New Toys

Since the last time we got together:

The New Coursera Cafe Karaoke Project, which will be “You’ve Got A Friend, has been postponed until September.

The Coursera Blues Jam follow-up to “Be True” seems to have been postponed indefinitely due to lack of interest/participants.

“Baby Bought A Pistol” is still a back-burner issue, no doubt to be abandoned.

I have started working on a new original song that’s inspired by a dream my ex had, but that’s a story for another time. The lyrics are close to being finished, and I’ve mapped out the production.

But first…

Being a gadgethead and a sucker for deals, I’ve recently acquired two pieces of hardware that I’m anxious to try out.

The first is the Line 6 Mobile In

.

I have been using an iRig for a long time, but since the input goes through the headphone jack, quite a bit of electrical noise can be picked up. I tried different cords and settings, but the crackling noise is still maddeningly noticeable.

They can be had online ranging from $24.99 to $49.95, but in mid-July Musician’s Friend offered it as their “Stupid Deal Of The Day” for $9.99. Couldn’t pass that up! I’ve played around with it a bit, and it seems fantastic, but haven’t tried recording yet.

The second is a Blue Mikey Digital, which I read about in an article by Dan Cross.

I’m too cheap to spend $99.99 on something like this, but a little research helped me find a refurbished one at Rakuten.com for $40.97 (with free shipping, even). It just arrived yesterday, so I haven’t had a chance to test it yet.

My next project will be something simple to put my new toys through their paces.

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[Coda]

The saga of “Baby Bought A Pistol” is at an end. At least for now, at least in this form.

I tried doing some vocals over the backing track, and discovered the song is just not going to work in it’s current state. I’m just not feeling it. The lead tones are too shrill, the lyrics are boring, the story cliche. I’ve grown disinterested in trying to finish it. I may try to rework it at another time, but for now it’s a dead project.

In the meantime, I’ll be working on contributions to new Coursera Cafe Group Karaoke and Coursera Blues Jam projects.

Maybe walking away and coming back will be the shot in the arm I need to finish the late “Baby Bought A Pistol”.

[Baby Bought A Pistol]

The song has a title and tentative verse lyrics. The subject was suggested by the latest rash of school/university shootings. But it’s not a serious protest song, or anything like that. A little sardonic is the most I’ll attribute to it. Lyrics were finished mostly during my five minute ride to work.

The rhythm track was added. Tried adding an organ stab to accompany it, but I didn’t like the sound. Made the executive decision to stick to just guitar.

Started doodling around with a lead guitar track; eventually hit the Record button to capture some improvisation, and, as these things are wont to happen, my high E string snapped. I’m going to attempt using one of my other axes, but if I can’t get what I was getting out of my Casino, I’ll have to man up and change strings. It’s about time, anyway, I suppose.

[riff]

Back to work, at least temporarily. The Coursera Blues Jam is starting work on another track, and that may distract me a bit.

But not for too long, I think. I find it takes me forever to get a new project rolling, but usually, once it does, I become consumed with it.

I recorded the riff with my Strat through iRig into GarageBand, pretty much the same way it was played in the video. Not “pretty much” the same way; the same way. Not straight through the entire song, though. Modern technology allows me to do a lot of cut-and-paste. I recorded the riff for 12 measures, then copied it throughout. I did a little edit of the main riff to serve as the bridge, and that was that. A little time spent fooling with the guitar tone, and I was done.

I started working on the bass track, and decided to build it with GarageBand’s Smart Bass feature. I can’t get the tone I want playing through a regular guitar, like I did with “Closing The Door”.

[drum track 1]

Now that “Be True” is in the can, I can return to my own project.

I’ve begun the actual “recording” process by settling on a tempo (120 bpm) and choosing a stock Apple drum loop to use as a click track. Once the rest of the instrumentation is added, I’ll construct some drum fills and flourishes in GarageBand so the percussion track isn’t too bland.

Progress:

Drum track

[the list]

After meditating on the matter, I’ve decided to use the riff as is for now, but, like I said, anything can change during the writing/recording process. I’m planning simple instrumentation, a couple of guitars, bass and programmed drum tracks.

I’ve decided to start out nicking the bass line from the Beatles’ “Taxman’; modified a little bit, it could fit in. At least it seems that way in my mind’s ear. We’ll see when I hear the two together. (What? Paul McCartney on his bass riff in “I Saw Her Standing There”: “Here’s one example of a riff I pinched from someone: I used the bass riff from ‘Talkin’ Bout You’ by Chuck Berry in ‘I Saw Her Standing There’. I played exactly the same notes as he did and it fitted our number perfectly. Even now, when I tell people, I find few of them believe me. Therefore, I maintain that a bass riff hasn’t got to be original.”

But I digress. One of the things I like to do when I start a project like this is pretend I’m organized. So I make a preliminary list of the order in which I plan to build the various tracks. This one looks like this:

Drum & Percussion Track
Riff
Rhythm Guitar
Lead Guitar
Write lyrics
Vocal
Process and mix

Of course, best laid plans, etc. But it’s a starting point.

On to the GarageBand drum machine!