Song #04 - Week of Jan 24-31, 2011

"Walking The Cloud Road"

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"Walking The Cloud Road" - Song #04 - MP3 File

- "Walking The Cloud Road" - Length: 5:18

Track count: 15 Tracks

Instrumentation: MacBook Pro, iMac, Korg Radias, underwater piano, hammer dulcimer, Appalachian dulcimer, airhose, Peak Pro, Ableton Live.

Original concept: This is a re-work of a concept I began last month for Anne Mueller of Oregon Ballet Theater for one of her pieces for "The Stravinsky Project." It was based on a conversation we had about her wanting to suggest winged creatures, a dark feel - but she changed her concept and choreography over the ensuing weeks, and I ended up writing her a different piece. I was really liking this one, though, so will be re-working it for this week's project. I was going to call it "Falling Angels," but decided on "Walking The Cloud Road" instead. A case of a title coming way after the work has already begun. I think I often do the title first, because sometimes that's part of the concept that's the genesis - but not this time.

Process diary

Tuesday, Jan 25: Not much work today, just conceptual notioning - it's the night before Ebi's surgery and I can't concentrate. But I am thinking of adding some more hammer dulcimer and maybe Appalachian dulcimer, along with voice. Anne hadn't liked the dulcimer strums for the dance piece, they didn't feel right - but I think musically they will be nice. Working with ideas in my head as I lay awake at night!

Wed, Jan 26: Surgery day for Ebi (she did fine!) Got the session transferred to the laptop so I can do some work on it between surgery and rehearsal today. Mostly listening and marking points where I want to edit, add instruments, take stuff away....

Thursday, Jan. 27: Working is a challenge today, but I have the project on my laptop upstairs - which is good because I have Ebi home from surgery and I need to stay upstairs, out of the studio, and keep an eye on her today. (My studio is downstairs, and she can't go up and down the stairs.) Anyway.

Listening back to the piece and making edits. Will work on a stripped down version of the rhythm for the intro, so it kicks in in layers. Doing little things to get it ready for recording some melody parts.

Another trick will be seeing if I can do a different intro - the existing intro is supposed to lead directly out of Stravinsky's piano piece "Romanze," and I'm not sure it stands on it's own. I like it a lot, it's just simple piano chords and reverb, with a lot of space, but there might be a better way to do lead into this.... Will try some things.

Friday, Jan. 28: Got the project loaded into my desktop Mac - been working on the laptop for this project until now - and linked the Live session to Digital Performer. This was I have access to all the softsynths and editing tools in both - plus a better I/O for the live parts. Smooth transition. Cleaned up the sessions.
Saturday, Jan. 29: This 365.52.12 project is going to be more and more of a challenge with my composing slate being so full for other projects - but that's what I took on! Today all I got done was recording the first piano chord of the song, flipping it, applying reverb to the file, saving it, and flipping it back to create a reverb-ramp intro to the song. I did two treatments using PSP Nitro and Apple's Matrix Reverb (Cathedral setting.) I'd swim in reverb all day if I could!
Sunday, Jan. 30: Decided to go back to the Radias. hook it to the laptop and use the editor to strip down the drum part, so I can build it up gradually in the session. This is a patch I made called "HP Wind Drum.") Got some nice stripped-down drum parts to lay in to the first beat section. AlthoughÉ. I don't really like most of the new, stripped-down drum parts in context. I ended up making my own intro beat by cutting out individual beats and placing them into a rhythm by hand, going to one of the stripped down recordings, and segueing right into the regular beat.

Worked on building up the drum part, and trying out some melody instruments. Banjo? Dulcimer? Synth? Guitar?

No. You know, I think I'm just going to play piano on this track. A swimmy, reverb-laden piano - but piano, nonetheless. I am liking it a lot. (Although my keyboard controller is not working very well, so sometimes I hit a note and nothing happens. Oh, well.) Got the melody lines roughed in. This might actually happen.

I'm going to ditch Digital Performer, and just do this in Live, since DP is probably overkill. Cleaned thing up, recorded and practiced some piano, and ended up playing, and then laying in, some Appalachian dulcimer over the last half of he song. Ended up with 3 dulcimer tracks. Will go through those tracks tomorrow, and finish the piano parts.

**Side note for the geeks in the house - I am testing the demo of "Stutter Edit," a new Izotope plugin. I recorded some struck piano chords to apply it to, and ran through a bunch of the Stutter Edit presets, but I have to say, after all the hype, I am not super in love with the plugin. It's very specific-sounding, more like a synth - it does have some buffer shuffling stuff, but it's probably more geared toward techno, so I'll try it with some beats later. But for piano, at least for this piece, it's jarring, gimmicky, and not very interesting. I ended up creating my own custom effect chain in Live with a granular synth octave-pitcher set to -12, a mild spacey chorus and auto-pan, and it sounds awesome. I'm using it only in parts on printed audio renders of some of the piano parts for an otherworldly feel. One of those touches that's buried in the mix but you still feel it.

Monday, Jan 31st: Had a ton of composing work for a client - and in the middle of it. I got inspired and did some rough drum parts that gave me the idea for this week's new 365.52.12 song! Now it's late, and I need to finish THIS one. Recorded new piano parts, and comped together the dulcimer tracks - now final mix! I could go back to this one in a while and work on it some more, and happily so - it doesn't feel finished (then again, they don't usually.) But for now, it's a brand new week, so it's time to move on!

NOTES: Next week's song will be completely different. No piano, no dulcimers, no Radias - and no gorram "Large Space Chorus" Reverb! Title: "Shut The Front Door." Stay Tuned!

Here are some pictures of the Dulcimers. The hammer dulcimer is wired up with 3 contact mics, the one you see is home-made.

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