Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Project: Create - Day 08

Hey, and welcome to this slightly late blog for Day 08 of Project: Create 2013. I managed to complete my creation, but some pretty serious stuff went down in the evening that kept me from finishing this blog. I may or may not explore the reasons for the delay in a future post, we'll see. Apologies that it's late, but here it is.

For Day 08, I set up my drum kit, plugged in my guitar, and recorded another demo for my upcoming song cycle, Project 17. For anybody who's unaware, I've spent the past year or so putting together a prospective album, writing lyrics and improvising simple guitar with a view to being able to tie it all together and release it digitally. I'm by no means a great musician, but I have a vision that I want to fulfil, a drive to see this thing finished. The demos are the first step towards that - full recorded attempts at bringing the ideas in my head to life. So far I've been surprised by the way my ideas have started coming together as music, and today was no exception.

I've not really talked about the process I go through in recording these things before, so I thought that might be interesting for those of you who care to read about. I do all my recording in my bedroom, a pretty small room with dimensions of roughly 12x8 feet (or roughly 4x2.5metres, if you prefer to deal in metric). It's far from an ideal recording space, and once the drum kit is set up there's very little room to manoeuvre, but recording is still a very fun experience. I record using Audacity, an audio editing suite that's available for free online. The extent of my recording gear is the laptop I'm writing this on now, and a pretty crappy non-brand microphone. It's not ideal, but it's enough.

I start by generating a click track in Audacity, something to use as a metronome and hold everything together. I then typically begin with the rhythm guitar parts, the chords that form the bulk of the song. Against this I'll record a bass line on my electric guitar, which then gets digitally taken down an octave to give the impression of a bass guitar. It's cheating, I know, but it works, and it's much cheaper than going out and buying a bass. With this core of the song in place I start to 'fill in the gaps' with lead guitar, snippets of brief noodling invariably built around the pentatonic scale (I can't come up with solos, unfortunately). Strangely, the drums are always the last instrument I record, despite being my primary instrument and typically the foundation of any song. This is probably because I've always preferred to play to a known quantity, and having that guitar line in my ear alongside the click track helps a lot. The final step is adding a simple, often bad vocal track to the song, 

The song I recorded is called 'Lured By The Siren's Cry'. It's a sort of lament for 'the good old days' when I was in a teenage band hoping to strike out and get recognised, and how circumstances conspired to bring it to an end before we could ever reach our full potential. It's not an amazing demo - the vocals are terrible, it's quite rough around the edges, and there are a few timing problems in spite of the click track - but I think it does a great job of conveying the feel of what the final version of the song will be. I'm particularly happy with the quieter passage that constitutes the song's middle eight, as I was worried it might not fit, but I think it provides a brilliant mid-song contrast. I've uploaded the demo to YouTube and embedded it below, so you can have a listen and judge for yourselves.

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