Making Noise #1: Personal Voice Recorders

I thought I would start a new blog post series where I briefly talk about a technique that I've found interesting lately or a piece of equipment, new or old, that has been inspiring to me recently.

For the first one, I thought I would talk about the handheld voice recorder that I bought a few months back.  There are hundreds of used ones on eBay, using micro-cassettes or normal sized one similar to the one below.



 They usually have pretty cheap microphones in them that compress and distort whatever your recording, not to mention the warble and artifacts that come with the tape, which makes it a great tool for getting lo-fi sounds.  I've been using it for field recordings, recording people talking and outside noise, etc...  The other technique that I love it for is recording a pad, a drum beat, or even a whole track into the recorder, and then setting up a microphone and recording the playback of that back into Pro Tools.  This allows me to mix whatever level of the new sound I want back into my track, kinda like a parallel tape saturation/bit crushed/general lo-fi track.  They are super cheap on eBay, and well worth exploring for a number of purposes.  Anything from what I mentioned to recording the same thing twice and getting a really dirty tape echo, or using it like how Kieth Richards did on Street Fighting Man by The Stones.  Record a whole guitar track into the recorder and it becomes like a dirt pedal.  So many great techniques.  Try it out!

Here’ a track that I used it on:

And here's the Stone's song I mentioned:

Beatitudes EP




The dictionary defines “Beatitudes” as this: supreme blessedness; exalted happiness.  To me it means selflessness and the idea of service or rescue. 


This record was written originally for a documentary focusing on volunteer emergency response workers in the Dominican Republic. The majority of the pieces did not get used, so I decided to put them together and make this project. Writing the music while watching the selflessness of the protagonists in the documentary affected me and got me thinking on this concept of Beatitudes. Being of service to everyone around us without the expectation of anything in return. Simply just thinking of myself less, whether that be with regards to family, friends, the marginalized, homeless, refugees, etc.


I believe it is our highest calling on this earth to lay down our life for the service of another.  Most of us, if we are being honest, are terrible at it. We have too many selfish desires. We too often think only of ourselves. We would rather the convenience of non-action, to the inconvenience of helping someone in need.


That is where this project lives: in the tension between the desire to help but the unwillingness to sacrifice. Sometimes I do not like my response to need. Sometimes I do nothing, and just sit and wait for others. Sometimes I do exactly as I should, and go out of my way to help. I believe that for this world to restore itself, we all need to die to ourselves a bit more and learn to live out Beatitudes. Light in the darkness is unmistakable. You cannot miss it; it permeates everything.



“Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight

Got to kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight.”

- Bruce Cockburn


“Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget you perfect offering

There is a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in.”

- Leonard Cohen