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It’s a Wonderful Lie

It's a Wonderful Lie

A year since I posted last? I’ve worked on a lot of stuff, I just can’t finish anything.

This track is a little different than most of the tracks on this site in that it is a collaboration I did quite some time ago with some guys from Twinsburg. I recently dusted it off,  added more guitar, redid the bass and drum sounds and added some samples.

It has a lyric of sorts. Originally it was intended as a placeholder line that would be replaced with real lyrics at some point. I think it was recorded with some cheap gaming mic. After working with the file for a while I came to like it as is. And so I kept the throwaway line.

Happy Listening

 

 

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What a Wonderful World

I predict I’ll revisit this in the future. It’s existed on my hard drive, in one form or another for probably over 10 years.  It started long ago when I was playing with some text to speech software. I saw in the help file that there were special codes you could embed in the text to make the software sing.  So I started playing with the lyrics to this song.

Right away I liked the sound and the sinister feeling of hearing a computer singing about how wonderful it found the world.

Over time I tried different arrangements but none of them really fit the feel of the vocals. Neither does this one but it’s the closest.

Produced in Sonar X1 and Reason 6. There’s a couple of chunky guitar guitar tracks and everything else is synthed.

Happy Listening

 

 

 

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Things Get Bitter

And here’s the one for July.

A schizophrenic piece.  I apparently did not know if I wanted something light or dark so I ended up with something that went back and forth for 4 and an half minutes until I decided to just end the discussion with a short reprise of the initial riff giving it a kind of shave-and-a-haircut sudden ending.

Then I couldn’t bring myself to post it.

Although it seemed like an ending it also seemed artificial and forced.  A “thank god it was all just a dream” ending.  So for a week I hoped I’d come up with something better, without making it longer, and I couldn’t.  So I removed the reprise and let it just end where it ended.

Why doesn’t art just do what you want it to do?

This was done entirely in Reason 4.  Used sampled and synthesized strings, sampled piano, and some xylophone-like sound I came up with on the new Thor module.

And with that, I’m back on schedule.

Happy Listening: things get bitter

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Bones

skullI thought having been laid off would give me a lot of time to work on music. Turns out looking for a job can take as much time as having a job.

Speaking of being laid off.  It didn’t inspire the grim title or picture accompanying this tune.  It was named Bones when it was just a minute long music file languishing on my hard drive, forgotten, until I came across it – as an archaeologist might, searching for inspiration for my song for May.

Why it was called Bones I don’t really remember.  Maybe the clanky sounds of the primary instrument sounded like bones to me.  Now it sounds more like one of those African thumb pianos.  Or more accurately, an ensemble of African thumb pianos.  The music itself is not particularly grim or creepy.

This piece was produced entirely within Reason 4.0 and contains no real instruments.  100% artificial ingredients with fillers and preservatives…. Although I think the main instrument sounds pretty natural.

Happy Listening: bones

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Anything but Bored

301401938_3b4fec41f8_m This is a tale of good equipment gone bad.

I was actually working on this piece for last month and couldn’t get it done.  I thought for sure I’d be able to finish it this month.  Then my POD xt Live crapped out.  It still worked but I swore there was something wrong with it.  The tones were all different.  I thought it might have been the guitar because all the tones sounded like I had rolled back the volume knob about 1/4 of the way.  If you play electric guitar you know just what I’m talking about.  It wasn’t the guitar though because my older POD sounded fine and so did one of my stand alone pedals.

I messed around with this problem for days which means days of lost recording time.

Line 6 had come out with a new version, the POD X3 Live and I had been thinking of upgrading so I thought now would be the time.  I bought one at the local Sam Ash because I didn’t want to wait for shipping.  I got it home, plugged it in, and started playing through the default preset and the sound cut out in a few seconds.  I changed to a different preset and the sound returned – for a few more seconds.  Turns out many of the presets, particularly the high gain ones, would only play for a few seconds at a time.

I went to the Line 6 support forum and I was not alone.  Apparently a small number of users were having this very problem and Line 6 claimed to have difficulty recreating the problem.  Buying locally saved me triple time  though in that I didn’t have to ship the defective product back, but I did have to wait for the weekend before I could make the trip back – more wasted time.

At the Sam Ash I told them what the problem was and they said they had another one in back if I wanted to exchange it.  I was afraid they all have that problem so I said I would if they’d let me play it in store for a while, which they did.

This one seemed fine.  I took it home and played through it for a while trying all the most ridiculously high gain and distorted configurations I could think of to cause it to shut off and it didn’t.

Problem solved?  Not really.

I had a song about 3/4 recorded with the old POD and now I had a new POD and it sounded different and not a lot of time to tweak.

I selected some similar tones and decided to re-record all the guitar parts, but, since I’m not all that good, I couldn’t out do some of the performances I had already gotten down, particularly in the time remaining.

So, I pieced this together from stuff I had already recorded and new stuff I could get recorded before the end of the month.  It sounds like an audio collage of guitar tones.

Also this piece does not have the fit and finish of some of the other pieces I’ve done here because of all the technical glitches.  The drums and bass are more repetitive than I’d like and the piece more falls apart rather than ends.  But that’s what I got.

The piece itself was started from a short melody I recorded in a hurry over a year ago.  Now’s a great time to release it because it feels like I feel every spring when I start to anticipate the summer and getting to open the windows and wear shorts and put the top down on the car and sit on a patio with drinks in sun.  It’s the upbeat piece I promised last month when I delivered that down beat piece.

It’s a basic rock band setup guitar-bass-drums.  Of course only the guitars are real.  I set a new length record for this site, just over 5 minutes.  I think that’s a little long for a song generally but I just couldn’t find a part I wanted to cut.

Happy Listening: Anything but Bored

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Circus Pathetique

This piece has been sitting around unfinished for some timeCircus. Why? I don’t know. It’s pretty short and straight forward. Probably because it’s on the slow and introspective side – some would say the whiny crybaby side, but it is a little bit of a downer until the end, when it moves into hopelessness – some would say melodrama.

To me it sounds like sad circus music, or a sad person watching a circus, or a sad person no longer watching the circus, or a sad person drinking at home next to a telephone they didn’t have the courage to use while a circus plays on the TV in the other room.

It’s 3 live guitar tracks recorded into Sonar and two synthed organ tracks – one of which is just an organ patch from the soundcard in my PC. The hard right organ sound is from Reason.

This time the photo is not mine but comes from another flickr user (Bazule). I tried flickr’s facility for searching for creative commons photos. I searched for “circus” and this was the first photo to come up. I thought it was perfect.

I’ll shoot for something more upbeat next month, promise.

Happy Listening: Circus Pathetique

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Hipster Hound Dog on Lee Rd.

Hipster Houndog Hangs Out on Lee Rd.

It looks like I’m establishing a common practice when it comes to naming my songs when they’re done. I browse my flickr collection for photos I like and let them suggest a title. This time I found this one which is of my dog Leo. It’s one of the rare photos that I had liked enough to title already, so I just re-purposed the title for this song.

What a pain in the ass this thing tuned out to be. I had some bits floating around from when I was first playing with Cakewalk’s Dimension Pro soft synth. I liked the sax patch and I was able to get some pretty cool riffs that sounded more like a sax and less like a synth. February is a short month so I thought it would be a good idea to start with a solid base. I laid out the parts I had with some rough sketches of connecting material and then let like 3 weeks go by.

When I got back to it this week expecting to just polish it up, I started to feel the pieces didn’t really work together and I had to go heavily into re-compose/re-arrange mode. I almost put it aside for another month for something that I didn’t like as much but felt closer to done.

And then I ran into technical problems. Last night my keyboard stopped working as I was editing. After about 20 minutes of fiddling I realized the keyboard was fine it was my KVM switch. After about another 20 minutes rebooting both computers and generally trying to avoid reconfiguring my system not to need a KVM switch I found the the KVM switch just needed to be rebooted. Who knew you could do that? Anyway, better part of an hour gone from my evening.

By 12:30 I was tired but happy with what I had so I went to bed. I’m glad I didn’t take the time to post it though because the next morning I heard a bunch of stuff I wanted to change. Lesson: always listen with fresh ears.

Thank God For Leap Years. I had an extra day to make the changes.

Oh, and btw, can I say that Project5 is a pig? I kind of liked Project5. I mainly use Sonar but it’s fun to go into into Project5 now and then to force myself to work a little differently. This is not the first project I’ve done in Project5 but it’s the largest and it was slow. Stuttering and with high latency, especially when I added some mastering plugins from Sonar7. Luckily it rendered clean.

That’s the last time I try to do a complete project in P5. It’s strictly a rewire synth for me now.

This song was my first attempt to sequence a sax part but I like the result and I might use it again. To me it sounds pretty good but god knows what an actual sax player might think.

But now it’s done and I can go on to think about what I want to do for March, but not until I get back from this leap-day party, whatever that is:

Happy Listening: Hipster Hound Dog on Lee Rd.

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Into the Heights

IMG_0190
Probably in reaction to last month’s song, where the tempo was kind of slow and I had trouble creating interesting drums as a result, with this song I cranked the tempo up before I clicked down a single note.

Which reminds me, this piece is unique among all the pieces on this site so far in that it was entirely created within this month. All of the songs posted so far (and probably most of the songs to come) were built from parts created previously. This one was is all new. All new notes for an all new year.

The song was created entirely in Reason 4 because I wanted to play with Thor and some of the other new tools but I quickly got into the music and forgot about the learning so in the end there was only one instance of Thor used for some of the percussion. It’s all synthesized and sequenced with no real instruments.

It’s done by machines ’cause they don’t make mistakes – KMFDM

Also it’s one of the shorter pieces I’ve done. It moves along at a brisk 150 bpm which gets it to its end in under 2:30.

So that’s it. A short fast piece named for the part of town I live in.

Happy Listening: Into the Heights

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The Friendliest Girl in all of Canada

Canadian Girls

Where do the titles come from? This title popped into my head on my way back from Canada although it doesn’t refer to any particular person. I then searched my hard drive for the friendliest musical fragments I could find.

I have no idea if the girls in this picture are friendly but, they are Canadian – or, at least that’s where they were when I took this picture as they sold lemonade from inside a lemon shaped lemonade stand – and that’s a pretty friendly thing to do.

In addition to being the friendliest song I’ve done for this site, it might also be the longest, easily cracking the 4 minute mark and tempting boredom in the listener although I tried to avoid that.

One of the biggest problems I had with this project was the drums. I set this song up with a ridiculously slow BPM: 95. It sounded OK for the live tracks, but the drums – forget it. Not being a drummer I like to use loops and at 95 bpm, all my loops sounded lethargic. So I had to edit drums a lot.

This song was done entirely within Sonar 7 (Producer Edition). I was tempted to bring in Project5 or Reason but I resisted, as I do, and I don’t know why. Like it’s more pure if I stay in one tool – or I think things will get too messy. And then I spend more time doing things these other tools are good at. Maybe I’ll start each of the next few projects with all the tools up and running to get over that.

So here it is, a friendly song for a friendly new year.

Happy Listening: The Friendliest Girl in all of Canada

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On Our Street Everything is Fine

street.jpg I kept fighting and fighting this piece. It wouldn’t go where I wanted it to go. I like where it ended up but I still wonder what it would sound like if I were able to get what I wanted from it. I guess I gotta be happy with what I got.

There are 3 real guitar tracks recorded through my PODxt Live into Sonar. I tried to do all the work in Sonar, but I put together a drum track I liked. Sonar tools for creating drum tracks are just way behind. Rendering drums in Sonar is great but constructing drum tracks is not so good.

I tried Drumcore as well. I bought it earlier this year but this was my first serious attempt at using it. Their emphasis on actual recorded drum loops makes it difficult to match loops. They may have been recorded by different drummer on different kits.

I ended up sequencing the drums in Project 5. It’s got a good sized library of midi drum loops and good midi editing tools. I rendered them in an odd way. I rendered the drum tracks through two separate synths (Session Drummer and Dimension Pro) and panned them hard left and right. So it’s the same track in both ears but different drum sounds. I also rounded off the highs to give the drums a bit of the lo-fi sound.

I tend to name instrumentals toward the end when I start to see how the piece is turning out. The working title was “strangled trumpet” due to this great synth sound I used for a melody towards the end. I love it.

Happy Listening: On Our Street Everything is Fine

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