Saturday, November 21, 2009

Empty Dreams

In which I abuse my equipment drastically. I'm surprised I didn't have smoke coming out of it at the end of this. Was just interested in the clipping effects from overdriving analog amplifiers beyond their limits. They're... interesting. I'm using standard acoustic instruments but you wouldn't know that from this result. Now to put lyrics to it...

Update at 1:34AM: Okay, I have vocals now. And synth. And drums. Unfortunately I messed up the timing in the original recording in a few places where I flubbed a chord change while trying to hear the current chord through all the distortion, so the drums sort of skip from time to time as the guitar gets out of time. Very minimalist song, playing with getting away from VCV while retaining a hook. What, you say, I have 5 tracks mixed down into the bloody thing and it's minimalist? Well, it would work with just my guitar and voice too, but then the minimalist nature of the lyrics that I improvised this evening would be quite obvious, as would the fact that I'm circling three chords around in a circle with a circle around back through a fourth chord occasionally.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin


  1. That is just retro as hell. Very drug hazed late 60's. Wasn't that before you were born?

    About two thirds of the way through, I figured out what it was reminding me of. Iron Butterfly.

    As absurd as you might find this - I think some trombone in there would work.

    Jzb the empty trombonist

  2. Actually I think you're right. The "mouth organ" track would sound better replaced with a trombone or even if replaced with a couple of tracks of trombone doubling each other at one scale distance. You don't happen to have Apple Logic 8 Pro and a microphone handy, do you? ;)

    I'm older than I look. I wasn't personally making music in the late 60's (unless you count singing in grade school Christmas pageants as the old lady principal played Christmas songs on her piano :), but certainly was listening. Regarding Iron Butterfly, they were never one of my favorites but I certainly heard their stuff. I honestly had none of that in mind though when I accidentally plugged tweaked the wrong knob at around 6PM last night while working on another song, played a note, said "whoa, that's an interesting sound", and then improvised a chord line around it. Then "Hmm, I wonder what happens if I do .... this." Then "Hmm, let me drag my keyboard over here, this thing needs a cheesy but bright organ track to brighten it up a bit because it's a bit muddy", so I started experimenting with the MIDI instruments on the keyboard until I found one that was suitably cheesy. So on and so forth until 1:30AM in the morning ;).

    As for listening to this music a bit, I think I popped the vocals out too far. The problem is that with everything that's going on, you have to pop *something* out or it sounds like total mud. So what do I pop out? The distorted guitar sounds like mud and flows all over the place if I pop it out. The "mouth organ" is decided ambiance. I did make the electronic synth a bit brighter to pop it up a little in the mix and chose a bright synth sound to begin with, but let's face it, it's too cheesy. So I tried throwing effects processors at my voice, compressed and reverbed and eq'ed and de-essed the heck out of it but not enough reverb to turn it into mud. Oh well. This was just a bit of self-entertainment that I did last night while playing with my equipment, not something serious, so ... (shrug).

    -- Badtux the Music Penguin

  3. I do have a 1 Yr old i-Mac, but I don't see me shelling out the $500 for Logic Pro 8 any time soon.

    I believe the the Mac has a built in camera and mic - a capability I've had no reason to explore.

    I do think it woudl be cool to work on a remote project, if there were a way to make that happen.

    JzB the not particularly tech savvy trombonist

  4. Your iMac came with GarageBand? If so, you could take a mixed-down track provided as an .aif, import it into a GarageBand project, and tootle into GarageBand while listening to the mixed-down track on your headphones. Then when done, mute the mixed-down track, export the trombone track as a .aif, and then email it to where it needs to go. Everything Apple knows how to import and export .aif files so if you can't email projects around because you have incompatible versions of music software or something, .aif provides a lossless way to exchange tracks anyhow.

    The biggest problem you would face is that the iMac's microphone was not designed for recording music, it was designed for Skype or other such video conferencing, i.e., for normal conversational human voice. I have no idea what it would do if faced with a trombone. On the other hand, there are now interfaces for the Mac that allow you to plug a common dynamic mike directly into the Mac for recording, you plug the interface into a USB port on the Mac, plug your XLR cable into the interface, select it in GarageBand as your input, voila. I use a regular mixer deck into a USB sound system for that, but for simple recording of a single track using a single instrument that's way overkill.

    - Badtux the Music Geek Penguin

  5. Yep, It has garage band.

    I might get a chance to play arund with it a little tomorrow, and see how the built in mic handles my dulcet trombonification.

    The pitch range is similar to human voice, anyway, so there is home.

    Fidelity might suffer, but in combo with your overstressed electronic inputs, that might not matter much. t's not like we're trying to do Tommy Dorsey.

    JzB the curiosity piqued trombonist

  6. By the way, I have tenor and bass trombones, so octave doubling would be a snap, if everything else would work.

    The full roster is -

    King 2B Silversonic small bore tenor - the holy grail for jazz. The bell is solid silver with a gold wash on the inside. Seriously, this is THE horn, and my avatar pic.

    Holton TR 160 Large bore tenor with F attachment and rose brass bell. This is my Symphony horn.

    Reynolds Contempera dual trigger Bass, with solid copper bell.

    I also have a valve trombone in a box in the basement that I never even think about, and an ancient euphonium I bought on Ebay for cheap a few years ago.

    JzB the trombone collector


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