Song #01 - Week of Jan 1-10, 2011


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"365.52.12" - Song #01 - MP3 File

"365.52.12" - Length: 3:20

Track count: 25 Tracks

Instrumentation: MacBook Pro, Korg Radias synthesizer, Mac "Text To Speech" voices, human voice and sneezing, Fender Stratocaster, Digital Performer, Peak Pro, WireTap Pro, Ableton Live.

Original concept: Use the title of the project as material for the first piece of the year. Cascading numbers. Interlocking phrases devolving into tuneful rhythmic chaos. Read the numbers to a clock (click track) and impose timed glitcher/gate to create evolving rhythms, then cascade numbers off, as if water shedding from each side (visual of a sonic idea) using echo and/or granular synthesis. Maybe 1-2 minutes.

Process diary

Sat/Sun, Jan. 1 & 2: Started with the Text-To-Speech voices on my laptop reading my project description, using Apple voices and recorded with WireTap Pro. Edited, gain adjusted and cleaned up recordings in Peak Pro 6.

Monday, Jan. 3: used Digital Performer and some software synths to record my own voice speaking the numbers - and some percussive vocal sounds - along with both a click track and two types of drum beats (Scottish War Drums & a House beat.) I also exported recordings of the beats. I'm now working at a tempo of 120BPM - makes for easy measure chopping and timing. (Plus, 12 is one of the numbers - 12x10=120.)

Tuesday, Jan. 4: I did a lot of extracting and processing if the voice and beat recordings - working in measures as much as I could, and doing some sever vocal editing in Peak Pro. I did a PSP Nitro gloss on the War Drums, so they now have an eerie wail to them. Spooky!

I created a rough version of the song in Live - rejected my own vocals and voice percussion, for the most part, using the computer generated ones. Did a whole take, and although I liked the overall feel and momentum - and did some super cool stutter edits and comps with the computer vocals and drums, the thing started to seem way too chaotic.

Wed, Jan 5: Next step - extracting the best sounds and edits I'd done, and starting over! I love starting over. Making a whole new take, starting with chopping up the computer vocals into syllables and creating rhythms with them. When I "came to," I had over 3 minutes, and liked it.

Wed/Thurs: Listened to the mix on iPod while working out. Got some ideas.

Thursday, Jan 6: Ideas: Ticking clock for breakdown. Add vocoder rhythm and synth to beginning. "Let's do it" before main beat kicks in. Replace eerie wailing Storm Drum beat on main rhythm? Clip out first breakdown or otherwise trim beginning sections. It's wandering - which is not bad in and of itself, but I am feeling some sense of positivity and forward momentum now, and this song is kind of ABOUT that, so.... we'll see.

Recorded some Radias parts to the clock - I was really looking for a bass sound, as well as trying to find some good starting patches for the OBT Stravinsky Project, but thought I'd record some synth tracks into the Live session for this song. The Radias is a monster. I did get a few new tracks recorded, will see how they sound tomorrow. So far, what I did sounds too busy.

Also, I kept getting sidetracked on new song ideas for future 365.52.12. Part of the challenge here may be having too many ideas for one week, but that's also part of the fun!

Before I quit working on this song for the day, I decided to record the clock ticking and the "Let's do it" using some software I'm beta-testing. After a few crashes, I got a nice recording of my egg timer, my voice, and a funny ad-lib. I REALLY need to get to my paying work now!

Friday, Jan 7: Nipped out a few measures of the buildup and made it denser in spots, thinned out some spots, added another break (silence for part of a measure for the DRAMA when the beat kicks back in) and layered in some more clock ticks, synth parts and vocal utterances. Have a synth bubble I recorded on the Radias that's in A, although I took a copy and added some key changes to it using Live's transpose handles for some parts. I love being able to draw in pitch changes!) And now it ends with me saying "Loop It!" which is something I yelled in the studio when I was leaving the recording booth.

Starting to mix, although I hope to have time to add some sort of lead line to the end of the song. And I need a bassline that follows the kick. Um.... I always forget the bassline!

I'm working on two computers this week - the laptop next to the Radias has this project on it, and my big iMac has the OBT Stravinsky Project stuff. I am being a little schizo, going from this weird electronic beat music on one side to hammer ducimer, Appalachian dulcimer and piano on the other. But I'm loving it.

Saturday, Jan 8: Did some mixing, cleaned up some rough spots, tweaked and edited. I also tried out a bunch of channel strips and mastering plugs on the Master bus, to try and smooth out the bumps and give the thing some presence. This song is pretty chaotic! But it's fun. If it was for a different purpose, I might start it over again, and it may or may not have gotten better - or finished. But for this project, I will just finish it and move on. I'm ready to be done and start a new tune. Good thing, because tomorrow's final mix day. Maybe later tonight I will throw on some lead parts. I think I will limit myself to Radias or Micro Korg. Synthy! Hmmm... as I listen to it, though, I think some good old Strat parts might be better. Grunge-a-phonic.

Tried to resist the urge to toss an echo and fade on the last sound in the song - failed. There you have it.

Sunday, Jan 9: Final mix day! We had a bit of an odd morning here, Robyn had to go to the ER with supraventricular tachycardia - she's fine, but had a heartbeat over 160 BPM from 2am on - so I wasn't really thinking about this project at all today until late. But I got into the swing around 7 at night - did some more editing, plugged my lovely Strat into the computer, and found some super-nasty guitar patches in Live to pump it through. It did add some real energy to the end that I love, and kind of ties the whole thing together. One more guitar part, and I am finished!

(I ended up doing a "Ghost Riders In The Sky" quote on the final guitar pass as a nod to Townsend, who joined a rock band at Ethos this week - that's the song they're working on now.)

OK. I'm done. Not at all what I expected to come up with given my original idea, and it's a lot more messy and lively than I'd planned - and I am fine with that. A nice start to the project!

NOTES: I have set myself quite a challenge, to do work on this project every day alongside all my other composing projects, meetings, homelife... but I am convinced it's worth it. It's almost hard to focus on the OTHER stuff. I love my collaborators and clients, but it's such a joy to work purely on what I love - to be able to follow an idea all the way, to just let music happen. It's what I loved about the days when I had my 4-track studio and did music in my spare time. I don't miss the 3 restaurant jobs, but I have been missing some of the the immediacy and freedom of my 4-track days - and the sheer daily fun of making music.

Here is a screenshot of part of "365.52.12" in Ableton Live

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