Tag Archives: Tune A Day

The Best of “A Tune A Day”

My “Tune A Day” project created 8 hours and 12 minutes of music in 365 tracks. Here are my favourite 33 minutes and 20 tracks of it. Descriptions of the tracks below the playlist.

I think Raggle Taggle Gypsy was done 5 times throughout the project, partly because it became Tom’s favourite tune over the last year. There are two versions included here which, spookily, were recorded exactly 6 months apart from each other. 20th October is the loud, electric version; 20th April was the only one of the 365 tunes to have the whole family playing instruments.

During February I spent a couple of weeks trying to expand my repertoire of folk tunes; The Weasel’s Revenge (9th February) was my favourite.

Two of tracks here are remixes of earlier recordings. 22nd November was part of “remix week”, and combined the three parts of Rolling (3rd May, 19th June, 20th June) into a single piece. Three Days In August did the same with 21st, 8th and 23rd August and was mixed around the same time but never used as a tune-of-the-day. While the joins are not exactly seamless, both mixes give a better idea of what the finished piece is meant to sound like.

31st March and 4th April are two of my favourite new tunes from later in the series – both have a rather more upbeat, poppy feel than most of the series.

29th May started as a recording of Tom playing his drums angrily after being told off for something. He was expecting me to add noisy electric guitar to it, but the Hammond organ gave it an entirely different and unexpected feel.

4th January is one of the more complete songs, and has one of Tom’s best saxophone performances. There’s a long story attached to it – too long to go into here.

There are two versions of Water Pistol Jig in the series and I spent ages trying to decide which one to include here. The 5th May original was written in the garden while the children ran around soaking each other with water pistols.

I really liked 3rd July when I recorded it; I liked it even more after seeing Fabric Lenny’s use of it on one of his videos. I can’t hear it without seeing his pictures now.

17th June and 25th June both captured a rougher-edged folky sound I was trying to find. 25th June is a great example of what the project was all about – it started as an attempt to  record the harmonica for the first time, but what I like most about it is something completely different – the accordion riff, which influenced the way I played the accordion for much of the rest of the series.

16th September is a quiet, simple tune that I’ve always liked the feel of.

2nd June, 19th July and 21st February are similar tunes that use minor chords on the acoustic bouzouki accompanied by the electric bouzouki; they may get joined together in some way in the future. The title Twisted Ankle comes from the trampolining injury Tom sustained while I was writing 2nd June.

There are four “metal Abba” tracks in the series – Mamma Mia (24th June) was the first and best of them.

29th December was the most ambitious tune of the year – 12 different instruments for the Twelve Days Of Christmas.

Finally, 26th January always felt like something to go on the end of a long piece, which is what it’s doing here.

Best of the last 65 days of “A Tune A Day”

My tune-a-day-for-a-year project finished yesterday. More on that to come over the next few posts, but to start with, here’s fourth “best of” compilation, covering days 301-365. As with the other three, it’s not necessarily the best tunes or best performances, just the ones I get most pleasure out of going back and listening to.

31st March is quite possibly my favourite new tune to come out of the project. I did an acoustic version the day before, but I think I prefer the electric one. That, and 4th April both came from the same vein of poppier writing as melody for an unwritten pop song a few years ago.

If the tune-a-day project had a theme tune, it would be Raggle Taggle Gypsy. I think it’s been included five times in a variety of different forms. But the 20th April version is special to me because it’s the only one of the 365 recordings that has the whole family playing instruments. 26th April was another family performance – what it lacks in polish is makes up for in spontaneity; Anne had been playing through a few flute pieces, and I liked the sound of this one so picked up my bouzouki, then called Tom in to add drums.

2nd March is Tom’s composition for his piano homework – “compose a tune in E minor that tells a story about a ship on the ocean”. The full title (“Jolly Pirates Who Die On A Big Ship And Come Back As Zombies”) gives a fairly clear indication of the story.

I’ve done several silly versions of well known tunes throughout the series. 21st April and 16th April are two of my favourites, and I particularly like the incongruity of having the same instrumentation for renditions of a 1980s hair metal anthem and a classical standard.

One of the things that the project has taught me is that I really don’t understand electronic music at all. I’ve made several attempts to explore it, but very few have been particularly successful. 28th March is one of the better attempts.

During the series I’ve written a few tunes around existing vocal tracks. 23rd April is probably my favourite of these, featuring Laura James from freevocals.com. She has a beautiful voice, and for some reason as soon as I heard this song I imagined a banjo behind it.

22nd March is a variation of one of my favourite tunes from earlier in the series, and 28th April was also inspired by an earlier tune – I wanted to recreate a similar sound once more before the end of the series.

And finally, 30th April feels like a fitting end to the series. I had a big, electric, anthemic version of this planned, but when it came to record it, the weather was so nice outside I went out into the garden and did an acoustic version instead.

Best of the third 100 days of “A Tune A Day”

A little belatedly (because today is day 328), a compilation of the best of days 201-300 of A Tune A Day. As with the two previous compilations (here and here), these are not necessarily the best performances, just the tunes I get most enjoyment out of going back and listening to again.

21st February and 19th February are new tunes, both written and recorded on the spur of the moment. Quite a lot of the series have been done in this way, where I’ve just recorded whatever came to mind. But some come out better than others.

4th January is an older tune, with a story attached to it. In March 2013, I finally succeeded in selling my mother’s house after she had died the year before. My brother and I went and cleared the last few bits we wanted to keep, and I paid a guy to come and clear the rest. By about 5pm everything was gone except for a couple of bits of furniture and the piano (which was my grandmother’s when she was a young girl). The man-with-a-van I had arranged to collect it had been delayed on a previous job, so I sat on a coffee table (all the chairs had gone) played the piano while it got dark outside. The title is based on the strange feeling I had leaving the house which I had never lived in myself, and that I knew my mother never really liked either. I recorded some of what I played on my iPad, but then completely forgot about both the tune and the recording until I rediscovered it during my end-of-year video clean up. So I learnt how to play it again, Tom and I wrote a saxophone part, and Anne played bass. The piano is now in my living room, and both my children are learning to play on it. I think my mum and my grandmother would both be pleased by that.

I’m not quite sure when 26th January came from, but I have the vague intention of one day adding it to a long multi-section piece I’ve been working on for ages.

During February I spent a lot of time learning traditional tunes. This was partly prompted by discovering two fiddle pieces (3rd February, 4th February) by Ger Doyle on WholeWorldBand. Videos to both are here.  Two of my favourites of the new tunes I learned were “The Peacock Followed The Hen” (8th February) and “The Weasel’s Revenge” (9th February). Arrangements for both came from Chas Marshall’s excellent collections of session tunes.

Finally, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (21st December) was probably my favourite of the month of Christmas tunes I recorded in December. But the Twelve Days of Christmas (27th December) had to be included for being the most ambitious tune of the series so far – played on 12 different instruments, featuring Tom on saxophone and drums and Anne on bass, flute and recorder.

Best of the second 100 days of “A Tune A Day”

Saturday was day 200 of my tune-a-day project, so here’s a compilation of my favourites from the second hundred days (first compilation here).

I simply couldn’t get this list down to just 10, so there are 12 this time. They split into four main categories – new tunes, traditional tunes, silly songs and covers-collaborations-and-remixes. See notes below for an explanation of why I particularly like these tunes.

New tunes

Probably one of my favourite tunes of the first 100 days missed the first compilation because it was day 100 and I did the compilation too soon afterwards to decide whether to include it. 23rd August was a noisier version of the same tune.

16th September and 9th October are included simply because I really like the tunes and the way the instruments complement each other. I’ve rediscovered the mandolin in the last month or so, and I love the way 10th October starts in a confusing muddle of banjo and mandolin but somehow resolves itself.

Traditional tunes

Unusually, there are tunes from 3 consecutive days included here – early October was a particular good period in the project. 8th October is Carolan’s Welcome – I probably spent longer learning to play this properly than any other tune so far. It was going to have more instruments on it, but I really liked the delicacy of the piano version. 20th October is very noisy version of Raggle Taggle Gypsy. I recorded an acoustic version earlier, but didn’t play it very well – this version is much better.

Silly Songs

My children sang on two very silly songs. 5th October is Big Red Combine Harvester, their favourite song from the previous day’s harvest festival at school (see also the video). 30th August is Heilan’ Coo, their Scottish holiday song. Neither has a huge amount of musical merit, but both were great fun to record.

Covers, collaborations and remixes

19th September is the Game of Thrones theme, recorded after watching the whole of season 3 on consecutive nights.

21st October is Mairi’s Wedding, my first recording in OhmStudio, with contributions from around the world.

1st November was my entry for the Smithsonian Remix competition, featuring a variety of squeaky animals and insects. I didn’t win, but was still pleased with the result.

9th November is for the Remix Paula Seling competition. I entirely replaced the europop original to make it altogether folkier. I doubt very much whether Ms Seling would approve, but it was a great deal of fun to do.


Best of the first 100 days of “A Tune A Day”

tuneadayYesterday was a bit of a milestone, reaching day 100 of my tune a day project. I’ve not missed a day yet, and to mark that achievement, here’s a compilation of my 10 favourite tunes so far.

Of the 100 tunes so far, there are probably about 25 I really like, so getting the list down to 10 was hard.  They’re not necessarily the best tunes or the best recordings, but they either capture the spirit of the project or a particular type of sound I was trying to achieve. All of them would benefit from revisiting and recording properly, but that’s not going to happen until May 2014, as I won’t have time.

So here’s my top 10, and a brief explanation of why I like them.

5th May (“Water Pistol Jig”) very much reflects what I was hoping the project would achieve – a new tune written in the garden while the children were running around soaking each other with water pistols, and then recorded that evening. It captures the spontaneity I was hoping for.

29th May is the only one of the this top 10 to feature my 8-year-old son, Tom. I’ve really enjoyed getting him involved, and he’s played on 13 of the tunes. It’s been great practice for him to do it, but not all of the results bear repeated listenings. This one is my favourite, partly because of how it came about. He was really angry about something so went off and played his drums. I sneaked in and recorded it, and used two of the sequences as drum loops. He went to bed expecting me to create some angry, heavy, electric guitar-based noise, but we were both surprised that it ended up somewhere totally different. The Hammond completely changes the feel of it.

My main instrument is the Irish bouzouki, which I love playing, but it is perhaps a little less versatile than a guitar. I sometimes feel I’ve run out of different ways of playing it, but then something like 2nd June (named “Twisted Ankle” in honour of the trampolining injury Tom sustained while I was writing it) comes along that sounds completely different, and inspires me all over again.

21st May is a great example of the way a tune I already had (it was the middle section of a longer piece) ended up with a very different feel to how it had started.

I really liked the feel of 3rd July as soon as I’d recorded, and liked it even more when Fabric Lenny used it as the soundtrack for a stop motion video he recorded for the Sexy Peat project on the Isle of Lewis.

There are several quiet acoustic bouzouki tunes in the first 100 days (probably because they’re the easiest to do). 19th July is my favourite because of the interweaving of the acoustic and electric bouzoukis and the bass.

24th June is just silly, but continues to make me smile. Abba would have been a great heavy metal band.

17th June is probably my favourite of the lot. The combination of banjo, accordion and electric bouzouki captures the particular sort of sound I was looking for. The playing is a bit chaotic in places, but that sort of adds to feel of it.

25th June has a similar sort of sound. It started as a first attempt to record the harmonica, but what I like most about it is the accordion riff.

And finally, 13th June uses the Super Manetron app for a big, anthemic, Mellotron-fuelled ending.


Sexy Peat

Don’t you just love the internet? For all Facebook’s faults, it undoubtedly presents fabulous unexpected connections. Through a mutual friend and a Facebook group, I reconnected with someone who I’d probably only met a handful of times, nearly 20 years ago. She then asked to use some of my music on a primary school art project she was doing. And that led to the artist involved in the project, Fabric Lenny (who I’ve never met), using another track for the Sexy Peat project he’s doing on the Isle of Lewis.

I’ve always loved the Highlands & Island of Scotland, so I’m thrilled to be able to have even such a very tenuous link with the project which aims to encourage better understanding of the ecology and heritage of peat lands on the Isle of Lewis. More of Fabric Lenny’s fabulous artwork on his blog, and here’s his first video from Lewis.

A Tune A Day

My friend Claire did a photo-a-day-for-a-year blog a few years ago, and was asking yesterday who wanted to do something similar this year. It got me thinking about a tune-a-day blog instead, although given that my last recording project took me 18 months to record 17 minutes of music, I thought it might be a bit unrealistic. Then I thought that rather than aiming to do complete tunes, I could just do unfinished, imperfect recordings as a way of cataloguing all the little bits and pieces of music I have hanging around, and creating a some new pieces for my next project. All recorded on the iPad, of course. I will also be getting my son, Tom, to help out, as he is keen (and surprisingly good, for an 8 year old) drummer, and he’s learning the piano.

So here it is… http://soundcloud.com/richardhughes/sets/a-tune-a-day

And here’s the first tune….