808Zones© by Richard Hart (2016)
As I sat down to start working on 808Zones© in early 2016, I decided I wanted to experiment with some different musical sounds than I had used in some of my previous work to date. I learned to play the Ukulele in the late 1960’s with some basic lessons from my Mother, and I had experimented with some mic techniques to capture the sounds I wanted. I quickly discovered that the acoustic process was cumbersome and was going to make the recording process even more difficult – so I contacted the Oscar Schmidt Company and discovered they had a bevy of well-built Ukuleles available with high quality acoustic pick-ups. When the instruments arrived, I was laying down some tracks within a couple of days. Literally, I just couldn’t put those Ukes down – and I was really having fun playing tunes I knew from memory, and also playing along with some tracks I had cut to practice with. (More...
So 808Zones© started taking shape, and it became clear (to me) that the musical inference I was hearing back had an Hawaiian vibe – and as you probably guessed, I really dig all things “Hawaiian” – so I officially started my first foray into my interpretation of modern Hawaiian music modality.
I also play the Accordion (along with a few other instruments) and I felt that it blended beautifully with the rhythm Ukulele chordal work. Interestingly, the Ukulele’s origins are Portuguese – and these beautiful instruments made their way to the Hawaiian Islands via Portuguese seamen. So the pieces to make this work really started several hundred years ago!
The next challenge was determining what tunes should be in the performance. I had targeted about 100 tunes as possibilities, and they were a combination of songs I had written to record, and some songs I had already recorded on earlier albums. There were also a few tunes written by friends, and some famous artists that I liked – or felt I had a “listen worthy” interpretations of their music to present.
As I mention on the web site, I only play these 808Zones©tunes at live events and for friends, and in that I am a “one-man” performance – I needed a way to capture all the parts I wanted in the performance track. Depending on the tune being performed, I may play the Ukulele, the Accordion or keyboard portion of the track “live”, and the rest is generated through my IPAD and into the performance speaker amplification system. Of course, my first choice would be to have Keoki and Mark play with me, but they have their own lives and work, and it’s just not practical given the limits my live performances command.
So the musical framework of 808Zones© was cast – and I finished the last piece in late 2016. I then mentioned to Donna (my Wife) that I needed a title for the work. She referenced as long as I stay in the “808 Zone” (the Hawaiian Area Telephone Code) any choice was fine with her. 808Zones© stuck!
Aloha Nui Loa!
808Zones© Weather at a glance: