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April 10, 2006

Filed under: music»recording»sketchpad

Musical Sketchpad, Session Four

Baby I'm bad news.

This is the cover of Portions for Foxes that I recorded last week. Here are some of the reasons it's not very good:

  • The bass isn't high enough. I tried recording two tracks for this song, one direct from the pedal and another recorded from a microphone in front of my bass amp. The result is a very trebly bass sound, and the looped bassline that drives the song is very low. If you have the ability to boost the bass on your speakers, you may enjoy this more. With a graphic EQ, boost around 100-200Hz. I'll be fixing this tonight--it's relatively simple.
  • It's at the very top of my vocal range. This isn't the best place for me to be.
  • It required overdubs. I still can't sing and perform this at the same time as well as I'd like to do. This will be remedied by more practice, but it always bothers me to record music that I can't technically perform yet.
  • Even with overdubs, my rhythm is suspect. You'll hear around 3 minutes, where I start do do a more complicated chordal part on the G and D strings, that I can't quite keep it on the beat for the lower chord, which is a Dm6 double stop instead of the power chords or inverted triads I play most of the time.
Even with all that said, I think this is still presentable enough that I learned from it, which is the point of the sketchpads. I'm not ashamed for other people to hear it. One of the compliments I received from another bassist on these songs is that even though they're very rough, he can hear the attitude and the intensity that I'm trying to sing through them. I hope that's the case here.

April 6, 2006

Filed under: music»recording»sketchpad

Objects May Be Closer Than They Appear

In case the Taiwanese music pirates who download my songs (hello there! Bet you're surprised!) were wondering, here's the deal with the original I said I was going to record last week. I pulled up my old lyrics, remembered how the structure actually went, and realized that it's pretty unfriendly to looping. So it's back to the drawing board on that one. Instead, I just spent a well-needed couple of hours recording covers of Closer and Portions for Foxes, which you don't get to hear, because they're pretty terrible or something I don't really want my mom hearing (hello there!).

I may have new stuff up this weekend instead.

March 25, 2006

Filed under: music»recording»sketchpad

Musical Sketchpad, Session Three

Another voodoo song?

This song has a bit of history. Back when I was in an actual band, the division of labor usually meant that the guitarist would come up with a riff, then I would change the structure and write lyrics/bassline to match. But there were a few songs, including this one, that I wrote myself. Since those are mine (all mine!), I'm working on resurrecting them for my pretentious solo project. I think this one, which was one of our better numbers, works pretty well in its new format.

Back then it was called Voodoo Doll, and the lyrics fit the theme. Why so many voodoo songs? Well, when I was in high school, it was kind of a fascination of mine. I was reading a lot of William Gibson back then, and listening to a lot of blues. I also really like the loaded imagery that it helps create. Since I've already got a song on the topic now, I'll probably either change the lyrics or the name, so that it's less obvious.

I'll record and post another sketchpad with my other Mile Zero song later this week. It's one that wasn't ever a hit when we played it, but hopefully with a new bassline and some arrangement work, it might get a new lease on life.

March 24, 2006

Filed under: music»recording»sketchpad

Musical Sketchpad, Session Two

Innsmouth Blues

This is a rough version of my Electroplankton composition, so the organizer can have a sample. It uses Rec-Rec extensively, and also a little bit of Lumiloop. I had a version that included Tracy, but ran out of time while doing the actual recording. Also it starts with a bit of a sampled in-joke, which probably can't be included in the final for copyright reasons. It needs more movement, I think, but I like it. I really used Cubase's automation tools, which made a big difference.

So it's a blues song about Lovecraft's The Shadow over Innsmouth. Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!

February 27, 2006

Filed under: music»recording»sketchpad

Musical Sketchpad, Session One

Download here.

Every now and then I'm going to start putting up these little samples of music, just a song or two, for criticism or just for my own satisfaction. They'll often be covers that I like particularly, or maybe an original in progress. This time, you're hearing a cover of the Black Keys' "10am Automatic," although it's not quite accurate because I can never remember the second verse. Two things to notice about this song:

  1. I've started using Cubase to record these, because it's more reliable and offers native VST plugin support. Audacity's plugin support has always been a weak point for me, and you can hear why: the reverb and distortion plugins make this clip sound so much more professional and interesting than I was capable of before.
  2. I can't improvise a solo to save my life. Got to work on that.

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