Yosemite, Garageband 10.0.3, Soundfonts

My recent upgrade to Yosemite appeared to go without a hitch, until I fired up Garageband to tidy up the guitar line on my cello and harpsichord-driven song Girl In The Room.

To my dismay, the cello and harpsichord samples had disappeared, to be replaced by a very clunky generic synthesiser sound. After some investigation, it appeared that the new OS (or new Garageband 10.0.3) had nuked the soundfonts I’d put in Library/Audio/Sounds/Banks/. Perhaps I should have known this – but I’m new to Mac, and my experience on Windows is that it doesn’t hose your data when you upgrade. Ah well. Apple knows best, of course.

[Added 16 April. Looks like I’m not the only one.]

But, once I’d got the soundfonts from a backup and restored them to the correct folder, I’ve noticed that Garageband doesn’t see all of them. Other times, it sees a soundfont, lets me associate it with a track and plays it fine. Then I hit play again and the same track I heard seconds before is entirely silent although the dialogue box still claims the soundfont is associated with the track. (and what is a “user define bank”? User-defined, surely?)

Screen Shot of Garageband claiming - falsely- that the track is playing a cello soundfont

This basically means Garageband isn’t usable for me with soundfonts (which was the whole purpose of my buying it; I don’t want to be restricted to the excellent-quality but rather middle-of-the-road default samples).

But I’m a Mac/ GB n00b and am probably missing something obvious. Anyone got any advice?

Clearer Now (Jasmine in your hair)

The noisiest song I’ve writen for ages. Drums! Bass guitar (sometimes two motherfucking bass guitars)! a weedy trebly riff and three (count ’em!) dirty, dirty guitar lines. And no girly cello or mincing harpsichords, just a snakey riff with a good groove around a Gm chord, and a stonking chorus (though I immodestly say so myself). The chords in the chorus are a reasonably conventional Bb, F, Ab, Gm. But then it wanders down to Gb before returning to Gm, which is probably illegal in territories signed up to the Geneva musical convention. Check with a music lawyer before listening.

I don’t like the placeholder lyrics culled from old lyric jotter pads. They were just for the guide vocal track, to be replaced later. But liked my first-take vocal line so am keeping it (I rarely like my own vocals, so for me to be satisfied with a first take is unheard of). Hopefully it’s low enough in the mix not to be embarrassing. The bit about “dust and semen” is nicked from Auden’s September 1, 1939: “I, composed like them / Of Eros and of dust” via Richard Crowest.

The misadventures of my meteorological nipples

I awoke this morning to the sound of rain on my window. This is a pleasing, musical sound and although it’s vaguely annoying to work during sunny days and find it raining at the weekend, that’s England for you. Mostly, I was just reassured that my nipples were accurate.

I tweeted yesterday that if my nipples itch, it will rain:

and on Facebook and Twitter there has been a clamour of interest in my nipples (even more than usual). For example:

But my nipples haven’t always possessed paranormal powers of precipitation prediction. This appeared after two misadventures, one to each nipple. They were the mammarian equivalent to Peter Parker being bitten by a radioactive spider, perhaps.

I actually only have one and a half nipples now. My right nipple is a bit of a disaster. (And, for the avoidance of doubt, I mean my right nipple; it will be on your left when finally you and I are lying, brilliantly exhausted, with your tousled-haired head lying on my my chest, dear reader, as destiny commands us to do.)

In 1982, I was at school and my right nipple was a bit itchy (nothing to do with weather; an early chest hair was forcing its way through). I scratched it vigorously and, because I was a crazy kid with long black-varnished fingernails, my nail split the little head of the nipple in two and yanked a piece of it off. It bled a lot for a while. I won’t post a photograph of it, but to use a London skyline visual simile, if my left nipple is like a perfectly-domed tiny pink St Paul’s Cathedral, my right nipple would be the ugly brutalist splodge of The Barbican.

Seventeen years later, misadventure occurred with my left nipple. I’d had my nipples pierced as I was working up to going the full Prince Albert (or, as an extensively-pierced but malapropism-prone friend calls his, “a King Edward”). I’d gone to a posh piercing place in Soho where they froze it with a spray. As I was walking back to the tube, the numbness suddenly wore off and a wave of pain overwhelmed me; I clutched a lamp-post for support. “Are you OK?” asked a passing policeman. “Yes, I’ve just had my nipples pierced” I explained. He nodded as if he completely understood, and continued on his beat.

But that’s not the story. The second misadventure happened on a beach in Thailand with my infant daughter asleep in my arms. She must have awoken, looked up and seen the ring gleaming in the sunlight, reached up and hooked her tiny finger right through the left ring, and pulled. And pulled. And pulled.

It really is extraordinary how long a human nipple can be stretched. Obviously I had no ruler with me at the time, and even if I had, I would have had no inclination to take measurements, but I’d estimate my nipple extended to at least 3 inches before I managed to unhook her finger and then retired into the sea to allow the salt water to soothe the damaged flesh.

On my next trip to Soho, I had the rings removed. But since those misadventures, itchy nipples has become the unfailing harbinger of rain.

Reading List

Reading List

Here’s your Easter reading list. It’s more nourishing than chocolate eggs, and more toe-tapping than any Stravinsky spring-related ballet score.

Reading List

Reading List

Reading List

Reading List


Here’s my oldest newly-recorded song. I sat on it for two decades because for years I wasn’t sure if I’d accidentally stolen the melody – the previous song I’d presented to the band turned out to be mostly The Beatles’ “All My Loving”, so I was pretty paranoid about anything I wrote outside my usual “one two three four!” punky genre. For ages I played it on my acoustic guitar to girlfriends, other musicians and the postman (once) to ask them if they recognised it.

The phrase “Look at the way she..” was what I found myself singing when I first wrote it, but the lyrics were written much later in Turkey (where I lived in a fisherman’s cottage near the sea) and Nepal (where I went horse-riding up a mountain, which had trees though it wasn’t a forest). Hence the hippie/huggy lyrics. The line “She sometimes says what she means / I hope I can do this too” is because I tweaked the words to make absolutely sure that the person they’re written for never realises it’s about her. Self-expression’s one thing, but actually telling someone what you think of them is ludicrously risky.

It’s remixed from the demo of my song by Tony “Shez” Sherrard of the band Silverlake (also my old school friend and bassist with my old band, The Lucies).

He’s added bass, replaced my guide drums with something similarly simple but less plodding, and done post-production.

Look at the way she
kisses me gently.
Look how this simple act brings
my brain ease;
She’ll never try to please;
She needs the world to see she is free.
I’m proud but I’m sad for this too.

Look at the way she
walks through the forest.
Look how the leaf-light
glows her old white blouse green.
She aways dances and dreams;
she sometimes says what she means;
I hope I can do this too.

Look at the way she
swims in the ocean.
Look how the rivers’ swell
flows into her.
For all her wrecks and her tides
She’s in love with her life
I hope she can love me too.

But look at the way she’s
kissing me gently

Words and music © Bruce Lawson 2015

Posted in my music . Comments Off on bluegreenkiss