Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)

  1. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    Don McLean: Vincent

    This is an instrumental cover version, on mandolin with tenor guitar accompaniment, based on a lead sheet from the old Wikifonia site.

    Artwork by Van Gogh (naturally...).

    Mid-Missouri M-0W mandolin
    Ozark tenor guitar

  2. Bertram Henze
    Bertram Henze
    A very comforting piece, and the tremolo goes well with van Gogh's scintillating style.
  3. Jim Baker
    Jim Baker
    Nicely done Martin!
  4. woodenfingers
    Very nicely done Martin. Great work with the tenor guitar backing it up.
  5. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    Another one of my re-runs. Different backing style from my old recording, and more rubato (which the song really needs).

    Mid-Missouri M-0W mandolin
    Vintage Viaten tenor guitar

  6. Ginny Aitchison
    Ginny Aitchison
    Very nice Martin. I had this one in mind too - after watching a friend of mine sing and play it on guitar - wondered if I could do it on mando - but it is soooo long - nice to see it works well with mando and you've cut it down - sounds very nice, especially with your own personal rubato. Where did you find the music, Martin? ...You've motivated me, hmmm...John???
  7. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    Another old favourite revived, Martin. Thanks for this.
    Ginny, happy to team up once more. I can already imagine your selection of pictures for this tune! Different from our last one too! Will be in touch.
  8. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    Thanks, Ginny and John. One of those tunes where the phrasing falls into place if you imagine Don McLean's singing in your head while playing. I was using a lead sheet from the long-defunct (and much missed) website -- a short-lived project to compile a free and legal lead sheet library for copyrighted songs under a license issued by the Dutch music licensing organisation Musicopy. The licensing agreement was terminated after a few years, presumably because publishers weren't happy. I now wish I had done a complete siterip, but I saved about 200 songs at the time which includes a lot of the ones I've been recording lately.

    I've just uploaded the PDF for Vincent here:

    I'll link the lead sheet for Harbor Lights separately in that thread.

  9. Ginny Aitchison
    Ginny Aitchison

    Starry, Starry Night - Don McLean + Vincent, The Doctor and The Gallery.

    This song was bounced back and forth between John Kelly and I, across the cyber space of the ocean so many times, until we finally arrived at a version we both liked.
    The episode of Dr. Who portraying Vincent Van Gogh, his joys and demons is the most popular Who episode - or so I am told.
    This is the first ( and perhaps, only) post of ours that contains video from the actual episode. It was compiled by a friend of mine with a licence for such things and they put a very long episode into 4 minutes and I think they (under my limited guidance) caught the gist of the song's meaning and the episode's emotion.
    Thank you Martin for reminding John and I that we were interested in this song but had never gone far enough to actually producing it.
  10. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    Great bit of video editing from your friend, Ginny. We both certainly had fun putting the music together with files flying back and forth in time and space in a manner that would have pleased Doctor Who! Ginny recorded the mandolin melody throughout then I added the second mandolin, playing fills, and the guitar backing. Getting our tracks synchronised in the final mix was an interesting process.
    Big thanks to Ginny for suggesting we do this one.
  11. Christian DP
    Christian DP
    Amazing video with great music! It's interesting, that the lead mandolin was recorded first and then the accompaniment. I usually record in a different order, basic track first, and then the melody. But the result is gorgeous, so maybe I should try it your way...
  12. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    That is very interesting, Christian. I don't think I have ever recorded the chords/backing track first. As long as the melody player keeps the melody flowing and maintains the regularity of the bars I find it reasonably easy to add a backing. Within each bar the player can have a bit of freedom in phrasing as long as the bars are kept to tempo. Ginny played each verse with very slight variations in her phrasing, which gives the tune the "played-by-a-human" feel. It is interesting that many midi programs, which can maintain absolute accuracy of timing, have a humanising function to allow playback in a less robotic and machine-like manner.

    Your own recordings are always really well produced and synchronised, with a lovely balance between the instruments, so whichever method we use is fine if it gives the result we want. When I got to adding the mandolin fills I just listened on the headphones and played in the silences Ginny had left, guided by the chords.
    I must give your method a try now!
  13. Jairo Ramos Parra
    Jairo Ramos Parra
    It is really satisfying to hear from time to time something that has such a professional flavor ... everything works: the melody, the harmony, the mixing of the instruments, the beautiful sound of the mandolin, the video ... chapeau!
  14. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    Thanks, Jairo. We are really pleased with the result we produced. Glad others like it too.
  15. Ginny Aitchison
    Ginny Aitchison
    Thank you for your comments. It has turned out to be one of my favourites despite the numerous times it flew back and forth across the ocean as we tried to find a version that worked.
  16. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    That sounds really very nice -- thank you, Ginny and John! The slower tempo and the ethereal second mandolin harmonies give it a spaced-out feeling that suits the subject matter and the Doctor Who video (great editing). Very meditative!

  17. Frithjof
    Nicely performed by both of you, Ginny and John.
    And interesting insides of the production process.
  18. Gelsenbury
    It sounds like hard work, but the end result shows all the care and expertise that went into the production. You have made all the right decisions!

    The order in which to record melody and back-up is an interesting topic. From what I've read and heard, different habits stem from different traditions of music. Where accompaniment is fixed and melody playing relies on variation and improvisation (e.g., Bluegrass), it makes sense to lay down the backing first. Where the melody is more fixed and the accompaniment arranged or improvised around it, the opposite is true. Personally, I still haven't found the method that suits me best.
  19. Ginny Aitchison
    Ginny Aitchison
    Interesting point, Dennis. We don't have a set way of doing 'who goes first'. Between John and I it is usually the lead mandolin that goes first. When I record with my teacher, he lays the back track down first and then I go and record my part. For Starry Night John and I tried to do the whole slow-down speed-up rubato thing to make it so much more sensitive and emotional - by following McLean's singing and that just plain didn't work. We could have done it in engineering afterwards but decided not to and to leave it as we had recorded .
  20. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    My current method involves starting with the melody played unaccompanied and on video, and I then add all other voices to that -- hence no headphones being worn in my videos. This is also the reason why all my recent videos start with a few repeated crotchets as a count-in to cue up the accompaniment later. I find this works well, although it needs a good sense of time and long rests can be a problem, a bit like the ISIHAC round "Pick-Up Song". All those years recording with a click track have helped me in that respect!

    I have at times dabbled with recording the backing first, but didn't much like it when it's my own recorded backing. More successfully, I have used pre-recorded piano accompaniments a few times, either computer-generated or human-played. Mandolin-piano duets add variety and are fun.

  21. Simon DS
    Simon DS
    Lovely playing Ginny and John. And interesting to hear about the techniques. Nice vid too.
    I must admit I tend to just use a click track each time when recording and at other times I use no backing nor harmony when just playing for the enjoyment... strange I know.
  22. Frankdolin
    I just became aware of this thread, gotta up my SAW game, after having posting my version of this great tune over in main forum. And I wanted to add it here along with Martins', and Ginny and Johns' fine versions. Mine was done by playing a YT backing track thru a little JBL speaker and recording while playing my Pava A4 live. As these guys know it is a tough tune, tricky timing. Thanks for the listen!
  23. Frithjof
    A beautiful melody worth to listen to it over and over. You played it very well, Frankdolin.
  24. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    A fine arrangement, Frank, and your playing of it is very pleasing. You are right about the timing and phrasing of the tune too. Ginny and I had fun syncing our tracks!
  25. Ginny Aitchison
    Ginny Aitchison
    I enjoyed Frank's version and was surprised you could actually find a back track with no melody to play along with. That's like having a band come to your house in and play for free. The Van Gogh Pictures are interesting because they almost look like they are back-lit - the originals are much more subdued - but the extra lighting shows all the various colours he used. Some great art historian, I forgot who, said that Van Gogh would not, or may not have been the success he was for the fact that he took his own life. Regardless, let's remember good old Don McLean who actually wrote the song.
  26. Gelsenbury
    Really nice, Frank! You fit right into your band!
  27. Frankdolin
    Thanks friends! I had fun with this, a very emotionally charged song, brilliantly written.
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