2. ‘Go Fish’ analysis

This piece began simply as problem-solving, and indeed where all of the ‘technical objects’ were bought very much to the foreground in a conscious, intellectual attempt to resolve issues I had struggled with in Pulse Two and elsewhere. This certainly began with no intention to create or perform a new piece of music, ‘epistemic things’ had very much disappeared for the moment. This began by re-visiting earlier 'horizontal' arrangement concepts I'd developed (Draper, 2010bDraper & Emmerson, 2011). To explain: in some of this project I had been Internet-sharing ‘stems’ or sub-mixes of various components12, for example, individual stereo mixes of elements such as drums, guitars, keyboards etc. In terms of others’ additions then, this would easily allow for certain stems to be muted on or off, depending on what they might like to play or add (say, receiving a guide drum track and replacing with a new one). In the case of Pulse Two (remix) however, I re-purposed these stems to examine each of its major musical ‘blocks’: the didj tracks by themselves, the drum tracks alone, the guitars, etc. As per the above synopsis (1), I was especially concerned with the creeping errors that prevented smooth re-arrangements, along with the dissatisfaction about recording and representing my guitar playing. A third consideration was in relation to the asynchronous additions from my distance musical collaborators, Bob Peele (‘echo’ drums) and Frank Millward (synthesiser). In Pulse Two (remix), because of the late, out-of-sync incorporation of their material I felt that much of their contribution was a little lost in an already too busy mix.


After a degree of two-ing and fro-ing, a particular collection of sub-elements emerged as a stem of interest. This left out the didj parts (which had proved to be the greatest source of timing, rearrangement and remixing errors, given the earlier inaccuracies of Logic Pro). This became a simple vertical arrangement of the original acoustic guitar and ‘clean 5ths’ parts, together with percussion and the ‘echo drums’ that were now presented in a more dominant way. The original synthesiser part however was removed because it did not work in this particular context, given the removal of other material it seemed dependent on. I became increasingly attracted to this stem as a ‘standalone’ idea and so sent it off to Frank Millward in the UK, asking if he’d like to add some (more) keyboard:

Frank Millward’s new keyboard parts returned with my thanks and added some nice touches, a sense of sense of lightness and ‘air’. One of the most striking observations from my perspective, is that Frank did not recognize this stem as deriving from the original Pulse Two (remix) piece that he had played on, and indeed had been the catalyst to form the chordal structures ‘quoted’ back to him in my acoustic guitar playing here. I will return to this point a little later below.

Alongside working the manuals, much listening and new ‘save-as’ states, it became clear that this much simpler piece could now be more easily re-arranged and extended. I began to work on this in parallel with thinking about my guitar playing and the sounds I might use to take this new directions. Without the didj and distorted electric guitar parts, the overall sound and feeling ‘opened up’, presented a lighter palette upon which to draw. To make a fine art analogy perhaps (with apologies), the denseness, busyness and influences of the didj in Pulse Two (remix) might be compared to a heavy, thick oil-based work. Certainly very full in terms of sonic structure and arrangement and subsequently demanding in terms of recording studio mixing techniques (everything is in the way of each other). This version made me think of watercolours, openness and air, and also partially confirmed by Frank’s similarly positioned new keyboard part. This then informed my choice of guitar and sound.


I imagined a clean, jazz-like, lyrical presentation for the guitar, very much now positioned as an epistemological /artistic device, but also with some reverence to the particular history of one of my guitars, a rather beautiful and inspirational 1990 Les Paul custom (in burgundy red)13. This also began to intertwine with my earlier concerns about the electric guitar production for Pulse Two (remix), and it seemed appropriate to investigate this further here, especially given that the ‘clean-ness’ and air might be more liberating in this respect.


Prior to this I had less than rewarding musical experiences in recording studios using DIs and headphones. This tended to be an artificial, ‘soul-less’ sound for me, and also being able to hear properly was always at the mercy of small headphones and the capability of the tracking engineer on the ‘other side of the glass’. Hence, I tended to revert to guitar amplifiers wherever possible, but in the course of other projects leading up to this exposition, I had certainly run the gamut of experimenting with all kinds or workarounds. In preparation for Go Fish guitar recordings I remembered a particular device, Avid’s so-called Eleven Rack had sat on my university desk for a few years, simply to provide a convenient practice resource for whenever the mood and time might allow. I collected this from work, patched into the studio and again, got the manuals out.


A ‘clean’ aesthetic as it turns out was a useful ‘ease of entry’ point. No too demanding on the sonic representation where the Les Paul itself could do most of the work to speak its internal voice quite clearly. Overall though, the use of this technology became increasingly liberating as all of the music rolled on. Being made by Avid, there were aspects of the design and software that were deeply embedded in their DAW, Pro Tools. Fluid, smart, much feedback but overall, produced better and better sounds (and consequently, transparent inspiration) the more I worked with it. As opposed to much preparation, patching and level matching of pedal boards, guitar amplifiers and microphones, this device allowed for instant sounds at the DAW, and via simply playing along to the music on the studio monitors. Increasingly its technical operation became invisible.


As I worked with these new materials – Eleven Rack, Les Paul, Frank’s keyboards, Bob’s ‘echo drums and stem – a new piece of music emerged, relatively quickly and effortlessly by comparison to earlier works. The final arrangement is presented here in Figure 6:

Much was added to this from various influences, but overall, by intuition and a good deal of improvisation. This includes not only the guitar parts, but also in progressing an Eastern influence in places (picking up on its minor establishment in Pulse Two), the use of a range of sounds including tympani, the oud, various additional synthesiser parts and the new bass guitar bass I played. I am pleased that the work of Frank Millward (synthesiser) and the interesting syncopations of the ‘echo’ drums from Bob Peele now stand, present and resonate as I believe they should.

Synopsis and self-review (2):

Of particular intrigue to me: tempi fluctuations throughout and most noticeably perhaps in the decelerando leading into the Section Bs (and as shown above in Figure 6, above):

I had thoughts for removing these elements at one point, but the effect grew on me. This tempo map comes directly from Daniel’s original Pulse Two and remains within this new piece, perhaps a ghost of his influence and which acknowledges the lineage here.

Serendipity at work once more (reminiscent of earlier asynchronous interactions and ‘accidents’), as it would happen, while I’d been working on Go Fish, Daniel had also been working on other material I had sent him. Interspersed with these communications had been thoughts and plans for his visit from distant Prague to here in Brisbane later in the year as part of a PhD exchange. It would seem that this influenced his composition and naming of a new recording he sent me entitled Over the Reef (a nod to Brisbane, Queensland and its Great Barrier Reef). Perfect timing, this became the start of the next piece.

Extract 3: Go Fish stem [3:18] extracted from Pulse Two (remix).

In the meantime I began to work on some of the other issues, and upon refection, this would seem to have been a seminal development in what was to follow:

  • I increasingly began to re-jig my working practices. Now as backdrop to the instruments and the recording equipment, PDF manuals for all relevant production items became constantly present on the computer desktop, and/or open at a page on Adobe Acrobat in the background. Similarly for a web-browser and quick connection to related user or manufacturer sites, blogs and the like. This began to streamline a method similar to my own guitar practice in many ways, but increasingly more intimate or in situ as a particular difficulty arose.
  • Coupled with this development, there emerged a certain ‘embeddedness’. In the case of the creation of the earlier Pulse Two (remix) piece, I had only recently returned from two months in the UK and Europe, but now greater work flow consistency along with a growing sense of artist’s ‘studio’ and space was beginning to feature in my thinking. Later under Over the Reef (Transfuser remix) I explore this in more detail, because historically, this is where most of this really came together. For now though I will say that regular long hours in my studio everyday became less tiring, more engaged, and more productive.

Figure 5: Go Fish stem arrangement with new keyboard part in Pro Tools.

Extract 4: Go Fish stem [3:18] with added keyboard synthesiser parts.

Figure 6: Go Fish final arrangement.

Track 2: Go Fish final mix [5:05].

Extract 5: Go Fish tempo ghost and decelerando [0:36].

Moreover, just like Frank Millward’s non-recognition of the Go Fish stem, unless otherwise directed, no peers to date have recognised the common musical parts and relationships between Go Fish and Pulse Two (remix). Here I would have thought the ‘embeddedness’ of this particular (AR) process more clearly apparent and represented in these ‘art works’ as it were, but thus far, does not appear to be the case.


In terms of this overall exposition and leading forward in the development of related aims, as stated above, Go Fish was somewhat of a ‘sideways’ move to unpack and explore some problem-solving. Along the way, it was becoming clearer that this was encouraging new practices alongside an evolving sense of flow and artistic situatedness in my studio. Feeling now a little better armed with this, I wanted to return to some of the earlier concerns: understanding more about Pro Tools and avoiding the use of two DAWs in unnecessarily complex to-ing and fro-ing; to be better able to work with moving ‘live’ tempi and/or constrain this in ways that would enhance overall arrangement and record production. In particular (like an itch), I wanted to return to another didj track and start the process again.

12. This technique is borrowed from my experience with film scores, where the production of various individual stems for surround sound theatre and DVD release is the norm.

13. After much searching, I had bought the Les Paul on eBay some time ago from a deceased estate in the far north of Australia. It was owned by an elderly man who had been a professional musician and the last instrument he bought (as new) was this one. Apparently, he had aspired to owning a Gibson Les Paul all his life but could never afford it until this point, after retirement. I too have put much into this instrument, and in particular, at an earlier point had done much internal electronic modifications seeking a vintage sound and certain feeling from the instrument. Now I find I can just pick it up and play with no such considerations for (or that much memory of) technical assembly. But I always recall this story of the original owner.