hello again and welcome everyone to another rambling “update” of sorts.
i just wanted to let you all know, that I have been working on a follow-up piece to my last prog epic, “the complete unknown“, a new piece of prog that currently bears the working title of “new prog song”, and I think you can see why it’s a “working” title!
it’s currently running about six or seven minutes in sketch form, with the first three minutes already consolidated into a lovely working/early mix, so, three minutes done or mostly done, and an unknown number more minutes to go…
I decided to work in a different way this time around, last time, for “the complete unknown“, I worked the song in the traditional manner:
so saving the best for last! Imagine, I worked for months on the drums, bass and keyboards, and finally, got to the best and most fun part, adding lead guitars and other bits of guitar and ebow guitars, too.
but the problem with that approach, means that you are locked in to what notes and chords, the bass, the keys, the organs and mellotrons have played. In some ways, that maybe reduces your options for lead guitar playing. I’m not saying that was a bad approach, because in that case, it produced a pretty cool 17 minutes of modern day progressive rock, in the form of “the complete unknown”.
this time, I am committed to doing things differently. previously, the bass often dictated what the guitars must do. so this time, I have changed up the order of recording instruments:
melody or placeholder clean lead guitar melodies
bass guitar (only once guitars are finalised)
keyboards (only once guitars and basses are finalised)
more lead guitars / ebow guitars (if necessary)
so with this method, the chords and notes that guitars play, dictate the form of the song, and basses are added once most drums/guitars are in place. in practice, this has actually meant I can, and have been, moving whole slabs of drums about within the song, rearranging the basic form…as long as it’s just drums and guitar, I can mess about with the placement of those without harm.
doubtless, at some point, I will work in the traditional way again, drums, bass, keys, guitars, but this new method is actually working just as well or better so far. and, where I can, where I feel 1000% happy with the drums/guitars, I can add my beloved Rickenbacker bass samples in, and I’m finding that works better than doing the bass first. And in my nearly completed first three minutes, a beautiful, high pitched, climbing kind of Chris Squire or Todd Rundgren-like melodic bass line appeared, and with a bit of editing, is going to turn out remarkably well.
I wanted the guitars to lead everything, and in this case, I had a couple of nice guitar parts recorded, using a fabulous patch that I cooked up across my two H9s, and that in turn, inspired me to play the beautiful bass part – so that’s proof positive: the new method is working.
a lot of the time for me, its cool guitar parts, that can inspire other instrumental parts, and it’s been a long time since I’ve had guitar at the centre of the composing process. and while for “the complete unknown” I was still able to bring out strong melodic, lead and ebow guitars, based on previously recorded bass and keyboard parts,this time, it’s the other way around, and I will possibly go so far as to record some sections of guitar drumless, even, and then drop drums behind them. Maybe. But the way it’s working right now, is absolutely cool with me. The first three minutes sound pretty good already, my rough mix confirms that, but I am excited about the new possibilities that working in this new, guitar-centric way, will bring – to my future working methods for one, but more specifically, what it can bring to the success of this “new prog song” with the terrible working title :-).
the other nice thing is spending time setting up high quality guitar tones with the H9s and the Eventide stomps, too, and getting a carefully crafted guitar tone recorded in situ, meaning no need to add much in the way of effects or treatments, do re-amping, etc., if anything, during arrangement and mixing – your best tone is already recorded and already in place – done and done. brilliant!!
having your guitar sounding awesome, really makes playing your guitar parts a lot more enjoyable, and also helps on the inspiration side. it was really a combination of the tone I’d dialled in for my rhythm guitar sound, as well as the opening sequences / chord progressions, that later in the same session, inspired me to play that awesome melodic bass line. so guitars are causing a lot of good in this session, which tells me, that very possibly, more generally when I am recording, I should let guitars dictate what happens to a song’s form, more so than bass lines or keyboards chords and notes.
a new tradition has been born, I think. I will certainly use this technique again, now that I’m doing it this way now for this new track – why not?
meanwhile, outwith the studio environment, I’ve continued to work on portable devices, I recently moved my mobile base of operations from my tablet to my tablet-like phone, and I’ve just recently completed four pieces of music using the “Nanostudio” application, and I am working on another piece, working title “sleep” or more probably “in my sleep” – which is a dark background of drums and bass, with a terrifying virtual “vocal” made up of truly alien, frightening me synth “phrases” which take the place of a traditional “vocal” – making a truly unique and compelling piece of music, I would venture to say that this track may be the most intense that I’ve ever produced using Nanostudio…and I’ve been working with Nanostudio for a few years now.
this song is to me, the sound of terrifying aliens brainwashing you, in their native tongue, as you lay sleeping, unaware of their intrusion. something I am quite sure, I don’t actually want to happen to me! at all. ever 🙂
so I can’t wait to download and then master, this new and most unusual Nanostudio piece, it surprised me when it first appeared, but it’s really grown on me, and I’m very much enjoying trying to perfect it…the “vocal” is still terrifying even though I am used to it from much listening…I can’t wait for you to hear this one.
a second Nanostudio piece, with the unlikely working title of “worm patrol” may also be complete, it contains just two elements, a drum track, and a single live take / four minute synth part that is just so awesome, that I might call it, and decide “it’s done now” although I’m not yet certain…it appeared so quickly, and in such complete form, that it took me by surprise, so, more listening is required.
I hope to have both “in my sleep” and “worm patrol” mastered and finalised, and then eventually added to the Nanostudio Eternal Album within the next few weeks.
i have also, with some reluctance, begun working on the video backlog. I started out, by correcting an error I made; I uploaded an application video, to the pureambientHD channel, which is supposed to be all guitar based music. of course, probably because it was in the wrong place, it immediately got the attention of the disquiet site, who wrote a really nice article about it. almost six hundred hits in a day or two later, the video is a big success…
l’m glad that the video ended up in the “wrong” place, because it then came to the attention of unlike noise, and the very complimentary things they said about the piece, “formation of the universe”, well, I’m always pleased when a piece of my music provokes a positive reaction – I’m really pleased about the attention the video is getting.
so what I’ve done, rather than remove it, and then put it up where it really belongs, over on the applicationHD channel, I just left it be, on the pureambientHD channel – where it now sits happily amongst over a hundred guitar videos. oh well, you can’t win them all…
I then put it up onto the applicationHD channel, where it should have gone all along, meaning it’s now on TWO channels, the wrong one (pureambientHD) and the right one (applicationHD), along with its successor video, which was the second of two videos featuring the remarkable “borderlands granular” application, entitled “swirling galaxies roaming aimlessly”…
…while back on pureambientHD, I forged ahead as if nothing had happened, and uploaded “revolution III” the next in a series of looping videos, so, order is restored, and we have new music in borderlands, in the form of two borderlands videos, as well as the many new Nanostudio pieces recently uploaded , plus a more traditional guitar performance with loops and ebow guitar looping and soloing in the form of “revolution III”…
the first part of 2016 has been difficult for me, illness laid me out for about eight weeks, so it’s only been more recently, that I can apply myself to getting a few of these projects done and get the results uploaded, whether it be to my bandcamp Eterbal Albums or to one of my many YouTube channels…I want to get the music out there.
i very pleased that despite thus long illness and slow recovery, that I did manage to upload no less than four new Nanostudio tracks, as well as three videos, and various other bits and pieces that got done during this difficult period. With the advent of SONAR Platinum and the upgrade to the H9 system, recording guitar is now easier than ever before, so it’s my hope that both my creativity and my pace of work, will return to a state where there are more outputs, more often – we shall see how it goes.
I’d like to thank you for sticking with me, too, when my musical output dips, usually, when you don’t hear from me, it does mean I am working to bring new music to you, some of which can be and is created quickly, as the “borderlands” videos were, whilst others, such as a long-term project like “new prog song” we may not see the fruits of for many months still. “the complete unknown” ended up taking at least nine months to complete – sometimes, appreciable amounts of patience are necessary – and I get as frustrated as anyone if there is a drop in productivity. I appreciate your patience in waiting for new material, and I assure you, that somewhere, if not in the studio, then on a mobile device, if not on my mobile device…always,always in my brain…I am working on two or three new songs all at once, which will then consequently, appear in one form or the other at some point in the weeks and months following their completion.
all in good time, as they say – although it’s never quite been made clear, who “they” are lol 🙂
20160529 – a very quick update: a full day working on “new prog song”, and things have changed since I wrote the above (since yesterday, that is). the song is now 11:27; it now has two beautiful, solo ebow guitar sections, which utilise the new “SpaceTime” algorithm which is newly available in the Eventide H9 Harmonisers – and “SpaceTime” has some of the most beautiful sounds for guitar I have ever heard, and it’s very exciting indeed to be able to utilise in this song – hot off the press, as it were – I installed it this morning.
so ebows with beautiful “SpaceTime” sounds have been added, and then, a hopefully-early-Steve-Howe jazz guitar solo (something I’ve never attempted before in a recording) with just drums for accompaniment – I’ve learned the solo, but I have yet to play a convincingly “good enough” version of it. We shall see how that goes.
other bits of sitar have been added in certain places, as well as a pair of bluesy riff, one with a beautiful delay, the other, without, that fades in during the second of the two ambient, ethereal ebow sections.
so – it’s coming along nicely now, in other words 🙂