented by musicians, studio engineers and the like. It had a beefy low end that’s not characteristic of most 12-strings, which are typically pretty reedy-sounding. Anyway, after looking around for quite a while, our friend Deja referred me to Jane Hamel up at the Fretted Instrument Workshop in Amherst (MA) who agreed to restore it.

“Restore” is actually not the word for what Jane did to this instrument however. She essentially reinvented it, and it now plays and sounds better than any Martin or Taylor 12-string I’ve ever heard, including the T5 another old friend – Bryan … yes, I have a number of friends named Bri/yan – brought over some months ago (Bryan’s T5 still gets the award for most beautiful 12 I’ve ever seen, though – sorry Jane ;-). A new grade-A sitka spruce top was the main ingredient, but everything else was fixed (again, an understatement) and it’s now more of a joy to play than ever. In fact I’m giving my sore fingertips a rest today after having played it most of Friday night and yesterday. Thanks, Jane – you did more than a beautiful job on this old friend of mine!

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