Notes for Sweet Ghosts

These are three memories of being with my pack goats.   All these dear animals pictured below are gone now.  To see these incredible athletes in action, visit my YouTube:  steinwaygoat.

These three [embarrassingly conservative] pieces are an exercise in experimenting with getting the FX to enter in a controlled fashion after the tone.   I’m also trying to extend my technique with the Rise keyboard, controlling vibrato and resonance.  As it turns out, the Rise died midway through, and is off to the shop...


  • Wind Ghost


I discovered the alpine wilderness area in the Snowy Range when I got lost, back in 1986.  When I came upon Mutt and Jeff Lakes, I had already walked about 8 miles.  I sat on the edge of the lake, too tired to walk down to its water, knowing I had at least another 8 miles to go to get back home.  I didn’t know about pack goats at that time, and I wondered how I could eventually return to that beautiful spot.  It wasn’t until 1994 that I was able to get back to that spot, now with my dear pack goats.  There were huge thunderclouds when I arrived at that top meadow overlooking the lakes, and I was fearful of getting hit by lightning.  I settled down under the trees and pulled out my tiny ocarina to play a bit of song while I waited.  The first few notes frightened the goats, but they soon calmed down.  It was one of the most magical moments of my life.

The top ocarina sounding melody is constructed from the same sample I took from the bird recording I used for “The Evening Visitor” pieces.  The lower drones are that same bird call, but now developed as a grain wave in HALion to give it a bit more bite, using Steinberg’s Multitap Delay set at a ½ note sync with pitch shifting on 2 of the 4 delays, split into a 5th and octave.  The wood block sounds were developed from the pipe sounds used in “Pipe Dreams,” now run through Equator on the Seaboard Rise, giving me control over the cutoff and resonance.  It also uses the Multitap Delay.  Finally, the breathy part comes from the same top melodic instrument, but with the chuff isolated and the tone muted--and the chuff initially comes from the attack of one of the irrigation pipes I sampled for the “Pipe Dreams.”


  • Dust Ghost


Goats are large animals to bury.  I fortunately have a neighbor who owns a backhoe, and so now several of my friends are buried in the rocky hills where I take the goats to play and get in shape for our mountain trips.

The drum sounds are all developed from the tree sounds that my friend Mark sent me that I used in “The Trees Sing for Mark.”  This time I constructed them in the Equator2 program so I could easily control the sounds on the Seaboard Rise keyboard.  I then added Eventide’s Mangleverb, which adds a nice soft distortion, set at ½ triplet delay for the “breathing” rhythm.  Finally, the ocarina sound brings in the bird instrument again from “The Evening Visitor,” now with Eventide’s Blackhole reverb, set also to ½ triplet.  It was during this piece that the Rise keyboard began to develop severe gain problems internally, and I had to deal with note-on sticking issues throughout.  


  • Mist Ghost


Weather at 10,000 feet is always unusual, and I frequently find myself in severe rain and hail storms--and twice in early August snow storms.  Sometimes, however, I simply am in the clouds.  When that happens, even the goats look around in wonder.

The opening sounds are created from a single drop of water, run through the HALion sampler and modified by various filter cutoff/resonance settings.  I slowly bring in Eventide’s Mangleverb, still set on ½ triplet delay, to bring back that breathing rhythm from the previous Wind Ghost.  I used that FX increase, along with a decrease of the attack through Steinberg’s EnvelopShaper to merge from a sharp attack at the beginning to no attack and only the “breathing” at the end.  The low tones that emerge in the middle are from the same bird sound once again, now played on the other Physis K4 keyboard since the Rise keyboard was useless with the note-on sticking.  Those tones were enhanced with Eventide’s Shimmerverb.  I also used the return of the chuff from the pipes, now available in the aftertouch on the keyboard with the Mangleverb rhythm, completed with Cableguy’s Shaperbox panning.


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