Humbly Report: Sean Bechhofer

Semantics 'n' stuff

For as many as will, motherf***ers!

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If Yöu Will Nöt Häve Me, Yoü Mäy Let Me Gö

I’ve just put the finishes touches to Prögford (2nd Ëdition), a second — as the name suggests — collection of progressive-folk-metal tunes. What?

I’ve spent many years playing in the ceilidh band Albireo, but my teenage heart really belongs to metal. In Albireo, we play a lot of tunes from the Playford Collection. This is a collection (or rather several collections as there are multiple editions) of tunes collected in the 17th Century, the first edition being published in 1651. There are many other people who are much more knowledgeable about this than I am (check out Bob Morgan, Andrew Swaine or Rhodri Davies, so I’ll avoid any historical background. All you need to know is that they are cracking tunes, and I believe that:

a great tune can take pretty much anything you throw at it

I started the Progford project a couple of years ago to test out this hypothesis. In the project, I’ve taken some of those tunes and recorded them as prog-metal instrumentals. In most cases, the time signatures have been butchered — this is prog, right? — but in each collection there is one arrangement that’s played straight(-ish) and in the prescribed number of times. So in principle, they could be danced to. I do really hope someone tries. And of course the titles have been liberally decorated with metal umlauts.

The backing tracks are produced in Ableton, with all the drums, bass and keyboards programmed. All the guitar parts are played by me, on an Ibanez Blazer strat and an Epiphone Les Paul Custom using a variety of amp simulators.

I’ve got a lot of enjoyment out of producing this, and I’ve learnt a lot about the recording process. In particular, the production on the later tracks has improved considerably as I’ve been more careful about mixing, EQ, and the use of techniques like compression. I’ve also rediscovered how much fun it is playing electric. I really don’t claim to have any chops, but one can get away with an awful lot with a shed load of overdrive and a wah pedal.

Prögford Robot

I’ve also been using this to address my own perfectionism and occasional low self-esteem. These tracks aren’t perfect. There are mistakes, and bits that could be better. But they’re good enough, and once they’re pushed out to bandcamp they’re done, and I can move on to ruining/enhancing the next tune. And if I’m being totally honest, I think they’re pretty awesome. Posting my urban sketches serves a similar purpose. And is much, much cheaper than therapy.

I’m rather hoping that the results will both entertain or amuse and upset people in equal measure. The tunes may be from the 17th Century but folk music is a living tradition and these tunes deserve to be given modern treatments. If you listen to the tracks, you may not like them, but I hope you understand the respect and love that I have for the music. And if you want to hear them played in a less unorthodox setting, book Albireo!

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Written by Sean Bechhofer

July 14, 2018 at 9:49 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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