Saturday, December 27, 2014


I want to get some pet flies. I want to give them to Beorbrand as a present. He already has flies, I know (mostly because of his natural and organic smell but also because of his innovative hygienic practices) but I think he needs more. I don't, of course, no, not me. It's all for the Beard.

But I now find that I have a long and long and long road ahead of me to get the damn things. I mean, killing trolls is not intrinsically a bad thing to do, I admit that - although I've known some nice ones in my time - but why oh why must I kill so MANY of them. It's all a bit ridiculous. I've got better things to do. People to meet, parties to attend, ladies to slay with my good looks. Really, I have an extensive fan base that simply cannot be neglected.

The gods, I imagine, want my Fool to give them more money, but my Fool resists, thinking that he already gives the Gods plenty of burnt offerings and suchlike things. He can be a bit of a contrary bastard, my Fool.

Of course, it's lovely to be back in Gondor again, although there are a few minor difficulties. But I didn't imagine that the precious hours of my triumphant homecoming would be spent doing repetitive and mindless daily tasks.

Ah well. We shall see whether I ever get these flies. But right now it's not looking good.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Eely lady, by the Fool

I have to admit that I'm a total narcissist. I love it when people write songs about Aegthil. They are always hilarious, and I sit at my computer going chuckle, chuckle, chuckle, and my kids ask me What's funny, Dad? and I tell them, and they say Oh your stupid Lotro band, how lame is THAT? Jeez, Dad, get a life, you are such a loser and if you didn't play so many computer games you wouldn't be so fat and ugly... etc. So I whack them and they shut up. No, I'm joking, I don't whack them, that would be against the law in New Zealand, but I think about it.

Anyway, Eely lady, AKA Eilye, wrote a wonderful song about Aegthil. Well, I mean, she filked a song.  Based on the tune of There is a House in New Orleans, she redid the lyrics. I heard it for the first time last BBB concert and I laughed so much I could hardly type.

I was so touched that I wrote a song for Eilye in return. It's called Eely Lady, and you can find the mp3 here, the abc here.

Verse 1
 Eely lady swims the waters
 Through the darkness of the night
 Looking out for prey unwary
 So to feed her appetite

 Eely lady's old and wily
 Long of tooth and sharp of claw
 But those wrinkles are well hidden
 'Neath the smoothest skin you saw

 Eely lady is the greatest
 She's a sexy CEC
 She's got implants worth the money
 Most expensive surgery

 Eely lady play your heart out
 Get that crowd upon its feet
 Those cosmetics must be paid for
 'Cause it ain't cheap to look so sweet

Verse 2
 Eely lady ain't so fussy
 Hobbit, Dwarf or Elven Lad
 Anything that's young and tasty
 Is a tidbit to be had

 Entice them in with surface sweetness
 Little do the poor lads know
 That sharpened teeth, an evil mind,
 And many many long years lurk below


Verse 3
 Gentlemen, please listen carefully
 Best to learn this lesson well
 If you see the Eely lady
 Turn around and run like hell

*Chorus x2*

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Midi versus ABC. A challenge. By the Fool.

I had an interesting conversation with Lifimun (I think that is the name), a member of Les Beaux Chapeaux. It was during today's LBC concert, which was crap timing, but hey, all I did was disconnect him.

Anyway, the conversation was about methods of making ABC files. I liked one of their arrangements so I sent him a tell asking about it, and he was kind enough to respond. Basically, it was similar to many discussions I've had with Beorbrand over the years.

When making ABC files, is it better to work from midi or to do it by hand?

 According to Lifimun, were he ever to compose for Lotro he would compose in midi first and then translate to ABC. Of course, it's much easier to compose in midi than in ABC. To compose in raw ABC you sit in front of a blank sheet of paper, trying to put the notes together in your head, and then converting them to ABC on the fly. Takes a lot of trial and error. Midi is much nicer. You can compose in real music notation, or use that nifty Logic Pro colour bar method, choose cool instruments, and hey presto, it's done in a flash. Much, much quicker, much easier.

Except, does it work so well after you've converted it? Well, listen for yourselves.

Here's a set of sample versions of the Beorn jiggareel that I wrote for a recent BBB video. The arrangements are not identical, but the gist should be clear.

1. Sample 1. Composed in Logic Pro and bounced straight to mp3. Here's the midi.
2. Sample 2. Composed in Logic Pro, bounced to midi, imported into Maestro, converted to ABC, converted to mp3. (I spent very little time in Maestro, so there are many things not good about this conversion, most of which are not relevant here.) Here's the ABC.
3. Sample 3.  Done by hand directly in ABC, with no midi conversion, and no use of Logic Pro. Here's the ABC.

The jiggareel has a bit of a tricky rhythm, so it's a difficult test for Maestro. The second part of the tune is a 4 across 6 pattern, as the tune is playing a reel while the rhythmic backing is playing a jig. So the Midi to Maestro to ABC (Sample 2) gets the rhythm right for the first half, but the second half is very lumpy and uneven. The converter is struggling to get the rhythms matched. The timing in the direct ABC coding (Sample 3) is much better because I could code it in exactly by hand (although the attack of the flute doesn't match that of the bagpipe, so that sounds pretty bad in spots).

Of course, the bounce from Logic Pro is by far the best, but you'd expect that. If that wasn't the case you'd have to wonder why the hell you got Logic Pro at all.

Conclusion? Make up your own minds I guess. Personally, I think the hand-coded ABC sounds better, but I pay a price in time. Your mileage may vary, as always.

Would it be easier to use a midi/ABC converter, and then work on the ABC by hand? Possibly. But that sounds like an awfully fiddly job, especially given the format of the ABC that Maestro puts out. Very difficult to work with directly.

But maybe somebody can prove me wrong, and demonstrate that Maestro (in the hands of an expert, not a novice like me) can give a sound as good as the hand-coded ABC. I would love this. It would save me a whole lot of time.

Consider it a challenge.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Screaming fans

After my triumphant return to Bree I am now having to cope once more with screaming fans, thrown flowers, excessive attention, all those usual trappings of being a super duper rock star. The latest was a lady called ... er... Morgael I think, who clearly thought I was just the handsomest thing she'd ever seen.

Not that she actually said that, mind you, but I'm adept at reading between the lines to see what a person really means, just what they are too shy to say outright. It's OK, Morgael, you're not the only one to feel like this about me, and you won't be the last.

For some reason she seemed to want to speak to Beorbrand, or at least so she claimed. Of course I know that this was just a front, as she secretly only wanted to talk to me, but still, Beorbrand is an odd choice. Even Byrcha would be better. Well, OK, maybe not Byrcha, but possibly ... um ... well actually, pretty much everyone in BBB is a dead loss. Ah well, might as well be Beorbrand then.

I think she wanted to hire me as a female/male stripper, and thought Beorbrand was my agent. That would explain a lot.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Le sigh, as the cool people say. By the Fool

I admit to being saddened by the recent kerfuffle over the Lotro music system, and saddened even more by the fact that the improvements have been now taken away again.

I suppose it's naive to expect a reasonable and mature debate in any online forum, but the shitstorm that blew up over the music changes far exceeded even my pessimistic expectations. I suppose that a lot of people felt very strongly on both sides, but that's no excuse for bad behaviour. The whole episode merely left the music community looking fractured and immature, spoiled and selfish. To the extent that, if I were a Lotro developer, I wouldn't go near it again with a 10-foot pole.

Which means that I predict that none of the nice things we got will ever reappear. I hope I'm wrong.

To be fair, the people who opposed the change had some reasonable points, in that the changes were not perfect and many abcs would have to be adapted to fit. However, one can adapt an abc file to a different balance, but one can't adapt an abc file to a badly tuned clarinet. So the new system had far greater long-term potential, combined with short-term difficulties.

Still, the wrangling provided for a number of amusing moments. My favourite was the poster who claimed that the clarinet (old style) wasn't out of tune, despite that phrase being often used. Real musicians (continued the poster) know this. It's just out of balance (apparently) not out of tune. Comments like this are absolutely priceless, combining, in one neat little package, ignorance, pomposity, self-righteousness, and a total lack of self-awareness. You have to laugh. Well, I did. What I didn't do, of course, was reply.

Anyway, we'll be back soon to the old nasty instruments. Obviously they work OK, and you can do stuff with them. But it would have been so much nicer to have some decent sounds. Ah well. Nothing to be done about it now.

I haven't appeared with BBB for a while now, due to travel and other RL things. I miss the silly buggers. But neither have I composed anything for Lotro for a while, and that needs to change. I need to pull my finger out and get writing for Lotro again.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


It has been a long enforced absence for me, due to medical reasons. For many years now I've felt like a sheep trapped within the body of an idiot .... no, wait.... there's something not right about that. Never mind. Anyway, I took some extensive counselling with other members of the LMB and with BBB peoples, to make sure that I knew what I really wanted, how I really felt. We had lots of deep and meaningful conversations.

Well, not with BBB people of course. They've never said anything deep or meaningful in their entire lives of course. You know that, I know that. But the LMB leadership was very helpful, and already had a thorough personal understanding of the issues. Harper, for example, is a real expert on cosmetic surgery (not that it worked very well, but that's a very different question) while Byrcha is herself an orc trapped in a hobbit's body, struggling to get out, crying for help at the top of her voice, screaming, screaming, with nobody to hear. Poor Byrcha.

I didn't talk to Beorbrand, for obvious reasons.

The upshot of it all is that I decided to have the procedure, and convert myself, body and soul, to my trapped inner persona. Well, I mean, I didn't convert my body, not as such, as that would be rather painful and somewhat irreversible, and I might change my mind at some stage. But I took all the counselling, did every therapy session, ingested a variety of herbs, and came out of the Rivendell Clinic a brand new lady. It has taken a while. But then good things always do. It was worth the wait.

Behold, ye peons,  behold AEGTHILMINA.

Bow down and stand in awe. Admire the dresses.