Sunday, 16 May 2010

The Mysterious Ticking Noise

Before I get going on the music stuff - the title of this post is a literary reference.  If you have not seen The Mysterious Ticking Noise then I highly recommend it for a good larf. 

Subsection 1.2.2 started, and the subject is time.  There have been many songs about time, notably "Time" by Pink Floyd and "Time" by Sam Brown (two of my favourites).  Signifying the passage of time is really easy - you just need a clock ticking noise.

I have had a subtext of determination so far with this project - to resist sound effects as much as possible.  It would be all too easy to signify water by rain effects, air by wind effects and so on.  However, in this case, the ticking becomes an integral part of the music.

So I looked online for a clock ticking.  I could have recorded my one, but I don't think I have a mechanical clock any more, and my watch is very quiet. Free sound effects are available, but often have a lot of background noise.  I found quite a good one at Sound Jay ( , a source I think I'll use again in the future.  There was only one problem with it, unbelievably it was fast!  You would expect a ticking noise from a clock to work perfectly alongside a 120bmp click (2 clicks a second).  I had to process the sound to slow it down!

You can't really have a ticking noise for 3 minutes with nothing else, so I needed a musical idea (maybe more than one).  As it happens I have an idea that has been forming.  A couple of weeks ago in church we played a song that had the following chord transition:  Cmaj7 to Em/C#.  This involves moving one finger one fret on the guitar and is sweet.  Well I've been playing around with this a bit recently and have come up with a cyclic chord progression:

G, Am7, G/B, Cmaj7, Em/C#, D, B7/D#, Em, D/F#, G....

So I thought I might as well use this, but for some reason when I started playing, the G/B suddenly became a D/B - a bit of a thumb stretch but a nice gentle chord.

Now I have a vague sort of plan that whatever I do in this subsection will spill over majorly into sub-section 1.2.3 (in fact right now I'm thinking of recording them both together as one 6-minute track).  So I gave the ticking a few bars to settle and recorded the chords on the guitar, once for each side, many many repeats to be over the 6 minutes long each side - that was a long slog and my attention wandered but I made it.

So I started acoustic guitar noodling over the top, and have come to a conclusion - it gets boring after a while. Anyway at that point I stopped as I seemed to have run out of inspiration.  I'm starting to have extra ideas to come in, basically I think the chords will start later after some other fun with percussion.

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