If I had to fit my Celt Extreme music into a genre, it would be “Celtic Folk Tribal Electronica.” Sound sources are acoustic: (vocals, harp, fiddle, mandolin, guitar, whistle, bodhran, whistle, bones) But also electronic percussion in the form of pads played with drumsticks and a pedal that plays massive bass drum sounds. An iPad can carry the entire sound libraries of all my fabulous old E-Mu synthesizers from the ‘8os. I play these sounds on a keyboard and a set of bass organ pedals. I can also play the best rack chime sample ever created by swiping the screen of my iPhone.
Then you have the heart of the system, the looper. I can capture sections of music with what amounts to a foot-operated recording studio, stacking them on top of each other or switching among them to spontaneously create intricate, dense music. A performance may require simultaneously: 1) foot-switching the destination of the vocal mic from looper to straight to P.A., 2) starting or stopping a loop, and 3) playing bass on the organ pedals, all on the same beat. This can present logistical problems, as I am currently possessed of only two feet. There are also a lot of wires to not trip over. Oh, and you have to be able to sing and play the music, too.
I was in Los Angeles many years ago and met a guy who, upon learning I played Celtic music, said “Wow, man. Why are you so into the past?” Some of the best music I’ve ever heard was sung by an elderly woman in a corner of a quiet pub or banged out on a battered, out-of-tune steel guitar. There’s a lot of ancestral power in these old musical traditions. We also live in a time when we have the means to amplify that power, arrange it in new ways, and invite the destiny of all living things: to grow and evolve and do so if at all possible in a manner extreme.
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