Saturday, February 9, 2013

February 6: Part 1

True story.
Basic recording - one guitar, voice.
I added some brass, but it's really low in the mix. I might fix that.
I am not sure if there will be a part 2. This is the back story for a couple of song ideas I have, but I don't even know if I will be able to bring them to life.

I am pleased with this song. Listening to it afterward I wonder if it sounds like I'm writing about sexual abuse. I'm not. Just regular psychological abuse.

February 5: Almost Happiness

Needs a remix. I'm mixing on earbuds. Good earbuds, mind you, but even so...
Inspired by early 80s English ska bands like Beat, The Specials, The Selecter; both in style and in content. I thought it odd that many of those bouncy dance tuned were really depressing if you listened to the words.
I am supposed to be resting my voice after blowing it out about three weeks ago. I foolishly tried to sing "Lola", and did so without restraint. As a result I truly injured my voice. It still feels like I'm singing through a fuzzbox and my pitch accuracy is wretched.
I haven't actually played bass yet - the first two tunes I'm just using synth.
And I'm tapping in the noted on the computer keyboard. The setup is still chaotic enough that I haven't got around to plugging in a keyboard.

Yes, you song a day cohorts with your studios and organization and discipline and workflow - I hate you deeply.

In case it isn't clear, the song is about being in love with a singer, who the subject will never know, but he believes he does because her voice speaks to him so clearly it's like she's there in the room with him.
It's a metaphor for the conflict and uncertainty in Russia following the reelection of Vladimir Putin.
No it's not.

Midnight in the Garden of Clean and Sober

The title popped into my head. I don't know why. It gave me some entertaining imagery: finding myself in some place that was unfamiliar and unwished for.

At this point I have to accept the fact that I have a system for writing songs. It's not a good system, but it's mine. It goes:
1. Have some lyrics, sort of
2. Have some musical sequence - chords, riff, shape...could be anything.
3. Record some tracks more or less blindly attempting to stick to (2)
4. Find unexpected inspiration during the process which lends color to the song.
5. Begin chanting lyrics over the instrumental tracks.
6. Repeat until melody forms. If necessary:
7. Make melodies mathematically by imagining notes in the chords, or not in the chords, depending on my state of mind.
8. It's finished.

So this song did start out as a simply strummed guitar chords. Next came the staccato thing. At the moment I decided, out of the blue, to add strings, the song became whatever it is now.

This is probably the only time I have ever written lyrics with someone else.
The chorus melody was inspired by Terry Taylor. You know, the leader of Daniel Amos.
I referenced a horrible song.
I broke one of my rules in this song, using a simile instead of metaphor.
I thought a lot about the garden where Digory goes to fetch the apple in "The Magician's Nephew" by C.S. Lewis.
The second guitar is also acoustic, just given a treatment in Logic.

2013: preparation

Hey, back in February. I cannot imagine how I am going to get anything recorded this year.
This year was going to be different: I was going to be prepared. With ideas, lyrics, riffs, even complete songs. As it turns out the leopard cannot change his spots, so February 1 landed on me with its full weight and found me utterly helpless to pick myself up and move forward.

I exaggerate. I had one or two ideas - a bit of lyric, a song title, and some hastily recorded iPad Garage Band tracks.

What I did not have was any idea where the recording gear was, or where I could set it up once I found it. Minor issues.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Encoded Heart

This was hard to do but the hardest part was naming the song.
I wrote the guitar part and melody simultaneously and then had to figure out what on earth it was - rhythmically. It's in some triple meter, with strange elisions in it. It's one of those things I can play but probably no one else would be able to.
Strange as it is rhythmically the tricky bit was completing the lyrics. A love song not drawn from any specific experience...I've never done that, not that I can recall.
I was working on this one a day or two ago when I stopped and wrote "Drop" instead. Following this line of thinking I should Roll next.
It may be the only time I've recorded a tambourine, at least in the past 25 years.

As the 2012 song a day project comes to a close, I'm satisfied with the results. I gave myself a few rules this year.
- no comedy/novelty songs.
- no improvisations, instrumentals, or 'compositions'. For me at least there are other places to explore these realms
- try to write songs I would actually use in some other context - e.g. perform
- try new things
- be ridiculously fearless with words
The last one was the hardest. Whether I write music that makes any sense at all to someone else is a question I stopped worrying about from the beginning. If it was logical in my own head then it passed the test.
Lyrically it's another matter. I have no idea how anything comes across, and words are a whole lot more personal than musical notes. Nevertheless I overrode the tendency to complete embarrassment and did the fearless thing. Looking back I only wince at the technical missteps, like the forlorn "should" in this song. (Plus I once made a vow to never use the word "should". Dang.) As for content, I'll stand by it.

Virtual Reality

Disaster struck, in the form of a software crash, causing two hours of cutting and pasting and vocal tracking to vanish.
Not quite, as it turned out. The vocal tracks were still there, as they are saved as .aiff files when recorded, so all I needed to do was drag them back into their respective tracks, identify them, and put them in the proper place. Following a reconstruction of the song, of course. The midi tracks were from many days ago, and were intended to be the germ of real instrumental parts, but time was a factor and I wanted to complete this song. So midi guitars it was.
I do wonder if anyone uses the term "Virtual Reality" anymore. It seems antiquated. Oh well. As a metaphor for the way we reshape our realities and more specifically our past realities I liked it.
The end of this song, where the system breaks down and the goggles melt, made me think of Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie, visually if not musically. Musically I didn't have any particular artist in mind with this tune. Technology as a metaphor for human relationships - something that recurs this year and I'm not quite sure why.
It does remind me that in preparing for song a day this year I rapped. A lot. I learned very quickly that I can't rap, under any circumstances, but the practice of keeping word flow going and varying rhyme schemes was useful. Every now and then something good would happen, an optimistic 5% of the time I'd day. If only I had been able to remember and replicate those moments, and, say, write them down.

I consider this song unfinished. I had much bigger plans for it, even some chord variation. It will be the first song I rework now that February is over.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Backside Disaster

Sounds like a bad thing, but a Backside Disaster is a skateboarding lip trick. Wish I could do one.
Here, watch Steve Caballero do one:
There's a band called Backside Disaster, which makes sense.
The vocal was recorded into the built-in mic on the computer, but I couldn't really improve on it, so there it remains.