not a beautiful or unique snowflake (nothings) wrote,
not a beautiful or unique snowflake

audio sketchbook

I posted this to the full page last night, but forgot to update here.

audio sketchbook entry #29 (1.0 MB)

I apologize for the piano at the end, but something had to happen there, and that was the best I'd found by the time I gave up on it.

Commentary Track Track Commentary

Like a number of recent tracks, this one started with the guitar rather than the bass, because I've been trying to get away from starting with the bass. In this case, I began with the eight-note "rhythm" guitar part which is predominant for the first half. This involved a fair amount more "writing" than I usually sink into a single part of an audio sketchbook, since, there's a different bit for the intro, then the main 4 chord riff, then towards the end of the A section, as it builds, there's a different eight-note sequence over basically the same 4 chords, and then in the "release" part of the A section yet another variation.

I couldn't actually switch between these odd open chords at full speed, so I used a trick I use a lot when I can't play a tricky part--there are two tracks for this guitar part, and every chord change switches between the two tracks. The trick is figuring out which strings to let ring over the next chord so it sounds plausible. (It mostly doesn't, here, if you listen for it, at least in the stereo mix.)

I was planning on putting in normal bass-snare rock drums, but when I went to add them, they didn't really add anything in the A section, really they seemed to detract, so I punted, and just put in the simple stuff at the beginning, and then the congas or whatever riff that plays throughout. That actually took me a while to come up with; the rhythm was easy, but I was switching between four different drum sounds kind of randomly, and it sounded stupid, and it wasn't until I brought it down to a much simpler set of changes, staying on the same drum repeatedly, that it (a) sounded like a real instrument and (b) sounded any good.

The B section is a set of very odd changes. Often when I do an audio sketchbook I come up with an idea I like a lot for the A section, but don't really have any clue for the B section, so I just do something sort of random on the first instrument I'm recording, and then see how it goes with more tracks. In this one, I actually spent more time on the progression, but it's still a fairly odd one, with a lack of a real tonal center much of the time, and ending up on the tritone of the root of the A section, IIRC.

I couldn't figure out anything good to do with the B section, beyond playing the changes, so I figured I'd put up a kind of typical pointless solo over it, but I discovered that the oddball changes made it very hard for me to play anything melodic over it, or even to follow the changes at all; and I didn't really like the idea of a generic guitar solo anyway. So I decided to play around with "digital editing" and do something fairly goofy. I don't really like the results, but perhaps if I'd spent more than 20 minutes at it it wouldn't stuck. (And that includes both the editing and the recording of the source material--really, I did both at the same time, choosing points to digitally overdub and then overdubbing it.)

I wanted the chords that come in in the A' section to seem really powerful and majestic or something, but, to paraphrase Johnny Marr, I'm just a 35-year old with six strings and a piece of wood. My production/engineering skills left me, here, and I didn't get anything at all like the sound I was looking for. But the chords themselves, musically, some amount of the quality I was looking for, so it doesn't exactly suck entirely. I think it's a nice trick hearing the chords for the first time at the very end of the first A section; I can't remember how I thought of that. The "lead" part, with the simple three-note rising motif that you hear partway through the first A section, was written after writing A' chord part; it was written to fit with the chords without suggesting them, so when the chords enter and the lead is still playing its motif, everything fits together cleanly and yet the chords dominate the lead, rather than following it.
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