Chapman Stick (Grand Stick)


The Chapman stick is such a unique instrument.  Lately, I’ve been working with Leo Gosselin who is a master of the Chapman stick.  Excerpted from Leo’s website :

Léo A. Gosselin is a pioneer and master of a radically   new technique on strings. The Chapman Stick Touchboard, invented by Emmett Chapman in 1974, represents a revolution in stringed instrument technology. The “Stick”, designed in 8, 10, and 12 string versions (the right hand tuned like a guitar, the left like a cello in reverse), is played percussively, with both hands free to sketch melodic lines in the manner of a keyboard.

Léo has been exploring the musical possibilities of the Chapman Stick since 1976 when, at the age of 21, he saw someone trying to play the instrument in his home town of Winnipeg. He had been playing the guitar for eleven years, and did not try the “Stick” before ordering his first one, so the difficulty in mastering the instrument came as somewhat of a surprise. However, tenacity and patience paid off, and he has been playing publicly for a variety of appreciative audiences since 1984.

Léo has received a number of federal and regional arts grants as well as other awards for his accomplishments on “Stick.” He studied at the Dick Grove School of Music, Los Angeles, and Capilano College in North Vancouver, completing a Diploma in Commercial Music, as well as further studies in jazz. His appearances include TV, radio, and many live performances including Expo ’86, the Winnipeg Folk Festival, Edmonton International Street Performers Festival in 1999 and 2001, the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, and even played for the Prince of Wales in 1996. He has performed for a wide variety of functions, including weddings, concerts, festivals, dining rooms, corporate meetings, as well as educational presentations.

For the last few years, Leo has been performing live at festivals throughout the Southwest, including the Tempe Festival of the Arts, the Tucson Museum of Art, the Tubac Arts and Crafts Festival, the Scottsdale Art Festival, as well as Northwest festivals in the Washington area including Edmonds, Anacortes, Coupeville, and several others.

Léo has recorded seven albums currently available as CD’s. “Border Crossing,” as the title suggests, crosses stylistic borders from bluesy jazz to Latin, New Age, and Celtic. It is a solo voyage through musical genres. “Potpourri” highlights Léo’s mastery of this unique instrument in four themes: Celtic, ballads, Latin/jazz, and originals. This album includes supporting musicians that add their own personal touch to the project. “Dream Waters” is a solo album that brings a sense of comfort and peace to the listener. “Celtic Vision” is a collaborative effort focusing on traditional Celtic music with guest artists on Irish whistle, violin, percussion, and synthesizer. “Vintage Flight,” a solo album, is a musical flight through many of the most memorable easy listening jazz pieces of the 40’s and 50’s. Léo’s  “Christmas Traditions” album highlights the “Stick” with four-handed arrangements and counter melodies written for traditional carols that make this a truly memorable Christmas experience.  Leo’s latest album, “Lovestream” was produced in 2009, and is a solo album featuring six cover tunes originally recorded by such artists as Eric Clapton, Sting, the Eagles, Van Morrison, Elton John, Willie Nelson, as well as five of Leo’s original compositions.

Working with Leo has been an tremendously educational experience.  He is a brilliant artist who has an incredible depth of understanding for music and the “Grand Stick.”  Please visit his website and be on the lookout for his upcoming new album. Past albums are available for purchase at CD Baby.

Mark Stevens on Timo Laine’s New Album

In June, legendary  father of the guitar synth, Timo Laine started recording his new album at Recording Farm.  Pictured is Mark Stevens, drummer for Timo’s new project.  Check back for photos and updates on this project.

It’s All About Feel

We really pride ourselves in making you feel comfortable.  It’s a well known fact that being comfortable adds to any performance.  We take the time you need to adjust and capture “just the right feel” in your recording.  Leave the city and take an hour drive from  LA or San Diego, we’re always available to show you our facility.

Harp Recording Challenges

My experience recording the harp is as a solo instrument and not as part of an Orchestra.  The harp is a very dynamic instrument which possesses both very quiet and loud passages.  When I’m speaking about “passages,” this means that it can be extremely quiet and exceptionally loud all in the same song.  These dynamics are not something you want to deaden or smooth over with a compressor or automation.  The objective is to preserve the intricacies of this orchestral instrument.

When recording the harp, a quiet environment is crucial and this can be a challenge.  The challenges include:  Lever changes, String buzz, and even the players breath. The delicacy that the soft passages produce are very susceptible to the slightest  sound; this includes a shift of the players clothing, or a squeak of the bench.  For all these reasons, recording the harp requires attention to detail.

A very important aspect of recording a harp, is mic placement.  If you mic too close, you lose the glory of the overtones and nuances.  If you mic too far away, you will add unwanted room noise.  In the last 4 years, I’ve had the fortune to record many songs which are predominately harp.  It is something that can improve your ability as a recording engineer because there is NO faking it. The proper microphones eliminate the need for EQ; the EQ is of less importance with a great instrument and if you’ve mic’d up correctly.

For any questions regarding proper mic placement or anything I’ve written in this article, use the contact form on the contact page.

Want to Internet Radio?

There are many sites where you can have your very own internet radio station, including Blogtalk.  These online sites are easy to navigate and are a great way to get yourself out there.  Many well known people use Blogtalk including Deepak Chopra.  If you are a band, a producer, a songwriter or just someone looking for a way to get your word out, think about creating a Blogtalk radio.  If you have any questions on equipment, or simply where to begin, I can help you.  You can market your music and add it as your shows theme song.  You can talk about upcoming events to your fans, or you can use it to just put your music out there and get a fan base. I can help!

Spin Magazine

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