Some folks reading this know what a producer for an album does. Some may think you know. I thought I did before I ever made an album. I did not—not until I made an album. And I still didn’t know, not really, until I worked with Jeff Bohnhoff.
So much of the beauty of this album: S c a t t e r i n g Seeds on the Pomegranate Tour, and it is a glorious beauty, isn’t it!—is due to Jeff Bohnhoff. He wears the producer hat in this project.
That is not his only hat, of course. There is his superlative performing musician hat that he dons when he and Maya (a formidable musical, literary, and artistic powerhouse in her own right) perform together.
There is his arranger hat, that he uses to put together percussion, bass, and MIDI atmospherics as well as making instrumental choices for others to come in and add to the mix. “This needs a solo here. I’ll ask Chris French if he’ll come in.”
There is his mixing hat—I’ve learned so much from watching him work with a musician’s performance—pulling the best from it and making sure it is not in the way of the other gorgeous tendrils of melody or rhythm that will be dancing around. With a deft hand, he enhances the sound quality of everything he touches – never over producing, always respecting the musicality of the artist.
I first had the pleasure of working with Jeff on his and Maya’s Grated Hits (2010), playing piano on “Midichlorian Rhapsody” and two other pieces. He is easy to communicate with, and I knew I wanted to work with him on my gaming album. Luckily for me, he agreed. Acolytes of the Machine & Other Gaming Stories was released to the world in 2012. I learned so much during the time we were recording that album. Those of you who have enjoyed my recordings on my Patreon page should know that I use Logic Pro to build those arrangements. I build them the way I do because I learned from watching Jeff make that program sing. He is Apple’s guru in Logic Pro and he makes the daily commute to Cupertino to lend them his expertise.
It took a few years before I could return to Mystic Fig Studios to record this album. Several musicians heard Acolytes of the Machine & Other Gaming Stories and rightly recognized that working with Jeff means getting to share your best art with the world. For example, Seanan McGuire, W. Scott Snyder, Betsy Tinney, Twotonic, and Char MacKay have all done albums or are currently working on albums with Jeff. I waited my turn and eventually got back in the sound booth.
And the results of that delightful collaboration are already before you if you participated in the Kickstarter this last summer. And if you didn’t get a chance to, no worries! The album will be available for purchase in early January. Please, don ear buds (wireless or not) or turn up the sound in your car and enjoy. Know that if you see Jeff Bohnhoff’s name as the producer, you are going to hear something magnicent. He won’t let it be anything else.
Thank you, Jeff.
Dr. Mary Crowell
Composer, Vocalist, and Pianist
Tonight I’m getting to play a concert at a Huntsville, AL sci-fi convention called Constellation. My show starts at 10:00 pm, and is the last thing tonight on the schedule which means it shouldn’t conflict with any other panels. Constellation is held at the Sheraton Four Points at Huntsville’s airport, and the online schedule shows that I will be in room A. If you are in the area and have been wanting to check out the local science fiction and gaming scene, please do come to Constellation http://www.con-stellation.org this weekend!
Also, I’ve out two new videos up this past week.
One is the recorded live stream that Amy McNally and I performed together while she visited me last week. Neither of us had ever live streamed a home concert, so it was an adventure! Due to technical difficulties (the internet connection) the first song, “Scattering Seeds on the Pomegranate Tour” did not end up on the main live stream. We had fun! The play list is coincidentally (It really is just a coincidence!) Amy McNally’s new rag time song, “Constellation Rag,” Dr.Who by Grainer,and Derbyshire/Wedding March by Wagner, Sherlock Theme/Tetris, and “Galatea” by Mary Crowell. Even though we live streamed it last week, the footage was recorded. You can watch it here!
Amy McNally and Mary Crowell recorded Live Stream
And I finished editing a live action music video for M is for Magic Missile! Many people sent in silly footage of themselves and friends costumed as wizards, and I filmed some scenes at my house. Ooo! And I used green screen for the first time. I made my son Simon don the green Kodachrome suit for some of the clips used here. Have fun!
Mary Crowell’s M is for Magic Missile–Live Action Music Video
This video was made possible by my awesome Patrons on Patreon. We are having so much fun there! Please, consider joining us if you like what you see and would like to influence or just enjoy future music projects!
Hi all! I’ve been meaning to plug the GAFilk songbook for a few weeks now. Note, that the website is showing last year’s dates right now because I have not let our most excellent web-mistress know what this year’s dates are. Ahem. Bad me! So, here we go!
Submissions are now open for the GAFilk 2017 Songbook! No theme in particular. If you want it transcribed by me, please get it to me before November 30, 2016. Parodies can be turned as late as December 7, 2016. You may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To quote our website:
The GAFilk Songbook
Every year GAFilk publishes an amazing PDF songbook that is given to every member and supporting member. Contributors receive a complimentary copy and are immortalized forever.
Parodies should credit the original tune and songwriter. Original song submissions should include lead sheet with either mono-spaced font (chords appropriately placed), … OR a CD or MP3 for transcription as time allows (no tapes, please).
Tomorrow I fly out to Texas for FenCon and will be busy busy busy! Seriously. It’s going to be fun though, and I’ve been putting TWO set lists together for my Saturday 2 pm concert and my Sunday 1 pm concert. The schedule has changed a few times, and those times are not written in stone–just electrons. Bill and Brenda Sutton are Musical Guests of Honor at FenCon, and have invited me to play along a bit on one of their sets–right now it looks like I’ll be playing on their Saturday set. (They have three concerts, so they are going to be running too!) I’ll be on a Kids and music panel on Sunday with Triskelion (Floyd and Sara Brigdon), and I’ll teach yoga class on Saturday morning.
I’m in that pre travel whirl trying to get everything packed and planned and practiced, but I wanted to make sure and check in with y’all. Have a wonderful weekend! Please, let me know if I’ll see you at FenCon.
Ooh oooh! Before I forget, September 30th is my deadline for M is for Magic Missile Footage. Message me here or wherever we connect on social media, and we can figure out how to get your footage to me if you want to be in the video. (Also, there is a little bit of wiggle room, if you need a deadline extension.) This will be another project that my AMAZING SPECTACULAR PATRONS on PATREON helped make possible. Please, do consider joining them in contributing to my music and music videos.
Also, I owe everyone a big Kickstarter update for Scattering Seeds on the Pomegranate Tour, and I will post it when I get back from FenCon. The new album is sounding so gorgeous! I cannot wait to gush about it properly.
This weekend I’ve collected all the M is for Magic Missile video footage I’ve made of various folks and that others have sent me. I have enough to start working on the video with place holders. I still need more. Would you and your friends like to be in a silly video? (Because I sure haven’t managed a serious one yet!)
In the following description, please remember dressing as a wizard can be as simple as waving a wand like stick or wearing a cape or hat. (Staves and walking sticks are good too.)
You may comment here or message me if you would like to participate in this.
My deadline for video and stills is September 30th, 2016, because I would like to to edit this and release it before Halloween.
Also, PLEASE SHARE THIS POST AMONG YOUR FRIENDS. Gamers, costumers, and silly people are very very welcome. They can comment here if they are interested. I’ll share on Patreon, Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook too. There are different ways to contact me there, so I can let people know how to actually get their footage to me.
I will need to know how to credit those folks appearing in the video, and I will also want to credit the camera person.
Also, please film and photograph people in landscape orientation rather than portrait.
Shawna asks what formats and resolutions I need. I’ve been able to use a variety of formats including mp4 and m4v’s. I’m perfectly fine using non blurry smart phone video footage–it doesn’t have to be done with a fancy camera (although footage from those is certainly welcome.)
Bits I need (with relevant lyrics as reference points)
From the M is for Magic Missile Verses
G’s got gate and Glitterdust.”
Someone wearing a wizard hat by an airport gate or sheep gate in a pasture or a gate of any kind really? (Video or still shot works.)
Wizard throwing glitter in the air. (Video preferred. Very very short shot.)
“J for Jump is Jumping”
Does anyone have access to a trampoline or jumping house? My thought is to have have two people dressed up as wizards or at least wearing wizard hats and holding them on their heads as they jump on the trampoline or jumping house. (No pointy things like wands please. I wouldn’t want anyone to be hurt!) The other possibility is to use green screen to make it look like the wizard was jumping. That might be funnier anyway. I’ll do that if I don’t get any takes on this one.
“L is Legend Lore. Let’s see what secrets can we glean.”
I need someone sneaking around in a library while dressed up like a wizard. Please, sneak ridiculously.
“N is for Non detection so they won’t know where you are.”
This one could be the wizard badly hiding behind a tree or post while giggling and watching as several people wander around staring at their smart phones while they converge on another tree or other spot neither the hiding place.
“Otto’s Irresistible Dance never even gives them a chance to save.”
Multiple clips of people dancing: Irish, ballroom, ballet, whatever. I’ll display these side by side or even more. I’m going to upgrade to Final Cut Pro while making this video.
“Wizard spells never start with Q, but Quicken is an awesome feat for you.”
Players in wizard hats poring through a Player’s Handbook together with puzzled looks. One of them flips the book back (to feats presumably) and points to a paragraph triumphantly.
For the M is for Magic Missile Chorus,
I already have some wizards dancing footage but I would really like to have more. Each bullet point indicates a different video clip idea. If you have another idea for one of these video clips, go for it. That chorus comes back around 8 times I think.
‘M’ is for Magic Missile
People make the M sign on their head like the Village People.
Signing “M is for magic missile” in ASL
Dancing in a variety of ways while dressed as a Wizard.
Acting like you’re casting magic missile in a variety of silly ways.
You’ll cast it ’til they put you in your grave. It hurts them just a bit,
People can pretend to cast magic missile.
Someone with a wizard hat at the gaming table could roll a bunch of 4 siders.
One wizard could be laid out with pennies over eyes.
People can just fall over.
But you never roll to hit,
Person gets pelted with 4 sider and winces
Person gets pelted with multiple 4 siders and looks Very Concerned.
Wizard player at gaming table picks up 20 sider and puts it back down again.’
And your victims do not ever get a save.
Someone else at the wizard’s gaming table picks up a twenty sider and puts it down.
Wizard player gleefully pointing and laughing.
Wizard laughs gleefully and then gets chased off screen.
Player angrily sulks at unconcerned DM who just points at the page on the Player’s Handbook.
End Part with Spoken Dialog
“What? You cast shield?”
Player or wizard being pelted. Is surrounded by glowing nimbus and is smug.
“Ok well. I’ll cast Greater Dispel Magic. I mean. Dispel Magic [comma] Greater on your shield.”
Wizard player frantically flips forward in a Player’s Handbook and then flips back and points.
“And then I’ll quicken . . .”
Closeup of hand and then finger snap.
“A magic Missile Yeah yeah yeah [repeated a few times.]”
Tons of wizards dancing. I’ve got some footage of this, but I want more.
[Visiting Professor, Wizard Torrey Stenmark is featured photo on this blog post.]
The Kickstarter for Scattering Seeds on the Pomegranate Tour funded last night! Thank you! So many people shared the information about it, and 190 people backed it. Also, we got close enough to the stretch goal that we’re going to do it! We are going to get Teresa Powell, Brenda Sutton, and Amy McNally out to Mystic Fig Studio to record their instruments and voices. And I will commission two more mythic bookmarks from Starr Weems once we decide on mythological characters for Brenda and Teresa.
Anyway, I just want to make sure I make an announcement about this on my blog today.
I’m writing this in Buckeye Café at the Columbus, OH airport waiting to come back from our family vacation at Cedar Point and Origins Game Fair. It’s been such a blast riding roller coasters with our dear friends: Amy and Brooke. Valravn has the prettiest merchandise, but the Raptor is my favorite!
And then after that we headed to Columbus a couple of hours south to play two sessions of Wesley’s D&D Abandoned Campaign at Origins with Mike and Jodi. I got to see my friend John B., as well as Leonard, and Mary B. I’m learning the names of the entire staff of Sunny Street Café. (I ended up there for breakfast four days in a row. Chocolate Chip Pancakes=LOVE.)
Today I get to return home, and I am ready to get back to work. Boy, am I ready!
Preorders help fund the album of course! And you know you’ll get your copy as soon as they arrive from Oasis CDs (and I can get them into a mailer for you).
You get updates about how the work of art you helped fund is going, and you can ask questions about it and make suggestions as it unfolds. (You can opt out of the updates from Kickstarter if you don’t want them, however.)
There are Mythic Bookmarks: beautiful works of art related to and inspired by music from this album. I commissioned a series of 12 small paintings by Starr Weems to be made into bookmarks, each one a unique interpretation of a mythological deity referenced in one or more songs on this album. (Or in the case of Jeff Vader, god of Mixing, producing all of the songs on this album.)
There is an original short story by Seanan McGuire, New York Times best selling novelist, author of the Toby Daye series and (as Mira Grant) the Newsflesh series. The story references the title song of this album, “Scattering Seeds on the Pomegranate Tour,” and is available as a PDF at some tiers and as a limited edition hardcover chap book at others.
This album is going to be beautiful! Funding it through Kickstarter means getting to focus on making sure it’s as beautiful as possible, and that I can get right to work on making more music to share.
Other music you say?
Yes, I’m really eager to get home, because I have one third of a new song recorded for my patrons on Patreon, and I want to finish tracking and mixing it. It’s called, “My Baby’s No Bourbon on the Rocks,” and I wrote it for Wesley for his birthday. I have scored both bass clarinet and clarinet parts for it as the primary accompaniment rather than my usual piano. It’s been running through my head on endless repeat, and I think this is the only way to get it out, so OMG I can write this other song about a sad bunny stranded in a lava lake in Minecraft. Oh oh oh! And also a creepy murderous song about a curse in a Roman bathhouse. And er, others. Yep. I need to get home soon. If you want to hear my most recent Patreon inspired song, have a listen via this link.
I hope everyone had a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend! Right now, I am maintaining–okay. I amattempting to maintain communications on five or six blogs: this blog, my live journal, my Patreon, my Tumblr, Google+ (that one is half-hearted and occasional), and of course my Kickstarter Updates. And somehow I managed to write a song yesterday, and brain storm another one. So I’m keeping the creativity going throughout this journey. Today’s theme is ‘Where is Mary in the blogosphere?’
Local Gig at Athens-Limestone Public Library
Saturday, June 4, 2016 from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm I will be performing at the 2nd Annual Catfish Literary Festival. This event will held from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at the Athens-Limestone Public Library.
Over 25 authors and publishers from North Alabama will be in attendance. Planned panel discussions include how to get published, writing for children and teens, writing non-fiction, and more. Authors will have copies of their books for sale and they will be available for questions. There is no entrance fee for the public.
I will have some small versions of the Persephone bookmarks with me to give out as Kickstarter reminders. (They are lovely little prototypes.)
Patreon is where I post the leading edge of new projects: the newest song I’ve written and recorded; older songs that were written during times I didn’t perform much and thus languished; fun videos that everyone can participate in; write weird midi tunes; and that sort of thing. I do a lot of earnest chatting with my patrons on my Patreon Page: asking them what kind of music they would like to hear and what is the next video they want to see. If you want to be part of this and incidentally help support my newer compositions, please consider joining Patreon. (Several other artists you like are probably making things there!) This is the inner circle in the sense that I really try to write or improvise pieces my patrons have asked for. If they have a concern about the mix of a particular piece or the pronunciation of a lyric, I take it to heart and make those changes. [Yes, Brooke and Peter–i-CO-sahedron. I plan to fix it soon.]
The latest big thing my patrons and I are making is a video of ‘M’ is for Magic Missile. The optimistic deadline for footage was originally May 31st. I have extended it to June 30th. I’ll be posting about it on Patreon after I finish this post to give more specifics about what video clips of wizards I need. If you purchased academic regalia and regretted the expense to wear ratio, here is your chance to let it strut its stuff once again. [Note: bathrobes work just fine as wizard robes though!]
Kickstarter for Scattering Seeds on the Pomegranate Tour
There are fourteen lovely songs with themes of mythology, mortality, and coffee in a wide variety of styles. They are all very ‘Mary-ish.’ (How’s that for an accurate musicology term?) Once again I am recording at Mystic Fig Studio with many of the same artists that graced the recordings of Acolytes of the Machine & Other Gaming Stories. The Kickstarter is currently 36% funded which is a fine start. Please, be aware that no one gets any of the lovely things in the tiers unless it is 100% funded by June 26th 10:00 pm CST or thereabouts. Many generous people have contributed to this Kickstarter, proof read it and caught many errors (Any errors missed are completely my fault!), and offered excellent suggestions on tiers and shipping. I have sent three updates so far. One evening I wrote private ‘thank you’ emails to each of my backers thus far and was overwhelmed with love and gratitude for the out pouring of generosity. I am still in awe. Thank you, loves. I have plans for what to do if this Kickstarter doesn’t make it. But I sure hope it does!
PLEASE, SHARE THE HECK OUT OF THIS KICKSTARTER. Facebook throttles outside links, and Twitter is a constant flow. This means that you may have already shared it several times, and few people saw it. If any of you interested in this project have a newsletter in which the Kickstarter would be an appropriate paragraph, please consider adding it to your newsletter. Please blog if you do such things. (And send me a link so I can thank you and reblog.)
Info from Kickstarter Update 3
First, before she went out of town for a few days, Starr Weems shared some pictures of the latest Peppermint Lady Bookmarks or mythic bookmarks. (I change the name of these constantly. Does anyone have a suggestion for a catchy title? They are so lovely!)
Check out the spiders on Arachne’s thread and her long tapered spider web sleeves. Torrey Stenmark is the costume designer for the mythic bookmarks and chose to model them on several filkers she knows. I love her ideas so much, that I wanted to have them made into these bookmarks. It works out beautifully that so many of the people depicted in the bookmarks are involved in the album itself. Delightfully self-referential.
Torrey has also appeared as Prince Zuko in my “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” video on Patreon. She plans to be in this next M is for Magic Missile, and in fact was the one who suggested it as a great next video. Thanks, Torrey!
Sunnie Larsen as Ariadne. I love the key pendant and the maze elements both behind her and in the bodice of the dress! And her hair is still Sunnie’s purple and blue. Sunnie performed as Bellatrix LeStrange in my “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” video and has a picture in the “Runner Five” video.
This weekend, Sunnie will be recording at Mystic Fig Studio. She will be very busy working on both my album and Char MacKay’s. Yes, there is some excellent music coming out soon! I am really excited Char is doing an album—she is an exceptionally gifted songwriter! I hope to share a couple of snippets of songs with you after Sunnie is done, but I’ll want to check in with Jeff first. He will have a whole lot of work to do mixing for both Char and me after this tracking gets done.
Chapbook is an inexact term. It can be anything from a small folded pamphlet, to a paper covered booklet, to an actual small book with hard covers. And that last description is the one Wesley (my husband) was interested in making for this Kickstarter. He started researching, and he made a bookpress. Wesley sent me an update, and I have included it below.
Progress on the chapbooks breaks down as follows at this point:
1) Research – having only coil bound books before, I have read three excellent references, including Pauline Johnson’s Creative Bookbinding, which is an older reference from 1963. The YouTube videos of Crafty Loops and DiRester were also very helpful.
2) Materials (Codex) – I have zeroed in on most of the final materials at this point, having run several tests. Since the book is printed on landscape oriented 8.5″ x 11” paper there where two main concerns: A) The paper grain; B) Opacity and readability. Grain was the more difficult hurdle. Regular sized paper is almost exclusively long grain, which means it cannot be folded in half (in landscape) without folding AGAINST the grain. This is a big no-no for the book to fall open and fan correctly when bound. In short, it is important enough that I am cutting down International Paper’s Smooth Finish long grain 11″ x 17″ paper (80 lbs. Text / 118 gsm / 32 lbs. Bond) in half to create two 8.5″ x 11″ SHORT grain papers that are opaque enough for good readability. This paper is gorgeous and it is making me (more of) a paper snob. I’ll include various other material discussion in future updates. After testing both methods, individually folding and creasing each page before forming signatures of three sheets (six pages) works far better for the final codex than folding the three sheets all at once and then creasing with a bone folder.
3) Materials (Cover) – The books will be quarter bound with a thick Pomegranate wallpaper over the spine with a cream colored heavy bond parchment for the color cover image. The whole thing is wrapped over Lineco Binder’s Boards since the cheaper heavy chipboards warped too much. I thought the overnight press would fix the chipboards since they are dirt cheap and come in very convenient sizes, but alas I have had to upgrade to the archival binder’s boards. A picture is worth a thousand words here.
4) Practice – I have several practice projects going so that I can try different techniques. The kettle stitches on the collection of signatures (“the codex”) is working well and I have my sewing techniques finalized. The gluing of the spine, applying the head and tailbands, and printing of the color end papers is also well understood at this point. Assembling the final book once all of these pieces are finished is . . . well let’s just say some of them go well and others are good practice. The final books well definitely be the ones that turn out well. I am getting better. Luckily, the 3-1 PVA Glue-to-water mix cleans up easy.
5) Current Work – I am excited to try a few new techniques on this next round of binding. The power sander trick on the page edges (to give a feathered look) is up next. I am also going to get rid of the linen binder’s tapes that run under the full stitches and try using a muslin “super” over the spine of the codex. The next end papers will be folded into the creases of the spine prior to final gluing. More later.
And that is enough update for today I think! So much love to you all.
yesterday evening I launched my Kickstarter for Scattering Seeds on the Pomegranate Tour. My original plan was to do it on the down low maybe and have a few people pledge, and then make a grand announcement. Instead, some really super people began tweeting and Facebooking about it to spread the word. And then … People began pledging. Lovely beloved people who want to help me make this album happen! As of me typing this tonight, Scattering Seeds on the Pomegranate Tour is 24% funded with 30+ days to go.
I literally have jumped around in my living room, danced, run around in excitement. Literally. No not figuratively. Literally. My heart rate was up. My personal trainer would be pleased. I have laughed. I have cried. This is like the best movie ever. Thank you so much to people who have been spreading the word, retweeting things, sharing on Facebook. I get so many happy little pings on my phone. And they all make me smile.
I’ll be posting most of my updates to Kickstarter and Patreon just because they are set up for that sort of thing really well. And that’s where people are asking me questions about the album and the mythic bookmarks and the album songbook and other rewards tiers. But I’ll answer questions here, via email, Twitter, Facebook, or wherever you want to ask them.
We are getting ready to fly Sunnie Larsen, Betsy Tinney, and vixy Dockrey out to Mystic Fig Studio so they can record this summer. I love getting to hear what they do on any album they are a part of. Joy, so much joy in my heart.
Tonight was supposed to be a soft release (is that the term?) or soft opening or some such thing for my Kickstarter with the grand opening happening tomorrow. But then patrons from my Patreon started tweeting (Thank you Seanan, for getting the party started!), and people pledged! I’m doing a little butt dance in my desk chair and there isn’t actually any music playing at this exact moment to dance to. (And that’s unusual for me!) I’m SO EXCITED! I’ve said that so many times today and yesterday. I need to work on my catchphrase a bit I guess. “Hi I’m Mary Crowell and I’M SO EXCITED!” is bound to get old pretty quickly.