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Topic: A Step (First Step?) - A New Song (or two?)

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  1. #1
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    A Step (First Step?) - A New Song (or two?)

    A little over a month ago I posted a song that is totally different than anything else I had ever posted here: Test Patterns At the time I said it was a little test before I started getting serious about song writing. Well, I guess I lied – I did a couple more little test songs.

    A Step (or perhaps First Step) uses only Garritan sounds. Ok, besides my ugly, out of tune voice it uses only Garritan sounds. That is one of the purposes of it: I wanted to explore some possibilities of these libraries in a more rock format. I used The Steinway (GASP); pipe organ, strings and choir from GPO; winds (clarinet, sax and 2 trumpets) from CaMB; electric organ, electric bass, guitar and drums from JaBB. I started with a kitchen sink approach but gave up adding instruments….

    If you missed the link higher up, here it is again: A Step

    The other piece that I did uses no samples so my official post ends here.

    As a match to A Step, I wrote a song called Wait 'til Tomorrow. Find it here: http://www.box.com/s/p5n37dbitdqa7bl8skdt (Sorry about the raw link:for whatever reason I can't use the url on any words. None.) It uses mostly virtual analog synth with a small amount of real analog synth, drum sticks on a 1x4 board (you read that right) and a short trumpet duet (don’t be too harsh – this is literally the first time I played a note in years, no practice and 5 minutes of warm-up). And of course my voice (I experimented a little).

    Although I wrote all 3 test songs in about a day each it took me almost 2 month to record Test Patterns, over a month for A Step (First Step?) and a week to record Wait 'til Tomorrow. Surprisingly I played more lines in by hand in the last one, the other two were done mostly with midi files from my notation program. Hope this means I’m getting more efficient….


    Let me know what you think.

    (BTW - I guess this thread is evil since it is the 6666th thread....)
    Trent P. McDonald

  2. #2

    Re: A Step (First Step?) - A New Song (or two?)

    The 6666th thread?--For real?-- I don't know where to find that info--Aaah, you're pulling our leg??

    Trent!--I'm afraid to look up your last thread, "Test Patterns," because I think I may have said what I want to say on this one. Well - if I'm redundant, it's because I really mean it:

    --These quirky pieces remind so much of a dear old (and departed) friend of mine. He wrote songs in a truly unique way, maybe a bit Frank Zappa, a bit "Sparks" (remember them?) - but really his stuff was unlike anybody else's on the planet.

    In a very good way I'm saying that you are the Only person I've heard from who reminds me at least a bit of my old friend--Nobody else has remotely reminded me of him. He was a poet and self taught musician, and fiercely determined to remain avant-garde, without the slightest care of being pop. If his son does anything to promote his father's music, maybe he'll be discovered as an underground genius at some point.

    Your voice even reminds me a bit of him!

    Well - that doesn't say much to you really, since you haven't heard his stuff. What I should do is dig up an example - not sure any are online. But I'll find an old tape--!-- and transfer it, if I can't find anything else, and I'll get it to you. You'll at least get a kick out of it, and I think you'll recognize the voice of a fellow True Individualist.

    --Something about production. I do wish there was a better balance going on here for you. You said you're using a notation program, and I'm afraid there's an imbalance going on which notation recordings are prone to. There are mixing issues which are just more straight-forward to figure out in a recording program.

    Big example is the bass - I know it's in there, but it's way buried, as are the drums to a lesser degree. Especially since you said you want to be writing in more of a rock vein (Rock from outer space!--lol)-- the mix would be serving your music better if that rhythm section was Out Front - solid bass and drums. --

    Anyway - these are trip. AND - I really appreciate it that I'm not the only one currently posting some stuff Way far afield from the usual Listening Room fare. 8-)

    Randy

  3. #3
    Senior Member Frank D's Avatar
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    Re: A Step (First Step?) - A New Song (or two?)

    Hi Trent,

    Yes, this is as original as you can get ... Randy beat me to the Zappa punch, but I was also reminded of the very original music of Sun Ra and his Arkestra. It may not be something I would produce, but I really enjoy listening to outside-the-box music. Keep pushing those aural frontiers Trent!

    Best regards,

    Frank


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    Senior Member fastlane's Avatar
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    Re: A Step (First Step?) - A New Song (or two?)

    I listened to all three numbers. As Randy said it could use some instrument balance but I kind of enjoyed it. You're definitely coming from a different place musically. I can hear art rock influences with a theatrical bent.

    You might want to add more contrast, dynamics and such to keep interest.

    This forum could use a little more "musical diversity" so keep posting. He, he.


    Phil

  5. #5

    Re: A Step (First Step?) - A New Song (or two?)

    Hey Frank! This song is so calming that it makes me think about lying on a Caribbean beach, enjoying the warm sea breeze with a pina coloda in my hand. "NOT". One very cool thing about music is you can express yourself in so many different ways and this is different. I thought it was fun to listen to.
    Jay

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    Re: A Step (First Step?) - A New Song (or two?)

    Hi Randy!

    Up at the top click on “Garritan Central” You will see how many threads in each forum and total posts in those threads. Last night The Listening Room was at 6666 just after I finally posted this thread.

    I know mix is a problem. I’m slowly trying to get better at it…

    I write a lot of the music in notation (Sibelius) and then import the midi files into Cubase and work with them there. The notation/midi part can have most of the parts work out or, in the case of Wait ‘til Tomorrow, just block chords. I played the bass and drums into Cubase by hand in all three of these. I’m currently more comfortable in the midi world than audio so I spend a lot of time tweaking in the midi realm. I freeze everything to audio tracks, most mono tracks and do the final mix in audio. Some of the mix problems may occur in the midi world, the big problems are in the audio world – one place my inexperience shows.

    Getting back to bass and drums – There is no real bass part in Wait ‘til Tomorrow. Well, not much of one. The synth strings have a bass part that goes through most of the piece. I doubled it (by hand with a real analog synth) an octave lower on about 65% of it. I used double hand bass in the synth-clav part and in the other keyboard-like synth part. So there was a lot of bass going on so I felt I didn’t want to muddy it any more. Maybe I was wrong… Also I purposefully left the synth drums on that pretty deep in the mix, again probably wrong.

    Anyway, thanks for the tip – I will try bringing bass and drums out a bit more. And working on the mix in general – as I said, a lot of work for me…. But hopefully, as the lyrics say, it’s getting better….

    I feel flattered by the comparison to your friend. If you could “rip” some of the tapes to digital I’d love to hear it.

    Thanks for listening and for commenting.
    Trent P. McDonald

  7. #7
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    Re: A Step (First Step?) - A New Song (or two?)

    Thanks for commenting, Frank!

    I’ve heard the name but I have to admit I’m not very familiar with Sun Ra so I looked him up. What I heard seemed like strange mix of Zappa in his best Hot Rats/Grand Wazoo days combined with Charlie Parker… Great music – I’ll have to look more of it up. Actually I've gone through about a dozen videos since reading your post and find he had a huge range of styles, all very interesting.

    Thanks for the comparison!
    Trent P. McDonald

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    Re: A Step (First Step?) - A New Song (or two?)

    Thanks Phil!

    “Art Rock” is definitely an influence. Strangely, I wouldn’t say theater music is a huge influence, though I listen to (and enjoy) most of the big names and yet somehow it does seem to creep into these compositions. I’ve had a few people mention it and I hear it myself. Not sure if it's from spending to much time with West Side Story and Sondheim or singing in things like South Pacific as a high school student..

    As I said to Randy, I know I have a lot of problems with mix and it is something I’m working on. I’ll most likely add a little more in the way of dynamics with my further compositions. I’ve been trying to get a good compromise between some more dynamics and the more compressed sound of rock.

    I'll continue trying to keep the forum diverse...

    Thanks for the comments!
    Trent P. McDonald

  9. #9
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    Re: A Step (First Step?) - A New Song (or two?)

    Hi Jay! I guess you wouldn’t call this “Easy Listening”, at least not in the Hundred and One Strings sense… I’ve always been a bit quirky in my writing, even when writing more conventional music. The concert music I had previously posted here was always a bit different….

    Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for listening and commenting!
    Trent P. McDonald

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