Sunday, November 24, 2013

My Solo Guitar Past Re-Package

"Solo Guitar Originals" is a collection of 11 original songs from the era of my music career as solo guitarist Jim Graham(my real name). Between 1996 and 2002 three CD's were released that included several classical, Celtic and flamenco songs plus these 11 pieces that I composed. Included here is the solo guitar version of "Timeframe", one of the tracks that appears on "Halloween, I'm Afraid", and "An Gorta Mor", my most popular song from that era.
Here's the direct link to iTunes, the album is only $3.99US!
Solo Guitar Originals - Jim Graham

This is "Train of Thought", one of the flamenco influenced songs,



If any of you guitar types out there are interested, I have scored "Train of Thought", "Deep Cove Hop", "Morisons March" and "An Gorta Mor" in tab and notation. Contact me if you want a copy, they're free!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Thanks for all the support for "Halloween, I'm Afraid" people! Going into write/record mode now for next years follow up album "More Halloween, I'm Afraid", 4 songs are "in the can" already as they say. Sometimes inspiration can be triggered by a single photograph, here's one that has me thinking already, it looks like some kind of ghost tree....

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Great Podcast Discovery - Aural Apocalypse

I'd like to share this podcast with anyone who likes my music, when I found it a couple of weeks ago and listened to a few episodes I was elated to find people who make and like music in the same vein as I do. DJ Merrick starts each episode with her cryptic message, "Aural Apocalypse - A Soundtrack For the Final Days", and proceeds to play music by artists from all over the world creating the darkest sounds you will ever hear. While my music isn't as dark as most of the music I hear on these podcasts, I do think a couple of my songs would fit right in, such as "Overmed Daydream" and "Electro Acoustic Lament". Several of the songs I've heard here combine acoustic instruments with synths and/or industrial noise to create an amazing, inspiring atmosphere. You can find it online here: Aural Apocalypse Website

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Progress Report - "More Halloween, I'm Afraid"

I have four songs written and recorded now for the follow up album to "Halloween, I'm Afraid" and have a lot of ideas and little snippets of music to work with so far for more. My website is getting a lot of traffic, I seem to have caught on to a trend I wasn't looking for. People who are not only halloween fanatics, but progressive rock fans as well. The funny thing is, when I first got into the whole "Dulcet Jones" thing and began creating this music I wasn't aiming for the halloween market at all. I've always been really into halloween but that wasn't in the forefront until after playing several of my new tracks for my teenage daughter and having her say they all sound spooky. That's why several of the songs on "Halloween, I'm Afraid" don't have particularly halloweenish or spooky titles. My daughter is now doing the artwork for my album covers, having graduated from a reputable college in graphic design, that's her handiwork on the cover for "Halloween, I'm Afraid", and she has already made a really cool cover for the follow up. And speaking of halloween, there was a "Zombie Walk" through the local downtown here yesterday, here's a pic:

The Official Dulcet Jones Website

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Unusual Ghost Riders

As the countdown to Halloween closes in I am remembering to take my camera with me when I venture out, yesterday I spotted this scene along a road near a rural Ontario town. I suspect the builder of this has some welding skills, it looks like metal work from the side of the road. Things like this inspire me to create more spooky music......

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

"Little Neutrino" - Klaatu, One of my Influences

Among all of the artists and bands that have had a big influence on my song creation process there are a number of specific songs that stand out. "Little Neutrino" from the first Klaatu album is one of them. A song that came from the 1970's that featured acoustic instruments and synthesizers plus a creepy vocoder effect on the vocals that gave it an alien feel. Add to that the lengthy outro where the sounds of rockets and colliding metal drift in and out adding to the spacey atmosphere in a way I had never heard before. This song was a bit of an anomaly for this record though, most of the other songs were a little more upbeat and, while very progressive, had more of a pop sound, especially in the vocals. Another oddity attached to this record was a short splash in the press where several stories cropped up claiming Klaatu was actually the Beatles recording under a different name. Many things gave this theory credibility, the fact that no musicians names were listed on the cover and they had one vocalist who sounded a lot like John Lennon, and another that sounded quite a bit like Paul McCartney, plus some of the song writing had a Beatles feel to it. It was eventually revealed though that the members of Klaatu were in fact a couple of Canadian session musicians. The success of this album urged them to round up some more members and release more music. This link is to the YouTube video;
Little Neutrino

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

African Masks - An Inspiration For a Song

I'm doing some research on ancient masks and came across some info about the history of masks in African life over the centuries. It already has me thinking of ways to approach composing a piece of music that might compliment the art of this cultural phenomena. Here's a picture of one such mask that I find to be more than a little scary.
I don't know if I can capture the mood of this but I'll have fun trying, and if it works out it might be part of the next album, "More Halloween, I'm Afraid", slated for a summer 2014 release.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Guitars of Dulcet Jones

Here's the current line up, all of these were used on "Halloween, I'm Afraid" except the lapsteel, maybe next album.....

Thursday, September 5, 2013

More On Musical Influences

In my last post about musical influences I zeroed in on the more creative, progressive artists that were working to change the musical landscape of the day, at least the ones that had the most impact on me. Another style of music that also helped me form some strong ideas about rock music in general is the hard rock/heavy metal genre. Early hints at what was to come were songs like "Born to be Wild" by Steppenwolf and Blue Cheers bombastic cover of Eddie Cochranes "Summertime Blues". As the sixties neared it's end the airwaves were broadcasting the sounds of Cream, The Jimi Hendrix Experience and other acts that were using distorted guitars and a heavy beat to drive the music into new territory. Around this time, and into the early 70's the heavy metal genre began to emerge with Black Sabbath arguably showing the way for many bands to come. Led Zeppelin was considered to be in this genre at first, due the some of the songs on their first two albums, songs like "Heartbreaker" and "Bring it on Home", but as the decade wore on they proved to their fans that they had an acoustic side and were more experimental. Having said that though, Black Sabbath employed a fairly progressive song writing ethic, that gave their music a different feel, even though they rarely strayed form the heavy rock sound of high volume bass, guitar and drums. To give this some context(music theory alert!), throughout the early days of rock and roll, the 50's, 60's and even a lot of the 70's, quite a few rock musicians in general were using a songwriting formula based on the blues 12 bar chord progression which usually relied on the same 3 chords, the "one"-"four"-"five" chords of a given scale. This has been widely used in many genres of music, country, some light jazz, blues, as mentioned and a lot of pop hits from back then. Once Black Sabbath broke the mold, even though they were not the first band to create music without this formula, more heavy metal artists took this direction and rode it to new heights as the 70's played out. Over the course of the decade we saw the emergence of more and more heavy metal acts, Judas Priest, Van Halen, Rush and many more, and even though many of them did resort to the 12 bar/3 chord formula for some songs, most of this music was breaking new ground in the hard rock world. Other bands worthy of mention here are Nazareth, The Scorpions and Deep Purple. As the 1980's unfolded heavy metal took some unexpected turns that saw the rise and fall of "glam rock" and the emergence of "nu metal", a faster, harder, more aggressive approach to heavy metal ushered in by bands like Metallica, Megadeth and Iron Maiden. Terms like "speed metal" and "death metal" began to fracture the genre into several different genres again. It was around this time that I began to lose interest in the hard rock/heavy metal world, not because I didn't think it was good music, just because I was growing a little older and my tastes were changing. Tune in for more musical insights in the future.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Musical Influences

A lot of my favorite music came from the 1970's progressive
rock scene, early Genesis(Peter Gabriel era), Jethro Tull, Yes
and Kansas rank among the top ten. The level of creativity these
artists brought to their music has been a source of fascination
to me for years. There was also a lot of music from the 1960's that
has stayed with me over the years, The Beatles, especially "Sargent
Peppers" and the "White Album". The experimental approach these
people used has always inspired me to seek out more new artists that
are doing something different and ultimately to bring something
different to my own music. Toward the end of the 1970's and into the 1980's
we saw the emergence of "New Wave", a sort of catch all for anything that wasn't
punk or hard rock. One of these bands that caught my attention early on was Devo,
I had heard some of there music on college radio and went to see them live
in Vancouver where I witnessed a show unlike anything I had ever seen. As the
80's wore on I got into the Simple Minds, Echo and the Bunnymen and various other
acts that were going in a different direction for the times but the one band from this era that had probably the most influence me(and a lot of other people, bands, artists etc..)was Joy Division. The first time I heard them was when I caught the last half
of a song on a college radio station that I was enthralled with immediately. I learned
later that the song was "Decades" from what was to be their last album "Closer".
Coming into their own just as punk was starting to waver they were paired up with a
brilliant producer in Martin Hannett, who captured their punk level of energy and
made it into something dark and mysterious. Two albums and a handful of singles makes up the entire catalogue, but the lasting influence on other artists is still felt
today. The most recent act that has caught my attention is Sigur Ros, a curious
group from Iceland that make music that has been called "otherworldly" by critics.
Very understated melodies and moods with the lead singers high voice floating
over top, in what I thought was Icelandic but learned later that he makes up most of the words using a vocalizing approach that some have said was a made-up language.
I'll have to revisit this topic in another post, there's so many other artists
that are worthy of mention.

Friday, August 30, 2013

More D. I. Y. Recording Tips - Overlapping Synth Tracks

This installment deals with getting a layered sound by overlapping several short synth tracks to create an ever changing, almost floating effect. I used this idea to construct the main part of "Overmed Daydream", and chose that for a title because I remember when I was younger and had a few symptoms of flu or something I kind of took a few too many medications and found myself drifting in and out of a series of dreams with the most ominous soundtrack for what seemed like days. This music was very similar to what I was dreaming(I think!?). Anyway, For this song I wrote out the chord progression in block time form so I knew what order everything had to be in. Then I recorded a couple of seconds of each chord played on a synth, making several recordings of each chord with the synth set to different sounds. I then took each chord separately and layered them up into one track in Audacity and listened to them to decide which ones to leave in and which ones to leave out. Once I had that done I exported each short track out to a single WAV file each and then brought them back into Audacity one at a time. Then I applied a "fade in" and "fade out" to each one. I know this is starting to sound tedious but it doesn't take that long once you get going, and you're driven to see how this all works. Now I had all of these short clips, each one a couple of seconds long, all fading in and out, so I began placing them in the order they needed to be in according to the chord progression, but I assigned each chord to it's own track and then positioned them so that they overlapped. Now I had one chord just starting to fade out as the next chord is fading in. You can do this in Audacity by using the copy/paste function, first you highlight the section you want to reposition and copy it. Then you move the timeline over to where you want the section to be and paste it, then go back the the original position and highlight it and zero out the volume. Here's where this took an unexpected turn, placing the timeline and pasting in the section is not an exact science in Audacity, so my first attempt to get these all into place came out sounding different than what I was imagining it should. The fade ins and fade outs weren't lining up exactly, but, it sounded great(to me anyway), so after spending a few minutes trying to get them to line up and not getting good results(I was making it sound bad), I decided to use it the way it was with the idea that once all the other instruments were in I would fix it if it didn't sound good. I like the finished product and left it alone, putting it down to what some people would call a "happy accident". You can hear "Overmed Daydream" at YouTube, along with one of my psychadelic video montages at Overmed Daydream

Saturday, August 24, 2013

"Halloween, I'm Afraid" Review

Independent music reviewer Bob Noble wrote:

"Halloween, I'm Afraid" by Dulcet Jones. "5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting concept and sometimes unusual 24 Aug 2013
By Bob Noble
Format:MP3 Download
I must admit I am more of a traditional music listener but there is something about Dulcet Jones' music that I find intriguing. There's an interesting blend and use of instruments and texture in the entire album. It is similar to reading a book just to find out what happens next, there's something in the music here that has the same appeal.

Out of all the tracks in this album I do prefer "Overmed Daydream", this (for me) is an extremely well thought-out and implemented piece which has been brought together to form a great soundscape in its own right. Some of the other tracks I would prefer to view as animated videos which has been synchronised with visual elements. Though I do imagine such a thing while listening to it, it would also give a greater understanding of the composer's thoughts while conceptualising the work. It would be interesting to see.

Good work and some very nice ideas indeed. As an indie artist myself, I am always looking to broaden my own horizons and there's enough cleverly implemented audio twists to think about.

I look forward to listening to more musical content from this artist."

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

More D. I. Y. Recording Tips - Software/Freeware

There are several free programs available online that I find very useful, here's a breakdown of some of the ones I use the most and a few tips on how to use them. To ensure you get the latest version I will suggest you google them by name instead of provide links. Power Tab Editor: Originally designed for guitarists to learn to play their favorite songs this software went on to prove to be a powerful scoring program. Not only that, it's MIDI capabilities make it a very useful songwriting tool that can also be used to provide actual tracks. To write a score you enter the tab fret number on the string you want and it can be played back in MIDI. Having at least a basic knowledge of music theory will help immensely, especially the time part when scoring a track. The options of sounds your score can be played back in with MIDI is very surprising. The funny thing is, the guitar options are about the most unusable for actual audio use, other than learning to play a song, but the bass guitars, drums and several of the keyboard options sound great. I have written parts for songs in all of these that sounded good enough that I exported the MIDI track and converted it to a WAV file and used it in a finished track, with some tweaking in an audio editor, usually Audacity. A quick google search for "MIDI to WAV converter" will get you lots of results, I use the NCH model, which also allows conversions to and from mp3. Once you have your file in WAV format you can load it into Audacity and edit it into whatever you need it to be. To hear what can be done with Power Tab Editor listen to "Silicon Dirge" at YouTube, everything you hear in the first minute or so was created in Power Tab Editor with this process, even the deep voices. Only the guitars that show up at certain points were played in real time on this song. So to re-cap; with a computer, free downloads of Audacity, Power Tab Editor and a MIDI to WAV converter(and some imagination) you can create something like this:Silicon Dirge at YouTube

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Recording Tips and Tricks

I'm going to be putting together a podcast series in the near future outlining some of the recording techniques I use, it will probably be called "D. I. Y. Recording Tips For The Low Budget Musician" or something like that. As I prepare for that I will be trotting out some of the material I hope to use here, starting with: How I got one synthesizer track to sound like 4 different tracks in the song "Timeframe". This is one of the few songs I've released that has no programming involved. I played every instrument from start to finish in one take. When I was finished recording the synthesizer track I loaded it into an audio editor, in this case Audacity, a freeware program that is a must-have for the D. I. Y. musician. Google it online and you'll find where to download the latest version. Once I had the track loaded I then highllghted it from the start to the quarter track mark, this song is actually a long chord progression that is played 4 times in a row. When applying "effects" the effect will only act on the highlighted area, so for the first part of the song I went into "effects" and opened the free equalizer that comes with Audacity and tweaked the sound enough to make it stand out as being clearly different sounding than the rest of the track. Next I highlighted the second section of the song and opened "Effects" and chose a reverb plug-in that allowed me to alter the sound enough that it sounded like a different synthesizer had just entered the song. I continued on to the next two sections of the song until I had all four parts sounding just slightly different from each other, giving the song a little more colour than it had. You can hear "Timeframe" in video form on YouTube, with a bit of my "still in development" video skills offering a psychedelic panorama to watch. Timeframe at YouTube

Thursday, August 15, 2013

This Is What Can Happen When A Man Is Left Unsupervised For Too Long

Doesn't every guy out there ever wonder at some point, "could I make a track with my synth that sounds like a lawnmower?" Well, I did, and we all need a good laugh sometimes so I added what I think it would sound like if the mower wasn't concerned too much about whether there was beer cans or other debris in the way. Here's a couple minutes of your life you will never get back. -- Update: This track has now gotten over 100 "listens" and has surpassed many of my songs in popularity! (yay?) -- Hear actual songs at Dulcet Jones Website

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Dollarama Halloween Prop

This is pretty subtle but I like sneaking in things to see who notices them. I got this for a buck twenty five, so hey....Creepy Portrait Another not so subtle touch is the background music clip. It's an excerpt from my song "Halloween, I'm Afraid".

Sunday, August 4, 2013

While Searching For Inspiration.....

I came across this while cruising "Stumbleupon", Creepy Comments From Children
There are some things in this article that might get my mind whirling in the right direction to make more spooky creepy music. This is my first foray into "Stumbleupon", I would advise anyone wanting to check it out to sign up and go edit your profile first. Until you do that the site doesn't make much sense. They're at Stumbleupon

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Website Launched(Finally)

I've been considering launching a website for a while now, initially I was going to just have this blog but it's becoming evident that some info and links need a page that's always right where you put it. So, now there is Dulcet Jones Official Website, where visitors can find more info if and when they need to.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Looking For Feedback

A follow up album to "Halloween, I'm Afraid" is in the works and should be ready by summer 2014, in time for halloween 2014. One of the best promotional tools a musician can have is feedback from people that have listened to the music and either posted short comments on a particular song or written a review of the album. I invite anyone to post comments on the blog about any of the music or posts, but what I would like to do is offer a free copy of "Halloween, I'm Afraid"(e-mailed mp3 files) to anyone that would agree to write a short, one paragraph review that I could use to promote it. I would credit each review to your first name(or if you have a favorite user name from forums etc...) and the province/state, or country you live in. If anyone that writes for a publication wants to publish their review I would attribute it to the reviewer and name the publication. Interested parties can contact me at jim9guitars@gmail.com . Listen to 3 of the songs here:

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Some of My Favorite Tools

I love to experiment with different sounds and I'm constantly looking for new ways to explore and discover. Earlier this year I acquired an M-Audio Oxygen 25 USB synth controller, the little keyboard in the picture. It may look like a toy but it has so many capabilities it boggles the mind. I'm not really a keyboard player but with this and a strong background in music theory I can create atmospheres I never dreamed of. The amp in the photo is a Fender Mustang series "modeling amp", again, don't let it's small size fool you, they are called "modeling amps" because they feature sophisticated controls that allow you to make any guitar sound like it's plugged into any vintage amp you want, and add any effects you want. Years ago when I played guitar in live rock bands all we had was a big amp with a couple of effects like reverb and distortion and a few pedals on the floor that added chorus, digital delay, and more distortion. Back then a keyboard player had to have at least 3 different units, an electric piano, an organ(!) and a synthesizer just to play the latest hits, now they could do it with a larger version of the Oxygen controller. The guitar in the pic is an Epiphone Les Paul Special II, a budget guitar, but very useful, especially with the Mustang amp. Some of the tracks on "Halloween I'm Afraid" that sound like a synth are actually this guitar plugged into this amp, and then modified further with an audio editor on the computer. I'll get into the computer aspect in another post later. This is not an endorsement for these instrument makers, just my opinion as a fan of using them.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Halloween Radio Airplay

"Halloween, I'm Afraid" is in rotation at online radio site "Halloween Radio"! They are found here: Halloween Radio

Monday, July 1, 2013

Some of the Gear I Use to Make Music

This is actually most of what I use to create my music.
I have a couple of other guitars and one more synthesizer that are also part of my sound. I sometimes use found sounds, like the percussion in "Halloween, I'm Afraid". It's actually a glass jar I smashed with a hammer and then ran the recording through an audio editor in a computer. It came out sounding more like clinking chains than glass breaking but it works for the song. I made one short clip of it and set the space bar as a trigger and "played" it on the recording.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

I Found a Halloween Forum

Everything halloween is here, and if it's not you can join and ask, someone will know.



Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Friday, June 21, 2013

"Halloween, I'm Afraid" Album on itunes

I decided to go with the fact that I make spooky creepy music and collected some of the songs I've released in the last couple of years, wrote some new ones and put together an album suitable for music at halloween.  Or anytime you want to hear spooky creepy music.  The song "Halloween, I'm Afraid" was a natural for the album title, and I re-mixed "The Ghost in My Guitar" without the goofy spoken word track, replacing it with some spacey guitar effects that sound, well, spooky.  And the album features a new song titled "Tuckers Brother" that was inspired by a support character from the last few seasons of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", a show that I admit I am addicted to(and probably influenced by).  The album is now available on itunes and will be available on several subscription services soon, such as Spotify, Google Play, Rdio etc..., here is a link to the album on itunes   Halloween, I'm Afraid

Saturday, May 18, 2013

New Video - Timeframe

This is one of my older songs, written and recorded as a solo guitar piece and released on my 1998 CD "Stories Without Words"(as Jim Graham).  This is the updated Dulcet Jones version which uses the original guitar track from that CD but has extra tracks featuring synth, bass guitar and percussion.  The video is another one of my "attach the video camera to a blade on the ceiling fan" creations and then distort it beyond recognition with video effects software.  I'm using Magix Movie Edit Pro and love it.  See the video at http://youtu.be/w_Nt_20M6mg

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Electro Acoustic Lament

Here we have a song with no percussion or programmed tracks, I'm playing all instruments in real time.  The first guitar is my trusty Takemine classical that I recorded all of my solo guitar CD's with, although it's got some effects on it here.  The second guitar is a solid body electric, also with effects, and then I'm playing 3 synth tracks.  Even the wind at the intro is a synth.  All of the motion in the video was created by two things, one was that the video camera was attached to a blade of my ceiling fan, and the second was caused by a "Swirl" effect my video software has.  Nothing in the video is distinguishable because I applied several video distortion effects along with the swirl.  Psychedelic.  Here's a link to the video on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaJs1bJeg5c