Friday, 1 July 2011

frantic strumming and nimble fingers

this post covers the last three music-making sessions, all on this last section of the "mind" track - tack 2 on the new album. As we left the scene last time, we had drums and a guide tune part.

To this I added bass, using my old Fender bass (hitting and shaking it until the buzzing stopped - I have a loose wire somewhere). It was nice to use it again in an un-processed way, it has a nice rich, deep thick bass sound, which on it's own sounds a bit dull, but with the fast folky stuff is just a really nice solid underpinning. I may find myself re-discovering the beauties of this venerable instrument.

Added to that then was the guitar parts - acoustic strumming, one for each ear and mostly done in single long takes (very little editing needed). The tempo gets pretty brutal towards the end and I got into a nice focussed mindstate where I didn't need to think - just to strum and move my chord hand as fast as possible between positions. Very fast. I got aching muscles and sore fingers in the process, but it felt really good. It also sounds pretty good, although the attention is not particularly on it.

I've been blogging this for over a year, so I don't always remember what I've said before, and there's no way I'm going to dredge back over all that stuff just to check if I've already said that I'm learning about listener focus - one of the keys to interesting music is to always give the listener something specific to listen to. In songs this is usually the singer, or solo instruments at points. The rest is there to support that focus, but you pretty much always need a focus, and the stuff that is out of focus doesn't need to be as interesting, just right and good. it can be but it doesn't need to be. In this sections I find I am never really listening to the guitars as I listen through. It needs them there.

And so back to the tunes, which is what this is all about. I have now finished, and it has taken a long, long time. Almost all of the bit of tune are played by me on a keyboard, rather than programmed. I want this to feel very much like the real instruments. And here is what I try to do: although I am not really playing Aolean pipes, I am using a sampler and a keyboard, I am remembering the nuances that pipes use for expression and trying to use those. Similarly with the accordion - I can play one a bit (and have done in public). This isn't a real accordion it's the sampler again, but again I'm remembering what you do - what are the special things about an accordion, and trying to play that way.

Anyway, after lots and lots of takes, I feel like my keyboard fingers have been stretched to the limit of my ability, and yes there has been some editing (mostly tidying up -getting rid of accidental notes, very occasional moving the notes to be better in time, occasional volume changes on individual notes, but about 95% was untouched), and yes I recorded it at a slower speed than it is in the final thing (easier on the fingers, but harder to get the expression feeling right) and the final thing is pretty much done now - maybe it comes to a halt a leeetle too abruptly, I'll have to listen to it a few times and see if I get used to it.

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