Thursday, April 29, 2010

Graffiti On The Way Home

I have conflicting feelings about graffiti.  On the one had, I view it as a horrible invasion on someone else's property.  On the other, I think some of it is artistic enough to merit its existence.

I passed by this trailer, parked with 3 or 4 others, on my way home, tonight.  I turned the bike around and came back to look at it because of this:

I do a bit of drawing and painting, and I am amazed by the quality of this character.  I'm not sure what the medium is;  if it's spraypaint it's well applied.

Anyway, I consider this more in the area of public art than vandalism.  Of course, the owner of the trailer may disagree...


Saturday, April 24, 2010

On Recording Music

If you have listened to the demo of "Hard Rockin' " which I posted, earlier, you have heard an example of one guy (me) multitracking a recording to build a song, track by track. While some artists, such as Steve Winwood and Prince, prefer to work this way, I really would rather record with other musicians.

I like the give-and-take that comes from multiple musical outlooks and playing styles. Recording on my own, and doing the mix by myself, is similar to writing unedited. I am afraid that I hear what I want it to sound like, rather than what it actually sounds like.

So, I hope to have others involved in recording the final version of this song (and the others). Maybe we'll do it in a live band set-up, maybe with discreet tracks recorded separately. We may end up doing a bit of both, depending on the song and the situation.

I'll certainly have other ears in the room when mixing the master tracks. I know that my upper-range hearing loss will probably not lead to the best-sounding mix if I don't have someone else to listen to it with me.

I think the recorder is going to work well. I was a bit reluctant to go digital, as I am pretty well known as an analog guy. But, having done a bit of research on digital recording in the professional world, I figured out that what sounds less good to me is not the actual medium onto which the music is recorded. Rather, what sounds off to me is the compression that the mastering services apply to the tracks. They do this to make the song play well on the radio (it's similar to what the commercial producers do to make the ads louder than the shows on TV).

I tried hard to retain a bit of ambiance in the mix on this demo, and I was pleased with that aspect of it. I think my little low-ceilinged house is actually a pretty good recording space, too. I don't know how much the neighbors will like it if a whole band is playing, though.

Of course, it's not like playing on stage. We don't have to turn everything up to ten, to record. Small amps and damped drums work just fine when close-miked, so it might actually work out. If not, I have to find a rehearsal space to use. Problem is, that costs money that I don't want to spend.

I'm really excited about the project, and I have a couple of guys who seem interested in working with me. I hope to end up with some listenable music, and have fun producing it.

Stay tuned.


Lesson Learned

So, I just couldn't stand the vocals on that first try. It sounded bad, even for me. I re-recorded the vocals, this morning, using a plug-in microphone, and it sounds a lot more like me.

I also remixed the instrumental tracks, bringing the drums forward a bit. I'm no drummer, so please don't think to harshly of that track. I just thought the song needed a bit more percussive feel, to get the atmosphere I was looking for.

Let me know what you think.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Learning To Use the Tascam DP-004

I finally got a chance to sit down and play with the new recorder, today. After going through the introductory portion of the owner's manual, I thought I'd record and mix a song, just to see how everything works.

The vocals aren't great (but mine never are), even more so than usual since I was sitting on top of a practice amp singing at the unit on the table. It's a little hard to project, when you are bent at the waist. So, I sound a little thin...but, this isn't a final track. It's just practice with the recorder, after all.

Four tracks: rhythm guitar, lead guitar, vocals and drums. The guitar parts were recorded direct (plugged into the recorder, with no amp), using my 1966 Harmony that you see in the header at the top of the page.

The little recorder works nicely. Now, I just have to get some people together who can actually play these songs...


Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Problem With Some People

A small preview of the next comic book:

I'm striving to go a little more basic on the drawing and concentrating more on the writing.  Hope you like it.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tascam Pocket Studio

I just got a new toy necessary tool for musical expression. The Tascam DP-004 Pocket Studio is a 4-track recorder/stereo mixer that records to an SD card, making it possible to mix a song and then download it to your computer via a USB cable. From there, it can be sent electronically or burned to a disc.

As you can see, the unit is pretty small. It's small size, ability to run on 4-AA cells, and the built-in microphones allow you to use it as a portable recorder. Or, you can plug in the AC converter, plug in exterior mics to the two 1/4" jacks, and use it as a home studio mixer.

Built-in microphones

I have been looking for something like this, for quite a while. I'm not too confident that we are going to get the studio room at Metro (and, if we do, I don't know what kind of recording equipment they have), so I may be recording here at Dexter Street Studios. Musician's friend had these on close-out, and the price was just too good to pass up.

So, now I just have to learn how to use it. It looks pretty simple (no software to download, or anything), but I am pretty much able to screw up even the easiest instructions. So, I will be experimenting with it a bit, here and there, before trying to actually record anything for real.

Now, to find the rest of the band....