This RPM has been a funny one - with a lot going on outside in real life, meaning that throwing myself into making a new album was a blissful distraction from 'the real world'.
Being in the UK I'm unlikely to ever be able to visit Portsmouth to the HQ of listening parties. (Though the Portsmouth on the south coast of England might be doable, at a pinch). This is a shame, as I'd like to be able to chat to others who have had similar struggles - not in a 'what compression ratio did you use here?' way - though that would also be interesting - but rather in the celebration of the absurdness of the whole endeavor and the of beautiful things that are born out of restrictions.
A few years ago, when I hosted an RPM listening party in England, it was more about meeting similarly dogmatic musicians who had put themselves through what I had done. Perhaps a sharing of PTSD. It was also good to go to the Second Life outdoor disco, where RPM turns were being spun. Obviously Second Life has all but vanished, but the (now rudimentary feeling) virtual world, with other RPMers struggling with the tech, felt ... appropriate. Even the act of partying was another Life, away from the real one, with people who are bloody minded enough to 'make it work'. These are RPM people - it's probably a character trait!
Anyway, I wish I was Partying, and hope people have a good time. This year I've not managed to be as active in forums/listening to other peoples things as the month went on ... which is a shame, as I've always enjoyed/been inspired by that in the past (but the aforementioned 'real life' restricted my time for doing this).
I'll raise a cup of tea to all those fellow comrades who have succeeded or fallen in this year's challenge. Cheers!
That was a tricky year, lots of other stuff going on to distract me, and I think the quality of my album here has suffered as a result. It's on player, after a day today of singing with a sore throat, mixing and picking an order. I'm knackered.
The last song I did ("The Quiet One" today, was about George Harrison, and was quite fun to do).
Final tally this year - about half of the songs I've done I currently like, a bit. I'll see how I feel in a month or three.
Well done to all other finishers.
Well, I'm off the block.
Cheating somewhat by writing something microscopic. Songs should never exceed 2mins, have more than two chords, or have more than a couple of lines. I'm sure that is A Rule. Ahem.
I enjoyed the fact that it's played on Uke with two chords. One is barred at the second fret (all strings) and one is entirely open (all strings). There was a B section that I started on (with more chords) - but I likes the rolling feel, relentlessly returning to the two chords, so ditched it.
Lyrics are my making them up as I go along, and enjoying singing below the Ukelele.
And Summer should hurry along, the weather is miserable.
I thought it was important to write and record *something*, so I felt I'd made a start.
(Also on my player)
I can't really put pen to paper/mic to lips 'til Thursday, but I'll have a go as of then. I don't know why I'm going to try, as I have so much other 'life' to deal with (some personal things, some commitments recording and gigging with other people, some drama things, and .. oh yes .. work), but it'll be interesting to see how far I get.
I'm going to try to work faster, and obsess less on the minutiae. (However, I've met me before, and I'll obsess. I know I will.)
I can make excuses, but ultimately I've missed the finishline by a country mile.
In the words of the words of the brilliant heart-breaking 'Clouds across the Moon' by the Rah Band ... "I'll... I'll try again next year... (next year, next year)..."
Another song on the player ("Valentine") written and recorded last night/this morning.
Again I'm messing with my usual working methods for writing - this one starting with the piano motif found at the top of the song, and then doing all the piano first, followed by the drums and synth parts, then all the block ooh BVs [there are loads and loads] followed by the (very sexy) 70's guitars, then a simple bass - and finally writing a vocal line (somewhat influenced by the 70s romantic vibe I'd created). A quite positive lone song, not laden in cynicism. What's up with me!?!
I promise I'll never go 'yeah' and 'uh uh' in a song again. I was channeling my inner Barry White.
Alibi (Don't Use My Name) is now on my player.
Having demoed it yesterday (also on there), it's now has ... a real vocal take, another verse, BVs, an outro bit, some better drum programming.
Given I started writing it yesterday evening, I'm quite pleased - although the faffing today took longer than I'd expected. I can't afford all that time on every song, I'f I'm going to get across the finishline.
For anyone interested my writing process for this song was...
Figured out the instrumental section (on a nylon guitar).
Recorded it (on bass and electric guitars).
Realised there was no way to squeeze a top line on it, so did the verse guitar figures (over cheap drum loop).
Reharmonised that with the bass to make a 4 chord, rather than two chord thing.
doubled all the bass parts on electric guitar (as I wanted them to matter).
Did the chorus - all on single note electric guitars, building chords from them.
Added bass to chorus.
Thought it was a bit thin in chorus, so decided to add acoustic. Also put chords in verse so that this ac.guitar didn't come from nowhere.
Then started jamming a vocal line across the top. Recorded this.
Then used that to write words to verse two (on paper).
Re recorded vocals, and BVs.
Sung instrumental bit.
Added the outro guitar/vocal.
Decided 'fade' was the easiest option. ;)
Life seems to be trying to stop me completing RPM this year.
I've had a gig come in (as a guitarist). I'm barely good enough to do it (as a player), but it's in Belgium, so I fancy it, and the money is okay - which means a couple of full days of rehearsal, and lots of time on my own running though the set of material. But it'll eat into my RPM time. A Lot.
Then bloody Ofsted (school inspectors) into the college I work at - meaning I'm doing masses of (unnecessary) paperwork AND working going into work on days off to do prep. Again, eating my RPM time.
The net effect is that my carefully planned out three weeks (having lost a whole week to a musical i was doing) has now become about a week at the end of feb, around everything else. Not hopeful.
Anyway - On player - RPM 3 'Alibi'
An interesting thing for me - I decided to try to build a musical track *without* a vocal topline at all - and see what I came up with. So I recorded the track (heard there). I actually started with what will now be the instrumental break - and realised if it was that dense there'd be no room for the vocal, so retooled it and made a thinner verse. And then a chorus.
My thought processes was lots of single notes on (differently EQ'd) electric guitars, making chords between them (I added the acoustic playing the chords very late on).
Then I set about shoehorning a vocal on top. The codswallop I've sung appears to be about encouraging someone not to use me (the singer) as the reason to leave their current partner. At least that gives me a frame to continue writing from.
The vocal is just into a mic that's set up next to computer and is very ropy, but will be used as the guide for recording the main vox, when 1. I write a second (and maybe third) verse, and 2. when I re record all the other vox.
Still to do:
Drum programming. It's just a quick and dirty drum programmed thing at the moment.
Write verse 2, 3 and chorus 3
Record all vox
Look at instrumental section - actually I'm considering rock guitar solo. Not that I'm good enough - but I could try!
PS To any American ears: In England a 'plaster' is what you might call a 'band-aid'.
Half a second*... Is better than none of a second*.
(*second = song).
4th Feb. Another evening (8 'til midnight), another half an idea, fleshed out into something (nothing live complete yet).
This was a funny one coming... the verse melody was pretty well formed, then the chords plopped under it. But it's got that 12/8 shuffle that I'm terrible at playing/programming.
The guitar parts were hard to play - once I'd got the concept of them - , and the chorus vocal was the last thing I added ("Tried to be a man")
The 'ooh' at the end is there as a F# to E7 movement, making the V chord to lead back into the Verse in A major (without modulating into B, as I'd managed to do in the chorus).
It's on the player, if anyone want to critique at this embryonic stage.
Just booked tickets to see Brian Wilson play Pet Sounds in London (in May).
How can this *not* positively affect my RPM mood?!
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