Friday, September 18, 2009

quick question...

This fella's video was sent to me by my buddy JT Arbogast in case I was "looking for any backup singers for the album".

But really, what I couldn't help wondering was...
How did this dude score such a sweet studio situation?!
I mean....
at the moment I've got a microphone balanced on a pile of New Age Self Help books playing keyboard with one hand and garage banding with the other.

what the hell.


fourth day: THE MUSIC BOX number

I was totally burned out on the song yesterday.
I listened to it again.
I totally love it.

These are times that i actually kinda wished i took crack because then it would explain these crazy bouts of insecurity that I go through. I could just say, Oh yeah. I'm sorry. That was just the hit of crack i took before i listened to it. My bad. To be fair though, I'm pretty sure all writers, actors, and anyone else in the creative arts goes through it too. That wall of extreme self doubt where the sky is where the ground should be and hamsters rule the world.

You know, that place.

Anyway, I get over my lame-assed self and jump back into the tracks.

Finesse the mix.
Move stuff around to match the vocal timing.
much better.
Finesse again.
And again.
And again.
And again.
And again.
And again.

Listen to it on BOSE headphones.
Listen to it on ear buds
a little less gorgeous but still totally enjoyable.
Listen to it on computer
Not ideal but absolutely acceptable.

I remove the vocal track and export the orchestration to Itunes.
I see Garage Band doing something all fancy pants 'creating mixdowns' and such.
I don't know what's happening there but i hope it makes it better and not worse with the mix.

ITunes pops up and my song starts to play.

Oh my God....
I think I'm going to cry.

Please Garage Band.
Marry me.
Be my partner for all time and I will love you forever and ever.


And it's done.
Three days.

I'm just...
I'm relieved, grateful and in a weird way?
already mourning working on it.
The thought of working on a new song is exciting and yet...
I'm a little sad, I'm not gonna lie.

Kinda like getting back in the dating world.
You're excited to start a new relationship but you're still carrying that last one in your DNA.

Don't hate me because 12 tracks are the accepted number for an album.
we had such a magical three days...
and I will see you again come time for vocal tracks...
but in the meantime...
I will hold you close to my heart...
and think of you fondly.... i totes start dating another song.
sorry, Poodle.



I wake up.
I listen to THE MUSIC BOX number.
I hate it.

I put it away and come home after work.
I lay down a test vocal track.
I hate it even more.

What happened?
What happened to my ears?

Andy thinks I burned out on the song and need to come back to it after 24 hours.

I think I'm a talentless hack with no taste.

There are worse things...
i guess.


THE MUSIC BOX song, day two


Before i jump into day two of the MUSIC BOX NUMBER...
I have a 'mixing' issue.
So, anyone out there feel free to jump in with a solution if you have one.

I'm working in Garage Band on my MAC and i have a sweet pair of BOSE headphones. Obviously, they are the shizzlet. The battery ran down on them so i used some medium quality ear buds to keep working and wtf. I mean, i knew there would be a difference between the quality of the sound, maybe the volume and stuff but... 
on another set of head phones all of a sudden it sounds like a monkey went into my computer with a fucking hammer. 
what the hell?

Obviously i need to stay on the same pair of headphones for consistency in mixing but what happens if i mix on fancy BOSE headphones and someone out there gets my CD and listens to it on some ear buds. And even worse, just on their computer or something with no real speakers at all. Will they think I'm a hack. Will I actually be a hack for letting that happen because I'm a total newbie-douche with all this stuff?

Is then the solution to mix with the crappiest ear gear i have? Making a mix that sounds good with crap ear phones sound awesome with great ear phones? Or is the opposite way the best to go? 

Or perhaps it's a layered approach?
Start on BOSE phones to mix, then move down to the ear buds to finesse and finally 'test' it through my computer speakers and finesse some more?


I could (and will, if i have to) figure this out through trial and error but if anyone out there has a suggestion on the headphone mixing situation, I'd be thrilled to save the time and energy figuring it out myself.



With the headphone situation I'm a little hesitant to finesse the strings because of the discrepancy but...
i can still hear there's something missing.

What is it.
What's the problem here.
Even though it's a 'memory piece' and can afford to be on the slightly gauzy side...
i think it still lacks bite.
The notes in the center need more of an attack.
I need something more solid in there to balance out all the wateriness of the strings and then eventual vocal.

I have a steady beat with the percussiveness of the chimes/steel strings but it needs to be sharper? Maybe? I try to take out reverb. 
No. That doesn't work

I try to harden my climbing 'cello' lines to give it more of an 'attack' sound. 
No. Shittles. 

This whole 'flashback' thing with the center of the song for me has always had a 'Viennese Waltz' kind of thing so it's why I'm so dead wanting the strings but...

oh wait.

wait wait wait wait wait.


could it work?


I wasn't planning to use accordion on this song at all but...
maybe it's not a Viennese sound at all...
maybe it is a French sound.
and that could be pretty cool.

I drag the old beast out from the closet. 
I check the clock. 
That's not really cool to be playing accordion at 11:30pm. But then, I remember that my three neighbors work at night too so maybe it'll be cool? Maybe they're not even home yet. Well, it's NYC. If they have a problem with it I'm sure they'll find a way to let me know. This usually involves security knocking on my door. Bless. 

It's a risk but...unless someone complains... 
the muse has struck and i am laying her down now, chicklets!

I start with playing on the '2,3' of the measures since i have the bass strings hitting on the down beat. I play it back. Oh fucking HELL THAT'S AWESOME! It's really haunting but also totally within the musical palette of this number. I'm already chastising myself for not thinking of this all along.

Inspired, I double the last half of the bass string line to see if it won't give it more edge on the big climax.
holy fuck balls...i friggin LOVE it.

Even more inspired, I decide to add an entire accordion solo in a section i was really not sure of what to do with anyway. In the original arrangement, a huge chorus comes in and sort of sings 'Ah' a la Harry Potter meets Danny Elfman? Which i love but, a big chorus is so not part of what I'm going for on this CD. I considered maybe doing a three part vocal arrangement there on 'ahs' myself but was never really crazy about that either. However structurally, I really wanted to keep that section in, so what i needed was something to encapsulate 'the past' there. I take a stab at using the accordion instead.

It fits.
It's perfect.
I can't stop listening to it.
It now sounds like this sort of time machine back to a little European street corner in front of a french bistro or something. 

Holy Jeeze Balls.
I absolutely love it.
SO fricking excited about this idea.

What i'm not excited about is the incredible 'clacking' my accordion keys make. I will literally have to go in garage band later and try to isolate and take out as many as i can. Sounds like fun. I hope i can be drunk and do that. 

It's pretty quick work to fill in the rest of the arrangement now that i have the lynch pin of the accordion. it just makes everything make musical sense to me. Everything comes in a rush and i try to keep up. 

Holy cow.
it's done.

I mean, it's not DONE done.
I still need to lay down a test vocal track for timing, ritards, accels, etc
and do a loooootttttt more mixing but...
It's got a beginning, middle and end where there was just nothing 24 hours ago.
This is amazing to me.

I look at the clock, 2:45am.
Good Lord.
Where does the time go?
I say a quiet thank you to my neighbors for not calling security on me..
and make a mental note to not do anything acoustic after 11pm ever again. 
Best not to push it with the neighbors.
And ultimately, it's just uncool to do.

Must reign in nocturnal muse.

I go to bed with my head swimming.
After lying there, i look at the clock.
I sneak over to my computer and listen to it again.

I'm like a kid at Christmas.
Well, either that or a crack addict.

I only let myself listen to it once and then go back to bed.
This is already way too much fun.