Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Monday, August 21, 2006
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Last night I finished recording the second to last guitar part on the very last song. Almost halfway there (vocals, mix/fix, mastering still to come).
Thursday, July 20, 2006
1) Get the chords, melody and lyrics written for all the songs
2) Write and record the drums, keys, bass, and synth parts for all the songs
3) Write and record the guitar parts for all the songs.
4) Make tracking mixes
5) Write and record all the vocals for all the songs
6) Final mix and mastering
The reason that I am hoping to hear about other working patterns is that it has been more than a year since I finished step one and I am still struggling to get past step four, with not much to show for a significant investment of time and effort. In addition, it is hard to get (positive) feedback on things which are so manifestly "works in progress"; the whole experience has been much more isolating than I would have liked it to be.
I work in software, and in my professional capacity I spend many days telling people to avoid this kind of "all or nothing" project methodology (in software we call this the waterfall model). The two arguments which seem to resonate the most are:
1) If something goes wrong at any point in your project, you wind up with nothing. If you use a more incremental approach even if your project gets canceled 1/3 of the way through you still reap 1/3 of the benefits.
2) If the people who are so excited by your ideas that they have green-lighted your project have to wait (any longer than they absolutely must) to see the results they will probably forget about you/lose faith/move on to something else new and shiny.
But back to music...
I'm not sure if I can change my approach at this point: I'm far enough in to it that the only possible way out seems to be to keep moving forward or die (aka the deathmarch scenario, another great software concept).
The reason (I think) that I chose to do things in the order I did was that each step in the process (2, 3, 4) used a tool which required a significant learning curve (Reason, Line 6, ProTools), so I was able to spend more time getting familiar with the tools than if I had been sticking to one song at a time and moving from tool to tool.
Monday, July 17, 2006
But there were still some things I wasn't happy with. Editing on cassette tape is a process fraught with peril - every time you try and fix something you introduce more noise into the signal - so to keep the noise down I kept edits to the absolute minimum. While this technique allowed the album to sound slightly less like mud, it made me leave some things on the tape which, with the charity of hindsight, I can only characterize as fuckups. Also, while I was investigating different, noisier, sounds on the guitar, the 128 midi voices in the Roland were not cutting it any more ("ugh, Japanese Koto again?"). The drums on the Roland were particularly poor and if you don't have drums, you simply do not rock.
So I decided that for my next album, I had four engineering goals:
1) No audible fuckups
2) No more tape hiss
3) Better instrument sounds
4) Real drums
Doesn't look overly ambitious, does it?
Friday, July 14, 2006
However, I was kind of unsatisfied with what I could accomplish with just guitars, so I bought a Roland midi keyboard with 128 built in voices. I spent some time getting the rust off of my piano skills and listening to the various sounds that the Roland could make - "ooh, a Japanese Koto?!?!" plus stupid sound effects like the sounds of rain/static and breaking glass. But undeterred, I dialed in the "Piano 2" sound and recorded another album on the 4-track, adding the Roland to the basic setup from “Four Track Mind”.
As you can see from my GAS list, musical equipment costs money, and as a young man on my own in the world I didn’t have any. My priorities were paying the rent and getting laid, and the only work I could get (as a temporary office assistant) really didn’t cover much more than the essentials outlined above. There was a period of time where I focused on attaining a slightly more elevated career path than “that kid in the typing pool”, so most of my time (and the little money I had) went to education and training and working long hours at apprentice rates. But by the mid ‘90’s I was making a good salary (essential 1) and married (essential 2), so I started spending a little more time with music.
I had a bunch of songs that I would play at my local coffeehouse on solo acoustic guitar, and a (small) group of accommodating friends who would come down to hear me play, but I wasn’t really happy with what I was playing. The songs were OK, but there were things about the songs that I was just not able to convey on solo acoustic guitar. So I got an electric guitar, a distortion pedal, and a Tascam 4-track cassette recorder.
The Daily Adventures of Mixerman
Slipperman's Recording Distorted Guitars Thread From Hell
Mixerman is a funny writer and the Daily Adventures are a traditional episodic narrative/workplace sitcom setup like "Tales of the City" except set in an LA recording studio. Slipperman is like the best teacher you never had in High School who can say "fuck" in every other sentence and smoke a cigar while he is standing in front of the class pontificating. It helps to be interested in audio mixing (which is where I am stuck right now) but I think anyone can enjoy these two guys. It's like listening to "Car Talk" (Mixerman and Slipperman apparently tried doing a radio show at one point but I cannot find a link); you don't really need to be interested in fixing cars to enjoy the show.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
|Aria Acoustic Guitar||1997||300|
|Shure SM57 Microphone||1998||100|
|Frankenstein Electric Guitar||1998||300|
|Tascam 4Track Analog Recording Hardware||1998||300|
|Boss Guitar Distortion Effect Pedal||1998||50|
|Dunlop Crybaby Wah Guitar Effect Pedal||1999||50|
|Roland XP-10 Midi Controller||2000||400|
|Cakewalk Home Studio Recording software||2001||100|
|M-Audio Delta 44 Audio Card||2002||200|
|Line6 POD XT Amp Modeler||2003||350|
|ImageLine FLStudio Recording Software||2003||200|
|M-Audio 1x1 MIDI Adapter||2004||50|
|Digidesign Mbox Audio Card||2005||200|
|Digidesign ProTools Recording Software||2005||300|
|Propellerhead Reason MIDI Instrument Library||2005||500|
|Epiphone Elitist Les Paul Electric Guitar||2005||1000|
|Squier Telecaster Electric Guitar||2005||200|
|RODE NT-1 Vocal Microphone||2005||200|
|Behringer Truth Near-Field Monitors||2006||350|
And don't even get me started on what it costs to run my car...
Friday, May 26, 2006
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Saturday, April 29, 2006
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
"Oh yeah, Green Day. They sound just like the Ramones"
"Oh yeah, Blink-182. They sound just like Green Day"
"Oh yeah, Fall Out Boy. They sound just like Blink-182"
"Oh yeah, Panic at the Disco. They sound just like Fall Out Boy"
I guess I've been missing something, because according to the myspace music charts punk pop is the only viable sound for a working rock band in the mid-Atlantic area.
I'm gonna go back to listening to "53rd and 3rd" now.
Monday, March 27, 2006
The Telecaster through a Soldano head and Marshall cab is a great, hi-gain sound. For straight blues the Fender Bassman and a TS-808 tube screamer is an excellent sound (the screamer is not nearly so effective with the Les Paul), and with the pedal clicked off I can get that Keith Richards crunchy rhythm sound. The Telecaster sounds good through the Marshall stack as well, but whenever I go there I realize, "yeah, this is good, but it would be better if I was playing the Les Paul right now".
Friday, March 10, 2006
I'm an intermediate player and know some theory. I want to improve my playing but don't have time, money, or any desire to take lessons from someone.
Can anyone please recommend a book for self-teaching? What's the best book you've used? I don't want to be steve vai. I'm an indie-rock-blues type player, looking for improvement in that vein.
I like Rikky Rooksby. He is very prolific, but he basically just rewrites the same book, "Rock Music Theory by Example", over and over again so pick the one that seems to relate the best to what you want to accomplish. The books have no music scores and minimal tablature (sort of like leaving the equations out of a science book) but use prose and song examples to teach and illustrate basic music theory.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Subjunctive mode character lyrics
Major 7/Minor 7 chords
Piano or retro keys
Acoustic or small electric guitars
Death Cab for Cutie
"I" pov thought feeling lyrics
Electronica drum loops
Piano or retro keys
Acoustic or small electric guitars
"I" character pov melodramatic lyrics
80's analog synth
Electric rhythm guitar
Electric blues lead guitar riffs or piano
Drums - bass snare hi hat ride primitive
Everything But the Girl
Electronica drum loops
"I" feeling lyrics
Character pov lyrics
Major 2 and jazzy minor chord voicings
Piano/retro keys or bright electric lead guitar
Double tracked vocals
Drums - bass snare hi hat funky
Synth drums drum loop
80's analog synth stabs
Bright electric bass
Electric funk guitar stabs
"I" want lyrics
Electric rhythm guitar riffs or piano/sax/vocal chorus
Electric blues lead guitar or slide
Small drums swing
Stevie Ray Vaughan
Electric blues lead guitar
Small drums swing
Electric blues lead guitar or 80's analog synth leads
Monday, March 06, 2006
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
One thing I don't really like is that The Killers, like Franz Ferdinand, are totally gay while remaining sexually coy. I never thought it would come to this, but I much prefer Morrisey's Queen Bitch persona.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
I am good with the following chords : E, Em, A, Am, G, D, C, F. Are there any popular songs which deal with just those chords? Someone recommended some songs to me before but when I looked them up online they had complicated chords (and some involved putting that clamp on the guitar) others had a lot of obscure chords which are difficult to play like B chord.
An example of a song which is really simple to sing is the Beatles' "Hide your love Away" it just has the basic A, G, D, C chords and that is it. I am looking for more songs which just deal with those chords. Would someone be kind enough to point me to a few urls?
You should probably start with songs that you like/are familiar with/sound easy to play. Then look up the simplified tabs (.crd) on a site like www.olga.net or www.harmony-central.com (Search Results). If the tab has a few chords in it that you don't know, try just skipping those chords and picking up again when you do know the chords. If the tab has a "slash" chord in it (e.g. D/F#), pick one of the chords and play that instead of trying to combine the two chords (which is what a slash chord is indicating). If the chord is not a major triad (G7, E5) just play the version you know (G, E).
If the tab has a lot of chords you don't know, you might try transposing it (a little music theory will help here). Basically, most of the useful chords you know are in the key of C major (C Em F G Am). A very common rock chord progression is I-IV-V, which in C major would be C-F-G. If the song was in the key of E major (a very common guitar key), a I-IV-V progression would be E-A-B. If you can't play a B major chord, you could transpose the song to C major and play it as C-F-G.
If you are looking for examples, most blues based songs use a I-IV-V (C-F-G, D-G-A) progression. If you are a Beatles fan, your might try "Get Back" or "Revolution". Another very popular progression is I-VI-IV-V (C-Am-F-G), which is used in most doo-wop songs. Many rock songs use a variant of this progression, such as "Let It Be" (C-G-Am-F) or the chorus of "She Loves You" (Em-A-C-G).
I'm thinking about purchasing this:Digidesign Mbox2 Factory Bundle
Check out the musicansfriend postings. Lots of useful information there.
Does anyone have experience using the Mbox 2? The factory bundle comes with a ton of programs which are appealing.
I bought the Mbox factory bundle, so you may want to check the specifics of the Mbox2 bundle. Reason Adapted is a MIDI virtual instrument/drum loop library. I wound up upgrading to the full version ($150 credit for Adapted version). Reason is a wonderful program, but it is only useful if you are doing MIDI. Live Adapted is an audio sequencer (again a cut down version). I already had FL Studio, and I am happy with that for sequencing, so I haven't really used Live. The Bomb Factory and Amplitube are RTAS effects which you can use to modify audio tracks in Pro Tools. I have a POD amp/effect simulator, so I really don't use the Amplitube plug ins (or really any post-recording guitar effects).
I have a Dell Inspiron, 2 Ghz Pentium M, 1 Gig RAM, so it should be able to handle the workload.
Be EXTREMELY careful to make sure that your computer is supported by Pro Tools (http://www.digidesign.com/compato). This is a VERY PICKY piece of software. I work with computer hardware for a living and I wound up with a setup where I cannot record through the Mbox using ProTools.
Also - it says it's powered by the USB port, but this thing have real-time sequencing? Can it/does it plug into the 1394 port?
It uses a USB port and gets power over the USB cable. It does not plug into a 1394 (firewire) port - I believe that some of the rack models do, but the Mbox
I don't know what you mean by real-time sequencing. If you mean that want to be able to play along with backing tracks, record overdubs, patch in, etc. you
can certainly do that. If you mean that you want to combine and loop smaller audio clips into larger audio clips, you want to use Live, not ProTools.
I play guitar and plan to record demos. I realize there are simpler programs, but I like the software package this one offers.
The Mbox is a high quality/low latency external sound card. With a 3.4Ghz processor and 800Mhz FSB I can record with 8 ms latency (which means that I really don't have to do any input monitoring). If you need to set a larger buffer size (higher latency), the Mbox provides direct input monitoring via a spin knob on the front of the box. If you have a mono audio input (microphones, guitar amps) the Mbox can mix the mono equally into both headphones.
I appreciate any comments/advice on this software package, and if there are other alternatives.
ProTools and Reason are both complicated software products - there are a ton of knobs to twiddle and options to choose. Expect to spend some time (weeks) reading manuals and how-to books. That being said, I don't think that ProTools and Reason are unnecessarily complicated. Digital Audio is a complicated subject, and these are powerful programs - you need to take some time to understand the tools at your disposal and how to use them.
The Mbox is a good piece of hardware. The mic-inputs are pre-amped. The monitoring features are extremely useful, and the drivers are excellent. If you are going to connect an electric guitar directly into the Mbox you need to get TRS (stereo) patch cables.
There are other alternatives. FLStudio (www.flstudio.com) combines MIDI/Audio/Effects/Mixing/Sequencing capabilities. If you are just doing audio Cakewalk Home Studio (www.cakewalk.com) is pretty good. Both of these programs can run (for better or worse) with almost any sound card. As far as sound cards, I had an M-Audio Delta 44 (www.m-audio.com) before I bought the Mbox, and I was pretty happy with it - drivers and latency are good, but it doesn't have mic inputs, pre-amps, or the stereo monitoring option.
Bottom line - the factory bundle has good versions of everything you need to run a home studio. Just make sure it works with your PC.
Sunday, February 12, 2006
"1. Act of the Apostle - Belle and Sebastian
2. Another Sunny Day - Belle and Sebastian
3. White Collar Boy - Belle and Sebastian
4. The Blues Are Still Blue - Belle and Sebastian
5. Dress Up In You - Belle and Sebastian
6. Sukie In The Graveyard - Belle and Sebastian
7. We Are The Sleepyheads - Belle and Sebastian
8. Song For The Sunshine - Belle and Sebastian
9. Funny Little Frog - Belle and Sebastian
10. To Be Myself Completely - Belle and Sebastian
11. For The Price of a Cup of Tea - Belle and Sebastian "
The new Belle and Sebastian album (suprisingly) kind of rocks. Not, perhaps, as hard as "Don't Fear the Reaper", but rock nonetheless. It's got a little bit of the Beatles, via Badfinger (the shuffle blues riff on "The Blues are Still Blue") or Imperial Bedroom era Elvis Costello (the keyboards, hand claps and skronk upstroke rhythm guitar on "Funny Little Frog" and "To Be Myself Completely").
My appreciation of "Funny Little Frog" is somewhat tempered by the consistent (and insistent) attempt to rhyme "poet" and "throat", but all in all I have been enjoying this album much more than I expected.
Sunday, January 29, 2006
"1. A Go Go - John Scofield
2. Chank - John Scofield
3. Boozer - John Scofield
4. Jeep On 35 - John Scofield
5. Green Tea - John Scofield
6. Hottentot - John Scofield
7. Cissy Strut - John Scofield
8. I'll Take Les - John Scofield
9. Kool - John Scofield
10. Ideofunk - John Scofield
11. Uberjam - John Scofield "
I used to think of Medeski, Martin and Wood as Phish for the jazzbo set, but here they do their best Jimmy Smith Trio impersonation backing John Scofield. Maybe Phish for the jazzbo set is just Phish.
"1. Some Of My Best Friends Are Blues - Jimmy Smith
2. The Boss - Jimmy Smith
3. This Guy's In Love With You - Jimmy Smith
4. Fingers - Jimmy Smith
5. Tuxedo Junction - Jimmy Smith
6. Chitlins Con Carne - Kenny Burrell
7. Mule - Kenny Burrell
8. Soul Lament - Kenny Burrell
9. Midnight Blue - Kenny Burrell
10. Wavy Gravy - Kenny Burrell
11. Gee Baby Ain't I Good To You - Kenny Burrell
12. Saturday Night Blues - Kenny Burrell
13. Kenny's Sound - Kenny Burrell
14. K Twist - Kenny Burrell "
A funky, bluesy Hammond Organ with classic sixties Blue Note cover art - it must be Jimmy Smith. The first album features a young George Benson on guitar, the second features Jimmy backing Kenny Burell.
"1. Boogaloo Joe - Ivan 'Boogaloo Joe' Jones
2. Boardwalk Blues - Ivan 'Boogaloo Joe' Jones
3. Atlantic City Soul - Ivan 'Boogaloo Joe' Jones
4. Right On - Ivan 'Boogaloo Joe' Jones
5. Poppin' - Ivan 'Boogaloo Joe' Jones
6. Someday We'll Be Together - Ivan 'Boogaloo Joe' Jones
7. Brown Bag - Ivan 'Boogaloo Joe' Jones
8. No Way - Ivan 'Boogaloo Joe' Jones
9. Sunshine Alley - Ivan 'Boogaloo Joe' Jones
10. Inside Job - Ivan 'Boogaloo Joe' Jones
11. Confusion - Ivan Boogaloo Joe Jones
12. Trouble In Mind - Ivan Boogaloo Joe Jones
13. Sweetback - Ivan Boogaloo Joe Jones
14. You've Got It Bad, Girl - Ivan Boogaloo Joe Jones "
Get your bad self in here! Anyone who goes by Boogaloo is OK by me.
"1. Upshot - Grant Green
2. The Final Comedown - Grant Green
3. Cantaloupe Woman - Grant Green
4. Dracula - Grant Green
5. California Green - Grant Green
6. Flood In Franklin Park - Grant Green"
Brought the funk to jazz. A slightly dirtier sound, locks in with the organ more than the totally clean Wes Montgomery sound.
"1. No Blues - Wynton Kelly Trio & Wes Montgomery
2. If You Could See Me Now - Wynton Kelly Trio & Wes Montgomery
3. Unit 7 - Wynton Kelly Trio & Wes Montgomery
4. Four On Six - Wynton Kelly Trio & Wes Montgomery
5. What's New - Wynton Kelly Trio & Wes Montgomery
6. Willow Weep For Me - Wynton Kelly Trio & Wes Montgomery
7. Portrait Of Jennie - Wynton Kelly Trio & Wes Montgomery
8. The Surrey With The Fringe On Top - Wynton Kelly Trio & Wes Montgomery
9. Oh, You Crazy Moon - Wynton Kelly Trio & Wes Montgomery
10. Misty - Wynton Kelly Trio & Wes Montgomery
11. Impressions - Wynton Kelly Trio & Wes Montgomery "
Most of what you think of when you think of jazz guitar is Wes Montgomery. Clean sound, smooth phrasing accentuated with double stops and partial chords.
Friday, January 27, 2006
Steely Dan - Slickly produced, harmonically complex pop for piano and guitar.
Everything But The Girl - Dance rhythms and electronica stylings linked to traditional song structures and instrumentation.
Roxy Music - Technically limited vocals embodying a mature, cosmopolitan worldview.
Keith Richards - Crunchy, augmented 3rd, Telecaster rhythm guitar riffs which slip the beat from the snare drum into their back pocket and go for a ride.
Elmore Leonard - Characters and dialog lifted from an Elmore Leonard novel.
Friday, January 20, 2006
1. Since U Been Gone - Kelly Clarkson
2. Behind These Hazel Eyes - Kelly Clarkson
3. Gone - Kelly Clarkson
4. Complicated - Avril Lavigne
5. Sk8er Boi - Avril Lavigne
6. Take Me Away - Avril Lavigne
7. My Happy Ending - Avril Lavigne
8. Extraordinary - Liz Phair
9. Rock Me - Liz Phair
I think the key to this sound is Antares pitch correction/vocal processing modules. http://www.antarestech.com/products/index.shtml.
It's kind of strange to have Kelly Clarkson in this list, because I think she can actually sing unaided. Bob Mould said that "Since U Been Gone" was his favorite song of the year, and I can see why - it sounds exactly like a Bob Mould song, especially in the "Shut your mouth I just can't take it" section of the bridge - except a little more perky and upbeat.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
"1. Faster, Sooner, Now - David Gray
2. Late Night Radio - David Gray
3. Sell, Sell, Sell - David Gray
4. Babylon - David Gray
5. My Oh My - David Gray
6. White Ladder - David Gray
7. This Years Love - David Gray"
Somewhere between Dylan and Coldplay. I'm not sure that this is a good place to be. I thought his combination of electronica and traditional songwriting would be more compelling than it actually is.