Friday, 22 August 2008

Day 19: Life, oh life, oh liiife

So today has been another day where there hasn't really been a lot of musical progress due to my partaking in the human being thing i.e. living. I went for lunch with a friend, came home, napped, recorded guitar for the Coffee song, ate, and went out east to drink. Ended up at a new night called Nails which had attracted the strangest crowd I've seen in a while... Ran into a guy who I haven't seen since I lived in Manchester, turns out this Nails business is his night (I think, confused conversation). Small world. Anyway, the next few days are going to be quite busy socially, which is nice of course, as it will un-hermit me for a while, but is going to compromise my progress. I think I'm going to allow myself a few days' grace due to the problem with my back last week, and also just having a break here and there. Whatever, the main thing is to get the songs done in as near the time as I can make it... Oh, I also finished the lyrics for Impulse Control...

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Day 18: Murder, she wrote

Inspiration can come from surprising places. Today I was watching Murder She Wrote again (for it is becoming a regular lunchtime appointment) whilst strumming my guitar, and ended up writing the following song:

It's so far removed
From the horror of homicide
Characters mostly unmoved
Taking murder in their stride
Murder, she wrote

A collection of cosy crimes
A cultural artefact
Resolutely of our time
A shared memory, a common fact
Murder, she wrote

It's sad but really no one would want to know
Jessica Fletcher, death follows her wherever she goes

I am majorly amused by the fact that I've written a song about this TV series. It may seem that my writing is becoming more whimsical as I go along, but this lyric actually fits very well into the themes established in other songs.

I'm also experimenting today with some electronic stuff that may not have any singing - does this qualify as a proper song I wonder?

Day 17: Already??

Just had a slight panic at the fact I'm now on day 17... But whatever. Today I recorded vocals for You Amaze Me. Now, the first line of this song is "If my life were a song/you'd be the bridge/bold and breathtaking and explorative", so I had sort of set myself up there - the song was going to have to have a pretty good bridge. I hadn't actually written it, when I recorded the piano part I recorded quite a few alternatives from which I thought I'd be able to make something good. Luckily today as I experimented with melodies over the top of the piano part I came up with something which in my opinion is a pretty killer bridge. And even better, it mentions Scrabble, which is my favourite board game. I think this may be the only ballad with the word Scrabble in it.

I also re-recorded vocals for The Race with the new preamp... Looking back I don't think I ever mentioned The Race - there are a few songs that happen in bits and I forget to refer to them in this blog. The Race I pretty much had figured out before I started and recorded in the first few days, it has some lyrics that I like:

I saw you out crawling to the crashing sea
I was out walking with the elderly
You were running out of money, running out of time
Driving yourself to the end of the line
Well the candle in your heart wasn't strong enough
Your torch bulb blew, the weather was rough
Then the lighthouse did it - lit your destiny
But it only showed you where you didn't want to be

The music here is building and building, so the imagery does the same - in the first part it's:
Crawling - Walking - Running - Driving
Then in the second:
Candle - Torch - Lighthouse

So there.

Oh, and the song I started to write yesterday will I think be called Everyone Likes Coffee Except Me.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Day 16: A brand new colour

Today I got a new melody on the guitar after doing a bit of retuning, no lyrics as yet. I woke up FOUR times in the night with ideas that I recorded into Garageband - listening to this in the morning is always hilarious, I basically hang out of bed and sing into my laptop in the mode of someone who isn't actually awake. Once I was actually awake I started work on the song You Amaze Me, it has some lyrics which refer to a story I read in primary school about a boy who discovers a ball that is a brand new colour. Trippy. I now have twelve songs that are completely written, nine of which are recorded. Today I messed around with trying to construct a track just using the noises I can make with my own body, I want to write a song about the separation between the physical and psychological selves. I want to write a lot of things, but whether this can be achieved a) in four weeks, and b) in two minute songs, remains to be seen. I think I may stick to my earlier advice and just keep playing until something comes together rather than thinking too much of a concept or of the end result - 'though this is much easier to do with music than it is with lyrics.

Day 15: Mere technicalities

Okay, so this was really a day off as I did nothing more than a little lyric writing and recording of random thoughts and ideas. The absence of any real progress to report gives me a chance to provide details on exactly what I'm using to record all of these songs. So, for the nerds, here's the rundown of the main stuff I use:

Brauner Phantom AE for vocals and guitar (I also use a Reflexion Filter on this to keep out room reflections)
Rode NT5s

Focusrite Trakmaster (for the first half of the project)
DAV BG1 - I got this halfway through recording these songs to record the piano in stereo, it sounds much better than the Focusrite but I might not get time to go back and re-record the vocals and guitar with the DAV...

Edirol UA25 for location (piano) recording
Echo MIA for everything else

Alesis Monitor 1 Mk2, also use two different AKG headphones and my ipod Sony earphones to check mixes

Ableton Live
TONS of plugins - UAD1, Native Instruments, a really really ace free thing called Glitch

Yamaha Pacifica 112 electric guitar
Kimbara steel string acoustic
Hohner Melodica
Roland RD300SX digital piano
Mahalo ukulele
Yamaha baby grand piano - think it's a C5 or something, sounds nice but the action is very noisy
Glockenspiel with dinosaurs on it
Misc percussion instruments

Monday, 18 August 2008

Day 14: Wires and hammers pt. 2

So today I risked my spine by lugging all my location recording stuff back into town for the second day of piano recording. I got parts for a new song called You Amaze Me and Reverie. I also sat with those words I found on the way back from High Barnet (see Day 6) and started to improvise. Now I don't write songs like this very often, but if I just keep playing and playing with lyrics in mind, usually something weird starts to happen - not at first, but after about ten minutes I start to get really (and I mean really) into it, sweating, swaying and gurning, and it's only when I get to that place looking like a total idiot that great chords start to appear. I can only do this on piano, as I'm much better than I am on the guitar (although my limitations on guitar actually make it better for songwriting in some ways). Anyway, I played and re-played for about half an hour, and ended up with something that sounds to me like it has something Vaughan Williams-y about it. I then tried to do some other stuff, re-recording a song that may be called July, and another about a reincarnated pigeon, but none of it quite came off.

Day 13: Friday 13th

I'm writing these entries in retrospect, as I have actually spent time having a life and socialising with other human beings over the past few days. On Friday I worked some more on Shoelaces, which now has, like, beats and everything. Other than that I spent the day with my friend Dominic, who is a poet and one of the funniest people I know.