Archive for December, 2009

Week 16, Over Time

Merry Christmas to those that celebrate and Happy New Year everyone!

I hope everyone has had a great holiday season. I’ve had a fantastic Christmas today with my amazing wife, who got me a Melodica, so expect to hear some serious Melodica-based tracks in the coming weeks. My kid had a blast and is completely overwhelmed by everything for better (sitting at his mini drum kit rocking out) and worse (total epic meltdown on Christmas eve at a Chinese restaurant with friends). 2009 has been an awesome year and this project has been a really great part of it. I didn’t see it coming. I’ve really enjoyed the challenge and connecting with people all over the world, and I can’t wait to see how things go down in 2010. I’m not sure if I’ll have a track done before the New Year or not, it depends on how things pan out next week.

One thing that’s coming up early next year is the digital release of Project 52,Volume 1. Everything is in place. I did a little mastering of the the first 13 tracks, uploaded the high quality mp3s, and now I’m just waiting for the album to go live. You’ll notice in the upper right-hand corner of the site that there’s a widget where you can listen to the remastered album, front to back, and eventually you’ll be able to pick up individual tracks or the entire album at iTunes, Rhapsody, eMusic, Amazon, and other stores online.

“Over Time” is another rock track that’s somewhat obviously influenced by Guided by Voices. At least that’s what I thought when I was writing it, but once it was done, I realized that there are also some serious shades of Nirvana. It makes sense because the other night I was completely sucked into a documentary about the making of the album Nevermind. I can’t help it. I was a grunge kid through and through. I still remember when my friend Todd came over to my house, frantically slapped a cassette into the tape deck, and started raving about this band he’d recorded off the local college radio station when someone had played the entire album over the air. It absolutely kicked my ass. It was unlike anything that we’d heard in our smallish town. That album was Bleach.

The song is pretty basic: guitar, bass, and drums. The guitars were recorded with MultiTrack on my iPhone using the custom break out cable. I also took two vocal tracks with the iPhone mic in Multitrack, but for the first time I wasn’t able to get the type of sound that I wanted for the vocals. I was prepared to make the most of them, but since I had extra time on Wednesday after finishing up the last two tracks for the video game my partner Dave and I have been working on, and getting a good drum take for the song, and since the Rode NTK was already set up, I re-recorded the vocals with the tube mic. I kept both recordings in for the last part of the song, so it wasn’t a complete loss. The bass track was through my Fender Twin and recorded with the Rode. As usual, the tracks were recorded and mixed in Reaper.

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Friday, December 25th, 2009 Uncategorized 2 Comments

Week 15, Clearing Up

Song number 15 is called Clearing Up

On Friday, I left the ground in Pittsburgh with every intention of carving out some time to write and record a song while I was visiting my sister in Denver so that all I would have to do is post it when I returned on Tuesday. I even went as far as copying my edition of Reaper onto a thumb drive to run on my sister’s laptop (yes, you can actually run the software right from your thumb drive!) When I got to my sister’s house and sat down at her piano, I knew that I wanted to take advantage of a rare opportunity to write and record something on it as I’m pretty sure that the only way I’d get a piano in my house is to build it in there. I had just enough time in between family fun to pound out a song, but as Tuesday morning rolled around, and we were only a couple hours away from taking off from Denver’s creepy airport, I had yet to record anything. So as my wife and my sister worked to get my kid ready for the trip, I nervously tried to get enough piano recorded to constitute a song. I admit to being out of shape  on the keys as it is, but in these circumstances my performance was doomed to be shaky at best. That said, I think the idea came through pretty well, and when I finally got a chance to put everything together, the song came out rather nice.

The sound of this one is reminiscent of one of my favorite bands, Idaho. Idaho started out as a rock band on Caroline Records in the early 90’s, fronted by Jeff Martin. For a quick introduction into his music, take a look at this video of Jeff performing the song “To Be the One” from the Idaho Web site.

“Clearing Up” is a simple song, so I kept the recording simple. I used the Blue Mikey with my iPhone sitting on top of the piano – there was little time to mess around with placement. I doubled the piano track and EQed the low-end out on the first track and left just the low frequencies on the second. I’ve been experimenting with this technique since getting a tip from Joe, the patriarch of my favorite lunchtime and coffee haunt, Verde Good Beans in downtown Pittsburgh. You can hear the effect in this song a bit as I played around with some fading between the tracks at the beginning and end of the song – it starts out bright and then slowly rounds out into bassy piano as the song fades out. The guitar sounds consist of a few acoustic takes of two-note variations within the songs chords, and then I added a couple of delays to bring out that ambient slow feedback sound.

I recorded the vocals with the good old iPhone mic and as usual, I recorded everything into the MultiTrack app and mixed it all up in Reaper. I just got the word that Multitrack version 1.1 was submitted to Apple for approval. It looks to be a big step up from an already solid recording app, and I’ll make quick use of the built-in metronome and the support for stereo recording. It will be interesting to see how the Mikey sounds in stereo.

Thanks everyone for being patient as my releases have been pushed later into the week. I should have more free time in the coming weeks, so I’ll try to work my way back to Monday releases. Good news on the publishing front: cover art for Volume 1 is complete, and I’ve made the arrangements to have digital downloads for sale on iTunes and other stores in a number of weeks. I’d like to go back and master all of the songs together, get them out there for sale, and then I’ll get to work on the prospects for physical release (hopefully on vinyl).

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Friday, December 18th, 2009 Uncategorized 1 Comment

Week 14, Call it a Day

The fourteenth song is Call it a Day.

I wrote the song and recorded the guitar part on Friday night and then went to the Pitt football game the next day. After several hours of yelling at in vain (they lost), I had very little of my voice left over for the next several days. On Monday night, tired of waiting for my voice to recover, I brewed a cup of tea and started recording. I wasn’t thinking about being voiceless when I wrote it, but of all of the songs I’ve written thus far, this one would be the best suited to the scratchy “She’s Got Betty Davis Eyes” version of my singing voice. Judge for yourself, but I’m thinking that it was a happy coincidence.

The song is written in standard tuning and is about as simple as any I’ve done to date. The recording is my acoustic guitar recorded in the kitchen with the Blue Mikey into my iPhone.  Just one track. The scratchy vocals were recorded with the iPhone’s mic. While I was working on the vocal tracks, and the mic was on, for some reason I slammed my hand on top of my notebook which was sitting on top of the kitchen table and it sounded surprisingly good, so I went with it. I added two tracks of hand slamming and three tracks of clapping for good measure. All of the tracks were recorded on the iPhone into Harmonicdog’s MultiTrack app. I imported everything into Reaper, added a little reverb, and called it a day. I’m really happy about how it came out.

I’m heading out to Denver on Friday to visit family and attend my sister Brooke’s college graduation, which will make for another interesting adventure in “holy cow I have to record something, I only have a week, and I’m not home.” It may be later in the week, but I’m sure I’ll figure something out.

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Tuesday, December 8th, 2009 Uncategorized 5 Comments

Week 13, These Days

This week’s song is called These Days

Completing this song means that I’ve reached the 1/4-way mark for Project 52. I’ve completed a season, and since the first song went up on September 6, and the song was posted on December 1, it sounds like fall to me.

I’d written the song early in the week using my Hovland tuning (F-A-D-G-A-E). But when it came time to record it, I had to take my operation on the road. On Wednesday we headed out to Philadelphia to visit the in-laws for the Thanksgiving holiday. Thanks to father-in-law having dabbled with the guitar a number of years ago, I was able to pack my Telecaster next to the suitcase, plug into his amp and hit record. He has a great sounding Fender Blues Junior – a smooth little tube amp that can get a little dirty when pushed. I recorded the three guitar tracks using the Blue Mikey into the iPhone. The sensitivity of the Blue Mikey required that I keep the amp pretty low. The rumor is that a newer version of the Mikey is coming out at some point which corrects the sensitivity and clipping issues on the iPhone that make using Mikey for a wide range of applications tricky. (I’d love to hear this directly from Blue, but so far it’s just rumors)

Anyway, the guitars ended up sounding good, but I couldn’t resist throwing a couple of xylophone tracks in when my wife’s childhood Fisher Price xylophone was sitting right next to me. My son is super into marching bands right now, so a good portion of our vacation was spent marching around the house playing the xylophone along with him rocking out on a toy guitar which has faithfully played “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” for the last 30-odd years. I just managed to sneak the two xylophone tracks in while everyone was having breakfast (any attempt at playing xylophone within earshot of my son would have inevitably led to marching). The guitar tracking wasn’t so lucky to go undisturbed – you can hear near the end of the song that my wife and kid were sitting on the bed next to me, trying not to make a sound. My son is two; what can I say, he held up admirably. But at the very end, right when I finished, he let out this “caaahhh” sound that just cracked me up. I left it in mix for everyone to enjoy, along with them clapping and a brief chorus of everyone’s favorite word: poop.

I recorded the vocals after we’d returned home. They’re just straight into the iPhone mic, which has proven to be a dependable and fine-sounding vocal mic. All of the tracks were recorded in MultiTrack, which has been a pleasure to use. And with no need for a metronome for a song like this, I could just set up and go. From what I’ve read on the forums, it sounds like the first MultiTrack update will be available by the time I get into the next song or two… hopefully. The update sounds like it will take MultiTrack from being the most stable and overall best recording app out there for the iPhone to being, well, even better. Everything was mixed in Reaper as usual – no problems there.

In lieu of getting the song up early, I was able to add some features to the site that I’ve been meaning to do for a while now. I added Week 8 to YouTube for the iPhoners out there and added a few more blog links, but the big change is the addition of the Free Downloads page. I wanted to get some of the mp3s from the collection out to you and let you vote on which songs you would like to get the most. I also wanted to throw some fun bonus songs up from days and bands gone by. I’ll keep adding stuff over the year so keep checking back. Don’t forget to vote  for your favorite song on the sidebar.

Thanks everyone for coming back and listening. I would love to hear your comments on the downloads page and everything else.

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Tuesday, December 1st, 2009 Uncategorized 2 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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