Listening….

Last night I went out to listen to some Punk bands.

Save Ends. Choke Up. Today Junior. Kiss Concert.

Punk really isn’t my thing. I have some Old School Punk, but I don’t listen to Punk routinely.

But… I’m supposed to get out and listen to more LIVE music… so I can understand what music is about these days….

And one of the members of one of the bands is the son of a friend… so we went….

Not bad. Lot’s of energy.

But… I couldn’t understand the lyrics….

I could understand what they were saying between songs….

I could understand what they were saying during the mic checks….

I could understand SOME of the lyrics in the slower… lower dynamic… parts of the song that were there to contrast with the louder… faster… more dynamic parts…. But… just couldn’t understand the lyrics….

Here’s the rub…. Some of the bands had some sonically interesting material. Interesting intervals…. Interesting dissonant chords…. Interesting progressions…. But… the point of ALL of that… is to support the message of the song… which is contained within the lyrics… which is utterly lost… when no one can understand the words as they are being sung…. And… that’s my main issue with a lot of Punk music… it is very simple and gets pretty boring pretty quick…. That’s why Punk songs tend to be very short.

From some of the banter between songs… I’m sure that the lyrics featured a lot of angst and ennui and sarcasm and bitter irony and “I’m so much smarter than you” sass and a great deal of “I’m superior to you so I don’t care what you think”….

But… I missed all of that….

So… the humor fell flat….

As I’ve gone out and listened to more live music (much more) I have noticed that a WHOLE LOT of bands and artists… and venues… have the same issues…. Articulation….

People do mic checks in isolation. One mic. One instrument. Set levels. Adjust. Ok. Sounds good. Let’s Rock & Roll!

But… no one checked the MIX….

The sliders look good. All of the levels are where they should be. Must be good….

Why is this an issue?

Simple. Economics….

The Recording and Entertainment Industry has changed the paradigm for the way it pays dramatically in resent years. The reason U2 gave away their last album… automatically downloaded it onto your iPhone… was not because they are great guys who LOVE their fans…. It was because of the Economics of the Industry…. Bands and artists don’t make money on record sales these days. Records are distributed to create interest for live shows. Bands and artists make money touring. That’s why the price of concert tickets have skyrocketed!

But… to see four bands last night was $8…. The bands got discounted drinks… but weren’t paid…. Just about the only people in the place were band members… and friends… and family….

So… the only one who made any money… was the venue….

The venue provided the sound… so… it ain’t like that was a professional…. His job is to get the bands turned around as quickly as possible….

But… the songs get repetitive… and boring… when all you can hear is a bunch of people banging drums and beating guitars and screaming as loud as they can… but you can’t hear what they are saying….

Punk songs do not have enough sonic diversity to be sustainable as instrumental music….

But… even in Country and Rock and Pop… as I believe it was Vince Gill (who is an incredible guitarist) once pointed out… people don’t show up to hear you play guitar…. They come to hear you sing…. Songs that they can relate to…. Songs that they can connect to…. Even in the Punk genre…. And… that means… they have to HEAR your message… in the lyrics of your song….

That means a couple of things….

One… an artist has to work on sound production… and enunciation… to be effective and consistent delivering their message…. That’s much more important than range or dynamics…. So… THAT is also an area that any aspiring artists cannot neglect….

Two… the SONG must be written in a way that the message contained within the lyrics… and enforced through the music… can easily and clearly and forcefully be delivered….

Time Sawyer did a pretty good job of that at the Southern Ground Social Club in Senoia, Georgia a short while back when I saw them.

Samantha Landrum and Paul Johnson both did an excellent job presenting understandable material when I saw them at Landrum Country a few weeks back.

Bill Clark and the Cee Jay’s and Andrew Ishee did a great job during their Christmas Spectacular.

That makes for enjoyable entertainment.

That’s what people pay to go see.

People connect with the lyrical content of songs….

Pay attention to the details… if you want to get your message across….

It’s not always just what you say, but sometimes it’s how you say it….

Yet Another al Dente Noodle….

Ok….

First off…. To be honest…. This is just TOO busy….

This song needs to be 4-5x longer… and each of the parts needs to be given its own space….

That being said… THAT ain’t gonna happen….

At least not today….

So… guess you’ll just have to try to enjoy this Noodle a little undercooked….

I serve you… Noodle in C Major….

Now… if you have a pair of headphones… or stereo speakers… you may  be able to appreciate SOME spatial separation….

If not… then just remember… it’s still a meal in preparation….

Worked on dynamics a bit. Adjusting some of the levels so that all of the important parts can be heard. But that detail would be much better if I gave the parts more space in which to breath.

Removed and reworked the solo guitars on the right and left.  Some of that… especially the left… could use more work on the dynamics…. Or even further editing. Removing ambiguous and overlapping temporal parts….

The piano part at the beginning was not really played “as is”. I edited it. A lot. Trying to find precisely what space I wanted the chords to fit into. The solo descending run, etc. were recorded raw. I did work on the dynamics a bit, but the dynamics today were much smoother than previously. Probably my fingers didn’t have to listen to my mind too much… because I was distracted… and just let it flow…. No set solo planned out…. Just didn’t want to get TOO jazzy…. KISS!!!

Recorded a B3 part. Chords. Didn’t like how it sounded. Didn’t like how it fit. Erased it. Tried it again. Still didn’t like it. Decided to go without any Hammond in the mix. Then… just let my fingers walk about a bit…. Just because I love a little B3 in the background….

They only part of this Noodle that isn’t new is the rhythm guitar part. Recorded that in one sitting, so… too lazy to go back and redo it….

 

Correcting my Screw-Up

Now I am about where I was when I decided to take that shortcut yesterday. Technology is still not my friend. The Internet decided to be interminably slow….

Notice that for some reason the pitch of almost EVERY NOTE was shifted about a full tone. Two half-tones. But not EVERY note. So… had to go through and edit each one individually….

Decided to try to use Excel to help me keep up with what I’m doing….

This is closer to how it’s supposed to sound… but not exactly right yet….

The back half is mostly a sonic experiment. I’m looking for the sounds I want more than anything else. Just trying some things out. Not sure I’ll keep any of them. Almost certainly not ALL of them….

And… I have ideas for other experiments that I want to try as well….

But… not tonight….

Still some issue with the dynamics. Got some ideas on how to fix those, but I want to mesh that with some of my more… experimental ideas….

My Latest Screw-Up

Who puts their screw-ups out there for public inspection?

ME!

I do!

Because someone needs to….

Discussing screw-ups is part of the necessary process of postmortem examination or Morbidity & Mortality Conference… or After-Action Review….

Problem is… most people just want to bury the dead when they screw up….

They don’t want to be held up in front of their peers for intense scrutiny….

Because most of us lack the necessary confidence….

And… because of that… we lack humility….

So… we try to hide our screw-ups from public review… or even peer review… and thus… refuse to learn… and refuse to teach….

It’s a pretty large file because I’m putting it out there in high def… so may take a bit to download….

Probably really not worth your time… unless you find postmortems morbidly fascinating….

One issue is dynamics. The loudness of the individual notes. I worked on using Compression to try to smooth that out a bit, but CLEARLY I have not found the magic formula. As with everything else… a lot more practice… leading to improvement of my musicianship… would REALLY be a great benefit….

But… that’s probably not going to happen today….

And… I still need to work on learning how to edit not only better, but more efficiently, as well….

Now… the truth is… if you’re not inside my head… you probably don’t know my expectation of this piece of… work… IS…. So… until you get halfway through… and you get past the 3/4 part… to the 4/4 part… you might not see the problem…. But by then you’ll probably be too bored to notice anyway….

Technically… I’m supposed to do the rhythm tracks first…. Drums, percussion, and bass…. Maybe some rhythm guitar….

I did that before with Funk and Angel… which are both essentially little more than rhythm track experiments…. Wanted to see if I could visualize and create a drum/percussion arrangement that would be interesting enough to carry a song…. With Ketchup I just sat down and quickly recorded the rhythm guitar part based on an idea or germ of a song I’d been kicking around for a few days…. If you happen to be a Rod Stewart fan… you might hear a little Tonight’s the Night feel… but it’s in a different key… and doesn’t even come close to Rod’s artistry…. I was just working on recording something that stayed reasonably close to the click track (which I didn’t really manage to do very well, but the solo parts did stay reasonably tight with the rhythm track… which was why I put the rhythm track down first…. It’s MUCH easier to synch with MUSIC than a click track….) But… REAL players don’t EVER hit the notes exactly when they’re supposed to hit the notes…. And that is what gives actual recording of humans a more artistic dimension than drum machines… which also have algorithms to vary the pattern so they sound more human…. My rhythm just varies too much.

Would be nice to be able to edit that and smooth it out… but I’m not there yet…. Therefore… recording the same tracks over-and-over is probably a better method… which is actually what the pros do anyway….

But… I’m going to try to go back and repair the damage I did….