Stoyan Stefanov

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Archive for the "music" Category


Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Last night I went to see Primus at the Greek Theatre in LA and (because why the hell not) thought I should bike the 15 miles from home to the Greek Theatre. And back.

The trip was a pilgrimage of sorts. A music lover's visit to the Holy Lands of LA. Went past the unmarked grave of Frank Zappa, then bumped into a jolly gay event on Santa Monica blvd (everyone was fabulous), then Sunset boulevard with the Rainbow room (which on several Gun's Roses videos), Viper room, Whiskey a Go-Go (where The Doors took off), few chuckles by the Hustler store, the House of Blues, then Hollywood boulevard (partially closed because of yet another premiere with celebrities walking about the Chinese Theatre).

The trip length was off by a lot from what google maps says, so I missed the opening act (Fishbone), but was on time to enjoy Primus.

The show was great and the band is really really good. I've never listened to Primus carefully before I bought a ticket for the show but have listened to the last album "Green Naugahyde" a lot since. So I'm not very familiar with their old stuff, but I love the new album. One of the surprises (other than discovering how good the guitarist is and, of course, the bass player is totally nuts) was how the bassist plays this fast figure from "Eyes of the squirrel" and sings at the same time. I think humans need more than one brain for such independent tasks. Also funny was look of the audience, half of the dudes were copies of the bassist with big glasses, various facial hair styles and optional hat. Intellectual chic of sorts.

Anyway, enjoy some crappy photos, and, if you're curious, youtube has some videos of the memorable night.






Beverly Hills cop

And to wrap up the rock pilgrimage experience, I had an encounter with the Law. You see I was riding the bike past midnight on Sunset Blvd in the Beverly Hills part and this police car stops me (blue-red lights flashing and all). Reason is I don't have lights on the bike. The cop starts asking me questions (I think the point was to check whether I wasn't drunk or anything) like where am I going? where's home? where was I before? where do I work? I'm currently all bearded and desperately trying to grow some of what hair I have left and overall don't look very respectable. The cop asks me to sit on the sidewalk while he's requesting a check on the radio with my drivers license. Another police car comes. So there I am, sitting on the sidewalk like a real criminal (or a naughty rock star, as I would choose to remember), two police cars partially blocking Sunset boulevard, two cops around me. Fun. It was a night to remember.

As it turns out I don't have a police record, all is fine, we separate on great terms and I'm thinking: man, I should've asked to cop with the bigger car give me ride home because this bike was a little too much.

Django’s stairway

Friday, February 12th, 2010

I'm a fan of Django Reinhardt since.... a few weeks ago. See if you can hear his influence in the two short pieces below - they are sort of gypsy/jazzy, yet warm and fender-y, parts of Stairway to heaven. The second part if the Am-G-F solo at the end.

Django's Stairway
Django's Stairway 2

Jimi yodel

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

So Yahoo! is in the middle of a brand campaign. There's a whole Yodel studio, three actually, in NY, London and Mumbai, where people go and yodel with different background music. You can do too, online. The site even offers the downloadable background tracks for your mixing pleasure.

I couldn't just sit and watch, now could I? After all, I've helped the Yahoo brand before, why stop now. So I took the Blues background from here (the separate zipped tracks are here), dusted off the old axe and, too embarrassed to yodel vocally, did so with my wah-wah, in what I was hoping would resemble Jimi Hendrix style.

Here's the really short result piece, enjoy.
Jimi yodel

“Spanish Me, Caravan” – 6 new recordings

Saturday, June 13th, 2009

Yes, since I got this mike, yours truly has been busy recording. Flamenco-style. Below you can hear 6 new recordings. And while you listen, let me tell you more about these songs.

  1. Intro (Me Gusta Ta Paragua)
  2. Spanish Me, Caravan
  3. Mediterranean Sundance/Rio Ancho
  4. Mucho Trabajo - Poco Dinero
  5. Entre Dos Aguas
  6. Borrowed Lame

About the "album"

Friends of mine are heading on a 15 day road trip from Bulgaria, through a bunch of countries, Southern France and all the way to Barcelona. Leaving tomorrow actually. The ultimate goal is the Formula 1 race in Barcelona. But, as often with these trips, it's the journey, not the destination, if you allow me to go all zen about it.

I can't join them this time around, but that shouldn't prevent me from thinking about it. I've never been to Spain, I hope I'll go there one day. So I thought it would be cool to record a bunch of spanish famenco style songs and send them to my friends to listen while on the road.

When we were younger and could party for days on end, we used to play a lot and Peter, one of the gang, told me one night, after the N-th rakia "Hey let's play the one that goes Spanish me, Spanish me, Caravan". The song he meant was "Spanish Caravan" by The Doors that goes "Carry me, caravan, take me away...". It was funny. We remembered that, and started calling the song this way. I couldn't think of a more appropriate title for my "album".

1. Intro (Me Gusta Ta Paragua)

This is just an intro to the next song. Loosely based on Asturias, as adopted by Andres Segovia, he was an admirable man, no doubt. Apparently, if it wasn't him, the guitar would still be looked down on by "serious" classical musicians and dismissed as a gypsy instrument. (Kinda like the guitar to the classical musicians is like JavaScript to Java programmers).

Among the noise you can even hear my banjo. Also clapping of hands and pretty much every noise-making of my kid's toys I could lay my hands on before they got back from the park that day and joined the fun.

Chords are: B, C.

Btw, following the tradition from Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, I drop-tune half a step down.

2. Spanish Me, Caravan

This is based on The Doors' Spanish Caravan, which is in turn based on the same Asturias by Segovia.

The only piece that I allowed myself the liberty of singing.

If my voice sounds as if I was in the bathroom, it's because I was. Not only this song but everything I played is recorded in the bathroom at night, once the kids are in bed. And before my wife comes knocking to kindly let me know she loves my art and all but she also needs sleep. You can hear her knocking on the door on this song towards the end of the acoustic part.

If you hear background noise, it's the fan of my computer during the recordings.

3. Mediterranean Sundance/Rio Ancho

This is my rendition of Paco De Lucia/Al di Meola/John MacLaughlin's famous piece from Saturday Night in San Francisco.

The chords of the rhythmic part are not known to me and have haunted me for years. This time I settled on:
- Em, Am, D, G, C, Am, B, B
two times, then followed by
- Em, Am, D, G, F, Em, D, C, B
and back to the first sequence. The end of the first sequence actually reminds of one classical piece I don't know the name of. It's played at the end of an old Doors movie (directed by Jim Morrison, no less).

The second chord sequence is closer to (parts of) the original though.

4. Mucho Trabajo - Poco Dinero

This is just an intro to the next song. My rhythm guitarist at parties (same Peter) about half a lifetime ago, could not remember all the chord changes in the next one, but he did remember this progression - Em, D, C, B. So we used to play it slowly and then faster. Here I somewhat do the slow part as an intro to the full thing that follows.

The title is one of the two semi-nonsensical phrases another friend taught me. This one means "lot of work, no money". The other one is "I like your umbrella", the title of the first piece above - Me Gusta Ta Paragua.

The chords like I said are repeating that classical spanish progression: Em, D, C, B and towards the end I throw for good measure one change of C, D and finally Em.

5. Entre Dos Aguas

This is a magnificent piece by Paco De Lucia. I naturally improvise most of the parts, the only things that resemble the original I learned back at high school. Same with the Sundae, actually. No internet back then (imagine that!) and very rare access to guitar tabs. So most of the songs we learned from each other or "pulling" from the cassette tape. Press play-pause-guess on the guitar-rewind... until you come up with something acceptable. Then you compare with how someone else "pulled" and you realize you were both wrong, hehe.

First part: Am, Bm, Am, B
Second part: Em, D, C, B
Third: D, Em

The percussion instrument is actually not a real instrument but a tourist souvenir my mom sent me from from Tunisia. But it so looks like a percussion thingie.

6. Borrowed Lame

This is a little melody I came up with while conceiving the idea of these recordings. The part around the third and forth chord reminds me of something very much, but I can put my finger on it. So I'm sure I stole part of the melody. Steal is a harsh word, so how about borrow. And once I get really famous with this piece (cough-cough) it will be a "borrowed fame". Fame - too much. Lame - better. Borrowed Lame.

Chords: Am, G, Am, Em, C, G, B, Em.

The end is two effects from Garage Band - a sailboat "in high sea" and a thunder.


Hope you like. I certainly had fun recording.

new strings and a mike

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

A trip to guitar center today. Got myself new strings, because I lost my sixth a week ago - nylon classic strings d'Addario, "normal" thickness. Don't quite like the first three, sound kinda "meh", will go for thicker, harder strings next time, even if they slow down my virtuoso solos. But the sound of the D, A and E when they are new - priceless!

Also got a mike, turns out the same type of mike (the "condensed" type) is what you need for recording voice for podcasts and screencasts and for recording acoustic guitar. I naturally went for the cheapest mike they carry in Guitar Center, CAD U37, $69, with USB. Plug and record 🙂

So here's the first result, a Zeppelin song (I can't remember the name though, duh), instrumental by Jimmy Page. Recorded in the bathroom, as you can tell by the echo.


I got the flu’s blues

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

I switched to a Mac a few weeks ago, so still learning my way around it and today I tried to record a bit of a song in Garage Band. Pretty decent program, I would say. On Windows I was using Audacity. In any case, I don't have big requirements, I just want to be able to record two or more tracks and then mix them.

I've been sick for a few days, fever, sore throat, and feeling rather miserable. Hence the name of the song 🙂

I got the flu's

The song has two tracks - one lead guitar and one background - drums and second guitar. The drums and the guitar effect come from my simple processor. Seems like Garage Band has much more drums, so I'll probably be experimenting with those.

Here's an MP3 of the background only, without the lead guitar, in case you play an instrument and feel like improvising a blues in E-flat.

I got the flu's (no lead)

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