Also from the Lightning Talks session – No one had any questions for me after the last song, so I got to sing another one. Jim Bach says “I’d like to hear it!” when I ask if anyone wants to hear “Rapid Tester.”
I performed this a month or so ago at CAST2009 in Colorado Springs, where Becky Fiedler recorded it. The intro to this song went, “This song is written from the perspective of a piece of bloatware that used to be sleek and clean.” I did this during a Lightning Talks session, meaning I had to bring it in under 4 minutes. That’s why there’s little time for dramatic pauses…
Paul Fischer has asked me to arrange George Hrab’s great astronomy song “FAR” as a solo acoustic song with parody lyrics. So here’s what I’ve done. I started out by using my Zoom H2 to record a sketch of the way I thought i could do the song well – handheld shaker egg and driving acoustic, without any flashy frills. Paul liked that, so I started laying down the basic tracks in Logic.
Step 1 was to find the beat. I used the sequences in Ultrabeat to find a simple rhythmic underpinning, and found it with the Rock Kit in Logic Legacy Kits, sequence 8. Then I found the tempo: 150 bpm, smokin fast.
Then I wrote out a list of the different parts of the song: intro/verse in C, verse in D, pre-chorus, pre-chorus/chorus transition, chorus, bridge. Then I got a reasonable sound in Logic for my acoustic. I like to play sitting down with the guitar resting on my left thigh, with an AT 4040 pointing straight down at my left knee about an inch above my leg, staring at the guitar top about 6 inches away. I compress it and that’s it – I have an OK-sounding room so I don’t use reverb on the scratch track. Anyway, then I kick off the drum sequence and play each segment over and over again for about 1 or 2 minutes each, trying to home in on the right groove. When I’m done with a part I just move on to the next. After I’ve done all the parts I have about 15-20 minutes of recorded stuff to wade through. I find the best segments and bounce them to the Bin and label them with their segment name.
Then I erase the raw guitar part and build up the scratch track out of the sample bin. In this case I realized I was missing a couple transitions so I went back and recorded them and bounced them to the bin, and pasted them into the scratch track with the other parts.
Once I had the parts together I sang through it in a single take, making sure to count off first, just for continuity and placement when it came time to really record the guitar part.
Then I sent that off to Paul for comment last week. He still liked it, so tonight I recorded what I hope will be the definitive guitar takes. I’m out of time for comping (though not for blogging, you ask? I’m trying to establish a discipline here!) but will get to that soon, then the vocal track. I want a single track of guitar and another of vox, though I don’t mind comping them up from separate takes. I did the guitar takes all the way through the song so hopefully there will be minimum of retracking, especially sing I don’t want to have to recreate the mic position etc…
I used the shaker egg in the picking hand, so I moved the mic a couple more inches away and reduced the trim on the mic. I run the mic straight into a MOTU Ultralight, channel 1, so I just reach over and twist the pot on the front panel a click or two. With the extra power of the egg I had to add compression, so I ran the track to a bus, pre-fader, and compressed it hard there, then compressed it again post-fader so the main outputs were reasonable. You can hear it breathing but I don’t think I have much choice. I also put a channel EQ on it, boosting the low end slightly and reducing the top to get rid of some of the harshness of the egg. Then I put a small amount of reverb, using Space Designer’s Small Spaces | Cello Studio Room.
I’ll ask Paul if it’s OK to post in-progress parts here for feedback.
Links to the mp3s of all the tracks off “Transcendy” are now available in the “Songs” page of this blog.
Rob Balder came over the other night to sing the vox track for another FuMP tune, “Needlessly Noir”. It was a little anti-climactic, since I was really hoping I could show off the multi-take recording and quick-swipe comping that I can do now in Logic. But of course he nailed it in a single take after one measly warmup pass. So we monkeyed around with some keyboard, but threw those tracks away because it “added something musically, but didn’t add anything comedically.”
Ideally we would have timestretched Janny’s vox and written them out with some reverb or compression on them, but I didn’t know how to do that yet, so we let it go.