Saturday, October 22, 2016

Another October Day

Another October Day

I continue to work with the music although creating new material has not occurred for what seems an extended period of time.  Without creating new stuff, there is plenty left to do in the recording efforts I am intending.  Most days I work at it in some way how ever abstract it may seem.  Learning how to use the software remains a big part of the recording process, an obstacle in many ways.  Yet I am making progress.

Lately the bigger part of the learning process remains with drumming or drum imitation.  I am no drummer, never have been, nor do I believe I want to become one.  Still musically, with the type of music I have written and work with, as a whole, without drumming included, the overall sound produced reflects as half baked, incomplete.  So I continue learning the software of choice, or at least of known choice.  I admit that ignorance plays a large roll in the choices available to me, because of the isolated existence I live.  Hydrogen is the software I have been dealing with to make drum sounds that can complement my musical output.  I would much prefer having a real drummer which would allow having little personal effort where drumming is concerned, but a person who could fill that roll remains unknown to me.  Hydrogen then has taken on a really unwanted importance in the process.  I have been spending a lot of time tinkering with the program trying to figure out an ease to the methodology required in making this software work, producing complementary rhythms suited to the music I am attempting to achieve.  Some days it falls into place, and other days it seems quite a struggle for me to create suitable rhythms that will match the themes intended.  I don't know why?

Now a couple of nights ago I decided to take on a new recording of an older tune I wrote back in the mid to late 1990's.  I had previously attempted to record this song yet the syncopation in the rhythm is such that I was unable to determine the tempo.  I realized a couple of months ago, through teaching the song to my associate, that this situation comes of how I have played the piece solo, having to incorporate a dominant theme sourced in the songs essence.  In order to create this feel while playing the piece solo, I had to play a syncopated part which distorted what I thought or otherwise perceived as part of the rhythm, when in fact the playing of this syncopated part actually altered my perception of what the beat was actually doing.  It was actually an illusion, imposed by the way I was playing the piece when doing it solo.  When teaching this tune to the bassist, the way I played the song could be altered by allowing the bass to take the syncopated part, while I held to the basic continuous rhythm.  The two parts individually create the essence I had envisioned when I wrote the piece.  Having played it so many times by myself, the habitual nature of doing so prevented my brain from finding the separation of these individual parts.  It is an odd situation to attempt writing out with clarity.  Still, having finally determined that this syncopated riff distorted my sense of timing, I have been able to determine the tempo, I successfully made a draft recording of the song Wednesday night late. The process went along very smoothly, with its parts coming together in the digital world with a remarkable ease.  

My process of taking the idea and converting it into an audio file that reflects the essence of the idea rarely follows a given course, like taking steps 1, 2, 3, 4, … end.  This could be a demonstration of my ignorance, yet having no education or friends that show me a methodology, I am forced to make up my own methodology.  Generally step one is to determine the Tempo, followed by the Time signature.  After those are determined and input into the computer's software, in this instance "Ardour," (thanks and a shout out to the Ardour team), there are several options as to where to continue.  In this particular case, I chose to use the metronome of Ardour as a guide and with two tracks engaged, I recorded a guitar and a vocal track as rough drafts for a starting reference point.  After this is accomplished, I use this as a guide to facilitate creating an audio recording to share.  With the basic outlined in the rough recording, I can then create a solid midi bass track and a drum track, the order with which this is accomplished I decide arbitrarily.  Generally I will write out the bass line first, but in this case I decided to do the drumming first.  I chose to make it really simple in this instance, just a bass drum with snare and a riding symbol that expresses a basic beat.  Because it is software, the result can always be altered later if so desired.  I was quickly pleased with the simplistic rhythm I created, and leaving it simple for a start provided what I desired as an initial beat track that can hold the song in place as I worked through the process.  Having a basic drum track and the rough audio tracks, left the bass track to work up in midi.  Having played the song with only guitar for many years, I found it rather easy to write out the bass line and assign it an instrument representative, in this case acoustic bass.  

Having the basic tracks of the song now completed the first review with these 4 tracks hit me as quite satisfactory to hear.  However there was a noted error in the construction of the ending that required a rather involved redo of the bass and the drum tracks.  This issue was dealt with, creating the desired result.  The process also revealed some tempo drift in these rough audio tracks. This is common for me when using this method.  The metronome is a very good tool, yet it can and is easily overpowered when playing a rhythm beside it. Because of this and my own lack of ability in playing real instruments with absolute proficiency, I expect to redo the initial rough audio tracks. This is the next step in my process, recording solid audio tracks of instrument(s) and vocal part(s).  To facilitate the audio recordings, I rehearsed the guitar and vocal parts several times, beside the drum and bass tracks, ingraining the nuances of the various sections both lyrically and with the acoustic guitar.  I had chosen the Taylor guitar for this recording, its sound is quite exceptional, and it offers the opportunity to use two input methodologies, the analog and its internal electronics, separately.  I can recognize these two tracks as different when switching between the two sources, yet I have no real preference, nor have I determine which interface provides the better sound.  They are both good.  Having gone through these dress runs a few times I decided to make the recordings for these two parts simultaneously, knowing that I can always re-do them individually if I choose.  To my surprise The recording of these two parts came in one try with but one error in the lyric that required an edit.  I have experienced this process as troubling at times in the past.  It was easy to redo the vocal error with the punch-out capability of the software.  By the time these final audio input tracks were completed, the time was late, and I shut down the studio for the night.

The following morning shortly after happy coffee time was complete for another day, I found myself reviewing the previous night's work.  The audio recordings I judged to be very satisfactory, while noticing some conflict with both the bass and the drum tracks.  I spent a couple of hours editing those tracks.  The drum track especially needed work, it being simple actually created a very desirable result, but there were some sections that I thought wanted some emphasis with symbols.  That and the chorus sections were wanting of some variation from the main verse sections.  I did all I thought I wanted (for the time being) then went on to a different activity.  I have not yet released the recording,  because I want to get away from it for a while with a hope that a revisit later will bring some clarity to my judgment as to the songs essence.