Thursday, August 28, 2008

One Bit At A Time

I'm still working on my next album, Little Bits. I've got seven candidate songs finished, though a couple of them probably won't make the final cut. I've been coasting for the most part doing songs that are easy to put out, but are not the kind of cutting edge stuff that I was doing in the mid 80's. That's not all bad, but I'd hate to think that my best work was done on a 4-track cassette deck. I have some great tools right now, but inspiration has been hard to come by.

Let's face it. Inference Patterns was mostly a reworking of songs that I wrote 20 years ago. But I learned how to use these new tools while making that album, so I'm happy to have landed here today with all this knowledge. I need to spend more time on this current material and resist the urge to just knock out MP3's without giving them a good working over first and good mastering later.

I have settled on a two station approach that is working nicely so far. I use my mac to start the song and do computerized vocals if needed. Then I copy a mix down to a windows vista computer where I can add all kinds of virtual synths, or record real synths and vocals in the studio. I have produced a couple of songs for the new album like this and it has worked out very well so far.

I've uploaded a couple of the new songs to the Beta 3 Lounge radio station. Listener response has been very good and I'm encouraged now to try some things I haven't done in a while. My sound is getting better and has a more thick heavy synth style than I was capable of for a long time. I used to get this sort of sound using lots of analog synths along with chorus and phase shifter pedals. I can now do everything inside the computer without any of that old equipment, and the sound is a little more flexible though consistently where I want it to be.

That's what I'm doing, one bit at a time.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


or the lack thereof . . .

I once had a doctor tell me that in times of war, men sometimes go without sleep for 3 days. I found little solace in that as I am an insomniac. Last night I stayed up while editing a report that I'd been procrastinating for some time. Sometimes there is a certain inertia or potential that must build up before the dam breaks and all the pent up energy is released.

I do that with music, but I'm either completely off or completely on. There is no scenario where I sit and write a little bit one day, and then add some more later, incrementally finishing a song. Most lyrics come in a matter of minutes to me (maybe that explains something) whereas I don't always get music with them. I tend to get musical ideas and then get some inspiration for the lyrics, though sometimes I flip through my notebooks looking for some unused words to wrap around a melody.

As a synthesizer player, I spend a fair amount of time doodling on a keyboard and fiddling with the sounds. I think that is what really attracts me to the synthesizer, is that aspect of actually crafting the sound pallet for a song. Sometimes I use presets, or some combination, but even with presets, there is a process of sorting through them, listening for the right sound for a particular part of a song. I'm sure guitarists go through something like that, but guitar is so dense in harmonics that you can always tell it's a guitar (well, most of the time.) Sure, there are guitarists like Adrian Belew or Robert Frip, and I'm not sure if I'm even spelling their names right.

I think my cat just farted. I hope that's what it is. Gotta go!