Monday, March 31, 2014

Put The Hammer Down (Recording Challenge 2014)

So I participated in the Spintunes 8 challenge. Some other participants asked me to help out with a shadow (a song that isn't part of the contest for judging but included in the listening party and track listing.)  I was sent this lyric which I modified slightly and came up with the music. It was originally intended to be sung by a female but I didn't have a female so I changed the lyric up a bit to make it work for a male singer.  I spent a very long time recording and mixing this song and it also includes a guest track as well. This was actually sent in last Monday, but tonight I did a couple of very minor edits to the track. I may revisit this one in the future even though I'm fairly happy with this mix.

Monday, March 10, 2014

You Cheated On Me (And Now I Hate You)

Also written for the Spintunes 7 challenge, this one has a bit more production in it. I'm not perfectly happy with it and I was eliminated from the challenge with this song. There were a bunch of good songs in this round, to be fair, but I do kind of like this song.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Broken Mind - Recording Challenge 2014

This song was the second song I spent more time than usual in the recording. It was also to the same prompt of "write a song to someone you miss and cannot be with."  This one was entered in the Spintunes 7 challenge as well.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Will You Run Away With Me, My Love - Recording Challenge 2014

So it looks like it'll be a song about every two weeks. Although I'm participating in FAWM this year over at, I will only be posting songs with superior recordings. This one is the first song I wrote this February with an ear toward production. It was to the prompt, "Write a song about someone you miss and cannot see again" or something like that.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Desert Rain Remix - Recording Challenge 2014

For my second decent recording of the year I went back to one of my favorite songs from the 2010 self imposed Song-A-Week challenge. The second song written for that challenge, Desert Rain. This is the original guitar, bass, and lead tracks but with a new vocal and a new mix. Please let me know if you have any critiques as I'm still hearing things I'd like to tweak.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

It's Raining - The Recording Challenge 2014

My good friend, Helen Robertson,  has started a recording challenge in which she is going to record and E.P. every month for the year of 2014. I've decided to piggy back on her motivation and try to do a recording challenge as well. My goal is to make a decent recording every week for 2014 (with the possible exception of two vacation weeks.)  I will be aiming for new recordings, but I may revisit older recordings and touch them up or re-mix them or junk them and use parts for new recordings or re-recordings. But I'll be sure to give some information about the recording process for each song.

This is the first day of the new year and I've already made my first recording. I actually spent about two hours listening to my back catalog of songs but, honestly, it was overwhelming. With over 600 songs to choose from I had no idea where to start. So I took a break and watched the Levon Helm documentary "Ain't In It For My Health" which I highly recommend and a song melody just kind of blurted out of my mouth. I had the lyric done in about fifteen minutes and the music to go with it in less time than that. I spent the rest of the day recording.

I started with a click track on my Roland BR-900CD and recorded two passes of acoustic guitar. I used two mics, an AT2020 and Superlux 241.  I scrapped the first one, but the second sounded decent. While recording I just kind of fell into the arrangement as far as structure goes. It is a fairly quick tempo at 147 bpm and with only three minutes I put in two instrumental breaks and a repeat of the first verse at the end. That got it over the 2:00 mark (which I wasn't sure about until after the recording was done.)

I then recorded a guitalele part. Two more passes using the same mic set up as with the acoustic, but only keeping one take. I then recorded the bass. I recorded the bass straight into the BR-900. This took six or seven passes and I finally just stuck with the last one. I experimented with different tones and settings and even bass-lines. The basic pattern was easy, but I tried a pick, fingers (which I'm not much good at) and longer notes instead of the faster rhythm. Ultimately I used a pick and a faster rhythm and just chose the last take. The take before it might have been better, but I didn't hear anything glaringly wrong so it is what it is at this point.

Then I used EZDrummer to get a drum track which didn't take as long as I thought it would. After a couple of hours of mixing, a dinner break and a return to some tweaking, I'm satisfied with what I have today. Of course, when I listen back tomorrow I may change my mind. Oh, and I have a slight head cold that's been coming on for a day or two. So my hearing is kind of clear/not clear depending on the amount of congestion I have at the moment.

Here is the first track of the year: It's Raining. Feel free to leave me feedback or comments as I'm sure I need lots of input to improve the recording/mixing process. Thanks for listening.

Monday, August 6, 2012

FAWMstock III And Some Songs

From August 2nd through the 5th my wonderful wife, Phoebe, and I drove up to Wisconsin and attended FAWMstock III. This is the third year in which FAWMers, or songwriters who participate in the February Album Writing Month, have collected to meet and greet each other while writing songs and performing tunes for each other. 

Friday night several of us contributed to writing the lyric and chord progression for the 'Explore the Core' challenge on the 50 Songs In 90 Days songwriting challenge website.  It was lots of fun and a lot of work (believe it or not) was put into it.

On Saturday I was lucky enough to corner Adam Hill to begin writing on a song. Between the two of us we had a darn fine guitar part (if I do say so myself... and I do) but were struggling with the lyric when Nancy walked by and we begged her for help. (Well, sort of.) I should write a song called, 'Nancy Saves The Day.'  I'm pretty darn happy with the song which was my first three way live collaboration. All in person from start to finish in one sitting. I might want to do that some more. We even got to perform it Saturday night at the Spring Green General Store for our friends and some locals.

As The Light Fades by Adam Hill, Nancy Rost and T.C. Elliott

And later Saturday afternoon John Crossman and I participated in a song skirmish collaboration. (A songskirmish is a challenge in which the participants get a title and an hour to write and record a song.)  We sat down and wrote a song. It's not the deepest song we've ever written but it sure was fun.

 Ignite by TC Elliott and John Crossman

I sure had a lot of fun and hope to do it again. I knew it would be great seeing fellow songwriters from an on-line songwriting challenge in person, but I had no idea I'd love it as much as I did. Here's to next year.