Song 31, August 1 - 8, 2011


(Right-click or ctrl-click to download the song, or just click the link to play it.)

"Dulcinea" - song #31 - MP3 file


Length: 3:52

Track count: 12 tracks

Instrumentation: Drum Machine and Guitar tracks by Don Campau, Heather did lyrics (with help from Miguel De Cervantes), voice, Appalachian dulcimer, and arrangement.

This week's song is a virtual collaboration with Don Campau. We've collaborated many times before, and I've always loved it. This time the genesis of it is more random and less directed - usually we contact each other to start the process, and either mail or email tracks to each other, but this time I grabbed the track right off'n the Interwebs, and he doesn't know yet that I've done it.

How did I find that backing track? I just became a member of Bryan Baker's "Homemade Music" site. Bryan Baker and his underground music 'zine, "Gajoob," were stalwarts in the hometaper community of the 1980s and beyond, and he has continued his involvement in music as the delivery methods have evolved from cassettes, envelopes and stamps to MP3s delivered via the internet.

One of the cool features of Homemade Music is the "Projects" section, where member artists can upload and download tracks and unfinished songs for other artists to work with. We used to do this by sending cassettes of dubbed backing tracks to and fro through snail-mail, kids - which was rich and sweet in its own way - but this is the way we roll now.

I wasn't surprised to find my friend Don Campau heavily featured on the "Projects" page. Don is the first hometaper I interacted with, way back in 1987, when I traded my first homemade cassette releases, "Burning Through" and "Dangerous Household Objects," for his amazing double album cassette "Pinata Party," which I still have. (Read more about Don, and the history of the tape trading movement, on both Bryan's site, and Don's excellent "Living Archive Of Underground Music" site.)

For this project, I picked a backing track called "Dulcimer Sunset." If you want to hear the original track, go to Homemade Music, go to "Projects," and you'll find it.

I started out importing the MP3 into Peak, and listening back. First thing I did was grab the first couple of bars of the intro, which is a reverbed drum machine track (one I recognize from a collab we did a while ago called "Back Where I've Been.") I made a loop out of that, for the intro. I can also use this loop to import into Live or ReCycle to find the BPM of Don's track. You may or may not be impressed to know that I was able to do all this, as well as some SFX stuff I won't end up using, while sitting in the waiting room of my dentist's office with really heinous Top 40 blasting through a speaker directly over my head. At one point "Believe" by Cher was playing. And that was the best song of the lot. Believe me!

My first impulse listening to Don's music was to do a pretty vocal. NOT usually my first impulse. So that's interesting, and probably what I will do. I think I will write lyrics! Haven't done THAT for a while.

I did some editing of the original track before I started laying in the vocals. I had to cut out the parts of the track where Don played what sounds like a melodihorn or a harmonica, since I wanted to sing in a different key. Maybe I will add my own melodihorn back in later - I want to edit the track to fit the lyrics and get the voice parts in before adding anything else. Since Don's track has the oceanic white noise coming in and out, I laid in a field recording I made of the ocean from Kauai to cover my edits. Sneaky!

I had picked the name Dulcinea only because Don's original track was called "Dulcimer Sunset." Because of that, and the oceanic sounds in his track, I pictured Dulcinea riding in on a boat - and then the line about the garbage scow came to me, and the rest of the lyrics came out in about 15 minutes. I was pretty sure Dulcinea is a character from Don Quixote, and Google confirmed that. She was a woman of the peasantry who Don Quixote revered as a queen and loved from afar, and I cribbed a few lines from Quixote's description of her for my lyrics:

".. her name is Dulcinea, her country El Toboso, a village of La Mancha, her rank must be at least that of a princess, since she is my queen and lady, and her beauty superhuman, since all the impossible and fanciful attributes of beauty which the poets apply to their ladies are verified in her; for her hairs are gold, her forehead Elysian fields, her eyebrows rainbows, her eyes suns, her cheeks roses, her lips coral, her teeth pearls, her neck alabaster, her bosom marble, her hands ivory, her fairness snow, and what modesty conceals from sight such, I think and imagine, as rational reflection can only extol, not compare." [Volume 1/Chapter XIII]

My Dulcinea is sweet, but also pretty feisty. Men are free to fall for her, but she has other priorities! In short, I think she would be nice to Don Quixote, but she probably wouldn't marry him.

I re-arranged the lyrics as I worked out the vocal, and took out a line about tilting at windmills. And I put Don's harmonica-sounding section back in for the bridge, because I couldn't get a sound I liked as well on my melodihorn. I don't actually hear any dulcimer on Don's track, so I picked mine up and found some ideas right away.

Here are my lyrics:


You came riding in on a midnight wave
No one knew your name
But you made your mark on the page somehow
Riding that garbage scow like a
Queen's barge on the Nile
Let's sing about you Dulcinea

Her name is Dulcinea, her country El Toboso,
a village of La Mancha, her rank must be at least that of a
princess, since she is a queen and lady
a beauty superhuman,
she does the impossible
She helps the poor and the aged and the creatures
She sings at night when no one's really listening

She carries her own sword
She defends herself
She walks with strangers
She's the one who really matters

Her eyebrows are rainbows, her eyes are suns,
her cheeks are roses, yeah, she's heard that all before
But he doesn't really care much for
men or for fashion
She's the queen of her own realm
and thats what really matters

This song was a departure for me, but really fun. Thanks, Don, for the track, and all you've done in, with and for music - and thanks, Bryan, for "Homemade Music"!

Thanks for listening - Enjoy!

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