Friday, December 18, 2009

Back at it...

More later. My process has changed drastically over the years - for both good and bad. But, like I said, more later.

For now it's interesting to note that I'm still on my PC. So far it's been acting... decently. Few of the problems that plagued me before - especially right before I revived my Mac.

Still... I'm... gun shy. I do NOT trust this beast. I keep expecting horrible things to happen. I... yeah, I'm not comfortable.

Hopefully soon...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Modus Operandi

I'm a visual person. I know this. Were I to start life over and be forced to follow some path other than music, I'm pretty sure I'd choose photography. Imagery resonates in 85% of my lyrics. Metaphors, similes, personifications - that's the poetry of which most of my words flow.

"Tears of twilight fading into view
Each one a reason that I am here with you."
--Half Moon Bay, 1993

I say this because I'm at an interesting juncture in my life. I'm in a state of mind where my thoughts are less visual and *MUCH* more... I don't know. Not visceral - just not pictorial.

The politics of the world continue to aggravate me. The fact that people are dying in Iraq for example - the haunted faces of people I see in the news - just wounds me. That someone could be _legally_ killed because they're gay and HIV+ incites a rage that I don't know how to contain.

I need to unleash in the WORST way. The blood of my soul needs to be spilled upon the fabric of my melodies. But the words falter die on the page. Their sarcophagus litter my notebooks like a madman's scribbles - bursts from nowhere vomited upon a taupe page, leading nowhere.

I'm not a word-smith and I know this. "So Glad..." and a couple other tunes stand out in my memory as times when I managed to overcome this deficiency. It frustrates me in ways I can't begin to explain - a need to vent in a manner I am not capable.


And yet a mere smile caught in a photograph can still melt my heart a bit. The fuzzy light and indescribable warmth I feel when a person is caught just so. The shyness, the simplicity, the vulnerability... I just fall apart and start brewing emotions inside my mind.

I've got quite a few songs started now - many started just recently. I wonder how many of them I will finish composing. Seems like there's always more tunes being written than *get* written.

But... still. Those things I need to say... Those things I need to ferment into songs... I hope they happen soon. I hope I find the manner by which to facilitate their birth.

And then hope they get received...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

And now back to our regularly scheduled program... kinda.

Something is changing - something inside my head and soul. It's intriguing to sit here and watch it either incapable of stopping it or just indifferent to stopping it. Certainly I think I've fueled it.

I'm beginning to evolve.

It's a strange sensation, really. There's an odd disconnect that I can't begin to describe. Chrysalis, perhaps. My world is becoming more about me; centered around myself. The North on my compass: what *I* want, what *I* need, what *I* should do for _my_ musical career...

It's uncomfortable at times. As my world adjusts to it's new... polarity I look at whom I've been and what I've generally held to be important. Then I'm presented with the current of what I feel passionately about, what I'm concerned about, and what just doesn't affect me. Is this right? Is this really the best thing to be happening?

I don't know.

I think the indifference
is the worst.
Knowing x, y, and z
used to bother me.

And now?
I just don't have the energy.
I wonder
if that's a failure of myself...
But I don't seem to care.

It started a while ago: this building desire to take my own place in the spotlight. Certainly I've been using the open mics in both NYC and Philly to work on my presence, my timing, my panache. Then Rochester was a sort of testing ground.

But Bearapalooza NYC was definitely the turning point for me.

I didn't really feel good about my performance at the time. (Though it doesn't come across as badly as I thought it did.) But I did feel solid about being onstage and performing. I wasn't in the ideal head but I didn't lose it either. In fact I think I did a damned lot better on my original rather than the cover.

I really want to get out and get my career[1] going. It's long past time I shove myself up to the plate and start swinging the damned bat.[2] Further more I'm going to. Otherwise the rest of the career is just going to flounder.

I'll strike out a couple times, I know this.[3] But I'll live. I've got one gig mostly on the books. (Just waiting for final confirmations of things.) Then I gotta figure out the steps after that.

*sighs* Sadly there is a kinda irony. At the concurrent time I'm not really exactly sure where I'm going musically. Maybe even less than before. I want to do the pop, I want to do the (contemporary) classical, I want to do the electronic, I want to do the experimental...

Perhaps it's the same boat.

On the other hand I feel like some of my voice is beginning to develop and take on it's own-ness. Or maybe I'm just finally accepting it. Lord only knows I write a lot of slower, melancholy stuff. Sometimes I wonder how or _where_ to perform it. Not exactly the best bar music...


Still I want to get out there. I NEED to get out there. I want to explore the country, the world and make music. I want to leave my infinitesimal footprint on the bathroom stall of the universe.

I'm both excited and terrified about making my _own_ mistakes.


  1. And by career I mean music in general - not just as a solo artist.
  2. Oh holy shit... did *I* just make a sports metaphor?!?!? FUCK!!!
  3. Holy shit, another one!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Rainbow Mountain Resort and after

Overall a decent gig. It was rather rainy and had been kinda threatening most of the late afternoon/evening so attendance was a little ... sluggish but it wasn't dead either. And the feedback we got was very positive!

There are some things I think we need to clean up in our act. I think we need a little more structure. It's something of a (developing) pet peeve to be up there and have several moments where we look at each other with a kinda stupefied, "uh... what should we play next?" It's just unprofessional.

Especially when James ASKS me that over the microphone. X(

I think the Longfork gig went better personally. I was just more in my element then - being a musical slut for example - and relaxed enough to feel the moment. I felt the connection between James and I, I knew the material and felt confident...

This time, while I knew the material, the staging was a bit odd. James was on a higher platform but enshrouded in more darkness. I felt like the spotlight and thus the onus of attention was more on me - a situation I don't want.

Plus I think I hit the right social lubrication at Longfork. Having the rest of the gang - Freddy, Kendal, Jay, Charlie - certainly helped that a bit. But I'd also gotten time to go out and meet some of the people, to get to know the folk who were there to watch us.

I guess... I guess it felt more communal and less ... 'pretentious.' A "here we are, time to share my art with you" rather than "here I am to perform for you" kinda context.

This gig we only had a little schmoozing time before the performance and many people didn't put in much of an appearance until the show. Perhaps that's another effect of the environment - guys seemed to clique off really quickly and there wasn't quite as much of a "let's all get together and party!" kinda vibe.

But I'm not sure. Somehow it just felt... colder.

Plus I wasn't feeling the most socially gregarious. The social explosion I've felt over the past couple months seems to be hitting a sorta inverse reaction point. I just wanted more time to myself and my guitar - to avoid the implications, the ramifications, the complexities and just exist with art.

And I did get some decent time with my guitar. Got some new-ish ideas to follow and made a couple microscopic steps forward on older stuff. Nothing major, mind you, but definitely a step *THAT* *WAY* - something I need to push myself more into.

I need to step forward - whatever that direction may be.

Friday, May 29, 2009

the Hunger... (part 1)

The freneticism is long over. I can finally sit for a few minutes and begin to unravel my thoughts in a more organized fashion. But first - the recap

The trip up to Rochester was remarkable only in it's length and lack of... remarkability. I took the 10pm chinatown bus up to NYC from Cherry Hill where I hopped on to Greyhound's 12:45am NYC->Toronto "express" line. I don't remember much of my thoughts beyond that point. I don't even know if I had many - surprising against my normal bouts of rumination and pre-show jitters.

All I recall is how uncomfortable it was and how futile my attempt at sleep was turning out to be.

Oh the bus was actually a fairly nice and new one - I'd say built in the last two or three years. I was rather impressed. It even had free wifi which unfortunately never seemed to have gotten turned on. But the seats... or maybe the previous 2 hours... and my lower back was a mess in no time.

Note to self: for future trips, take a pillow.

Pulled into Rochester around 7:30am or so and my old pal Chris Hennelly (AKA Felonius Monk) came with his roommate to pick me up at the station. They took me back to their place where Chris and I caught up from the 4 or so years of not having seen each other.

It's amazing what can happen, how time can pass so quickly and with so little notice. Still he was one of the two main reasons I asked Freddy for the gig. And seeing that wide, beaming grin and hearing that full-chested laugh was a treasure worth so much more than the discomfort I put myself through.

For lunch I met up with reason number two for the trip - seeing Steve. Steve and I met on my one prior visit to Rochester. It was a night I very VERY vividly remember. Trite as it may sound while the actual time we spent together may be just a blink in my 33 years it definitely made a much larger impression.

For both of us.

He greeted me in Chris' driveway with a huge goofy grin, a tight embrace and a _very_ deep kiss. Something out of a silly romantic movie, I'm sure. I was caught QUITE off guard - so much so that I'm sure I was actually blushing. We went and caught a quick bite on his lunch break and just kinda talked about everything - theater, music, IT, Philly, Rochester.

Then it was back to Chris' for a nap and some pre-show warm-up. Chris even pointed out my improvement. "I've never heard you sing for me before," he told me.

I had to think about it and realized he was so blindingly right. The few times he may have heard me sing were open mics where I was stumbling through it - rushing just to get it over and never really _enjoying_ it. And now here I was singing songs and *sharing* my art with him.

I've made some significant progress. At that moment I could tell by someone _else_'s reactions just how much I'd grown. I could look back at where I was then, where my headspace often was, and measure how far I've come - some of that in the past few months.

After that I felt much more relaxed and ready. I started the process of planning the set in my head - trying to identify the key songs I wanted to hit, the arc of my tunes... Just sorta get my game plan going. I still wasn't sure exactly how long I'd be on stage but I knew that answer would come soon.

Around 5-ish I got over to the coffee shop - Equal Grounds. An absolutely adorable spot it was a combination coffee shop, knick-knacks mom 'n pop store, and gay mecca.

Chris and I kibitzed some more and fraternized with some of the other locals. Freddy and Kendal were running late of course. At some point Steve arrived and Chris left and then finally Freddy and Kendal made their appearance. We did a bit of pre pre-show planning and then Steve and I ran off for some completely _non_ musical catching up.

*wink* *wink* *nudge* *nudge*

Then it was back to Equal Grounds to get the show going. I got there late enough that the stage was set-up and yet early enough to relax and get in performing head-space. Of course it was about that time that Freddy informed me the shop doesn't have an ASCAP license therefore no covers allowed.


No, it wasn't the death of my set, of course. But one of my "center" tunes - You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk - was obviously out of the picture. I did some quick recalibrating and decided to see how things just flowed.

For a change, we actually started a show EARLY. It was about 7:30 and the cafe was bustling. Apparently it was their 3rd anniversary party. Kendal wanted to get it going since it was a weeknight. So I took to the stage and got the night rolling.

Of my actual performance I ... don't really recall everything. I have some distinct images stuck in my brain and I can kinda re-live things. But, as is usually the case, there's a strange detachment. It's like someone takes over my body and I'm just sort of along for the ride.

For one thing we had no monitors. I relied mostly on the small size of the room to hear how I was doing. It's a tad terrifying with a heavy dose of ... almost vertigo. So much going on in the brain - remember lyrics, try and speak slowly, smile, engage the audience, enjoy yourself, relax - all whilst sending every bit of energy out into this strange audio and emotional... not really a void so much as a null point, I guess.

In the end I think I did okay. The only mistake I really remember was launching into the wrong verse on "So Glad..." With a couple quick quips and a big smile I stopped and restarted the song. Maybe not the best thing to do. But I knew that, were I to try and go on, the train wreck would have been MUCH worse.

I didn't really feel _loved_ by the audience. But I didn't feel hated either. Indifference perhaps more than anything. But I knew that was being offset by the friends I *did* have in the room.

I guess that's the big thing to walk away with - that it didn't feel like a train wreck. Oh, I want to do better and I'm always frustrated when I do NOT live up to my expectations. But... at least I'm not living down to my fears.

And I haven't given up. I'm still pushing myself forward. Still working to better myself and see if I can reach that amazing thing I for some reason still think I am.

Afterwards Freddy paid me one of the best compliments. "You really owned the stage tonight, Tosh. I'm proud of you." Indeed, of all my musical associates, I think he's in the best position to critique me. He's seen me through Hanna's and Outmusic, Landshark and a number of other... adventures.

Oh I wish I'd blown him away. Hell, I wish I'd blown everyone away. But... well I didn't scare them away. And that's something.

The night ended as the handful of us - Kendal, Freddy, Steve, Jeff and I - all converged on a diner for some late-night, post euphoric stomach appeasing. The stress was gone, the appetite returned, and the plates full.

All too soon Steve dropped me off back at the bus station. And, with a some more regretful departing, I found myself once again Philadelphia bound.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Another Step...

I finally did it: I booked an out-of-town solo gig. Freddy and Kendall are touring to support Kendall's new CD and, when I heard they were doing something in Rochester, I kinda... got a spark.[*] So a couple days ago I was chatting with Freddy and said, "look. Let me join you for this." And he agreed.


Artistically and musically I'm ecstatic. I'm really flying high on this notion of getting around and performing more - independence! I think it's a good step for me. I mean it's not _exactly_ the route I want to be taking for myself but it's definitely a huge leap in that direction.

But as the person with the insecurity complex who now has to _PERFORM_?!?

Yeah, I'm a tad terrified. meep!

I mean I have been getting much better. The last couple visits[*] to the open mic felt pretty good. I wasn't perfect, of course, but I was in my element - I felt like I was in control. It's a far cry from where I was back in NYC or even here just a year ago. Plus I'll have Freddy and Kendall's presences to draw upon.

But yeah... I'm still dealing with my stage fright already. *heh*

Logistically it will be tricky, too. I'll have to bus it up on the day of the show (arriving in Rochester in the am) then leave pretty much right after the gig. I just *can't* miss much work right now. Nor do I have much time to lose here in Philly with the BoLW stuff.

So yeah, I'm curious to see what my physical and psychological states will be like. I have a feeling I'll hit that, "this is what it is" sort of mentality and relax enough to give a good show. I mean I think I'll be okay though of course not as FUCKING STELLAR AMAZING as I expect myself to be.


I'll hit a couple open mics before I leave and see if I can polish up some of the material. I rarely expect to perform so my memory for lyrics is often... interesting. *heh* I mean my memory in general is... interesting. :/

But after this? If it goes well? I still want to get to Boston and do something there. Austin and San Antonio are on the list of places to visit, of course. So is San Fransisco.

God, I so want to travel more. I also want to get some of these other things off the ground - the improv stuff, the live sampling...

But first things first, I guess.

  • Okay. My primary impetus is to see Chris and Steve. I haven't seen either of them in 4 years. Then after that are seeing Freddy and Kendall and performing.
  • I'm not counting the time I tried my electric bass. That was just *NOT* meant to be that night. Ugh.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Moving forward...

Last Thursday James, June, and I all got together for a rehearsal for the upcoming Bears on Liberty Weekend gig. I have to say I'm both excited and terrified.

James and I have been performing together for 3-4 years now. 99.9% of that time we've just been a duo. (Really the only time we did something with a full band was for Can't Get A Date!) So there's been a fun sort of freedom and looseness we've had - especially for me. There's a bunch of songs that I haven't really solidified my own playing.

With a band? Gonna change.

On the nice side of the line I'll have more freedom. Being the sole accompanist has meant I've had to establish the groove, keep it going, *and* keep things interesting behind James. Adding drums and bass will really let me lay off and allow more shaping of the song arrangement-wise.

Of course... this means I really have to *think* about how the song is supposed to go, too... *heh*

Anywho, rehearsal was interesting. June is coming at most of these songs very freshly - hearing stuff that James and I have been doing for ages and often bringing something incredibly different than what's going on in my head. At times it's a bit of a crunch. I know there are a couple things here and there that *I* want.

But overall it should be fun.

Fumes of Burning Bridges, for example, is probably going to be significantly slower or more laid back in tempo. With drums this is fine - with just guitar, probably not so. But I was totally *NOT* finding my usual rhythmic grooves. LOL. I'd crash into them and be all, bwah?!?! Of course, now that _drums_ are there, I can lay off rhythmic fills and focus on something more lead-esque. (I'm still not too much of a lead player, tho...)

And I'm curious to see what will happen with some of the more rock-esque tunes - Exchange of Hearts for example. I really want to pull out something *much* more rock. Of course I will _REALLY_ have to re-think my playing. But that's also fun for me, believe it or not. :)

The drawback, of course, is that it means it's going to take a little longer to get everything together. Ah well. MUST. ROCK. BEARS!

Friday I started something that I've been meaning to do for a while. A couple weeks ago I stumbled across a craigslist posting by a guitarist looking for jazz cats to jam with and brush up skills. I'd started my own post of something similar but had never managed to finish and post it. So stumbling upon his was something I couldn't pass up.

Anywho we finally got together Friday before my round of lessons. We both spent some time sorta feeling each other out musically and re-explaining what we were looking for - that we both felt a need to hone our chops more. Then we pulled out the fake books and sorta dove into it.

We ran through mostly basic standards - Blue Bossa and a couple others I don't remember off the top of my head. He's pretty decent. I have a bunch of things to work on. He encouraged me to take some solos to which I declined. I explained that I'm MUCH more concerned about working on my walking and comping, my counting and reading.

By the time we were done I'd gone through an interesting revisiting of my jazz bass side. I'm not as adept as I want to be and certainly NOT as adept as I feel I *need* to be. But I'm not as bad as I once was, either. I have made significant progress from my high school days.

But of course there's a lot further to go!

What struck me most, perhaps, was just how _energized_ I was after our jam session. I mean cloud nine and all that cliche crap. There's just nothing like getting out and DOING music for me - even if a rather unstructured and informal jam like we had.

As a bonus, I ran into one of the guitar teachers at the school. He asked me a bit about what we were doing and I told him what was going on. He told me he and I should jam, too, sometime since neither of us has students till later. I agreed with him and while we didn't make any further plans I definitely plan on following up!

I guess the next step is just to start bringing in other musicians and then getting out and throwing myself back on to the stage...

I think that's what's exciting me - feeling like I'm pushing myself forward instead of just wallowing in my own self-pity marinade. I've spent too long thinking about this and not *DOING* it.

I'm still terrified, of course. There's a lot of stuff I don't know well enough. And, as a teacher, I feel even more... insecure.

But it's time to move myself forward. Time to push myself for the goals - performing more live music and *gasp* maybe even making money!

In more monetary terms, I'm also trying to be more cognizant of facebook and ReverbNation and stuff in terms of my solo 'career'. I want to get the two covers up - "You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk" and "I Kissed a Girl". The former being more important to me.

I want to do these right so I started looking into the compulsory license issues and...

I'm a bit confused. And terrified. Again.

*sighs* What's especially frustrating is that I don't really plan on making any money through either of them. "I Kissed a Girl" was definitely more for just the fun of it. No further plans really exist in my head. So do I really need a license to just stream it?


The Pet Shop Boys tune, on the other hand, is something I want to keep in the repertoire. I don't plan on doing much of anything else with it recording wise but... I suspect it will be more important to keep on top of this one legitimately.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dangling on the Dark Side

I'm a bit opinionated.

*glares at all the faux gasps*

Okay. Maybe a _lot_. Of course most of the time I feel my opinions are rather... half baked or ill-informed but... *shrugs* That's neither here nor there at the moment.

I've been listening to a song a lot that I... well, I loathe. But I also... love a little: "I Kissed a Girl" (Katy Perry's, I should specify)

Yeah, it's fucking catchy. *hangs head in shame*

Of course it also drives me batty. From a technical perspective the song is pretty damned boring - barely strays from it's simple chord structure. Vocally and lyrically the prosody is enough to make me want to jab my remaining ear with a pitchfork. "IN love TO night" and "hope my boyFRIEND don't mind it" and "I'm CUR-ee... us FOR you". I don't think there's a single line without some horrible raping of intelligible emPHAsis. X(

But then there's the whole gay/whoring-for-media-attention issue.

I'm quite firmly in the camp of "this is someone totally using stereotypical male fantasies as an avenue for acquiring fame". Which, as both male AND queer, I find horribly offensive.

Yeah, supposedly she claims it's "all innocence".

Nope. Don't buy it. Try selling *that* to someone who has beachfront property in Kansas...

Blah blah blah.

So... yeah. I had to do my own take on it. Yes, I'm THAT gay. I was compelled add my voice to the din of adoration and derision.

Of course, being *me* I had to do a sort of Dweezil-and-Ahmet-Zappa-do-Hit-Me-Baby-One-More-Time spin on it. Decided that SOMEONE had to really explore the darkness of the song. After all... when you really listen to the lyrics who really *was* the lyric writer writing this too?


Yeah. I had to go there.

So I kinda quickly threw together my ideas. I'm moderately happy with it - especially since I learned it in one day. Though, unlike "You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk" I'm not sure if this will stay in the repertoire.


  • I Kissed a Girl - [mp3]
And just 'cuz I love Dweezil and Ahmet:

Friday, March 13, 2009

Reflection Time

I've been listening to You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk a lot over the past couple of days. And... you know I'm actually kinda happy with the vocals. They are some spots which make me cringe a bit. But for a rather rushed and unprepared go-at, I think there's almost the right level of emotion.

I'm wondering if that hard-drive buzz really *is* enough to make me re-record the vocals.

It's amazing to see the difference between where I was 3 or 4 years ago and where I am now. Half Moon Bay, Ghosts of Roses, Diamond Rise - those are all amazing beasts of cut-and-paste vocal concoction. I think there were maybe even up to 6 takes involved with each of them.

Yeah, I'm a bit neurotic. :)

But, on the other hand, I'm not aiming for some sort of classical-esque vocal perfection. I just... sometimes there's a certain emotion or color to the phrase or even a word that caught my ear.
I love noise. I love hearing all the little bits of a word - a little bit of catch in the throat, a slight bit of extra exhale, the catch of the vocal chords as they growl into a word...

Bono became one of my most favorite singers for a while. As a technician he's *horrible*. There are entire sections of him completely missing notes - Pride (In the Name of Love) for a good example! But, somewhere in the whole process, they really started capturing all the nuances of him as someone who almost paints with his voice. There's just so much grit and color - auditory texture - he can evoke that inspires me.

I returned to the Intermezzo last night for another open mic. I'd toyed with the notion all day and eventually decided that my need to see if I could rent/borrow Mark's sound system was an excuse enough. I almost backed out - my chest has just been a veritable monsoon of phlegm lately...

But I went ahead and signed up.

Took the last slot and eventually got my turn to come up. Unlike the last one I didn't pull together much of a narrative thing. But... again I really did feel like I'm starting to figure this out. I don't think I did *as* well - especially with the afore-mentioned congestion.

But still I did okay. Not bad, really. Not where I *want* to be, of course, but.... Yeah. I was just relaxed enough to enjoy myself a bit and smile through the mistakes - no mean feat since again, I didn't really know anyone outside of Mark.

Started off with Half Moon Bay. Then went into You Only Tell Me. Then really went out on a limb for myself and did Jesus Year - on of my newest tunes. Was a bit surprised that they asked me to do another one (though most everyone else *did* do four) and pulled out So Glad... again.

Jesus Year went pretty well, actually. My voice didn't *quite* last through it. The last two stanzas were weak in my opinion - just couldn't control my voice at all. But the emotion and headspace was good. Tricked them a bit and was a little amused to catch some applause after the the second chorus. But I smiled a little and returned right back into headspace.

The only disturbing thing was that one of the guys referred to my stuff as "super pop" which I think he meant like ultra-pop. I know he didn't mean it as an insult. Yet it kinda threw me a bit. But, looking back, everything I did (and often _do_) live *is* pretty goddamned pop.

_MUST_ change this.

In more... mundane news I've signed up for ReverbNation. Facebook's music player has been craptastic of late - completely not letting me upload new tunes. So... I figured what the fuck and climbed aboard. I must say, I'm actually rather impressed by the quality of the site. The widgets rock and totally put soundclick to shame.

I think I'll keep stuff on soundclick, of course. It's definitely nice to have a space where I can post things 'in progress'. But I think I *may* move towards using ReverbNation as a front-end for my more finished stuff.

Still gotta go through and figure out about how I'm going to organize Toshio Mana stuff vs project::in•fin•i•ty though...

Not really sure where the line is at the moment.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Moving on.

Resisted my urge to go out tonight after a hellish day at the store. I even resisted a late night urge - after my usual 11pm cutoff for making sound.

I'm glad I did! Maybe I'll start getting things done this way. :)

I started going back and touching some of the RPM tunes - most notably "Too Close". Also want to get to "Give You A Load/Second Chances" but... Haven't done a *whole* lot yet - mostly just trying to smooth out the structure and trying to clean up drum/keyboard parts and sounds.

I also did another side-step and started working on a 'full' version of my most recent cover selection - You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk. I've really enjoyed re-envisioning it and also incorporating it into my set. I must admit I don't think I'm the biggest PSB fan - too much of the stuff I've heard is kinda interesting but just emotionally dead.

First I recorded several guitar takes sans metronome and then spliced together a final track that flows the best without getting *too* perfectionist. I do want to build an accompaniment that is somewhat consistent yet I don't want to lose the open-endedness and strummy improvised quality of what I really *do* do live.

Then I went back and quickly recorded a rough vocal part. By this time my hard drive/fan was humming a lot (thus the buzz on the recording) _and_ it was getting late. I decided that there was one spot I needed yet another take - after the last pre-chorusey bit "is it over when you are sober? is it junk?". Just needed a bit more of a tenuto there. Got that recorded and then spliced it in.

I know where I would *LOVE* to go with this. Unlike some of the other covers I've done, I really want to keep this stripped down. But I would love to pull a quasi-Esquivel sort of thing and really bring in the auditory narrative - arguments, room sounds, etc.

I'd love to start off with me (or the listener really) passing by some sort of argument and then walking into a room. A door shuts and the guitar starts. The argument can still be heard through the walls of course until it fades out as the vocals start.

Then, in the gap before the second verse, I... I don't know. I think I could use the sound of my roommates having sex. Again it would be through walls - perhaps with me leaving my room and walking past their door.

I don't know. But I *LOVE* shit like that. It just puts the music into a different context than it would be otherwise.

*sighs* Not sure if I have the expertise to do that yet. So, in the meantime, I'm just going for a rather lonely sound - as if the guitar and I are playing to an empty concert hall. I think that's fitting, too, to the mood and the arrangement.

In additional project::in•fin•i•ty related news, I've started talking with Jason and Ren about doing some sort of collaborative electro-meets-acoustic improv experiment. They've got some samplers and equipment. I've got my laptop, Live, and my instruments... I'm excited though I'm not sure what to expect from them.

I've also been talking with Charles Cohen a little more seriously about getting out with him and doing some improv stuff. I just... need to find my headspace a bit better before I jump in with him. I trust him better than I do Jason and Ren. But, in that context, I trust *myself* less.

I think... I think I'm beginning to find my steps forward. They're still tentative and unsure but...

at least I'm moving again.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

[ RPM09: ] Day 28/Wrap-up

so... I did NOT complete this year's RPM challenge. I got _one_ song 'finished' (in as much as I ever manage to finish a song) and that one... wasn't quite an RPM song. On the other hand it was a dear friend's goodbye/birthday song so... from a personal standpoint it was a little more important.

I walk away from this year's challenge with mixed feelings. On the one hand I got *MUCH* further than I have in the past. Two years ago I *think* I started one or two songs - got maybe a couple days into it before my life (going to San Antonio to help Karl) just got too crazy to move forward. This time I got two-almost three weeks and 40 minutes of music in.

Definitely an improvement.

I blame a little bit of life on it, too. Had something of an emotional encounter putting a bunch of things behind me with a certain someone. While the end result was rather healing, it did suck up some time and emotional energy.

In addition I was facing a pretty decent learning curve. I've never really worked with Ableton Live much. I'm much more used to ProTools and Reason. I think I take that much away from this challenge at least - forcing me to work with a new program. It's definitely a mother/necessitie sort of thing.

But... yeah. I'm in a weird place. I like writing too much to really be just a full time performer. But, on the other hand, I'm not happy enough with my writing (and dedication) to feel terribly solid about moving forward yet. It's... a netherworld - neither far enough here nor far enough there to really make a commitment.

If I *can* make a commitment that is.

Oh, I'm actually pretty happy with some of the stuff I've worked on. In fact I'm sure I'll keep working on most of it. Still love the Emajor arpeggio idea and the B minor riff. "Too Close" is definitely from the break-up/emotional purging side of my life.

Perhaps strangely enough the one I'm most excited about continuing is the one I was least happy with - "Give You a Load/Second Chances". I think that's in part due to the fact that, of all the stuff I came up with, it's the most provocative. I've spent a lot of time working on kinda generic love-related songs. It's nice to feel like I'm pushing outside of that box and really starting to say something.

No, it won't garner me much acclaim - talking about barebacking amongst a minority of the population.

But, frankly, I don't care. While it was good to get some emotional clutter out of my system with things like "Jesus Year" (pre-RPM) and "How I Wish" (the one 'finished' track), I don't feel like they're really addressing things that I *want* to address. They're just... more of a sort.

"Oh, look, Becky. Another singer-songwriter talking about love and loss... OH! That fabulous new tea set by Whosey McWhatsherface!"


"What's he... OMG. He's singing about the emotional complexities of using someone as a cum-dump! Holy christ my brain AND my innocence!"

Yeah. MUCH hotter. :)

And, speaking of the lyrical content, I've made some headway with the lyrics. As I said in one of my last posts, there's a strange middle road I'm trying to find - neither condemning nor really advocating this.

I remember a series of ads back when I was living in Boston - aka "HIV Stops with me" (yeah, I misread it at first as "HIV tops with me". Slightly different...) I think these ads might have been cooler if they'd taken the vantage of people who were HIV- as well admitting that the responsibility is on ALL of our shoulders. Instead it made it sound kind of like it's only the burden of people who are HIV+.

Which is TOTAL bullshit.

If you're going to play in the sandbox, you've got to accept you might get some sand in yer ass.

I... I'm not perfect. I've made some less-than-wise decisions in my past. Fortunately I've been lucky in those cases. But to act like it's somehow someone ELSE's fault for me going, "Okay. You can fuck me in the ass without a condom. I won't ask and I'll just take your silence as admitting you're NOT HIV+. If you even know."

That's fucked up.

Blah. Anywho, I think there's just a lot of issues on the plate - self-hatred, ignorance, disillusionment, disregard, and... abandonment of responsibility?

Yeah. It's crazy and complex.

But I kinda enjoy just bringing it up. Again, if for nothing else, just to sing, "I would give you a load if I thought it would bring you some hope" over and over...


Give You a Load/Second Chances (current lyrics)

Hey babe, is that the way you play?
You got your hand stuck in the cookie jar
Why try to hide or run or fight
when you know there ain't no getting far
I see the terror that you bleed
when you're talking 'bout the end of the line
Lord knows how I would start to cope
if your burden would turn out to be mine
So hey, I don't know what to say
but you know this ain't no box here of soap
'cuz... I would give you a load
if I thought it would bring you some hope

Hey love is that you playing tough
when you're acting like you know all the rules
I fear the smell is all to clear
that you're the only one who is fooled.
Christ sake we all will make mistakes
the roulette of who will pay and who won't
I see my own hypocrisy
when we're talking about the do's and the don'ts
'cuz... I would give you a load
if I thought it would bring you some hope

Ain't got no second chances
might as well just play it to the grave.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

[ RPM09: ] Day 14b

Sometimes a piece or tune just kind of explodes on you. "trains" was a song like that. I went from something that was hardly even a riff and over the course of 4 days just kinda built up my maybe second most favorite song of mine so far.

This B minor thing was just a... vague notion a couple weeks ago. A lot of my stuff tends to get rather dense (see Half Moon Bay for example) and for a long while I wanted to do something _extremely_ minimalistic. So I came up with a very basic notion - just four or so notes in a quasi-ostinato sort of thing. B - D - A - E.

It's a fairly open progression and I've bounced between 4/4 and 6/8 in my head. Had the outline of a melody and even a couple sections where the guitar would go down to G# instead of the E and then down to G... Very somber. Very moody.

Someday I'll have to revisit this idea and see if it would have worked out...

Anywho, I started futzing with it. I had this open harmonics riff that... I don't know. I really heard something high frequencied and somewhat constant - like a hi-hat really. So I recorded that and then decided to reverse it.

Nothing makes something eerie like the old "reverse" tool!

Anywho, then I recorded the basic guitar idea. I wound up not doing just 'whole' notes. Had to get a *little* something rhythmical going - especially with the harmonics riff. Staying too completely simple no longer really seemed to work.

From there? I don't remember everything. Started playing around with transposing the riff down an octave and then transposing 16th notes of the riff back up an octave. That helped to create something of a pulse. Also futzed around with panning causing things to move around on 8th and 16th notes - another way to create pulse.

Started throwing various 'resonators' and distortion type things as well as some delay. I'm not *quite* happy with the delay - can't control it quite the way I want to. I know what I want to do but... not sure how to get the software to do it.

After that I went and put down a couple other layers - some guitar 'whispering' and atmospheric treatments. Also but something of a melody in the beginning. Again I had aimed for something more simple and moody but... couldn't manage to keep it stupid simple enough.

*sighs* I suck at the simple...

Anywho I'm actually really happy with where it's going so far. I need to fuck around with it some more. The distortion and effects get a little *too* much and right now I have no head room and too much is peaking. I like how it sounds half the time but... not all the time.

I decided around then to take a break and switched over to "Give you a load/Second Chances".

I shouldn't have...

I like where this song is coming from conceptually and lyrically. Plus I just love the vulgarity of the lyric. There's something refreshing about singing, "I would give you a load if I thought it would bring you hope".

Most literally it's about my HIV+ friends who go around and continue to engage in unprotected sex. There's a kinda... discomfort I feel about this. They already have one major STD - do they need to risk more? On the other hand I can very well see myself sliding into this sort of headspace were I to acquire HIV.

Metaphorically it's just kinda about going down in a blaze of glory, I guess.

But the song just is NOT coming together. (Pun not intended...) The middle section/bridge just seems forced and... I don't know. Just doesn't go where it should. I'm not sure what to do other than put this song down.

So I aborted, went back, and put some vocals down over the B minor song. I have a bunch of work to do. I'm not entirely really sure what this song will be about yet so... Just singing, "blah blah blah" basically. Plus I need to shape things up a touch. Bring back the chorus (where it goes into E minor) and think about percussion...

Yeah, all the sounds are from the guitar so far. I think that's so awesome!

After I did that I put it back down for a while and started recording some free improv on my recorders, tinwhistle, flute, a soda can, and a wine bottle. I have notions of incorporating this stuff into the current RPM Challenge but... not sure if that will actually happen.

Maybe I'll get some cool samples out of it. Not sure.

After that I went back and just put down some of the ending vocals for "Midnight Train" and was less than pleased with the quality of my singing. But I keep them for now.

    Give you a load/Second Chances
  • draft 2

Saturday, February 14, 2009

[ RPM09: ] Day 13 + 14a

I'm actually like fucking excited for a change. This track came from just a bare idea - a simple practically whole note riff. (Okay, it's in 6/8 time but... just a note per measure!) B - D - A - E.

Anywho, I won't go into the process yet. But it's just kinda taking the *right* path. And I LOVE how it kicks in at 0:55.

Sock it to me!

Friday, February 13, 2009

[ RPM09: ] Day 11

It's a Thursday and thus one of my days off. Unfortunately I didn't get as much done as I'd like even though I woke up at 9am.

Yay, me.

I did revisit my 'upbeat' tune and really reworked the chorus. While I was at the school yesterday (meaning Wednesday) I came up with a different chord pattern that fist the song just a million times better. The former one... just went somewhere not right.

So I spent a bunch of time recording that.

I also spent some time putting down some layers of electric guitar. Wound up... I guess cross-splicing my first take and second take. Parts of the first take were a little more lead-ish here while my second take was more lead-ish there...

I'm beginning to recover some of my lead guitar skills. I'm no virtuoso but I was definitely feeling the flow better than ever. I didn't wind up recording much of that, though. It definitely needs to get in there, however - in between bits of the verse that's what's supposed to be going on.

But first I wanted to back and throw down a layer of mock vocals. I... I really need to warm up for this... LOL. The vocals aren't serious as usual. Just kinda wanted to get a rough idea.

Rough indeed... Whew!

But then, as I was listening, I had a sudden bit of inspiration. There's something about the way I was singing the chorus that reminded me vaguely of "Big Love" by Fleetwood Mac. So I threw down a four-part harmony which didn't really quite turn out as "uh... ah... uh... ah" but... *shrugs* Still like it.

I did indulge myself and worked on some mixing/production issues. There was just too much peaking and distortion going on so I threw some more EQ and compression into the gambit just for the sake of clarity.

Spent too long on that tho... *sighs*

After that I started futzing around with some electronic ideas. I really need to get back into how to use some of this new software for weird sounds and patterns. That's one area I've definitely been lagging in.

Pulled out a beat I'd been fucking around with in Reason. Messed it up a little more and then bounced it down as a sample. Pulled it into Live and, in a moment of goofiness, switched the tempo.

Suddenly it was kinda cool! Very digital distortion. The kick actually took on a pitch, too, which was very unexpected.

Started digging around my hard drives and found a couple other samples to use - the initial noise rhythm, for example. I also found a reversed guitar clip I'd discovered some ages ago and spliced that in. Dropped some of the beats to make it a tad more interesting...

Then I decided to check out the sampler tool. I... I'm a little lost. I've worked with some of the samplers in Reason but these... they just work differently. I did find a couple cool sounds that I'm using as extra bits of percussion.

It's okayish. I still need to figure out more shape, I think. But for the learning curve I guess it's decent.

    upbeat tune
  • draft 2 - more pr0n-tacular!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

[ RPM09: ] Day 10 + Recap

Got home from work around 7:30ish and got to work shortly thereafter on Midnight Train. I wanted to get some simple electric guitar parts down - not too different from what was already there just with a very different tone.

That's about when the dismay hit.

*sighs* I began to realize just HOW craptacular my electric guitar is. The humbucker is falling apart, the intonation has been problematic for most of the time I've had it... It's amazing that the thing managed to service me through 3 years of NYC.

No, I really don't know how. Maybe just 'cuz I didn't do enough electric guitar work.

Anywho, I got the parts mostly down eventually. Some of the takes are horribly out of tune. But at least they're there so I can start to work around them.

The song started getting long REALLY fast. It's amazing how you have this thing in your head and you don't realize just HOW long it is. I'd gotten up to the second chorus and was hitting 4'30".

Daaaamn. I mean I know I tend to write on the long side, but... I still wanted to get in another chorus, an instrumental section, and an outro...

Yeah. Whee!

Anywho, I got the skeleton shaped out - cut and pasted bits into a whole. Took one of the verses and copied that for the bridge. Tossed the third chorus in. Spliced in a bit of a cadence for the end of the 4th verse. Then spliced out two bars and basically looped them for the outro.

(The end of the song will reference another song of mine - trains - which is actually about someone who has just died and is watching their body being taken to the grave. I wrote it a couple years before Karl passed.

Personally they're not connected. I'd hate to think that anyone thought I was making a point about Karl. I'm not. But the artistic/thematic/musical connection is just to spot-on to pass up.)

So at that point I started going back and thinking about what I had and how the shape of the tune was progressing. There's a lot of dense, strummy, jangliness and I felt too much like the energy of the piece just really going anywhere.

At 5'36" that's NOT a good thing.

So I started playing with the textures a bit - dropping down to just bass and drums at the 3rd verse. Took out the main acoustic part here and there to thin it down and allow the electric to take over the texture and thus change the timbre.

I still need to get a couple layers of keyboards on there but I think that what is there is mostly sufficient. They'd definitely help, though - especially in keeping the timbre constantly changing and evolving.

After that I started looking back at what I have in progress. There's roughly 30 minutes for 8 or so tracks. Not too bad. None of it is finished, of course.

Not terribly coherent musically. They shift pretty drastically from the completely electro beats to the almost completely acoustic ballad. From country-ish, to electro, to ... funk/R&B-ish. Though the acoustic ones *DO* rely rather heavily on a V-IV-V-IV-V-IV sort of chord progression...

Ah well. I guess continuity would be a bit much to ask from me. *HEEEE*

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

[ RPM09: ] Days 6-9

The past few days have been less productive than I'd like to admit.

Friday I had virtually no time to record for RPM. Took off out the door at 9am for some recording with James. Got home for an hour and did get some minor adjustments to the E Major 7th tune. But then I was back out the door and didn't get home till _late_.

I did get some stuff started Saturday but nothing really to the point of being worthy of showing. I opted to head out to a local event with the bear community. I had some fun, of course, but... yeah productivity = minimal.

Sunday I got some more stuff started. In fact there's a couple tunes I'm digging up out of the scratch pile - one which dates back to... high school?

Another... another is a highly personal song for a friend I lost. In fact my first attempt at the RPM Challenge was short lived since I was busy helping him through chemotherapy. I don't regret this, of course. It was a life changing event for me.

Lyrically it basically pits the two of us struggling with our own demons at the same time - me with a VERY dark time in my life and him, of course, with cancer. The mood I'm going for is one of... I guess resignation?

No, that's not really it. More of endurance, I suppose. There's a kind of strange feeling when one is fighting because there's really not much other choice.

Sadly, he didn't survive his fight. He passed away August 24th, 2007. I have yet to make all of my goodbyes to him.

So yeah, I think I'm finally going to be able to get this song done-ish. It's on the project list now and I hope to do it some justice. So far most of the music is written in my head. Lyrics are in desperate need of finishing (as is often the case for me) and a number of things need to be found.

I'm not happy with the drums at all, really. I want them to sound a little more train-ish. They're more for texture than anything else, really - the slow trudging of things moving along. And, beyond that, I need some more atmospheric keys/synth stuff. I really want it to sound a tad more spacey and haunting.

Plus I still need to work on the shape a bit. It's kinda... long and doesn't really go anywhere. :/ I mean that's kinda fitting but... Doesn't make me happy musically.

    track 5 - 'E Major 7' (working title again)
  • draft 3 - minor tweaks
    track 6 - "midnight train to nowhere"
  • draft one

Thursday, February 5, 2009

[ RPM09: ] Day 5

Thursdays are one of my days off so today was a nice long day of writing. Yay!

Got up quasi-early - around 11:30. After the coffee was brewed and making its way into my system, I pulled up Live for some more experimentation. Decided I should stick to mostly electronic stuff today and all completely new, too.

My first goal was to start something more rhythmical, more beat-oriented. I hear a lot of rhythms in my head but... as I've said before, not so good at getting them out. I started on one idea which I've already forgotten. I just wasn't feeling it - too... *shrugs* Not me.

But after I 'wasted' that time I started cruising around and checking out other drum samples. Came across one that caught me somehow. I honestly don't remember what or how any longer. Pure luck, really.

But next thing I new, I was off on a new idea. It's essentially a pretty basic rhythm - the rhythm that starts off the track.

But I started getting a little kooky with it. I split it out amongst instruments. I also threw in one of Live's little "randomizer" features which help to keep it 'evolving'. Then I threw in a basic kick/snare line and also incorporated a piano riff I'd come up with yesterday but forgotten till after I blogged last night.

At that point I had most of the pieces - phrases and stuff - and was playing around with Lives' arrangement feature and exploring structural options. I wasn't happy with the original keyboard sound I'd chosen so I went back to testing out the other patches.

In THAT process I stumbled across one sound and happened to play an ascending E Major 7th arpeggio and...


Yeah. It was pretty much as ADD as that. I quickly saved what I'd been working on and opened up a new project.

Most of what came next is a pretty big blur of inspiration. I heard a descending sequence of suspensions. Found two patches that I loved it on and decided to use BOTH of them but offset by a bar creating an interesting echo effect.

The beat? For a change I think I kinda actually got close to what I heard in my head. Right now it's pretty simple but I plan on going back and adding some spice. It just needs more variation.

As for the live guitars and bass I heard something stupid simple - basic arpeggios and a fairly stable running 16th bass line.

About there I took a break and went to the coffee shop to get out of my space for a bit and relax. Sat there and listened back to the mixdowns of what I'd done and just kinda let my imagination go.

Maybe it was my body reacting to an a-typical infusion of caffeine but I got the itch to try and reverse the WHOLE tracks I'd done. For the beat piece it works AMAZING. I'm trying to figure out if I can somehow use this for the intro and outro of the 'album'.

That would rock.

Went back home and got to work more on the E Major tune. I got a little snazzy and threw in some reversed guitar, too, just to help with atmosphere. Added some bridge-esque sections...

I need to add some more keyboard layers in there and change up some of the patterns. It's a little too monotone still. But so far I'm really happy with where it is.

    track 4 - 'industrial beat' (working title. don't ask...)
  • draft 1 - forward
  • draft 1a - reversed
    track 5 - 'E Major 7' (working title again)
  • draft 1 - forward
  • draft 1a - reversed
  • draft 2 - bridges added, structure more developed

[ RPM09: ] Day 4

I'd thought about taking my recording gear in to the school today to record some piano stuff but... Well I got up later than intended so I aborted 'cuz I just wasn't up to the whole dismantling of my "studio". It's not the most complex system but... it's not exactly an H2 or something.


I futzed around with some piano ideas between lessons but, aside from the piece I wanted to record, nothing really stuck too much. A few riffs I may follow up on but... nothing really engaging.

Got home around 9:45 pm in kind of a nasty funk. Still a lot of residual pain from a recent break-up. It's fueled my writing a bit but... sometimes pain is just pain. And today it's just kinda sat on me.

But I did break through it enough to start another track. Again it's a bit of a cheat - it's a riff I've had for ... a couple weeks I think. Something upbeatish, something groovy.

Whipped up a quick beat in Live and then started tracking stuff. As I was laying stuff down I actually came up with another part for it - a stop beat pre-chorus-or-maybe-bridge sort of thing. I hopped on that and worked up something that's actually based on an even OLDER riff - at least chord-wise.

The only thing I really need is a chorus. I worked up something but... I don't know. The character changes just TOO wildly. It leaves the groove idea too far behind and becomes a little too pop-ish. Kinda... urk.

I'm keeping it for the moment, tho. Nothing else to do till tomorrow at best.

After I got that squared away and the structure worked fleshed out a bit better, I put down some bass tracks. Decided it was time to bring a little slap bass into the picture and started a slappin' and a poppin'. Got a little crazy with it but I think it works mostly. After the last couple tunes it's kinda nice to show off a little bit.

By this time it was too late to record anything that required volume - ie vocals. So... tomorrow. It's my day off and I hope to get quite a bit of writing done.

Overall I'm okay with this tune. It definitely needs a new chorus. I just... yeah. Not feelin' it.

I do need to start working on more complex tunes, too. I love more composed things usually and these past three seem a bit too... straight ahead. I need changing textures, I need weirder atmospheric ideas...

I really need to push my writing.

*sighs* I'm still a little terrified, I guess. I *know* I have it in me. I just have to work a LOT harder and face a LOT more self-criticism, a lot more doubt...

    track 3 (no working title yet)
  • draft one - no vocals

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

[ RPM09: ] Day 3

After last night's 'official cuttoff' I spent a little time working with beats in Reason. I've long felt my drum programming... just doesn't quite line up with the strange things I hear in my head. Or I just find the product dull.


I did get a couple things going that I will follow up with but... It was short a lived venture since I had to be up at 8 in the morning to get to work.

yay. work.

I got home around 7:20ish PM and, instead of revisiting said beats, opted to start roughing out a new tune. Okay... new-ish.

I totally admit I'm cheating a little bit. This particular song is one that's been slowly developing long before this year's RPM Challenge kicked off. I've had the main guitar riff for many months and the basic lyric concept for almost as long. Ironically I'd actually thought about starting this one the other day but, instead, developed "too close".

Anywho, I set a basic-ish drum beat and set to work capturing the guitar. It's a fun soul-ish tune and I LOVE LOVE LOVE Bb minor. (Well, okay. It's really in Fminor but... details...) Alas it is kinda on the simpler side like "too close" but... *shrugs* There's basically only three sections - verse, pre-chorus, chorus. There's a solo section but it's just a verse.

Once I got the guitar working I went back and made a couple tweaks to the drums - cutting them out in a couple spots. I really wish I had time to work with a live drummer on this one. The synth drums just... don't have the soul I really want.

Ah well.

Then figured, wtf, and laid down a vocal track. Again I have partial lyrics but not much more than a verse. So there's lots of, "blah blah blah" kinds of mumbling. :)

At about 8pm I actually ran off to try and catch a show here in West Philly but it got cancelled on account of significant snow. BOO. Instead I caught up with a friend over a couple beers for about an hour and then... well waddled my way home, I guess. (Yeah... I'm still not so big on snow...)

Once I got home I fleshed out the structure a little better - splicing parts into bits and arranging them into something with a bit better build. I had all the sections so it's just a matter of dragging and dropping!

I love digital audio processing!

Decided I just wasn't happy enough with the original vocal track so I completely wiped it and laid down a new one. This one I was much happier with! I think I got the words a little closer to what they'll be but not much. And then, since loud-time was drawing to a close I pulled out my bass and started laying down some groove.

For all that I play more guitar these days, I still consider myself a bassist. I noodle more on bass, actually. :D But I kept listening back and felt that I was noodling a bit too much. Time to K.I.S.S. (yeah - Keep It Simple Shitface) Eventually I started settling on a groove that was fun and didn't bore me too much.

I still need to add a couple layers of keys - a B3 or some sort of organ and/or maybe a rhodes. The solo needs something blisteringly soulful. Yes, I do play keys, too. :)

Other thoughts? I want to go back into the solo section and finesse somethings - work out some of the riffs, add some better punches, etc. Just kinda make it sparkle a bit more.

But overall? Not too bad for about 2 hours of work, I guess. *shrugs*

Took a break then to let my head sorta clear a bit. Then I came back and sat in Live and started working on something totally new. Decided it's time to get back to some of the more goofy/abstract electronica that I've enjoyed in the past. So started digging around a little with Live's drum samples.

I've got the seed for something. Not sure what all it will be yet. Not really enough to demo. But hopefully it will grow.

I really am... intimidated here. I mean I know *how* to program. Kinda. But, like I said, my fluency doesn't match up with what my brain concocts. I spend too long getting side-tracked searching for *THAT* sound or lost playing around with whatever goofy thing I find... And the result is rarely anything I'm really happy with.

Ah well. That's what part of this month will be for me - diving into new software and refreshing myself on the stuff I used to use.

    tune 2 "40 Days / 40 Nights"
  • draft one - no keys

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

[ RPM09: ] Day 2

Got home tonight at about 10:30 and almost immediately returned to "too close". It took a couple passes but I re-recorded the chorus guitars and even added a third. Then I sat down and put down a couple more layers of background vocals. (If you've listened to any of my stuff you'll notice there's almost ALWAYS a choir of Tosh's somewhere...)

Then I got in a mood and decided I wanted to put down a (VERY) rough track of vocals. They're mostly a guide - something to listen to and get an idea of what I'm hearing melodically. I only have a couple lyrics at all and those few are all at the beginning. Otherwise I'm just kinda randomly singing thoughts that come into my head that are maybe marginally subconsciously related.

Actually I'm kinda liking my voice on this for a change. It's taken me years to be able to listen to my own singing without wincing too much. *sighs* But this time there's something kinda nice somehow. Maybe it's that I hear so much of the.... grit.

Otherwise there's obviously a bunch of things I still need to do. Gotta soup up the drums. (I really suck at drum programming...) And I want to get some keys down on it, too - more textural stuff. After that there's the production...

Hopefully the rest of the writing will branch out from here. This one is kinda... tame, I guess. I'm loving where it's going but there's a lot more to my general writing. I've got some heavier ideas, some less tonal ones, some moodier ones...

I guess that's part of what this challenge is about, tho, eh?

    tune 1 "too close" (working title)
  • fourth draft - redone chorus, new vocals

Monday, February 2, 2009

[ RPM09: ] Day 1

Alas my day was shorter than I'd like. Tomorrow? Virtually non-existent. However I did get a decent chunk of one completely new song mocked up. Like I just kinda had this one riff and then played it out to myself and, when I got enough ideas I just sorta sat down and recorded them.

I still need to fine tune some things. I realized the verse actually kinda works as a chorus, too, but that I need to re-record it so that I can make some differences. Plus I decided to reshape some of the sections - repeating a few bars here and there for extra emphasis.

And then I need to actually tune my instruments... *heh* ouch.

Currently I'm using Ableton Live. It's... different. I've used it before but I'm *MUCH* more used to working in ProTools, Reason, and now Sonar. I haven't *quite* figured out how to do some things.

For example - one of the huge 'assets' to Live is supposed to be the whole using of loops. You're supposed to be able to use clips and mark them off into sections so that you can mix and match. Yet I'm not entirely sure how to record in and then turn that into a loop. Maybe I'm making it hard on myself. I don't know.

Or then I'd hit some random button and suddenly one (or more) of my tracks just won't play. It's greyed out as if inactive. But I have no clue how to reactivate it. And if I right click on it, the only relevant seeming option is to 'deactivate'. Bwah?

I also haven't figured out how to route things effectively. In PT and Sonar I could send tracks out to an aux bus and put the effects on the bus *kinda* saving myself some CPU. (Or at least some mental anguish...)

I guess I'll figure it out.
I may hop into Audacity later and record some narrative/spoken ideas I have. Sorta want to do some more ... spoken word type things, I guess. Audio blogs with background music.

Podcasts really, I suppose.