Monday, October 18, 2010

SpinTunes 2, Round 2, Process Notes 2

Monday 18 Oct

This evening I played with the synth melody for the first verse, and recorded some vocal takes for the first verse that I'm not really happy with. But they are there anyway -- if I'm going to finish this, I have to not obsess about quality as I go along, but get all the major parts completed, at least in draft from, and hope I have time to re-record and polish bits later. This is known as giving myself "permission to suck." (And oh, my singing can suck, so very, very hard!)

I added a vocoder, doubled the vocoder using two different vocoder synth sounds, and added a doubled verse vocal -- it's still really rough, but it's getting there, and maybe it will be good enough. I'm hampered a bit by the fact that I don't really play keyboards per se, and never studied keyboard formally. I've always been more interested in programming them than performing on them. I'm sticking to the white keys. Because of my, er, disability, I have to record keyboard bits a short phrase at a time, and clean up the resulting MIDI data. That's very time-consuming. Will my "ear" make up for it? We will see! (I also have an old Roland guitar synth and guitars I can use to trigger it, so it is possible I could play some synthesizer parts on guitar, but that usually doesn't work quite as well as one might hope, and the MIDI data generally also requires extensive cleanup. It might sound a little more "humanized," though).

So now I've got a scratch mix called "scratch_bounce_first_full_length.wav" that basically tells the story, intermixing spoken and sung bits, with a mostly complete first verse and placeholders for most of the rest. That tells me I'll come it around the right length.

I edited the lyrics some more on the computer -- it seems to fit my process best to start off drafting the worlds on paper, and move to the computer as it starts to settle down into the final form.. Here's what I've got -- this is probably close to final (but often times I find that I have to edit single words or lines to better fit the actual singing rhythm).

As is usually the case, most of the best bits came from the revision process.

"Science (In the Service of Beauty)" (er, working title)


I am a scientist, true. But define "mad."


Once I was blinded by beauty
That I mistook for technology
I loved to play with electronics
Producing all kinds of crazy sonics
But these days I'm a nature lover
Give me a human under the covers


BEAUTY mistaken for
SCIENCE in the service of
MONEY producing new
Connections, rejections
Way too much introspection
It's too much to handle
And it can't hold a candle to
(beat... beat... beat... beat...) you


Goodness, Miss Sakamoto! Is it really you? Do come in.
My, my, you haven't aged a day!
May I offer you a cup of tea?
You've heard, perhaps, that my little inventions have made me a wealthy man?


My meters are all a-quiver
Your touch gives me the shivers
Now let's conduct an experiment
Oh never mind, it's completely irrelevant
My vacuum tubes are overheated
I've lost my cool, I'm nearly defeated



If I might ask a personal question, what's that intoxicating scent you're wearing?
Oh, dear me, my mistake; you're not wearing perfume.
I was so sorry to learn of the loss of your husband.
I see the tea is gone -- would you care for something a little... harder?

BRIDGE: (spoken)

ThinkPods and GeekPads
and things that warm up
Devices that vibrate
chips that make music
Psionics, dildonics
Good old telephonics
Machines that go "bing,"
Science chthonic,
Glowing rectangles
And cables in tangles
Just hop on the network
You don't need to do legwork
To find my location
You won't need cogitation
Texting is peachy
But pheromones can't reach me
Your webcam is online
But that's not in real time
Come over to my place
I can't feel you in cyberspace...



Oh, dear, we've run out of sherry as well
Please be careful where you step; the laboratory is so cluttered.
It's very hard to find qualified help these days.
What? You say you might be interested in assuming your old... position?


Now your machinery's in order
You can trust me, I'm a doctor
You know that science is dandy
But come on honey, give me some candy
I want to study biology
In specific, your anatomy


SPOKEN (on drums/fadeout):

It was so good to see you, Miss Sakamoto! Please do come back and see me again soon.
Perhaps next time, you might care to have a look at my etchings... my door is always open.


It's now very late Monday evening/Tuesday morning; it's after 3 a.m. and I need to sleep. Tonight I was able to record doubled verse 1 vocals that don't suck too badly, and probably could stay as they are if I get desperate. I reworked the vocoder setup, composed a melody for the chorus, and recorded a doubled chorus vox that I most likely have to throw out. There is something wrong with the way the vocoder plug-in is triggering -- it seems to go all detuned sometimes; I can play the track in Logic repeatedly and get different results. There is something not quite right about the synth waveform I'm using; it seems to detune itself and so the vocal I tracked against it then seems to go off pitch. Is this a problem with my captured pitch bend data? That doesn't seem to be it. Maybe the synth has tries to emulate an old Moog a little too closely, in the way their oscillators would drift out of tune?

I recorded all new spoken word parts to matched the revised lyrics. I don't have a good idea yet how I'm going to render the bridge -- sung or spoken? Vocoded? To what melody? So, I don't know exactly how long it will be.

The arrangement is still really sparse; I haven't gotten any guitar or bass done, and I've stripped the drum down to the barest beat. It stands now at very roughly 4:30, assuming the bridge takes about 24 seconds, and assuming I keep a synth solo that is about 30 seconds long and plays the verse melody. I'm thinking I might be able to combine them somehow, or maybe one of the other will have to go...

Update 2 Tuesday 19 Oct, Morning

I got about five hours of somewhat broken sleep (four kids, three of them very young, including a 2-year-old who sleeps in the bed with us; he makes life interesting!) Lack of sleep is not really the best thing for vocals, I'm finding. But I have to work around my day job, and I really can only record while the kids are either out of the house or asleep.

The esteemed Mr. Dolby himself tweeted a link to my previous blog entry! Very exciting! No pressure! (Did he do it wirelessly, I wonder? From the Nutmeg?)

I did a quick edit, update, and cleanup of that entry and this entry. Hmmm, now I'm linked to Dolby's tweet which is linked to my blog. Is it all going to recursively implode?

In an effort to provide some links I watched the original video and listened to the song for the first time in quite some time. I figure now that I have my own verse and chorus melody, such as it is, I'm in less danger of accidentally appropriating his. (I'm going for style and tone here, maybe with a few little shout-outs to the original, not a remix; I'm not using any samples).

I have no hook, and no real riffs to speak of. Sigh... I can only do my best -- it is what it is! And the clock is ticking. Thanks, everyone, for your encouragement!

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