Monday, February 21, 2011

RPM 2011: Week 3

Day 14 - 4 songs, 23 minutes
Today was Valentine's Day. My lovely wife is far more important than my RPM Project. I spent my free time with her.

Day 15 - 5 songs, 27 minutes
Tonight I quickly assembled the foundation of a new song - "Tumbleweed". Clip-clop trip-hop at its finest. Needs vocals and a bunch of other fixes. But the basics are there. Have a rough melody in place. As always, wondering if the melody is any good.

Day 16 - 5 songs, 27 minutes
Extended "Tumbleweed" out to nearly final length, though it's still missing a few important sections. I laid down some vocals with rough lyrics and put a few harmonies down. Sounding pretty good. Sort of like Cowboy Shriekback rolling through Las Vegas in Massive Attack's muscle car.

I need to re-do the guitars, finish the lyrics, and maybe write a bridge and riff.

Looking like this record might have fewer songs than previous ones, but they'll likely be longer songs. That's not so bad. "Meddle" by Pink Floyd is that way.

Day 17 - 5 songs, 27 minutes
Stayed up late working on "Tumbleweed". Got Tumbleweed to correct length, including adding a longer 2nd verse and some other adjustments. I finished writing the words but it was too late to lay them down.

Day 18 - 5 songs, 28 minutes
Today I laid in more vocals for "Tumbleweed", adjusted the mix, and added a Spanish-sounding guitar solo to the bridge, and some more twang to the outro. Fixed some problems with the bass, too. It's not bad. Sounds very clip-clop trip-hop!

Day 19 - 6 songs, 31 minutes
First day of a three-day weekend, and a lot to do, as this is the penultimate weekend and I have to travel next week.

I had a bunch of clean-up to do on some of the other songs, but I wanted to get some new things down first - clean-up is good to save for short bursts and/or when you aren't feeling too inspired.

Sometimes creativity and songs just do what they want to do. I had intended to work on a faster new song, but "For the Love of Mary Lee" just wouldn't leave me alone. I spent the morning working up some flamenco-style rhythms, studying Spanish guitar YouTube videos, and by mid-day had started to pull together a nice 6/8 feel for the track, complete with handclaps.

When the Muse pulls you in a particular direction, it's best just to follow - the guitar parts came effortlessly (well, the writing - I am still a terrible acoustic player) and sounded very nice.

Melody was going to be a bit of a problem, as my original draft of "Mary Lee" was in a different key and major. I worked on it, wrote the lyrics, had something that would probably work overall.

My voice was pretty tired, and I'm not sure I like singing in the higher register for this one. So much of the rest of the record is in the low-voice/Johnny Cash vein, and the higher voice seems a little too "Broadway". I intended for this song to be one of those fado-ish extremely "emotional" types of songs, and I wanted it to be like "El Paso" and "The Streets of Laredo" in terms of its melody, content, etc. and those are on the pretty side as well. I just think it sounds weird right now.

Tomorrow I'll probably take a whack at vocals in the low octave. Might be too low. I dunno. Maybe I'm over-thinking it. Like the last few records, at this point I worry the latest song isn't as "good" as the other songs already completed for the project.

Day 20 - 6 songs, 32 minutes
Sometimes, when you think you've gone the wrong way creatively, the right answer is not to go back, but to go farther in the "wrong" direction.

I tried redoing the vocals in a low octave. No dice. And the chorus already sounded good. So I redid all the vocals in the original octave, and worked until I had a nice solid performance. I added some handclaps, more guitars, and added some subliminal Wall of Voodoo drum machine. I think it sounds great.

Went to the gym. Did some errands. I adjusted a couple of other mixes and then some unexpected guests showed up, which more or less ended my day a bit prematurely. Good news is I am within sight of the finish line.

Bad news is that even though I have 1 week left, none of the songs are finalized yet. There are some that are very close to done, but they all need tweaks ranging from minor (shaker down 1 dB!) to major (re-track all guitars and vocals, re-do drums).

I will finish. It will be a good record. But it's going to be a busy week and tight weekend...

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