Wednesday, July 27, 2016

And One More Time

Here is the third of the back-deck recordings:

I'll be getting out the guitars and the cameras and the recorder again as soon as I've found a space that's quiet enough and won't make me melt in the humid New Hampshire weather.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Here's the Next One: "Always Here"

Here is the second song I recorded on the back deck:

This was one of my "one-day" songs, and my favorite from among those. It didn't really happen all in one day, of course; especially this one, since I ended up completely re-writing the chorus. But the basic structure of the song was laid out in a single day.

More about my one-day songs in this post. Meanwhile, I hope you are enjoying the music.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Another New Video: "She Works So Hard"

Editing went well, and I have a new video on YouTube, the on-the-back-deck recording of one of my most recent songs, "She Works So Hard."

This one has a short recounting of the story of my Gibson acquisition tacked onto the front. The other two songs will be posted over the course of the next week.

This worked out well; I'm probably going to do it again. Since I will soon run out of my own songs that I know how to play with just the guitar and myself, and because it seems to increase exposure for musicians on YouTube, I will probably be recording some covers before too long.

There is a risk to this. If you record a song that is not approved for such situations, there is the possibility of a copyright strike. But I think I need to take this step, and I would appreciate feedback from anyone who's been down this road before.

Meanwhile, back to writing, arranging, and video editing.

And life, of course.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Decked Out

About two weeks ago, as an unexpected anniversary gift, my wife let me buy a camp guitar. I have been taking my old guitar from my teen-hood camping, but I've often worried about the temperature extremes, stray embers, and drunk friends in the company of a guitar that I've had for nearly 45 years.

The camp guitar was purchased used for $50. It's a Gibson Maestro Concert, not an expensive guitar to begin with, but it sounds pretty good. Good enough, in fact, that I thought I might try to play a little on-camera music using it.

The inside of my house is a shambles right now. Summer is the time when all the construction gets done on our perpetually-unfinished house, and so everything is torn apart and, to say the least, not photogenic. So, I decided to take to the great outdoors and shoot and record on our (also under-construction) back deck.

I set up two cameras, and my Zoom H2 Handy Recorder. I've taken to shooting double-system because I don't have any camera that has a good mic, or that will take an external mic. Someday, maybe.

I used my son, a bit taller than me, as a stand-in, set the cameras rolling, kicked him off the deck (he tends to talk too much), and sat down with the guitar. I turned on the sound, and started playing the three songs I planned to record today.

After I had played a bit, I started thinking that the whole thing would be an unusable disaster. There were cars and big trucks passing on the road, and leaves rustling, and even kids playing on the nearby beach. But, as the camera were rolling and the guitar was in my hands anyway, I went ahead and played the three songs, even re-doing the third one a couple of times until I was satisfied with my performance.

Then I took everything down, packed it up, and headed for my computer to first listen to the audio, with the idea that if it was unusable I wouldn't even bother keeping the video files.

And, much to my surprise, the audio wasn't that bad. Yes, the noises are there in the background, and they are the kind of noises that noise cancellation doesn't do well with, but they don't actually hurt the recording so much. Score one for the H2!

The video isn't great; when I lined up the shot, I forgot to allow for the difference in aspect ratio between the camera in still mode and the camera in video mode, so the aim is a bit low, cutting off my head. But it works well enough to do what I intended, which was to show off the Gibson.

And, frankly, to get me out of neutral and start me getting out in front of the camera, and maybe some live audiences other than my camp buddies.

The first purpose was well-fulfilled. The Gibson was very good in the recording. As to the second purpose, only time will tell.

The first video should be up by tomorrow, late morning or early afternoon. Enjoy.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Ready To Record

I received, in the mail from, a ridiculously cheap and simple USB MIDI interface cable. figuring I had little to lose if it didn't work. Well, it does. In fact, it's completely plug-and-play, even on my Mac, which is saying something in this Windows-oriented world. (Don't think so? Heck even the auto-correct on my iPhone wants to capitalize windows when I'm just trying to write a note to myself about washing those glass-paned things in my house.)

In fact, getting my Mac to recognize and use the interface took far less time than learning how to configure MIDI in my DAW, Reaper (I also use GarageBand for simple loop-based editing, about which more in a minute). It's not that the configuration doesn't make sense (though, having upgraded recently, I've had to deal with some changes); there are just a lot of options.

Cabling is turning out to be an interesting issue, because I have a lot of older gear and it's pretty spread out in my attic studio; something tells me that I will be spending a fair bit of time swapping cables and plugging in mating connectors to get sound and MIDI to and from my keyboards. But I'll make it work.

And once I have it all figured out, or maybe before I have it all figured out, I'll start re-recording one of my songs with the goal of releasing it for sale. Scary, huh?

First up is Disconnected, because I already have a good idea of how I want that arrangement to go, and because a lot of what I've already done forms a pretty solid foundation for what I hope to end up with. In case you haven't heard it, here's the current version of Disconnected:

I think it's got a lot going for it. It needs a different vocal, and some variation, and tracks that sound more human and not completely computer-based. Not that synthesized music is bad, but this song, it seems to me, needs something with a little more of that personal touch (unlike the robot's portions of Perfect Little Robot, which cry out to be soulless, if such a thing is possible.)

This was recorded in GarageBand, but I think I may be bringing it over to the more powerful Reaper for the final recording. I like GarageBand's note editor, and the selection of loops, and the ease of doing loop-based editing, but for the final product, I need to extra control that I get with a full-Fledged DAW.

Not that I'll abandon GarageBand altogether for final recordings. I will probably use it when I rerecord Perfect Little Robot, because I like the robot voice I created for that using GarageBand, and I'm not sure how to get the same effect in Reaper.

Am I up to this task? I have no idea. I've never done anything like this before. But I'm a pretty fast learner, and I'm excited about the challenge. You'll hear a sample of the result if I manage it, though to hear the whole song you'll have to pony up a few pennies. It's time for the songs to pay the piper.

Meanwhile, I think a new song or two will be on the way before I manage to put Disconnected in the can. Stay with me; I'm getting back in the swing.