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But If I Did....
14 October 2013 @ 09:37 am
This weekend I've been working on some songs for which I want to record the guitar part using my Variax Electric/Acoustic instead of my normal acoustic guitar. The advantage with the Variax is that I can record directly from its XLR (microphone-style) output instead of using microphones. This makes for a very clean sound and means I don't have to wait until the house is quiet to record. In fact, I usually turn on the speakers, play to that, and hear something of how the mix will sound as I'm playing.


I have a piece of software that I like called Guitar Rig. It's software simulation of various amplifiers and effects boxes that can be combined for sounds that range from subtle enhancement to outrageous distortion of the original signal. Recording a dry sound and then experimenting with effects is a great deal of fun...time-consuming, however.

On the vocals front, another of the people I asked for harmony contributions is getting enthusiastic about it and I need to send her a mix with my final vocals for "Found You In Time". With any luck that will happen today; I think my 10-day cold is enough better to allow me that much breath. It needs a quiet setting since my mouth/throat/lungs do not support direct connection to an audio interface. :)
But If I Did....
19 September 2013 @ 10:15 pm
The third of the songs that I'd asked sweetmusic_27 to help with was Tweedledee. She came up with a sweet and sentimental violin part that sounds as if it could be the melody for a counterpoint part. This works very well as a complement to the soft finger-picked guitar I like using behind these off-the-deep-end psychotic lyrics. :-)

I think there will be harmony vocals added and perhaps 12-string before this is complete but, with new vocals and the violin, it's shaping up: Tweedledee.
But If I Did....
18 September 2013 @ 08:01 pm
This part of the story begins in a filk circle at FKO, April 2011. I played a Firefly song called "Talk To Strangers" that I'd written the previous summer. Part way through, I could hear sweetmusic_27 playing along on the other side of the room. I thought it sounded great and it has stayed with me as a highlight. The fiddle took the song and brought out the Firefly-ness in a way nothing else could.

When I started working on this current collection of songs, I wanted a chance to hear that again and asked if she would be willing to provide a fiddle track for it...and, oh, a couple of other things too, maybe?

Some audio tracks arrived last night, that one included.

The other one I've worked on is "Watching One Another". Before hearing my original scratch track for this, some people hadn't realized that I thought of it as a country song. It certainly is now...Alien Line-Dancing!

Here are a pair of SoundCloud updates. The third one is going to be on hold until I re-record both my guitar and vocals.

If this isn't final, it's very close: Talk To Strangers
I think this is a lot of fun. I'm not sure how much more I'll do with it yet: Watching One Another
But If I Did....
17 September 2013 @ 08:14 am
I recorded another final (probably) vocal last night, this time for Talk To Strangers.  Instead of my usual thing of doing one take, analyzing it, doing another to correct for mistakes, punching in overdubs of irritating words and phrases, and so on, I tried something new.  I simply assumed that my Cinderella habit would be in force and did three complete takes of the song without bothering to audition them until they were all done.

It seems to make the process of choosing/building a good track easier when it's all in front of me and I don't have to go back to the microphone for anything.  Plus, I have a better feel for which is likely to be the best take when I've done them all together.

Extra practice is good and the only downside is a bit of temporarily-wasted disk space.
But If I Did....
15 September 2013 @ 12:05 pm
The two songs that have had a significant amount of new work by me this weekend (so far) are "Stealing The Sky" and especially "Time Traveller". I've replaced the SoundCloud versions with the new ones. Lead vocals on both and acoustic guitar on TT are probably final takes, subject to minor tweaking (of course!).

But If I Did....
14 September 2013 @ 08:38 am
There is progress, slow, but actual.

In the time since Karen Linsley recorded the lead vocal for one of my songs (link included in a previous post), she has sent me regular email to say that, after listening to what she did, she believes she can sing the part better now. We're currently making plans for her to visit again next month so that she can record harmony tracks for two other songs, so we'll try re-recording the "She Bleeds For Roses" lead while she's here. I should note that nobody has had anything critical to say about her first recorded attempt at it, quite the opposite! :-)

What I need to do is focus on those "two other songs" and finalize my vocals so that she has the right phrasing to work with. (My singing, as it exists on the sample tracks, was meant to give a sense of the song without consideration of whether they were final or not.)
But If I Did....
11 August 2013 @ 12:41 pm
As mentioned earlier here, there has been talk of Karen Linsley as lead vocalist on a couple of the M.U.A. songs. She has been visiting again and, Friday night, we went beyond talking and recorded a vocal track for a song called "She Bleeds For Roses". Since then, I added acoustic guitar and did some mixing, mostly to balance voice/instrument levels.

Here's how it came out.

Karen's opinion: Not bad, but I can probably do it better with some more practice.
My opinion: I'll take it!!

One way or another, it's not quite a finished production but it's a good indication of where the song is headed.
But If I Did....
24 July 2013 @ 06:54 pm
sexybass and sposter were here for a visit last night. The main purpose was to go over scratch tracks for the upcoming Stone Dragons' CD and for my M.U.A. project and provide feedback on tracks, arrangements, general sound, and possible additions. We've each had CDs of the other's music since before Conterpoint for the purpose of picking holes in it. janeg and I listened to the Stone Dragons one twice on car trips and once on our home stereo while making notes.

I came away from the conversation with some strategic ideas to consider and some very good suggestions for fixes. Also, if I count up the things Tom and Sue volunteered for, I get at least fourteen instrumental tracks and eight vocal ones. I believe this can be defined as Tom showing remarkable restraint. :-)
But If I Did....
19 July 2013 @ 06:07 pm
The past four weeks have seen very little happen with M.U.A. I've spoken to some people about songs they might be interested in contributing to. A few have agreed and a few more have agreed to think about it. :)

Karen Linsley was visiting earlier this week and we talked about two songs where she might be the "guest lead vocalist". One of them seems very likely and the other a toss up. Thing is, I learned a few years ago that, for any given song, Karen and I are most comfortable singing in keys that don't match the other person's preference...usually on the opposite side of the wheel of fifths. One of the songs I asked her to consider singing would sound fine moved from Am to Em as she'd like. The other has a guitar part that wouldn't survive transposing from Am to Gm unless I could find a way to capo minus-two.

We also went over a couple of songs with her singing a harmony part. One of them worked fine and the other didn't, at least not yet.

This lack of excitement has been brought to you by work, heat, floods, and 50/90.
But If I Did....
25 June 2013 @ 12:07 pm
I'm starting to see good progress toward the goal of planning arrangements. Most of the people I've been in contact with so far have agreed to listen to songs and see whether there are things that appeal to them for adding tracks. Some have agreed in principle to be on ones I've suggested and others have volunteered for what they think will work. (Yay for the first! Triple-yay for the second!)

This is necessarily a slow process since there are pieces where I probably wouldn't want nine-part harmony if all the possible volunteers were to like the same song. :-)

I need a mechanism to manage who is doing what on which song. I wonder what I did during the creation of "Rain on the Sand". I'll have to check old notes...or maybe journal entries!