In the Beginning – Part 2

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stained glass windows

To recap my last entry: I’m a keyboard player who was a starving musician for a few years. I was in a band that was going to “make it”. After severe disillusionment, I quit music for a time, but got back into it later on as a sideline with no plans for stardom. I found I could travel this new road with much less angst. A few years ago, I was inspired and began writing songs in a unique style that I call Gregorian Rock. I started to record these songs with a virtual band of musician-friends who were scattered geographically, but united in my oddball music project.

Around the time of the birth of the third song, my singer became too busy to remain involved. So after finding no one to take his place, I started doing the singing as well. Up to then, I did not consider myself a lead singer.

Over the next several months, a number of significant hurdles arose. I was laid-off at work; my drummer moved away; my new job required my family and me to relocate; my good friend and bassist was tragically killed in a traffic accident. These were the big, sad, traumatic challenges.

The small things that happened probably had nearly as much impact on the schedule overall, because they occurred constantly. It seemed like every time I decided to work on my recording project, there would be an interruption of some kind. Things like children (I have two, wonderful kids) would suddenly require my full and immediate attention. Lightning storms would force me to power down the computer. My lovely wife would need to use the computer just seconds before I got to the computer, or at the same moment I sat down at the computer (a normal day for me is spent at the computer, so her reasonable objection was “You’ve been on the computer all day!” It WAS her turn.) The doorbell would ring, someone would call, a volcano would erupt, the herd would stampede, armies would invade, and so on. You get the idea. It was like a giant conspiracy.

My solution was to make an announcement to my family that I was going to be working on my project and would everyone please not bother me (unless you are bleeding or have a fractured bone)! You probably noticed that my announcement had no effect on the doorbell, natural disasters, or foreign militaries. But it was an attempt to control what I could to the degree that was possible.

I got three more songs written for a total of six, with real guitar tracks on five of them and real drums on one. But still no real bass recorded on anything.

The difficulty in finding a bassist and drummer was resolved by me offering to pay (per track) two very talented guys I met where we had just moved.

Not long after this I finished sequencing the remaining tunes. With sidemen, I needed to provide them with charts and rough mixes of every song I needed them to record. I discovered that making a chart can take almost as long as writing the music. This, plus creating click-track versions of each song (with appropriate parts muted) was a tedious, but necessary task.
When recording actually began for bass and drums, I tried the same process I was using for my remote guitar players. I sent them rough tracks and charts for the songs; they recorded their parts and then they sent them back to me.

However, for whatever reason, this didn’t work for bass and drums like it did for guitar. So we began scheduling sessions for me to be physically present when they recorded so I could get what I wanted. This was possible since we all lived within a reasonable distance of each other. It yielded much better results and cut down on the back and forth – better quality in less time!

Some of my compositions were technically challenging for some of my sidemen – just too difficult to play. My alternatives were to use the midi track already programmed or to play the part “live” myself either on keyboard, midi wind controller or Chapman Stick. I had to resort to digitally manipulating the audio files for some of these passages. It came down to: how long was I willing to wait for the track?

While all of this music stuff was going on, I designed and built the first web site, started a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and began pre-production on a music video for the first single.

I will tell you about those things in the next Recording Diary entry.

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