Archive for the ‘Musicianship’ Category

The challenges of ego in tracking

Sunday, September 11th, 2022

So, I’m in the studio this weekend tracking parts for a friend’s concept album – except I’m actually not. What I’m actually doing is providing scratch tracks to allow him to get the timing right, over which we will track better parts later. Which is fine with me. I was running into a weird ego thing where the AE is keeping my parts faded way down – which makes perfect sense, after all mistakes in them don’t even matter – but there was part of me that kept trying to convince me it was because of how much my vocals suck, which may also be a true criticism but I’m pretty sure is not why he’s doing it.

I think I’m on record before as saying that to be a really great musician you have to be able to not let your ego get in the way of the music. THis is definitely one of those moments – I mean, it’s a honor to be considered as a session musician and this is where I want to go and it has been a lot of fun. I’ll go back and track “real” parts with the guitars – for the drums and vocals we’re tracking at Orbit Audio because they have better mics and a better sounding room than I even want to try to have, then for all the line-in type stuff we’re tracking at Sheer Sound (my basement setup, which is still more advanced than most high end studios were in the 90s)

Anyway, I really hope we can get this album shipped without the band falling apart or the originator losing interest. It’s very prog rock and a nice change from my ordinary fare.

Another step on the way to being a professional musician

Tuesday, September 6th, 2022

So, I’ve unlocked another important achievement on the way to being a professional musician – I’ve got my first rejection letter!

This is important – we all know that Pink Floyd, the Beatles, and the Who all received rejection letters, just to name a few of my musical heros. Therefore clearly if I’m getting rejection letters I’m doing something right. (I’m only being somewhat facetious here – immediate acceptance would mean that my music is the same as the current stuff on the radio which I do not think would be very much of a success for where I want to go and what I want to do)

So, I still have to keep working on finding my audience. But.. another step along the way is done.

700 (ish) hours

Sunday, July 3rd, 2022

I was all absorbed in working on a cover I’m doing of Kingdom and so I didn’t actually catch 700 even, but here’s 700.4
hour meter showing 700.4 hours

The search for good vocals

Tuesday, March 29th, 2022

So, I went to see Journey live last night. Now, of course Journey is known for their series of amazing vocalists, but I did find myself studying the way their latest (Pineda) used his voice. Today when I was practicing I was noticably more conscious of my control of tone – and I also was doing some exercises this morning to try and flip in and out of falsetto more reliably and also to experiment with what tone control is available with falsetto. I definitely have gained (possibly due to the voice lessons, exercises, or just singing every day) some range over the years – I can’t quite do the “Don’t stop believing” high part yet but I no longer have any trouble at all with the “Ma’am I am tonight!” in “Walking in Memphis”, which I used to have a lot of trouble with.

I still am not happy with my pitch control. I need to spend some more time working on it. Journey was amazing, by the way.

I sent in my further-edited content from the album to mastering – I had gotten the first draft of the mastering content back and my already-marginal toms in Believing Is Seeing had become unbelievably muddy, so I did a bunch of cutting, pasting, effects and EQ changing, etc. These toms have been the bane of my existence ever since I started mixing that song – they sound different on every system. Initially, the problem I was having was they would sound great in headphones, good on studio nearfield monitors, and truly crappy in a car or on a laptop. Then I think I might have gone overboard with the reverb. The new convolution reverb plugin I’m using has instead of a dry/wet knob, separate dry and wet gain knobs. This is actually a much more flexible setup for a inline plugin – it lets you emulate the results of using a send to a seperate channel on the board with much less work and I think all reverb and delay plugin developers should consider doing it. Anyway, providing a hotter dry path helped a lot with the muddiness. I also discovered slight timing errors in places where I’d doubled roto tom and rack tom, which I fixed. I cleaned up a ton of little timing errors on high grade ore (originally I just wanted to fix one place where it was obvious I had cranked the gain on “ore” but at the point at which I was having to pay to redo mastering I figured I might as well spend a few hours sanding everything I didn’t like.

It would be really neat if some track on the album were to hit. It doesn’t seem particularly likely – although I do definitely get points for spanning a number of genres. But it woudl be neat. And I am going to try to market it several different ways.. although I also want to get back to tracking.

600 hours

Friday, March 25th, 2022

hour meter showing 600 hours

I continue to chip away. I’ll have to have some kind of celebration at 1000.

music 2

Friday, November 26th, 2021

So, a question that the previous post posits is, why do I care what other people think? Well, I guess some of it is sort of a reality-checking – I think I’ve gotten much better, but if other people don’t then maybe I’m just getting better at meetig my own particular needs and desires. There is also of course the hope, as I’ve mentioned, that I could “quit my day job” – I have another probably valid method to pull that off, which is the kittens. (I’ll probably start blogging more about them in the near future as I start doing experiments with 3.0 – the kittens are a genetic algorithm driven robotrader being set up to work stocks and cryptocurrencies)

Anyway, I don’t actually know if I’m getting better or if it is just my perceptions of my work are getting better.

music

Thursday, November 25th, 2021

So, in the midst of a conversation with a friend, I was re-pondering something I have given considerable thought to. If someone showed up and offered me a magic-wand-gain-enormous-musical-skill-without-working-for-it, I would refuse it. My fear would be that the only way I see to end up with musical skills that match and are resonant with my nervous system is to earn them one step at a time, one hour at a time. I already very occasionally have moments when it feels like the music I’m playing isn’t “me”, and then I have to take a step back, slow down, and figure out what isn’t quite right about it. I want to be a technical virtuoso, but since I’m not interested in doing it by reading music – I want to be playing, improvisationally, even when I’m playing the music of others – I want to be interpreting it through my own particular groove. I only see one reasonable path through to this – one hour at a time.

While I’d really like to get paid to write and perform music, my intention is to continue all the way through to my 10,000 hours even if I do not, and to continue exploring the music space even if I do not.

One thing that does sometimes bother me is that I don’t get a lot of recognition from people in my life that I’m getting better, even though I have put at least a thousand hours on since COVID began. There’s a few people who have acknowledged my increasing skill.. Andy, Loren, Bunne.. but none of the people I play with regularly have. I do know that I still have a long way to go.. it’s getting harder and harder to tell whether I’ve come further than I still have to go or not.

500 hours

Monday, October 18th, 2021

Kit..

Sunday, March 21st, 2021

So, I do think we’ve gotten to the point where the kit I’ve got available is better than I am – I’m of course working my paws off trying to catch up. Anyway, if anyone was curious, here’s some of the setup:

More later.

400 hours

Sunday, March 21st, 2021

And slowly we accumulate the 10,000 😉