Archive for March, 2010

Week 29, Undefined

cats-undefinedThis song was about as close as I’ve come to scrapping a track and freaking out because I didn’t have anything else to go with. This was the first song that I’ve ever written on bass, and that seemed to throw me off of my game when it came time to write a guitar part. The bass line and song that I wrote just didn’t call for my usual style of guitar playing which is more chordal and rhythmic. A major credit should go to my wife, who after hearing me freak out and give up two nights in a row, suggested that I try writing a baritone part first. That’s what I did on the third night, and even that didn’t work until I tuned the baritone up a couple of steps to an F# version of standard tuning. Finally a simple baritone and guitar part came together, and I was on my way. I was a couple of days behind, though, and frankly I’m a little surprised that everything came out sounding as good as it did.

That goes doubly for the drums, as this was a pretty challenging drum part, and I was also breaking in a new mic configuration. I started out Project 52 with three drum mics and have slowly been adding them along the way. This song unveils the six-mic configuration. I’m pretty sure that I’m done adding mics, though. I’ll probably start taking mics away from here on out. I was inspired to switch mics up after reading a great article by Chas Ferry in the latest Tape Op Magazine. Quick plug: Tape Op is an amazing institution of a recording magazine. If you’re not currently subscribed, then do yourself a favor and get it (hint – it’s free). They do incredible interviews and generally have awesome content from a less-than-mainstream perspective (this week’s issue features an interview with Mac McCaughan of Superchunk and Merge Records fame), along with great online forums which are hands down the best in the recording world.

Inspired to put put a bit more room in my drum mix, I added a pair of large-diaphragm condenser mics about 20-30 inches out in front of the kit, one in front of the high hat and snare, and one out from the floor tom and ride cymbal. The revelation of the article is that in a small room like the one that I’m using, moving the room mics closer in to the source increases the ratio of distance between source and reflection, thus creating the impression of a much larger room. I didn’t have much time to play with it – I pretty much spot miked everything, but first impressions are pretty good.

After a weekend full of two 3-year-olds’ birthday parties, crammed-in drum takes and lyric writing, I ended up with a song that sounds a lot like a couple of the bands that I’ve been listening to a lot lately. I’d say most noticeably is the band C-clamp, which is sadly one of the most under-appreciated and unknown of my regular arsenal of 90s bands. As far as I know, both of their albums are out of print, but you should still seek out their music if you can find it. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Bottomless Pit and The New Year, having recently purchased one of the latter’s records. Bottomless Pit is made up of former Silkworm and Seam members, and The New Year is the band of former Bedhead fame. Even though these guys are all of a strong 90s indie rock vintage, both bands are still out there making great-sounding records and playing shows. It’s inspiring.

The rest of this week’s recording was done in regular fashion. The drums and final mix were done with Reaper. The bass, baritone, and guitar parts were all performed on my Orange Crush 30r and recorded using a dynamic mic into the iPhone. The vocals were recorded using the iPhone’s built-in mic, and everything on the iPhone was tracked using the MultiTrack app.  

Thanks again for listening. Have a great week everyone.

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Sunday, March 28th, 2010 Uncategorized 5 Comments

Week 28, Big Deal

  YouTube link for iPhone

cats-big-dealEvery week brings something new and usually leaves sleep deprivation in its place. This week was no exception. I was feeling pretty good about having a song sketched up and drums recorded last weekend. All that I had left to do was throw down electric guitar and bass tracks, write vocals, and then record them. In theory that would have left me some time to begin working on the next track as I’m always trying to make up some time and get back to posting in the beginning of the week. Of course on top of all of that, the in-laws were coming into town to visit and we were having my son’s 3rd birthday party on Saturday, so the house needed to be cleaned… oh and of course it’s March Madness and my team (Pitt) was playing. And as the reigning champion of our office’s bracket contest, I had to put as much love and attention into filling out my brackets as a champion should.

Sounds like a full enough week, right? Nothing like a little adversity to make it interesting. On Friday of last week I got a call from my good friend Dale, who doesn’t call anyone this time of year because he’s crazy-frantic busy working on one of his two major graphic designing jobs, his bread and butter jobs. Dale was calling to see if I could help him compose a score for a TV commercial that he had put together. As someone trying to build a portfolio of production work and carve out a little niche in the music world, you never say no to something like that, no matter how busy you are. I was supposed to hear back from Dale later that weekend, but it never happened, so I figured that he had figured out something on his own. But I ended up hearing from Dale late Tuesday afternoon. He wanted to come over to my house that night and have me record his friend who was going to do the voice-over, and then just “knock-out” the music. He just needed a finished product the next day. No sweat, right? Yikes!

I pulled it off. I was up until 2:30 in the morning working on it, and of course I had to go in to work the next morning. I was tired, I still am, but it all worked out. Also, I almost forgot to mention that my laptop’s power adapter broke last Sunday when I was trying to get my blog post up. I had to finish my post on my computer upstairs. I had done enough up front with the files from my laptop that I was all right, but it was another close call.

So here it is Sunday, and my kid’s birthday party was stellar, the in-laws were great, the house was clean, the brackets were turned in and have subsequently been busted (thanks for nothing Kansas), Pitt’s basketball team is on their way home having put together a better year than anyone had expected but knocked out from the tournament in disappointing fashion, the TV commercial should be up and running locally now, and I have another song posted which hopefully you’ve listened to by now.

On to the music: I’d love to get some feedback on this song. I like it, but this isn’t exactly what I was expecting it to sound like when I wrote it. I think it has a bit of an 80’s college rock feel to it now, but I can’t really put my finger on it. Let me know what you think.

As for the recording, it’s pretty consistent with what I’ve been doing of late. The drums were recorded into Reaper in my home studio with five microphones. There’s an acoustic guitar part, one of the original sketch tracks, that was recorded in MultiTrack using the Blue Mikey. The electric guitar and bass tracks were performed on my Orange 30r and recorded into MultiTrack on my iPhone using the custom break-out cable, and the vocals were recorded using the iPhone’s built in mic.

In my spare time (that’s a joke), I’ve been trying to build my profile on It’s a great site for music lovers. The more you use it, the better it gets at customizing the listening experience to your exact tastes. I’ve been turned on to a bunch of great bands through Last that I never would have heard without it. I recently discovered that Last is a pretty powerful site for artists and labels too. I’ve uploaded Project 52, Volume 1 and have gotten some good feedback so far. I made a bunch of the tracks available for free download, so stop by and grab them if you’d like. I also set up a profile for my old Pittsburgh band, Hovland. I put the album “Affordable Fashion” up for listening and downloading. If you like the music that I’m doing here, you’ll probably like Hovland then. The drummer was super-good too – something that I can’t always say about myself.

I’d encourage everyone who’s not on to check it out and see if it’s for you. If you do use Last regularly, friend me at this link.

Developer (this music) is up at, and my old band Hovland is at

Check it out, and I’ll see you next week.

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Sunday, March 21st, 2010 Uncategorized 2 Comments

Week 27, Birthday Song


Sometimes songs arrive unexpectedly. When I sat down last week to record a song that I had written the night before I grabbed my acoustic, plugged the Blue Mikey into my iPhone, and started fooling around with it to get the best sound. As I’ve said before, the Mikey can be pretty sensitive, but when you get it placed right and set right it sounds fantastic. In this case, I had the phone and Mikey sitting on a kitchen chair and I was adjusting the tilt angle when the Mikey pulled slightly out and became disconnected from the phone. When I pushed it back in, it was reset to the highest sensitivity (Mikey comes with a three-way sensitivity switch) and I could hear everything in the kitchen in super-crazy detail. Usually I would just pull the Mikey out again and reset it back to the right sensitivity, but for some reason I started fooling around with the sounds that I was getting in the kitchen. I started playing a muted, soft little riff on the guitar and humming along. At some point I realized that I had a fun little song going, so in the true spirit of this project, I decided to shelve the other song for the time being and capture this new song. I threw together some lyrics… hastily, and this is what you hear.

Tomorrow is my son’s third birthday. I honestly can’t believe it. He’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. That night I was thinking about the fact that it was almost his birthday and then I heard him yelling about not wanted to go to sleep or something. Well that was enough fodder to get me a couple of lines, and the rest is history I guess.

You can really hear me having fun with the mic and the room on this one. The bass drum sound is my foot on the floor, the rest of it is me and the guitar. There are two takes, slightly panned left and right. The recording was done on the iPhone using MultiTrack as usual.  

This is the first track of the second half of the year. I hope you like it.

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Sunday, March 14th, 2010 Uncategorized 3 Comments

Week 26, Westward Years

my kid's toy guitar

the toy guitar and Orange Crush 30r practice amp

Week 26 is the halfway point for Project 52. This is also the last song of the second album and it officially feels like I’ve been doing this forever. I really expected to be energized by hitting this mile marker, but instead I’ve been feeling worn out and less motivated than usual. I’m sure I’ll get my drive back once I start working on the next song.

This song gets back to the lo-fi spirit of the project. The rhythm track consists of me standing next to the kitchen sink, playing a stainless steel mixing bowl and a wire cooling rack with a steak knife. The faucet was on just enough to sound a little like rain. Two tracks at the sink panned left and right make for a nice background to a pretty laid back song. The guitar track was on my Fender Telecaster Thinline through the Orange Crush 30r and was recorded on the iPhone using the break-out cable. There are a couple of melodica tracks and a couple of my kid’s toy guitar, which makes it’s first appearance since week 11. The toy guitar ended up sounding sort of like a mandolin for this one. The vocals, toy guitar, melodica, and sink sounds were all recorded using the iPhone’s built-in mic, and all of the tracks were recorded using the MultiTrack iPhone app.

I want to sincerely thank everyone who has taken the time to stop by to check out my project these last 26 weeks. I look forward to your comments and feedback for the next 26. 

- Corey

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Sunday, March 7th, 2010 Uncategorized 2 Comments


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