Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Brother's Valentine

I wasn't sure I'd manage to finish anything for round 2, because I lost one day to illness and didn't schedule any time off work. But putting in a little time Friday night and Saturday afternoon, here's what I came up with (the link is to the song page on Bandcamp where you can download a high-resolution version). I also made a quickie video in what seems to be turning into a series of videos involving drawing or writing (you might call it the "no budget series," although art supplies don't grow on trees!) I didn't have a great idea for the drawings; they are doodles I had put in a new notebook over the course of the past week, with the idea that I might try animating them or otherwise turning them into a story for the video. The story part didn't really come together but I thought they belonged in the video somehow. I'm experimenting with some other drawings that I hope will eventually become low-frame-rate stop motion animation. iMovie is not really set up to do anything very elaborate with a series of stills. You can string them together but they have to be individually cropped (I think) and that's pretty tedious.

I don't have any chords to post. There is a melody, but it's pretty simple, and not very tightly played. There's a second synth part, but it is just some pedal tones. The song is in Bb. There's a repeating bass riff which is basically a little blues thing with some chromatic notes. It's all in one simple position.
Song Notes

The challenge for SpinTunes 4, Round 2 was to "write a musical Valentine's Day card to someone OTHER than your significant other."

I started thinking about ideas that have been kicking around in my head for a while -- about how hard it is for adult men, maybe with wives and families -- to maintain supportive friendships and creative partnerships with other men. There's the context of competition, of course - in sports, even playing on the same team, but what sort of role models are there for support and creative collaboration? Even talking about it seems suspicious, and immediately brings up the idea that such a desire is something only a closeted gay man would express.

If there seems to be homophobic anger in the song I hope the listener will understand that it is not intended towards gay men, but towards the society that has made connecting with men platonically taboo. I hope that comes through.

On paper this song was a mess, and I wasn't making much progress. It filled several pages in my notebook with ranty paragraphs of text that weren't really rappable verses. I could sort of read it and it was funny and made some sense, but it was much too long and didn't have a workably rhyme scheme. Only after going into the studio and recording the first verse did it start to come into shape. I recorded the chorus very roughly following a melody I laid down with my guitar synth, and screwed around with the pitch using some plug-ins, and that's where it pretty much stayed. At the end of a couple of hours the Friday night before it was due I had the first verse and a chorus and that was what I had to build on. It was weird, but I kind of liked it.

I was much more pressed for time on this track than I was on the last one; this one represents a total of about eight hours of work in the studio. There is much that is sloppy and that I might have liked to do better, but I'm also trying to just complete more tracks, imperfections and all. While I was recording rap sections today my three middle kids were down the hall in the bathtub having some sort of screaming contest, as kids do. I kept hearing the screaming in my headphones and finally just took my digital recorder in there and captured them screaming, and worked that into the lyrics and the audio. Lemons and lemonade... it was freezing cold in the studio today -- layers, chattering teeth, and stiff hands. The heat was on constantly so no chance to get audio takes without the heating system in the background; no time left for extra takes anyway. Oh, well!

I intended to record this one at 24/96 like the last one, but somehow my Logic project got set back to 24/44.1. If you don't know what that means, don't worry about it. I had to master myself this time using Ozone 5. It's not like having a real mastering engineer but it can still do some pretty cool things.

No comments: