Tuesday, October 17, 2006

i am the fragile forest (poem)

My friend and colleague Tom Derry has written a poem titled "i am the fragile forest". Tom does these things he calls "Swish Poetry" that are interactive, and for this one he used (and apparently was inspired by) my track "The Clown".

Wikipedia defines Swish as: "...a family of software created by Swishzone.com Pty Ltd, culminating in the SWiSH Max presentation design product, an inexpensive alternative to the Macromedia Flash software".

This is pretty awesome, view it by clicking below. It might take a minute or two to start playing if you have a slow connection (10 MB download).

Friday, September 29, 2006

Progressive Rock from Studio A

click the play button below to listen:

Well, the new release of Sonar (version 6) just arrived, so I've been spending some time in Studio A with all the "big toys". Here is a piece that I have been working on for a long time. I wrote the song in the early 90's, recovered the old cakewalk MIDI file into Sonar a few months ago and started re-doing parts. Tonight I finally mixed it down. I'm not sure what to call it. Once upon a time I called it Progress Attack Part Two...I reckon that name will do as well as any.

This has a real "retro vibe" to it. The percussion is supposed to sound like it's coming from an old Roland drum machine (TR-626 maybe). The main keyboard part that plays throughout is a combination of two vintage-emulating VSTs, the Korg Wavestation and the NI FM7. The bass is a layer of more FM7 combined with a Minimoog type sound from Antti's ASynth and a deep boom from his Taurus (both extremely excellent and free/donationware, by the way).

The guitar sound is the same one used in "Dark and Pink" from Manyguitar. Tim Conrardy is a genuis, by the way (he programmed that sound), and I just can't get enough of it.

I mastered this one with the excellent VC64 Vintage Channel audio processor that comes with Sonar 6 and I must tell you this is one very fine tool. Sonar 6 is really amazing...check out the screen shots below of how this song looked in mixdown mode!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Peace (still in studio B)

click on the play button below to listen:

I discovered a program recently that is "old news" to lots of people, and I do mean "lots" as in this is probably THE most popular peice of music software in the world today. I'm talking about Propellerhead's Reason 3.0. This software is advertised not only as a "standalone music production environment" but also proported to be "very easy on the CPU" so I felt I should give it a try for "studio B". Well, I was absolutely BLOWN AWAY by the factory sounds. But since I didn't want to sound like everybody else, I bought a few "ReFills" (which is what Propellerhead's calls the sound expansions for Reason).

One of the most impressive refills I got was by Sonic Flavours and it's called "Home Piano". This is one very unique and organic sounding instrument. to quote from their web site:

"The purpose of this refill was to make a less clean, not so perfectly pitched but warm sounding piano experience compared to everything that is on the market already. It's surely no substitute for all those great libraries but a nice addition for those who like a lively and warm, retroish sound.

Home Piano is great for anyone who needs to score a living room scene where someone is playing the piano. There have been too many movies where the sound didn't match the picture, our Home Piano however will do a great job in these situations."

I wrote this little piano ditty about a year ago and never finished it as a track. Home Piano seemed perfect for it. I then layered a synth pad, cello section, wind/flute section, acoustic guitar and string section into the arrangement (each of these instruments enters the mix as the song builds).

The night that I finished this track was the evening before I was to have surgery to have my defective and painful gall bladder removed. As with all surgeries, I knew there was a chance I would not be coming home, yet God gave me a sense of Peace about it...a sense that no matter what happened everything would be ok.

And of course it was. My bad gall bladder is gone and now I'm posting "Peace (At Home)" for you to hear.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Experimental 1 - Dark and Pink

Click on the play button below to listen:

Over the last few weeks, I've set up a "studio B" in my home which consist of an older Dell notebook computer, a cheap M-Audio USB audio interface, a cheap 2X2 MIDI interface, a little 5 octave keyboard and some nice headphones, and a select number of Soft Synths. This smaller alternative to the main studio has the benefit of being "upstairs" and close to our newborn infant so that late at night I can compose and listen for her waking up, needing a bottle, etc.

I've been quite amazed at what can be accomplished with this small, scaled-down environment, so much so that I feel a little guilty about my huge "Studio A" (see picture in my first blog posting).

Although I have Sonar and Tracktion installed, I've been composing using a DAW program called energyXT almost exlusively on this notebook since it's so much easier on the CPU. And, to be honest, energyXT is such a cool and immediatly environment to work in, it appeals to the "programmer" in me to be able to manipulate "objects" like only this program will do.

So, this track is my first mix from these experiments. It's Dark. The "guitar" sound (from the excellent Manyguitar program) reminds me a bit of David Gilmore, hence the "Pink" in the title. After listening back to it though, I think perhaps I've been watching too many Miami Vice reruns.

Other synths used were Wusikstation (VOX'ed soundset), FM7, and two instances of Atmosphere. Effects are two instances of the free Luxonix LFX-1310. Mixdown was "mastered" and converted to MP3 in Tracktion using Mackie's "Final Mix" mastering plug-in.

Enjoy this 2 minute experimental track, which I call "Dark and Pink".

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Superstar Overture

Another cover tune?

You betcha! Sorry no time to blog lately, but please listen to this cover of the Overture to Andrew Lloyd Weber's "Jesus Christ, Superstar". This is about a 20 track arrangement, which is pretty big for me!

a view of the "console" window in Sonar

Friday, June 09, 2006

All "Fragile Forest" music is free

One of the things I don't like about Soundclick is that once you make your mp3's available for purchase, they can no longer be downloaded for free. I would like for people to have the option of buying my music, but I want them to also have the option of enjoying it for free. And by enjoying it, I mean not just listening while you are online, but the ability to download it to your PC, load it on your iPod or even burn yourself a CD to play in your car.

Hence, I have put up a small "player" web page here where you can listen to and download all of my music.

Of course if you really like it, nothing is stopping you from purchasing it on Soundclick!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Sign, Sign, everywhere a Sign

I'll let you draw your own conclusion here. This is an actual sign in the subdivision where I live.

Cover Tunes with Dale

I recorded this cover tune of John Lennon's "Imagine" in late 2005, as a tribute to the untimely death of my best friend Dale Mansell.

This version of the Beatles "Rain" was recorded in 1995, with Dale doing all of the vocals, and me doing all of the instruments.

Click on one of the icons below to hear these two tracks:

Here is a photo of me and Dale from 2002, just prior to a Yes concert. Dale is on the left. I sure do miss him.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Early virtual synthesizer excursion...

Click on the play button below to listen:

I found this track called "Space Voyage Zeta" the other day while cleaning up my hard drive...I had forgotten all about it.

Back in March of 2005 I upgraded Hybernation Studio from an old Klunking Dell P3 750Mhz relic to a new Dell Precision 370 P4 3.2 Ghz machine. This was the beginning of something very new to me: "Virtual Studio Technology" or "VST". (well, actually VST is only ONE "implementation" of the idea, but I tend to use the term "VST" to mean any kind of "Virtual" synth, sampler, rompler, etc). Before this point, my PC just wasn't fast/powerful enough to even bother with VSTs.

First I bought the Moog Modular V from Arturia. Next I bought the Native Instruments Xpress Keys (little preset versions of the FM7, Pro-53 and B4, which mimic the legendary Yamaha DX-7, SCI Prophet 5 and Hammond B3 organ, respectively). Shortly afterward, I found a great deal on the "Komplete" bundle, which contains 13 instruments including the three I mention above, plus a very unique synth that I immediately fell in love with called Absynth.

Next I bought two synths from rgc:audio which do not directly or intentionally mimic anything "vintage"...these are the most excellent z3ta synth and the Pentagon I.

Unfortunately, I didn't stop there! But this song was composed at this point in time, so my arsenal was much smaller than it is today, over a year later.

This track was recorded in a way completely different from anything I had ever recorded...in a word "unstructured". It started with me just improvising for about 1.5 minutes using a very spacey "pad" sound from the z3ta. Then I overdubbed another track, using Pentagon I. Then I overdubbed yet another improvisation again using Pentagon I. Thing is, there was no tempo, no real "chord progression" and the parts didn't really do anything with respect to each other....they were just all in roughly the same key using some of the same pseudo-melodic ideas.

At this point, I played with a new feature of Sonar (the program I used to record and mix on the computer) called "track freeze". What this does is basically creates an audio track from a VST MIDI track. Once this is done, you can cut-and-paste and slice-and-dice the audio track as much as you desire, and this is what I ended up doing. I actually froze all three tracks, which were of varying lengths, then I looped them such that the start and end points of each track overlapped in interesting ways. So, this created the illusion of a 5+ minute composition that slowly builds, and which has very little obvious repetition.

Next I added two tracks using Absynth, playing over the duration of the track. Both are very far back in the mix, but still vital to the mix. Once is a echoy windchime sort of a sound, and the other is a ghostly droning sound. Neither plays continuously, but they come and go thoughout the song.

Lastly, I added those little "bleeps" that you hear (using the z3ta) as one long track. My idea was the the bleeps would start out happening infrequently, and then gain in intensity as the song progresses, with the song ended with a long fading shimmering bleep.

Prepare yourself for a very deep excusion into space...which I call "Space Voyage Zeta". Click the play button at the top of this posting to listen.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Welcome to the Hybernation Music Blog

Greetings. My name is John Hagewood and I record under the name Fragile Forest. For the last few months, I've been hosting tracks on Soundclick, where you can listen to and download my creations.

My "style" ranges from New Age / Ambient / Chamber to Progressive Pop/Rock. At this point, all instrumentals (I do vocals on cover tunes I record occasionally, and I sing with a classic rock cover band occasionally, but I have yet to record vocals on an original).

My "studio" consists of two Dell P4's running Sonar, Tracktion2 and energyXT, mostly Sonar. These are networked using a MIDI-and-Audio-over-LAN technology called FX Teleport. I also use a Muse Receptor which is a stand-alone Linux-based unit for running VST's remotely.
*** EDIT: please see update below ***

I use lots of VST Instruments (way too many). My favorites lately are all the Native Instruments stuff, Spectrasonic's Atmosphere, big piano libraries from SampleTekk such as TSO and Black Grand, and lots more.

If I get into this blog thing, I plan on putting up entries about new songs and rough ideas as I work them out. Also, I may offer some "historical" perspective on things I have recorded over the last few years. We'll see...

Here are a couple of pics of Hybernation Studio:

EDIT: June 2008 - Ok, I know some people feel that blogs should be little snapshot in history, but I'm not one of them. I sometimes edit my old blog postings to add more information, change the way the songs are linked-to or embedded, and occasionally even revise information. So, in the interest of clarity, I wanted to provide a quick update on the state of my studio, since this original inaugural post is over two years old now.

I no longer own the Muse Receptor mentioned above. For more information on that see this forum post on KVR.

I no longer run multiple Dell's using FX Teleport. I had to give one of the Dell's back when I changed jobs back in the fall of 2006. And in November of 2007, I replaced the remaining Dell with a new quad-core machine from ADK, which you can read about here.