Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Re: tiff said...

Tiff said...
<I love this song. It's just dying for lyrics; it's awesome.

I really like the depth that the clean, acoustic guitar sound adds to the rest of the layers ...

know I said before that I wasn't too hot on the acoustic-sounding
guitar solo around the 1:45 mark, but after a second listen it's
growing on me ... I'd still be interested in hearing what sort of
lingering electric guitar solo would sound like there instead.

around the 2-minute mark there's a space that feels a bit empty
compared to the rest of the song, and I can hear a hint of what sounded
a bit like a faint electric guitar solo, somewhat like what I was
expecting a few seconds earlier in the song ... is that there? If so,
please make it louder and post again ... if not, will you be adding
something there, or do you have other ideas for that section, if any?>

Around 2:00, right after the straight solo part, there is a very faint, reverb-drowned electric guitar. If you ever listen to Dredg, it was thrown in using them as inspiration for that vast, deep sound it adds to the song.

I do think that I'm going to keep the first half of the bridge as a solo; it breaks the pattern most of my song structures fall into a bit better that way, and right now, one of my biggest concerns is making sure that no song makes you say, "Haven't I already heard this one?" I like the distant guitar in the second half because it leaves room for the vocals to come in, too. As the vocals for that bridge get ironed out, I know that they will also end up having a big influence on how that solo is going to sound -- whether it's clean, distorted, simple, or technical.

I'm currently working on lyrics and vocal melodies for this one. I've got a chorus I'm happy with and a half decent bridge, but the verse vocals are still giving me the slip. The next post will probably be an edit with some rough vocals on them once I get around to recording it. Unfortunately, that is probably going to take longer than I would like, seeing as I have about 80 essays being handed to me tomorrow.

Thanks for the post, Tiff! I'm glad you like it.

In other news, I bought a domain for what I plan to be the name of this project. I haven't done anything with the website yet, so don't waste your time heading over (I'll be sure to post when I do), but let me know what you think about the name.

Maybe Bomb.

Again, to get a better idea of the project, head over to the iLike link on your right.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Guitar for Tinsel Choke

Summer is thoroughly over, and for someone in my line of work (teaching), that usually means a significantly shorter amount of time that I'm able to devote to music. Even though the school year just started (much later than usual), I've been able to get together with Kurt twice already to rehearse and improve some material. During our latest session, he made a loose guitar part of Tinsel Choke that I fell in love with. He did one rough take so I could have a record of it and upload it. I'm sure this is going to change a bit, as will a mix with more than one guitar track on it, but I love the atmosphere it adds to the track. I feel like it brings a much wider, somber feeling to the song.

The part that surprised me most was the fact that the clean guitar sound worked so well. With a pretty heavy drum part, I never would have thought that it would really complete the song so well.

As I mentioned before, I have a feeling that memory is going to be an issue, so I think I'm going to lower the quality to 128 kbps. It's not cringe quality by any means. I'm just hoping I don't have to go lower than this.

Also, I've been trying to come up with a band name for a while, and though I've been knocking a few around there has only been one that has stuck, which I think is the only key to a band name. Plus, it's gotten approval from some very critical friends. When I think about it, I don't really believe a band name needs to instantly tell the listener what the band is about, but they should fit the music once people have heard it. I'll wait until I buy to the domain before I unveil it, but hopefully you'll dig it and think it fits.

Here's the newest version of Tinsel Choke.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Music History

I was the keyboard player and singer for the modern rock group Roots of Rebellion. There was a lot of influence from bands like Tool, Nine Inch Nails, and Orgy. I was the electronic influence on the group when many of the band members were influenced heavily by rhythm driven metal groups like Meshuggah, and Sevendust to a lesser extent.

We released two albums, The Looking Glass in 2004 (before many of the members were out of high school), and Surfacing in 2006 (before any of us were out of college). The latter was ambitious, to say the least, for our age and experience, but I am very proud of it.

(In fun news, while going to find a link to a site where you can purchase the album, I one-upped myself and found that Magnatune, a digital distributor of ours that allows you to listen to the album in hi-fidelity in its entirety for free, has been kind enough to include code to embed the albums here. Enjoy.)


The Looking Glass by Roots of Rebellion

Surfacing by Roots of Rebellion


After the group broke up, I got to explore electronic music a bit deeper, where I had been more or less limited to fit in the confines of a group verging on metal. ("Limited" is the wrong word, seeing as I only had to look at what I could do with the keys in a different light, but the group was pushing more and more into guitar driven territory by the end. Let's face it. There just isn't that much room for a poppy-Moog lead when people are trying to mosh.)

I was listening to more pop-rock by that time, specifically the synth-driven work of Kenna. I would have to say that his work is a primary influence. I'm shooting to capture the same feel his work has; it's instantly grooving and danceable, but clearly meticulously constructed and scrutinized. His first album, New Sacred Cow, is a masterpiece. More recently, I've fallen in love with Chromeo, a duo of synth players hooked on Morris Day and talk boxes, who churn out hooks so catchy and so often that it is entirely possible that they sold their souls to the devil.

The influence of being in a rock group, though, is something that I cannot, and have no desire, to pull out from under my skin, specifically in the drum department. The more music I write, the more I try to distance myself from the clearly programmed, machine like beats that seem linked to my dance and hip-hop influences while also trying to capture their "in the pocket" and head-knodding feel. In the end, I'm shooting for tight drums that have got a solid groove with raw energy and fills backing them up -- and interesting task, considering I'm programming my drums.

Here's the newest version of Tinsel Choke. The drum and rhythm of the second half of the chorus has changed, more intricate fills have been added, and the mix has changed a bit. The basic structure remains the same.

I plan to eventually lay down vocals for this (and all my tracks), but for the moment, I'm concentrating on the music. I have a couple of songs almost ready vocally. Suppose I'll upload them here or there (my iLike site linked at the left side of this blog). If you haven't already checked out said site, you definitely should. I've uploaded complete instrumental tracks. Some have Superior Drummer 2.0 drums while others were recorded live by Kurt, who took drum parts that I wrote (very fake sounding drum parts, mind you), and turned the general ideas into very serious rock drum parts, ultimately transforming their overall sound and the general sound I started to shoot for in the writing process.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Tinsel Choke

Before I go in any deeper, here is some general information.

1) I hope you love the music, but instead of clicking it, streaming it, falling in love with what you hear, and then continuing to stream it every time you want to listen, please do me a favor and download it on your first shot. This is a little experiment, and right now, I just don't have the bandwidth to spare. So just download them, and feel free to delete after. I won't be offended.

2) Don't get scared off or mislead by the song titles. Since the songs are in their early stages, there are no lyrics. Since there are no lyrics, I still need some way to remember which song is which, so I simply title a project based on word associations, things going on in my life, plans for the day, or the first thing I look at after I click the save button.

(Tinsel Choke is titled because I was looking at an old family Christmas picture where all of us Penola children are choking each other with tinsel. Getting into the holiday spirit, you know?)

3) I encode all the files with some information to put them in the right spot in your music library as soon as you download it, including Artist, Album (everything that is still being worked on will be in "SUP ...In Progress"), Track Title, and even the Beats Per Minute. And don't worry, if you download two different versions of the same song, they will have unique titles, marking the date that I finished that version. For example, this file and track name for this version of Tinsel Choke is "Tinsel Choke 9-13-08.mp3".


Anyway, here is Tinsel Choke. I started it yesterday, and after a fairly long dry spell of writing new material, this one seems to be coming together pretty quickly. Yesterday I got the verse and chorus parts down, and today I wrote the bridge. As it is structurally (intro, verse 1, chorus, verse 2, chorus, bridge, chorus 2X), I could theoretically check the song off. However, as you will no doubt start to discover for yourself, I default to this structure far too often and want to start to give my songs some breathing room to let them grow instead of doing whatever I can to put a check mark next to them as soon as possible.

This one seems to have a fun drum part. When I'm writing them, I have two tests to see if they are good to keep. First, I try to imagine my friend (and incredibly talented musician) Kurt from West Gate playing the part. After that, I do my best air-drumming. I figure that if it's fun to pretend to play, it's probably fun to play in real life.

When I first started this one, it felt a lot darker than the things I've been working on lately. It sounded more like something that would have been from my old band, Roots of Rebellion. And I stand behind the latter, but the more I listen to it, the more I hear it as pretty upbeat.

As will always be the case, I'd love to hear what you think. Also, when you comment, do me a favor and tell me a little bit about your own music history -- if you're a musician, what you usually listen to, and things like that, to give me a better idea of where you are coming from.

Speaking of which, I should probably do the same. That will have to be the next post.

Without wasting any more of your time, here's Tinsel Choke.


Trying Something New

I've had this idea rattling around for a while.

When writing music, sometimes a song come in a wave and is done in a few days. Sometimes a song trickles together, and resembles little more than a loop for a matter of months. But no matter what, the songs never turn out how I expect, and I often find myself wondering how I got from point A to point B.

I've always made it a habit to save several versions of any song I'm working on. That way, I mark my progress and maintain a record of where the song was, at one point, headed.

I always thought that this process may be interesting to an outsider.

Thus, Sounds of Progress was born.

Currently, I'm writing all of my music using Logic Studio and it's software synthesizers and effects, with the exception of Drumkit Superior 2.0. I use several MIDI controllers, including the Novation X-Station 61, M-Audio Trigger Finger, and M-Audio KeyPro 88.