Week 42, The Game

To listen on an iPhone, visit my Bandcamp site, or download the SoundCloud iPhone app.

There have been a few times throughout this project that the song that I recorded doesn’t end up being the song that I thought it would be once it starts coming together. Usually I’ll run with it and make the most of it because I kind of have to due of the time constraint, and it usually works out all right. This week’s song was just too long, and it had a really awkward change in the end part. With a little creative splicing and editing in Reaper, I was able to drop a verse and completely make over the end of the song.  I love how easy it is to seamlessly rearrange and augment a recording of live instruments. I’d love to be able to get every song just right every week, but it’s nice to have a back-up plan because I really don’t have the time to start over.

This is also one of those songs where I would really love to go back and re-record everything in higher fidelity. Not to knock the great sounds that I’ve been able to get out of my iPhone, but some songs lend themselves better to phone-fi than others.

With all of that said, this version of the song was recorded completely on the iPhone using the Alesis ProTrack with the MultiTrack DAW app. The drums were recorded with just the built in condenser mics on the ProTrack, and the guitar was recorded with the CAD E200. The vocals, which I’m dying to re-record, were done with the iPhone’s built-in mic. I spent a good bit of time applying EQ, mixing, and editing in Reaper.

Recording challenges aside, the song itself is solidly in the vein of bands like The New Year and Seam. I hope it doesn’t go as far as being derivative, but rather serves as a bit of homage, since these are a couple of my favorite bands. Seam hasn’t been around for years, but The New Year (formerly known as Bedhead with a different line-up) is still cranking out great records. Do yourself a favor and check them out.


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Sunday, June 27th, 2010 Uncategorized No Comments

Week 41, Garbage Out

To listen on an iPhone, visit my Bandcamp site, or download the SoundCloud iPhone app.

Happy Father’s Day weekend everyone. Here’s to my pops, and here’s how I’m celebrating: I’m getting this post done early so that I don’t have to worry about it this weekend. I hope you’ll understand if I keep it to the basics.

To make things easy, this song was recorded identically to last week’s song – I wrote them together and recorded the drums together. For more detail on the recording process please reference the post for “Nothing Left”. Basically, “Garbage Out” was recorded on the iPhone using the Alesis ProTrack into the MultiTrack DAW app, and mixed using Reaper.

Eleven songs to go. This was a fun one; I hope you enjoy it.


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Friday, June 18th, 2010 Uncategorized No Comments

Week 40, Nothing Left

To listen on an iPhone, visit my Bandcamp site, or download the SoundCloud iPhone app.

Welcome to the home stretch. There are only twelve songs left.

This week’s song was again almost entirely recorded with the Alesis ProTrack, with the only exception being the vocals. I started out recording the vocals for this song with the Blue Mikey, but in the end I didn’t love how they sounded and went back and re-tracked them with the iPhone’s built-in mic. For whatever reason, I’ve found that the iPhone’s mic is usually just what I’m looking for. I EQ a little and drop in a bit of reverb and an occasional delay, and that’s what you hear on most of these songs.

The drums were recorded using the same idea as last week, but instead of using the built-in XY pattern mics on the ProTrack, I used a pair of condenser mics in the XY pattern out in front of the drum kit. I ran them into the preamps of the ProTrack and got decent results. I’ll keep playing around with it. For this song I kept two drum takes in, with one close to the center and one panned all the way to the right.

The acoustic guitar track was recorded with with the ProTrack’s built-in mics, and the rest of the guitars and bass were all performed through the Orange Crush 30r and recorded with my CAD E-200 condenser mic. Everything was recorded on my iPhone using the MultiTrack DAW app. The new version of MultiTrack is absolutely fantastic and poised to get even better. It’s really taken the leap to functioning like a true digital audio workstation while remaining intuitive and uncluttered. There isn’t another app out there that comes anywhere close to taking music making as seriously as this one does. It sounds like individual track EQ and effects are coming up next. I still have to pinch myself when I think that all of this is available for less than $20.

That’s about it for this week. Thanks as always for dropping by.


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Sunday, June 13th, 2010 Uncategorized No Comments

Week 39, Alas

To listen on an iPhone, visit my Bandcamp site, or download the SoundCloud iPhone app.

This song marks the three-quarter point of Project 52, and it feels good. I can see the end.

This is also my first song using the Alesis ProTrack to record the drums as a single stereo track. It was the first try – basically placing it on a chair about five feet from the front of the drum kit and going with it. I think the drums came out sounding pretty good, all things considered. It exceeded my expectations, and I’ll be testing other ways of using the field recording mics as well as the dual mic inputs in the coming weeks. This is really the first time since week nine that I’ve recorded a full-0n rock song using the phone for everything.

The guitars and bass were recorded using my CAD E-200 to mic the Orange Crush 30r via a Presonus BlueTube preamp into the ProTrack. It was nice to change up the guitar recording just a little. I think they came out sounding pretty strong on this song. The vocals were recorded using the good old iPhone mic. Everything was recorded into the iPhone using the fabulous MultiTrack DAW app, which is now officially more fabulous as of yesterday, when the new version hit the streets (or app store as it were). I didn’t get a chance to upgrade yet, but check out the Harmonicdog Forums for info about the new version.

That’s about all that I have for now. It was a good week here in Pittsburgh. I hope you had a good week wherever you are as well. Oh, and if you are here in Pittsburgh or if you fancy a road trip, the Karl Hendricks Trio (in which I play bass) is playing a show on Friday night, June 11, at the 31st Street Pub. It’s the “The” bands showcase featuring The Karl Hendricks Trio, The Kyle Sowashes, Thee Shopkeepers, and The Sexy Accident.


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Sunday, June 6th, 2010 Uncategorized 1 Comment

Week 38, Rooftop Lives

To listen on an iPhone, visit my Bandcamp site, or download the SoundCloud iPhone app.

The 38th song is a change-up. I hope you enjoy it. I’m writing from the wooded serenity of my in-laws’ house outside of Philadelphia. It’s Memorial Day weekend and that means an annual family trip down the PA Turnpike to my wife’s childhood home. The last time that I was here was week 13, for those of you keeping track. Unlike the 13th song, “These Days,” this song wasn’t recorded here and doesn’t feature my wife’s childhood Fisher Price xylophone or my father in-law’s amp. But it was mixed here; plus I mixed in a last minute but valuable addition to the song while I was out here.

The day before our trip, after getting off the bus, I was fooling around with my iPhone and listening to this song’s mix while I was walking down my street. For no good reason, I turned on the record-monitor button, which let me listen through the iPhone’s mic as I was walking. I was intrigued with how the everyday sounds of my street – birds, cars, people – mixed into the song, and I was just about a minute into recording some of it when the skies opened up and one of those summertime downpours came screaming out of nowhere. It was all that I could do to get my phone in my pocket before it got soaked (the outside of my pockets didn’t fair as well, along with the rest of me). I was frustrated by not getting a full track of street-sounds, but I pulled together a final mix for the song the night before the trip and resigned myself to shelve that little bit of ambiance for a future track. But as I fell asleep that night I came up with a plan for the morning: I made sure that I got myself all ready to go and set out to pack the car, my paternal duty, like a madman. This  left just enough time for me to set up with the Alesis ProTrack and use the built-in field recording mics to track a few minutes of birds and cars and other street noises in stereo from my front porch. I remixed the track with a little more care, and now I’m feeling pretty good about how it turned out.

I’ve had the bass and guitar parts for this song finished for a couple of weeks, which was before my ProTrack arrived in the mail, so the guitars and bass were recorded onto the iPhone using the old break-out cable. This song was actually written on the bass and the guitar was added afterwords. This is the second song that I’ve ever written on bass. The first one was “Undefined”, from week 29. I think they both have a distinctly different flavor from the guitar-first songs. The drums on this one were recorded in the same fashion as the last number of songs, but I plan on auditioning the ProTrack next week. I’m going to spare you the redundant details of the drum recording as I’m trying not to take too much time-off from the family. As always, my faithful tools are the iPhone, the MultiTrack recording app, and Reaper, with honorable mention to my laptop for letting me take the show on the road.

Have a great holiday everyone, and I’ll see you next week for the completion of the third quarter of songs. In the mean time, enjoy three new additions to the free downloads page.


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Sunday, May 30th, 2010 Uncategorized 2 Comments

Week 37, Salty Stages

To listen on an iPhone, visit my Bandcamp site, or download the SoundCloud iPhone app.

This week’s song is another in a line of pretty rocked-out tracks. I have to admit that I wasn’t feeling great about it at first. I wrote it half expecting to ditch it, but there were aspects of this simplistic song that I kinda was digging so I stuck with it. I know that I’ve probably written this for a number of songs by now, but once everything came together I really found myself liking this song, though I’m having a hard time characterizing it. I can’t seem to put my finger on what or who it sounds like. There’s definitely some Guided by Voices influence in there somewhere… if you’ve been following along you know that there’s a little of that in just about every song, but there’s also maybe a little Nirvana in the chorus, what with the harmonies and all. Yeah, I don’t really know.

As for the recording, it sits on the precipice of a new turn in my recording process, as it’s the first using a new tool that I’ve added to my arsenal. I’d been flirting with the idea of buying an Alesis ProTrack for about as long as I’ve been doing this project, but having read mixed reviews about its performance with the iPhone and generally being pretty happy with my process and wanting to avoid introducing any more distractions, I put off the inevitable purchase. The ProTrack, like the Blue Mikey, is a product that was developed for recording to an iPod, but works in some capacity with the iPhone. It’s basically a dock for the iPod/iPhone that has decent field-recording microphones built in as well as two XLR microphone inputs, with gain control for each (it even can provide phantom power to condenser mics). There are two features that I’ve been dying to have for a while – being able to record drums ad having better iPhone input options – and until my ProTrack arrived from Amazon, I wasn’t very sure that either would work well.

My first test was at a Karl Hendricks Trio practice. As anyone who’s seen the Trio live can attest to, we’re a pretty loud band, and I wanted to see if the ProTrack could handle being dropped into the middle of practice and pick up a stereo image of our space without clipping and distorting due to the high volume. On the first go, with little thought given to location, the ProTrack performed beautifully. It was no more than six feet away from any of the amps or drums, and it didn’t clip and actually sounded very accurate to what our practice sounds like. In my opinion, the ability to handle this kind of volume is what sets the ProTrack well above the Blue Mikey. I can’t say whether they improved the ability to record in high-volume situations for Mikey 2.0, but I can tell you for certain that version 1 is unusable for recording any sort of amplified live rock music onto an iPhone, with perhaps the exception of a relatively quiet band at an outdoor venue where the sound disperses more. As it relates to Project 52, I’ve always wanted a way to record drums quickly right onto the phone in similar fashion to how I’ve been recording guitars and vocals. Don’t get me wrong, I love the challenge of miking, recording, and mixing drums with a multi-mic setup, but that’s really been counter to one of my goals for this project – to let go and not fuss too much over performance, setup, mixing, etc. It’s really the only way that I’ve been able to make the deadline every week, and it’s been really freeing to have that regimen and not obsess too much about every last detail. The ProTrack may end up being the missing link for me to record drums right onto the phone. We’ll see. I haven’t had a chance to test out levels and placement to see if I can get anything that sounds good enough to use, but I’m optimistic.

The drums on this song and next week’s song were recorded before I got the ProTrack, so they’re still with the same five-mic setup of the last several weeks (reference week 29 for more info.) One fun little trick that I played with the drums is with the end part of the song – I kept a few different takes and decided to do something a little more interesting. As the song breaks down into the last section, I faded out of the main drum take while fading in two takes panned hard left and right. I staggered the fades so they come in and out at different times. I wanted to go back and mess with it a little, but it mostly came out how I wanted it to.

The guitars and vocals for this track were recorded using the ProTrack. I want to experiment more with using the ProTrack for vocals, though I’ve been pretty happy with using just the built in iPhone mic most of the time, and you can’t get much simpler than that. At first glance the mics sound pretty good and having the ability to run a condenser mic and/or a preamp into it gives me so much more flexibility. For the guitars, it was pretty much the same mic (Audio Technica ATM29HE), guitar (Fender Telecaster Thinline), and amp (Orange Crush 30r), but using the ProTrack instead of the mic adapter that I’d had made in week 2. The adapter has served me well for 35 weeks, but it came with some limitations (the metronome would bleed into the recording track from the headphone signal for instance.) I’ll be retiring the adapter for the time being. Thanks little buddy.

Meet the Widget cover art

Meet the Widget

There’s one more item for this week: Fresh off of releasing Project 52, Volume 2 on my Bandcamp site (which you should definitely go listen to and download if you feel so inclined), I decided to finally go ahead and put out another digital release. Meet the Widget is an album that was recorded in 2005 and features the original band lineup of Developer. That’s me on guitars and vocals, Karl Hendricks on bass, and Jake Leger on the drums. It’s the same lineup as the Karl Hendricks Trio, just with Karl and me switching roles. I feel pretty good about this recording and the sound of the band at the time. We played a good number of shows at the time and recorded this with the same setup and pretty much at the same time as we recorded the Karl Hendricks Rock Band’s The World Says. After sitting on this for so many years, I decided to finally just go ahead and put it out now that there’s such a great site like Band Camp to facilitate the release. It took a little digging and file searching to conjure up the masters, song order, and the original cover art, but I managed to put it all together and get it out there. I hope you like it.

Have a great week everyone. I’ll see you soon.

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Sunday, May 23rd, 2010 Uncategorized No Comments

Week 36, The Witching Years

To listen on an iPhone, visit my Bandcamp site, or download the SoundCloud iPhone app.

Project 52, Volume 2

Project 52, Volume 2

Hello again friends. I’m happy to announce the release of Project 52, Volume 2 after many weeks of trying to carve out the necessary bits of extra time to re-master the tracks. It’s been a nice little trip back through the second quarter of the project. My personal favorites include “Dig In,” “The Creature” (think toy orchestra), and “On Ice.” You can preview all 13 songs and download the album on my Bandcamp site. The download comes with the cover art and is available in mp3, FLAC, AAC, and other standard high-quality formats. As a special promotion to celebrate this release , I’ll include a free download of Project 52, Volume 1 with the purchase of the second volume.

In keeping with the last couple of weeks, I’m going to keep the details of how I recorded “The Witching Years” to a minimum. The guitar is in the same fashion as week 31, and I’m still using the five-mic drum setup from week 29. As has become standard practice, the majority of the tracks were recorded on my iPhone using the MultiTrack app.

I’ve mentioned some bands and influences occasionally throughout the project, and to my mind the connection is usually pretty obvious. To me, this song is a great example of the influence that one of my favorite 90s bands, The Spinanes, had on my development as a guitar-player and songwriter. The Spinanes’ front-woman Rebecca Gates had a brilliant knack for writing great pop-rock songs with a simple but unconventional and interesting guitar style that really struck me. Her guitar parts were often driven by the would-be bass-note, but then she’d swing in nice melodic and sometimes unexpected accents within the chords.

This style is most exemplified on the album Manos, where it’s really perfect for their two-piece lineup. I picked up Manos at a time when I was re-evaluating my guitar playing and songwriting. I was bored with bar and standard-style chords, but I really loved the simplicity and clarity of the three-piece with a single guitar part. When I heard the Spinanes, I found just what I was looking for. This was also at a time that if you didn’t live in an area with a good college radio station (and even that was a crap-shoot), or unless you knew someone to introduce you to lesser-known bands and music, you were really on your own. I was lucky to have happened upon the Spinanes – I’m pretty sure that it was while watching MTV’s “120 Minutes.” After watching the video for “Noel, Jonah, and Me,” it was enough for me to run to the local record store and pick up Manos. I distinctly remember going through the album and figuring out the guitar parts. That style stuck with me, though it only comes through really clearly on occasion.

Rebecca Gates is still out there making music. Stop on by and give her a listen. She’s still one of my favorites.

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Sunday, May 16th, 2010 Uncategorized 1 Comment

Week 35, Chateau

To listen on an iPhone, visit my Bandcamp site, or download the SoundCloud iPhone app.

Sunday is Mother’s Day, and the best gift that I could give my wife, queen-mother of our little tribe (me, the boy, the pug, and two giant cats), at this point would be to refrain completely from any music-related activity for the entire weekend.  So, to that end, I will keep this post to a bare minimum.

“Chateau” is a rock song written, performed, and recorded in similar fashion to several other recent songs. Reference week 31 for more on the guitar sound, and week 29 for details of the drum recording. All sounds were recorded on the iPhone except for the drums.

I really had fun putting this song together. I’d written it a few weeks ago with just the first two parts, and was feeling kinda “eh” about it later. After a little struggle I put together the current bridge and last couple of parts, and then once I added drums, bass, and vocals, I found myself liking the song incrementally more and more.

Thanks as always for listening and commenting. I’ll be back with more soon enough.

Happy Mother’s Day, Jenn. You rock my world. Happy Mother’s day to my dear mother as well, and to all of the other mothers out there whose care and affection are truly unrivaled.

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Friday, May 7th, 2010 Uncategorized 1 Comment

Week 34, Bitter Pill

To listen on an iPhone, visit my Bandcamp site, or download the SoundCloud iPhone app.

This song is the last of the four that I’d written ahead of time four weeks ago, and it marks the first time that I’ve been able to pull off two songs in one week, a skill which I suspect I’ll need again before this is all over. I’ve been desperate for a while now to give myself some breathing room. With spring getting springier, and summer approaching, my ability to function normally with minimal disruptions to my plans for family fun and travel is going to be really tested.

As the fourth in a series of similar recordings, I’m going to avoid being redundant in writing the same details about which microphones and setup were used. Reference week 31 for more on the guitar sound, and week 29 for details of the drum recording. I’d be remiss to not mention the MultiTrack iPhone app, with which I’ve recorded all of the guitars and vocals, and I continue to use Reaper for drum recording and mixing the songs.

If I haven’t mentioned it lately, thanks again to everyone for following along, sending me feedback and encouragement, writing about my project, and generally taking interest in this little challenge of mine.

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Monday, April 26th, 2010 Uncategorized No Comments

Week 33, Lullaby

To listen on an iPhone, visit my Bandcamp site, or download the SoundCloud iPhone app. 

This song is the first of the two-song week. The song is called “Lullaby,” and that’s exactly what it is, a little ditty for my little guy.

The guitar sound on this track consists of my Fender Telecaster Thinline using just the neck pickup (getting a little bit of that semi-hollow body sound) through the Orange Crush 30r with some light distortion. I was able to get in some good work with the Blue Mikey for this track, using it for vocals, melodica, and percussion. What you’re hearing for percussion on this track is, fittingly, my son’s little drum kit. It’s pretty nicely made for a child’s drum set, with tunable heads and a miniature high hat. There’s also a tambourine cameo from my wife’s childhood Fraggle Rock tambourine. It’s a particular favorite around our house. This song was recorded entirely using my iPhone along with the MultiTrack app.

Good night everyone.

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Sunday, April 25th, 2010 Uncategorized No Comments


<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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