Saturday, January 30, 2010


Well, the new song that I wrote decided it didn't want words, so I added some Irish whistle to the guitar track instead and left it as an instrumental.

Why is it named 13? I have absolutely no idea. It just happened.

- Badtux the Songwriting Penguin


  1. I actually enjoyed this one, to my surprise. In all honesty, I much prefer order to disorder in the music I listen to -- that's just they way I'm wired up, this is not really a critique of this song. Just my rough take on it. I guess you could say I was pleasantly surprised.

    For what it's worth...

  2. Thanks Jim. There actually is some structure to this song because of the lyrics it was supposed to go with, which were supposed to be melancholy, then built up to a discordant and unsettling peak, settled back down into a melancholy line, built back up to a more discordant and unsettling peak, etc., until at the very last end where I hammer the listener then collapse into the very last line, which is supposed to sink into you like a knife to the heart. Unfortunately I was unable to pull off the lyrics part. I tried re-writing the lyrics three or four times -- completely tearing up the sheet of paper I was working from and starting over from scratch. None of them worked the way I wanted them to work with this track.

    The song works differently with the Irish whistle than it would have worked with lyrics and voice, but still has structure. In fact, the one place I diverge from the structure in the guitar track was the dickens to play around with the whistle. The guitar sounds like it's about to settle back down into its groove, but instead sort of hangs around up in the air for one more measure. The first couple of times that I hit that I kept going back down to the groove with the whistle because I was expecting the guitar to go back down to the groove. With this take I am expecting the guitar to decide not to go down into the groove and keep the whistle moving up where the guitar is moving instead, though I lag by a beat recognizing "oh, this is the part where the guitar doesn't do what I expect it to do." Except that actually worked out better than you'd think, because it added just a slight bit of a discordant note there.

    All in all, it didn't work out the way I expected, but there seems to be at least a couple of people who enjoyed what did work out, so (shrug). Mission accomplished, I suppose.

    - Badtux the Musician Penguin

  3. 13 is a Fibonacci number. That's reason enough. For a lot of the track, the whistle is overpowered by the guitar, so I had a hard time telling what you were doing.

    Did you improvise on the whistle, or was that a set melody.

    Interesting stuff.


  4. The whistle part was completely improvised, but I had done a few dress rehearsals beforehand so that I'd have a good idea what the guitar was going to do and how I could play around it. Still, some parts of the whistle track -- like the part at the end where I go up into the third register -- were *not* planned beforehand, they just happened because they felt right. As I noted earlier, the guitar part was recorded several days earlier and was not originally planned to have whistle accompaniment, I recorded several different vocal tracks with several different versions of lyrics and none of them worked, so I basically said "oh well, time to move on." I was surprised to find that the guitar track was on-key enough that a Bb whistle played well around it, I'm using drop-D tuning and capo'ed to the third fret and that usually doesn't work out too well with a short-scale guitar. Here it did. Guess the last adjustments I did to my action and intonation worked.

    The whistle is a bit low in the mix, but I'm having no problems hearing it. Sorry you're having problems, I can always fire up GarageBand and turn the whistle up a little more in the mix and push a mp3 out somewhere if you'd like to hear the whistle a little more "out" in the mix.

    - Badtux the Helpful Penguin

  5. Come to think of it, I have a song titled "13" as well. And, it's an instrumental. What a coincidence.

    It doesn't sound anything like yours, though...

  6. Boring....

    To an old country shit kicker.

  7. Grr. I managed to delete the whistle track in GarageBand last night and emptied my trash before I noticed it. So the current mix is the final mix. Siiiiigh!

    - Badtux the Clumsy Penguin

  8. Peaceful, yet upsetting at the same time. Nice job of weaving two very different emotions into one piece.

  9. Tux, I thought you were Vietnamese, someone whose family settled in Louisiana after fleeing post-war. Now that I think about why I think that, I don't recall the reason, just that i got the impression several years ago (reinforced by you being a yellow penguin, and your "phocus" on pho.) You look like anyone else from the southern U.S. (as do I) which makes you less interesting than if you were ethnic. White people are so boring... (That applies equally to me.)


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