Thursday, July 16, 2009

New Stuff 2010 - 2011

Swarga ki Sans - The name, pronounced "svarky sahns", means "Breath of Heaven" in Hindi. I'd long toyed with the idea of making a song based on or inspired by the exotic sounds of India. That inclination became even stronger when I made a new internet friend who had a habit of posting videos of Indian songs and movies on Facebook. I really enjoyed those, and the sounds and melodies became deeply ingrained into my psyche. This tune was further inspired when that particular internet friend became engaged; the sight of her smile after having been kind of unhappy for so long really seemed like a breath of fresh air straight from Heaven. (It's not exactly authentic Indian music, though; the tambura plays too many different notes. So sue me!)

The melody line was played on my Keilwerth alto sax with a change of mouthpieces (Selmer in the beginning, Yanagisawa metal in the latter part), but the lion's share of the work is done by a wild battery of guitar tracks, mainly helping test out the variety of effect pedals I'd recently acquired. My MXR stereo chorus and Xotic BB Plus in particular got a lot of breaking in.

This tune is a personal favorite of mine. Incidentally, I also submitted it to the 2011 Torycon (All Japan Amateur Recording) contest. It didn't get any kind of an award, but its score was only one point shy of "One Rare Moment With You" (q.v.), which was a judges' pick. It also got very good, very critical, and very helpful comments from the panel of near-celebrity judges, who remembered me from last year!

Demabloguery - Sometime back in February of 2009 I came up with a spontaneous idea for a bass line and quickly recorded it so I wouldn't forget it. I then forgot I'd recorded it. For over a year it languished on the hard drive of my studio laptop. Cut to the summer of 2010. For some reason I remembered it, possibly because it was kind of bizarre, and I called it up, dusted it off, and worked on it.

This tune is meant to be my musical impression of the overwhelming majority of political discussions (if you can call them that) that I've been seeing on the internet lately. For the most part it's just the same things repeated over and over with a lot of whining and griping but not a whole lot of substance, and the whole thing is really kind of pointless. It's kind of a weird, surfer-punk style, which is fitting since it was inspired by net surfing. If nothing else, it was a lot of fun.

All of the guitar parts were done on the Telecaster, which I don't think I've ever done before. I experimented with a lot of different pickup/amp/effect combinations to see what kinds of sounds I could come up with. The bass, which started it all, was plugged directly into the sound interface. There's a cheesy organ part played on my Roland synth and a ditzy synth part played using my Sonic Cell. The drum part was programmed in MIDI but mostly recorded in real time played by hand (using a keyboard controller) and performed using Sonar's built-in Session Drummer.

No More Coffee - My other big summer project! This one came out of music club training camp. I and the other teachers, clinicians, and alumni making up the staff were basically getting by on 3-4 hours of sleep per night (usually with copious amounts of drinking the night before). Not surprisingly, we relied on a heavy intake of coffee to function during the day. The problem was that the coffee dispenser provided by the hotel wasn't very big, and when our staff was at its peak the supply tended to disappear quickly. I found that out the hard way one morning, and I was in truly pathetic condition all day. My half-zombie/half-irritable mood finally knotted up while I was sitting in the lobby listening to a 7th grader practicing the bassoon. I ran back to my room, grabbed my computer, and started on this tune...which not surprisingly uses bassoons as a principal melody part!

The rhythm, bassoon, and harpsichord parts were programmed using Sibelius and performed using Sonar's built-in sound font player. To this I added a soft melody track using my Arturia MiniMoog V emulator (a DXi soft synth, first used in "Matching Smiles") and a few incidental keyboard tracks, most prominent of which was a theramin sound. There is a short, quiet, and totally weird guitar solo in the middle that I made by playing through a reverse delay effect (set 75% wet so you mainly hear the backwards echo) and using both auto-wah and auto-panning to make it really insane.

Hey...that's the way I was feeling at the time, and it keeps falling apart till the end, when happy sounds greet the arrival of a fresh batch of coffee!

1 comment:

Don Snabulus said...

Per'anai- Nice flowing piece. Make me want to get back into the role playing game again. Send me an email when things get cranking up again.

No More Coffee - If Danny Elfman ever pulled out of his decade+ long rut, he might write something like this.