Friday, February 10, 2017

In This World So Blue (II)

It is now nearing on 2 years since I wrote the song “In This World So Blue,” followed by writing the post here in regards to writing the song In This World So Blue - May15, 2015.  Shortly after writing this song, I became involved in a different recording project.  The new project is to record all of the songs I have written in this life.  And thus I put the song down for a year, or more.  A couple of weeks ago, the big project attracted this song.

I had no clear reason behind selecting this song to record as the next one that gets started, other than it came to mind to do so.  It came up as an inspired impulse.  I almost always begin a new recording by recording a rough draft with acoustic guitar beside my vocal.  When I begin a recording project, I use separate tracks for capturing these parts, a helpful tool as the audio tracks begin to shape the eventual complete recording.  Tempo is also critical, so usually I employ a metronome to follow during that initial recording.  In recent months I've been learning how to simulate drum sounds using software.  It took me months to figure out drumming and where drums intersect with the time line.  Threw-out my past, I'd by-passed thinking critically about the technical side of drumming, where beats, off beats, etc., fit on the time line, in a measured musical format.  I am not a drummer and have never wanted to drum.  In the physical world my rhythm is too imperfect to be a drummer, which had formed my lack of understanding as to the technical side of playing drums.  While in the process of learning Hydrogen, drumming software, I was shocked to discover this technical side of drumming.  Drums as compared to the melodic instruments requires a very different set of rules, either imagined or real.  I've yet to see musical score for drums, thus my thoughts about what it would actually look like, where on the time line beats are placed to form a good syncopated rhythm, and similarly which symbol should be selected to create complement to the tune.  Since I had no idea about drumming it took me quite a long time, months to figure it out well enough to apply it or think myself competent enough to create this more complete rhythm section in my recordings.  Having gone through this process with several songs now, I decided that with this song, I'd add the drum track early in the process, and follow that up with a bass track, before I attempted to create the audio tracks to be used in the final mix.

In general, the methodology I use in recording, as I do with most of life, is free form, living in the moment, following the inspiration at hand.  I'll often start a song's recording process, then leave it for extended periods of time to come back to later, when an inspiration takes me there.  This freedom allows what feels good in the moment to take precedent.  If for example, I attempt using a schedule, the muse seems to retreat and the project becomes forced, rather than inspired.  The other side of that is that were I to focus on one song only, from its first track through to completion, it can sometimes narrow my view of music temporarily, by disallowing practice of other songs, in favor of the song of the day.  Yet with, “In This World So Blue,” the process went with an unusual ease.  It took me several evenings creating the rhythm section of the tune.  With this method of making recordings, one person doing it all, it is a different approach than it is when working with a musical group of personnel to try creating a similar result.  The process is rather new to me and I have to create my own methodology, having no peers to work with, within the process.  One of the most missed aspects of this is the limit of ideas within any individual.  Working with others brings with it, a broader background of experience to reach into during the creative process. 

When I create the rhythm parts, I follow along with the rough draft recording, writing out the midi track note by note within the software interface (piano-roll), for the bass, while the drum track uses an entirely different interface style that captures short patterns that can be repeated at will.  When creating bass tracks, I generally write out the entire track note for note, rather than creating patterned pieces that could be used in a, copy and paste method, to form the whole.  The pattern method offered in the drumming software, uses a limited time length system, with each pattern being equivalent to a single measure in music.  I use Ardour (audio multi-track recording software) to create my music recordings.  Ardour's  midi system offers the user to choose the duration of each segment or pattern if one wishes to use a pattern type method to input a complete track.  I finished the rhythm section then recorded the vocal track, followed by a rhythm guitar track and finally a lead guitar track.  It took some time with my limited abilities, a lot of do-overs, and punch out sections.  I then used the automation portion of Ardour to edit the final mix.   This is a really powerful tool that assists to keep the sound levels of the individual tracks to be at their preferred level, throughout the recording's duration.  Being an imperfect musician, I am seldom, if ever perfect in my presentation, volume levels very slightly in different sections of the tracks of captured audio.  The automation is designed to adjust these variations in the volume for the final output. 

I think I created a good overall feel and sound with this song.  You can listen to it yourself if you wish.  I allow those who desire to experience my art the opportunity to do so.  Go to the website and see for yourself.