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One Two Three Four

September 8, 2008

And so it begins. I finally made a start on my “album” yesterday. Now at this point it might not be a full-length album because that might take too long. It’s looking more like an EP right now, at least 4 and maybe 6 songs. A mini-LP if you like.

At my recent gig I got some useful feedback from a good friend who knows a little about songwriting and production. Basically my lyrics tend to be verbose. Much like this blog. That’s how I communicate verbally and in email too. So as I go along I’ll be trying to remove a little of the flab. Here’s a video clip from my most recent gig. This was quite a night: 30 minutes of my own material in front of a paying audience. It’s been a long time coming and at the end of it all I felt like I had just done something really important for me.

 

 

 

I’m keeping a video camera running in my studio to grab bits of the recording process. This might get used in some sort of promo video. It won’t be a diary-room-confessional.

Recording is a tricky thing. So that I can edit the songs later I need to make sure I’m in time so I use a ‘click track’ which is basically a metronome or a drum loop. Finding the right tempo is a bugger and takes longer than you’d imagine. Once I’ve got the tempo I put down a guide track so that I know whereabouts I am in the song. For the first song “What Do I Know” (my most recent composition) I used the guitar and a guide vocal.

It’s a Jekyll & Hyde situation when you’re alone in the studio: one moment I’m an engineer setting up the microphone and getting a sound, the next I’m a musician trying to play accurately but with some feeling and trying to leave space for the subsequent instruments, then I’m a producer keeping a view of the entire song and how I want it to sound. At what point do I say ‘that’s as good as I can play it so move on’ ? At what point do I stop worrying about it sounding crap and have a bit of confidence in myself ? You’d imagine that the guitar would have taken maybe an hour, maybe it does for other artists. 3 hours later I had my guitar track and I am happy with it. Before moving on I played a basic string quartet sound on top of the guitar and guide vocal to see if I had left enough room in the guitar playing for other instruments.  Next up will be a string arrangement. One of the common mistakes made is to get a keyboard sound with loads of sampled string instruments and play the whole lot together – almost like an organ part. While the sound is string-like it’s obvious that it’s just a keyboard player blocking out chords. The trick is to play each individual instrument and layer up the arrangement. I might have to score it out (I knew that degree would come in useful some day). It’ll be cello, 2 violas and 2 violins.

I was hoping to get the guitar part completed for my second song “Devil & The Deep Blue Sea” but only got as far as mapping out the song into the computer. I’ll make more progress tonight. The challenge with this song is the fact that I just realised there’s a time-signature change from 4/4 to 2/4 in each verse ! (or maybe I need to think of the time signature in a different way). I’m doing these two songs first because they’ll have similar arrangements: acoustic guitar, lead vocal, string quartet and backing vocals.

 

I’m keeping a video camera running in my studio to grab bits of the recording process. This might get used in some sort of promo video. It won’t be a diary-room-confessional.

Recording is a tricky thing. So that I can edit the songs later I need to make sure I’m in time so I use a ‘click track’ which is basically a metronome or a drum loop. Finding the right tempo is a bugger and takes longer than you’d imagine. Once I’ve got the tempo I put down a guide track so that I know whereabouts I am in the song. For the first song “What Do I Know” (my most recent composition) I used the guitar and a guide vocal.

It’s a Jekyll & Hyde situation when you’re alone in the studio: one moment I’m an engineer setting up the microphone and getting a sound, the next I’m a musician trying to play accurately but with some feeling and trying to leave space for the subsequent instruments, then I’m a producer keeping a view of the entire song and how I want it to sound. At what point do I say ‘that’s as good as I can play it so move on’ ? At what point do I stop worrying about it sounding crap and have a bit of confidence in myself ? You’d imagine that the guitar would have taken maybe an hour, maybe it does for other artists. 3 hours later I had my guitar track and I am happy with it. Before moving on I played a basic string quartet sound on top of the guitar and guide vocal to see if I had left enough room in the guitar playing for other instruments.  Next up will be a string arrangement. One of the common mistakes made is to get a keyboard sound with loads of sampled string instruments and play the whole lot together – almost like an organ part. While the sound is string-like it’s obvious that it’s just a keyboard player blocking out chords. The trick is to play each individual instrument and layer up the arrangement. I might have to score it out (I knew that degree would come in useful some day). It’ll be cello, 2 violas and 2 violins.

I was hoping to get the guitar part completed for my second song “Devil & The Deep Blue Sea” but only got as far as mapping out the song into the computer. I’ll make more progress tonight. The challenge with this song is the fact that I just realised there’s a time-signature change from 4/4 to 2/4 in each verse ! (or maybe I need to think of the time signature in a different way). I’m doing these two songs first because they’ll have similar arrangements: acoustic guitar, lead vocal, string quartet and backing vocals.

 

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