Share

cover art for Down in New Orleans

Steve Pretty On The Origin of the Pieces

Down in New Orleans

Ep. 10.5

Steve finds himself in New Orleans for some on-the-ground research into Deep Funk (check out last episode if this doesn’t make any sense to you!), and more interviews, gigs, chats and music than you could shake a big voodoo stick at.


Episode 11 will be along soon, but meanwhile check out the first 10 episodes for a pretty broad variety of weird, curious and fun musical shenanigans, and sign up to Patreon for access to my full 2 hr live show recorded at Wilton’s Music Hall with a full choir, Hackney Colliery Band rhythm section and much more.


Back in your feed in the next week or two once there’s been a chance to digest the many hours of fascinating stuff generated from a week’s immersion in New Orleans culture and music.

More episodes

View all episodes

  • 17. Sound balancers, Bowie's favourite studio and Debussy

    01:00:20
    Episode SummaryIn this episode, Steve Pretty embarks on a sonic journey with Martin Appleby, a seasoned sound engineer with over nearly four decades of experience at BBC's Maida Vale studios. They delve into Martin's illustrious career, exploring his role in capturing live music for prestigious BBC programs and his the challenges and opportunities of live recording. The episode further explores the philosophical dimensions of recording live ensembles and the unique challenges of live studio recording.Key Topics DiscussedIntroduction to Martin Appleby- Overview of Martin's 40-year career at the BBC.- Martin's background as a musician and sound engineer.- His studies on the Appalachian dulcimer and its connections to West African music traditions.- The rich history and significance of Maida Vale studios.Live Studio Recording- The art and pressure of recording live music in a studio setting.- The benefits of musicians performing together in the same room without headphones.- Highlighting a memorable session with singer Jamie Cullum.- The role of sound engineers in capturing authentic, dynamic performances.Technical Aspects of Recording- Use of omni and stereo cardioid microphones.- Shaping the sound with artistic precision, akin to photography.- The importance of perspective in music recording.Exploration of Arabesque Music and Debussy- The influence of Islamic art on Debussy's compositions.- Debussy's revolutionary approach to music, seeking to establish a distinct French identity.- Insights from pianist Benjamin Steinhardt on Debussy's inspirations.Debussy's Musical Legacy- Debussy's use of older modes and Eastern pentatonic scales.- The impact of his relationship with his patron Nadja and admiration for Chopin.- Steve's own attempts at composing in Debussy's style and its analysis.Evolving Music Industry- Discussion on AI-generated music and its potential limitations.- Updates on the music industry landscape, including genre explorations and the transformation of the Jazz Bar in Edinburgh into a community-owned arts hub.- The closure of the Towersley Festival and the challenges faced by live music events today.Notable Quotes- "Capturing the performance is the one thing you really can't fake." - Martin Appleby- "The great thing we can do that nobody else can is we've got the space. The musicians can all come in, be in one place, do their thing, go away, and we just mix it." - Martin ApplebyAdditional Information- **Patreon:** Listeners can support the show and access exclusive content on Steve Pretty's Patreon page.- **Previous Episode:** Exploration of the double bass with Charlie Pine.Next Episode Teasers- Upcoming explorations of genres like Tona and Corrido.- Further discussions on the evolving landscape of the music industry.Listeners are encouraged to tune in for a deep dive into the world of sound engineering, the legacy of Debussy, and the vibrant history of Maida Vale studios.
  • 16. Double bass, planetary resonance and jam

    01:01:10
    Steve invites jazz double bassist/singer Charlie Pyne to the studio for a fascinating chat about all things bass. As well as a tour of her beautiful, historic instrument (affectionately named Claude), Charlie talks about the role of the bass in jazz and swing, and we hear some incredibly soulful playing. Charlie is so warm and joyful, and this reallycomes across in her music, which she gives us a live snippet of here, before an impromptu jamwith Steve and trombonist/occasional podcast assistant Joel Knee.Before this deep dive (sorry…), we hear an excerpt of the live podcast recording at Wilton’s Music Hall from earlier in the year. Astronomer Chris Lintott introduces us to a planetary system many light years away, and Steve explains how this distant star system can teach us about music, and vice versa, with the help of Filament Choir, Valeria Clarke and Hackney Colliery Band’s rhythm section.Oh, and stay right to the end for a very special offer…Sign up for the Patreon, mailing list and everything else here: http://www.originofthepieces.comCharlie Pyne: https://charliepyne.co.uk/First Light Festival: https://firstlightlowestoft.com/Chris Lintott: https://www.physics.ox.ac.uk/our-people/lintott and his brilliant podcast that I forgot to mention in the show (sorry Chris!): https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/dog-starsValeria Clarke: https://www.valeriaclarke.com/Hackney Colliery Band: http://www.hackneycollieryband.co.ukAlso Festival: https://www.also-festival.com/
  • 15. Spirited Away, modular expression and mild despair

    01:36:02
    In a specially-extended episode, Steve has a detailed conversation with some of the creative team behind the smash hit stage version of the Oscar-winning Studio Ghibli film Spirited Away. Director John Caird, co-adaptor Maoko Imai and Musical Supervisor/Orchestrator Brad Haak tell Steve how the show came to be, and give some absolutely fascinating insights into composer Joe Hisaichi's work, including Brad demonstrating some beautiful examples on John and Maoko's gorgeous grand piano.But first, Steve chats with Jay Chakravorty, composer, producer and promoter of brilliant London crossover classical music night Counter Chamber. Jay demonstrates his incredible modular synthesiser setup, and he and Steve discuss how expressive and emotional these wobbly, warbly voltage controllers can be, before Jay jams on his amazing machines.And before that, Steve shares his mild despair at the state of the music industry at the moment, prompted both by off-mic chats with his guests and musician colleagues, and also by a recent article in the Guardian about the plight of musicians in 2024.Sign up for the Patreon, mailing list and everything else here: http://www.originofthepieces.comGuardian article: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2024/apr/25/shocking-truth-money-bands-make-on-tour-taylor-swiftJay Chakravorty: https://jaychakravorty.com/Spirited Away: https://www.spiritedawayuk.com/
  • 14. Eliza, a cello made of U boats and Igbo flow

    52:38
    In another varied episode, Steve talks to soul singer Eliza about revealing her pregnancy live on stage, cellist Verity Simmons demonstrates her beautiful cello (and explains how it's partly made from a German U boat), and then Steve breaks down the fascinating genre of Igbo Rap in the Genre Tombola, including an in-depth transcription of some of the brilliantly complex rhythms.Sign up for the Patreon, mailing list and everything else here: http://www.originofthepieces.comEliza's website: https://www.elizalovechild.com/Eliza's instagram, including the pregnancy reveal: https://www.instagram.com/elizalovechild/Verity Simmons: https://maslink.co.uk/client-directory?client=SIMMV1&Three in a Bar podcast: https://www.threeinabar.com/Razz Mataz (Episode 8) by Chucky P, Khenyzee, Space, Chumzy (Igbo Rap track): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXWhvYDftMoAdditional Igbo Rap tracks to check out:https://youtu.be/LXWhvYDftMo?si=7LpEr-v4TKa5oZjR https://youtu.be/AckJs1noxMw?si=E9o41r7dSpxEjfO8https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLup2K0PBFlK1tY45LtqRKnfvOfY6scdqp&si=g705zAhYFbrZX4fw
  • 13. Worldwide Washboard Registry, autistic art, rockets and zydeco

    01:15:03
    To celebrate Autism Acceptance Week, Steve has two brilliant autistic artists on the show - poet Maddi Crease and musician Robyn Rocket. They talk autistic art, inclusive gigs, autistic joy, space trumpet and much more.And in between Steve takes us back to New Orleans for an interview with one of the world's leading exponents of the musical washboard! Alex Macdonald has made his living from playing the washboard for over 20 years, and here takes Steve on a quick tour through zydeco and cajun music, as well as demonstrating some techniques on this unique percussion instrument. He even agrees to let Steve have a go...Full, unedited interviews with Alex, Maddi and Robyn are available, along with much more (including the full, professionally-recorded live show from Wilton's Music Hall) on the show Patreon. Sign up for exclusive bonus content, special offers, chat and much more: https://www.patreon.com/StevePrettyOnTheOriginofthePiecesSteve's website: http://www.stevepretty.com
  • 12. Frank Turner, Trumpet Mafiosi and not talking about Jimmy

    01:22:53
    A bit of an interview special this time, with TWO incredible guests - Grammy-winning trumpet player Ashlin Parker and number 1 UK singer/songwriter Frank Turner.Steve asks these brilliant guests about the point of music, the history of hardcore punk in the UK, the challenges and opportunities of working as a musician in New Orleans, and how angry hippies and neo nazis can sometimes find themselves liking the same music...Ashlin Parker: http://www.ashlinparker.com/main/Frank Turner: https://frank-turner.com/
  • 11. Lofi hip hop, Zigaboo grooves and New Orleans explorations

    52:51
    In this first episode since coming back from New Orleans, Steve discusses the importance of that city to the history of music, and, with his guest, New Orleans resident (and former London-based musician) Hannah Davis, examines its present, from the community nature of music making, through to the idea of music as a 'service industry' and what this means to both musicians and audiences.He also features a track he produced for lofi hip hop artist rruaris, and uses it to demonstrate the role of a mix engineer/producer in the creative process, and wraps up the episode with a dive into the genre tombola - this time to break down the sound of New Orleans residents and Deep Funk pioneers The Meters.Show website: http://www.originofthepieces.comPatreon (including access to full recording of Wilton's Music Hall show): https://www.patreon.com/StevePrettyOnTheOriginofthePiecesrruaris: https://open.spotify.com/track/3Q8op7naEyrNZvtoTRTKd6?si=240d19effdf64be7 Pat Levett: https://patlevett.com/
  • 10. East Anglian cowpunk, trombone marathons, the 'i' word and reverb

    54:16
    In maybe the most varied episode yet, Steve speaks to Nathanial Dye about how terminal cancer reinforced his passion for music (and running the London marathon whilst playing the trombone), then, via a brief foray into the importance of reverb (as performed at Wilton's Music Hall on 20th January), finds himself making a cowpunk song set in East Anglia, with the help of his trusty AI lyricist.Show website: http://www.originofthepieces.comPatreon (including access to full recording of Wilton's Music Hall show): https://www.patreon.com/StevePrettyOnTheOriginofthePiecesNathanial Dye: https://bowelcancerbucketlist.com/ Please rate, review and share!