Archive for February, 2012
20 Feb


Listen: Harrisburg

My goal with this song was to record a song as if a singer/songwriter had hired me to record a demo. In a case like this, I want to record the song with some energy, add some details and interest and keep the budget down. This is not supposed to be a CD-ready master.

This song was written by Josh Ritter and I pretty much copied the form from Josh’s album, Golden Age of Radio. I shortened the intro and picked up the tempo a little. I wrote my own vocal harmony. These are the same kinds of change I would make if a songwriter gave me a cassette.

Although I set up the instrumentation as 2 guitars, bass, drums, I recorded the 2 guitar parts on 3 tracks. I was trying to get a fuller guitar sound so I recorded the 2 rhythm parts in stereo, while the solo is in mono, mostly for separation. One guitar strums chords throughout while the second adds some punch on the chorus and one verse. The second guitar never overlaps with the solo guitar (so, live, one player would cover both parts).

The bass part was generated by Band In A Box. This is a quick, easy way to set my form, get a steady rhythm and ensure my parts stay together. I sent a midi file to Pro Tools and used an acoustic bass patch from my sampler.

The drums were programmed in midi. I needed a straight beat for the choruses and a little shuffle rhythm for the rest. Simple, easy and effective. I set up drum sounds on 3 tracks (for control), and used the Pro Tools included synth, Xpand2 as a sound module.

Categories: Recordings
20 Feb

Donan’s Wedding

Listen: Donan’s Wedding

Sometimes you surprise yourself.

This song began life in 2005 as the first piece of a larger composition. I took David Ferry’s translation of the epic poem Gilgamesh with the intention of creating a chamber piece in 8 movements. I used the rhythm of the poetry to create the melody and filled in parts as implied by the content. I set up some small motif elements that would carry through the piece. I orchestrated the  melody lines based on the setting each section, for instance, I used a brass section to indicate the city or civilization and the more primitive string sounds for Enkidu and the wilder settings.

I had assigned different instruments to characters, the French Horn as the narrative voice, the trumpet as Gilgamesh, the solo violin as Enkidu. I even used timpani to voice the hunters, a nod to Prokofiev.

So this was an ambitious project. I had completed the sketches for the first tablet, four short pieces, and was filling in some of the details when I realized that the first piece had the feel of a march. A slow march, very much like a wedding march.

It was in April of 2005 that my daughter Donan was getting married to Jeremiah Nealon. I hadn’t put much thought into the wedding, other than making arrangement for the trip to Moscow, Idaho. It seems my sub-concious was directing my composition. Donan studied trumpet in college. She is a big fan of brass quintets.

I didn’t intend to write a wedding march, but there are times when the circumstances of your life know better than you do.

Sometimes, you surprise yourself.



Categories: Compositions
19 Feb

Can’t Find My Way Home

Listen:  Can’t Find My Way Home

I spent some time with this arrangement. Working off the original Blind Faith recording, I tried to write a note for note arrangement, but it was too difficult to play. I had to simplify. I wrote the solos using licks from the recording. It’s not EC’s solo but it captures the character of the song. I may go back someday and try the jam section at the end. For now, it’s a nice little filler in my finger-style repertoire.

I recorded this in my basement, using GarageBand and the micophone that came with my Mac. Really.

Categories: Arrangements
19 Feb


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