Saturday, November 21, 2009

My Monkey

This is the Mandelbrot Set's final mix of Jonathan Coulton's tune "My Monkey" -- on box.net. I have several tracks in here: fretless Steinberger Synapse bass, finger-picked electric guitar, and some layers of acoustic guitar. The gang is getting better! I did not mix or master this one. I put some concentrated effort into the guitar part quite some time ago -- I think it was back around the beginning of 2009.

I've put together a track of just my contributions, mixed and mastered, including an unused synth track I recorded (which, in the final, I think was replaced by a recorder part). When recording these tracks, I made an effort to clone Jonathan Coulton's source tracks as closely as possible, just to see how good a job I could do. I think my completed parts actually sound more polished, but I had an advantage: I wasn't trying to finish recording for a Thing a Week deadline. The only part that is really different is that I decided to use a fretless bass. The part is basically the same, just with that fretless feel. While I think I got the intonation reasonably good, using quite a few takes and a lot of editing, I'm still pretty much a beginner on the fretless and have a lot to learn yet.

So what's in the track? There are 3 separate complete takes of the entire electric guitar part, recorded direct into Logic via my Ensemble. I can't remember for certain which guitar I played, but I think it may have been the T-60. The guitar part goes into an amp modeler, an EQ, a Logic plugin called Ringshifter which provides the phaser effect, and then a compressor. There are two acoustic guitar lines: one is basically the same chords as the finger-picked part, and the other is the same chords played with a capo seven frets higher, or a perfect 5th up. The acoustic is my Ovation acoustic-electric, also directly into the Ensemble, through EQ, compressor, a sample delay plug-in, and Space Designer, using a room model called "Slap Chamber" for that slap echo. The synth parts I recorded by using my DX-7 as a MIDI controller rather than an audio source, doing a little editing of the resulting piano roll data in Logic, and then playing it back using a software instrument synth pad called "Glassy Ascent."

If you are interested, you can see a sloppy YouTube clip of the bass part here, and a mini-lesson for the finger-picked electric guitar part here.

Listening to it almost a year after recording these parts, I can hear some timing flaws; there's an issue where the chord changes at the end don't match the original song perfectly. However, I still am proud of the finished product!

1 comment:

MattW said...

I feel much the same about my vocal line. The intent I had was not to replicate what Jonathan did so much as sing the song well. Not that he didn't, but our voices aren't the same so we can't do things in exactly the same way. This is limited a bit by running against backing tracks which did replicate his work more precisely, of course, but I think everything came together really nicely in the end.

In fact, I'm still astonished at how a bunch of people who've never actually met can send in a fairly random array of parts and some genius comes along and mixes them together into a song that actually sounds good. I know it's good, because Jonathan told me he liked it. Of course, I was looming over him at the time so he might just have been intimidated.