Archive for September, 2009

Week 4, Hand You’re Dealt

Week 4’s song is called Hand You’re Dealt.

This is the song that I wrote last week in Philadelphia. I liked it immediately and decided to push forward with it for this week. I eked this one out, finally getting a drum take that was passable as my wife and kid were coming in the door yesterday.

The song is written in a drop-high-D tuning (E-A-D-G-B-D), which is something new I tried for this song. There are nine tracks, four drum mics, three guitar, bass, and one vocal track. I switched up the drum mic setup from last time. I put a slightly different Audix mic and placement on the snare, an Audio Technica small diaphragm condenser for the overhead, and my Rode NTK tube condenser behind the kit a little bit offset and behind my ear. I like the overall drum sound better than on Left to Chance, but I’ll probably keep tinkering with it as I go on.

All the tracks except the drums were recorded with the iPhone. The vocals were into the iPhone’s mic as usual, and the guitar and bass tracks were recorded using the custom adapter (see Week 2 for more on the adapter) connected to an Audix dynamic mic capturing the Orange practice amp.

As usual, everything was mixed in Reaper. I brought it together quickly and if I had my druthers I’d be mixing for another week, but that’s the project.

Thanks again everyone for listening and commenting.

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Monday, September 28th, 2009 Uncategorized 2 Comments

Week 3, Clear Lens

The third song is called Clear Lens

As promised, this was a simple post to compensate for being out in Philadelphia most of the week. It’s three tracks: acoustic guitar and two vocal tracks all recorded on the iPhone. EQ’d and reverbed in Reaper (good old Waves True Verb) after watching the replay of the Pitt football game Saturday at the grandparents’ house. The song itself was recorded a couple of weeks ago. It’s in the Hovland tuning.

We had a great time in Philly. Spent Thursday with my son at the Franklin Institute and then explored Center City until we found cheesesteak number one. On Friday we went to the Please Touch Museum. This place was phenomenal – perfect for my 2.5 year-old. I had a flatbread variation on the cheesesteak, which was tasty, but shy of the real deal. Cheesesteak number three courtesy of the in-laws on Saturday was back on track.

Thanks again for all of the comments, and a big thanks to those who have been spreading the word about this project.

One last thing – I’ve added a Songs Archive page that will house the complete collection.

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Monday, September 21st, 2009 Uncategorized No Comments

Week 2, Left to Chance

The second song is called Left to Chance. Give it a listen.

This is the chronological second of the songs that I’ve written for this project. I was expecting to post the fourth song, a simpler one that was mostly written and recorded in one night, but as I got closer to finishing this song and everything came together I figured that I should get this up now as I’ll be out in Philly most of this week and won’t have much time to work on recording.

This song is seven tracks – three of them drums, one vocal track, two guitar (using the Hovland tuning), and a baritone guitar track. Except for the drums, all tracks were recorded using the iPhone and the FourTrack application. The vocals and guitars used the iPhone’s microphone, but I got to test out an external mic for the baritone track (thanks to the new custom break-out cable that I had designed for my iPhone – more on this later).

I gave up on trying to record drums with the iPhone after a couple of miserable failures, and even with the new break-out cable I would have to run an elaborate setup through a preamp or something like that to make it work. I ended up doing a quick spot mic for overhead, snare, and kick, and ran it though my MOTU 896 into the laptop. The overhead was a Rode NTK, a class-A tube mic that I adore for vocals and have found to be pretty great for drums too. I didn’t love how the snare ended up sounding, I’ll change that for the next session. I’m going to go ahead and blame the combination of the snare, my playing, and the quick placement rather than the Audix dynamic mic that I used. The kick was easy – AKG D112 and go.

The guitar tracks were performed using my Telecaster Thinline, along with a Danelectro baritone, through the Orange practice amp. I wasn’t thrilled with how the guitar sounded using the iPhone mic to capture the Orange, so when I got the custom break-out cable in the mail, I went straight for the amp this time using an Audix dynamic mic.

So here’s the deal with the cable: The iPhone uses a 3.5 mm TRRS (tip-ring-ring-sleeve) input, with the first two being headphones left & right and the extra connection is a mono mic input. After spending  a couple of miserable hours searching online for cables and adapters that would allow me to run a line or mic input while listening with headphones, the best I could find was a couple of people who’ve attempted to make one themselves. What I did find was a great company/website called kV Connection that would make a custom cable or adapter for you. I took a shot and they were great. The cable is high quality and works perfectly. If you’re going to record with your iPhone you can purchase the same cable here.

I brought everything together in Reaper and called it a day. I’m finding that when I introduce drums and more complex arrangement into these songs it’s going to be harder and harder to not obsess and tweak everything until I’m against my deadline rather than just record and post. It could get interesting.

Thanks to everyone who listened last week and thanks for the comments. Joel, it’s killing me, I can’t remember the next part to that “Hey man, is that Benjamin…” lyric. The only thing that pops into my head is “buy him some vitamins”. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t it.

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Monday, September 14th, 2009 Uncategorized 16 Comments

Week 1, Til Spring

Ok. Here we go. You should see an audio player below with a short song entitled Til Spring. If you don’t see the player let me know.

This is a new song. I’m not even sure that I had completely sold myself on the idea of doing this project when I wrote this. I was checking out recording with the FourTrack application on my iPhone and well this all came together pretty easily and sounded better than I’d expected. I’m pretty sure there’s a correlation then, that I realized that I could maybe pull this off after putting this together in a couple of hours.

This song is in the Hovland Tuning: F-A-D-G-A-E.

Hovland was my band during the later half of the 90’s and encroaching into the 00’s for maybe a year. I used this tuning pretty much exclusively with an occasional drop-D variation. It’s got a minor/darker sound that I liked and fit in pretty well with the slow-core aesthetic that Hovland at least started with though we sped up a good deal over the years. The Hovland tuning was actually a variation of the tuning that I’d invented for a previous band, Half Hour Action Drama, which was F#-A-D-F#-A-E.

1/2AD in it’s very short and sadly mostly undocumented existence was a collaboration between Matthew Raymo, Brendan Reed (an early member of Arcade Fire – his current band is called Clues), and me that mostly occurred in Williamsburg VA in 1995-96, and is some of the music that I’m most proud of now – it was two guitars and drums and was heavily influenced by Polvo and Sonic Youth. I think it’s aged pretty well. I’ll see if maybe Brendan knows what ever happened to those 4-track recordings that just used SM-57’s and the condenser mic on his video camera. If we ever find anything and can digitize it, I’ll post it.

Anyway, back to this song, Til Spring. There are five total tracks, all recorded using the 4-Track app. The first four are the original – acoustic guitar and three vocal tracks – recorded in my kitchen. A little later I added a double of the guitar track in my dining room using my Orange 30R practice amp and my Fender Telecaster Thinline. The song was mixed in Reaper with a touch of reverb and EQ on the vocals. I ran the entire mix through a pretty saturated modeled tube compressor. There are obviously some rough edges, but all things considered I’m pretty happy with the sound.  I will definitely be doing some songs with live drums, but I’ll need to do a bit more setup for that.

One last important thing to mention: This project wouldn’t be possible without the patience and good will of my dear wife Jenn. I am grateful.

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Sunday, September 6th, 2009 Uncategorized 4 Comments

DEVELOPER ALBUMS

<a href="http://developer.bandcamp.com/album/project-52-volume-2">Call it a Day by Developer</a>
<a href="http://developer.bandcamp.com/album/project-52-volume-1">Til Spring by Developer</a>
<a href="http://developer.bandcamp.com/album/meet-the-widget">Losing City by Developer</a>
<a href="http://developer.bandcamp.com/album/season-tics">Canada Day by Developer</a>

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Recent Comments

  • Roberto Cláudio Cordeiro: Awesome! Congratulations! I’m from Brazil, Rio de Janeiro. I wanna know what is the...
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