Mandarin Chinese online

Today was Learning at Work day. I went to a session on Mandarin Chinese – it was only an hour long but it was fun and it piqued my interest. I’ve just been practising my rudimentary pronunciation with help from this site. There’s a book to read or download, and some excellent MP3 soundfiles too. An excellent resource! I’ll be visiting frequently and (hopefully) learning more. 再見﹗

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I’ve won an award! (or two!)

I’ve won some coveted web awards presented by the good folks over at Ducks Deluxe!
Ducks says:
“Your fine work has earned you
“Best in the World !! Monumental Golden Ducky Award For Music Related Web Site Excellence” … You have also won the “Screaming Silver Ducky Award” at the same time !!”

They are a guitar shop, first and foremost, but they have a whole load of useful guitar and music resources, which is how I found them in the first place. Take a look – and tell ’em I sent you! Thanks guys!

Free book and MP3 files of Scottish guitar music

Rob MacKillop has got sick of waiting for a publisher for his book - he's giving it away for free, along with mp3 versions of the tunes. There are some lovely tunes here, I'd like to learn a few of them myself. Rob has been long associated with the historical lute and early
guitar music of Scotland. His web pages include historical scores, essays and recordings, and also The Vihuela Page.
Rob is also Musician In Residence for Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh.

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My Criminal Record (well, it is quite bad!)

As I have mentioned several times before, I was in a showband in the 1970s. We were called March Hare, and were from Hartlepool. We sang and played songs that we thought would feature our close vocal harmony work – we all sang to some extent. We decided we’d like to hit “The Big Time” and realised that we’d need a recording of some description. To this end we booked an overnight session at a studio in the middle of Sunderland. We went for an overnight session because it was cheaper, I remember, and we went along after we had finished playing a gig somewhere. It was my first experience in a recording studio, but the engineer was good at his job and soon got us sorted out. I don’t remember many details of the session (I was very tired!), but remember how chuffed I was to get an acetate of the 5 tracks we’d done.

The tracks are:

  • Sherry – The Four Seasons (I can still sing my harmony line to this one!)
  • Long Dark Road – The Hollies (ditto!)
  • California Dreaming – The Mamas and The Papas
  • Up Around The Bend – Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • Ragdoll – The Four Seasons

As you can see, most of the tracks feature harmony vocals. I can’t remmeber the last time I played this acetate, and I don’t even have a turntable now to play it on, but I might try and get it converted to CD. I do remember that shortly after we got the acetates and the demo tapes, we went to London for a few days, determined to “Make It Big”. We slept in the van, mainly, and trawled ourselves around Denmark Street (Tin Pan Alley). We did get seen by somebody at Rocket Records (Elton John’s label), and a few other places too. We were offered a tremendous three month tour of South Africa including accomodation and flights for family etc. As this was the time of apartheid, we had heated discussions in the Wimpy around the corner about the moral implications of taking such a tour. We also looked at the financial implications too- we were going to be paid a lot! Needless to say, we didn’t go to South Africa – and shortly after the band began to disintegrate.
More tales from life in the Slow Lane, later!