Saturday, February 21, 2009

New song: Funkoverture


I hope you like this one. I recorded most of it months ago but procrastinated on programming and recording the final drums until today. It's got layers of guitars over a mid-tempo funk beat. I recorded the clean rhythm and recurring melody with my parts stratocaster, the lead in the left channel with my Heritage Les Paul, and the lead in the right channel with my KXK 7-string. This was a tougher one to mix down, since there is a lot going on in the same frequency range. I used some funny EQ on the melody part to better distinguish it from the lead parts going over it.

I normally hate the process of programming drums, but this is the first time it didn't seem like pulling teeth. The complicated sequencer in my Yamaha Motif ES-6 keyboard gets easier to deal with as you use it more. I'm starting to think that more of this type of drum programming lies ahead, along with the live drumpad performances that go with my free jazz improvisations.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What the hell was that?

Do you like how I just dropped off those little audio and visual nuggets on you last night without explanation?

Perhaps I should do a little explaining now. Actually, it's pretty simple. It's guitar. And drums!

I took the concept of the drum/guitar duet from John Coltrane's album Interstellar Space, which was a collection of duets he recorded with drummer Rashied Ali on a single day in February, 1967. I like the idea of having endless freedom on guitar to go wherever my mood takes me. The difficult lies in making the part something more than a bunch of random noodling. Recording this kind of duet requires a lot of thinking on the fly if you want the results to be musical.

The two versions of "Decaffeinated" are simply two different guitar takes that I overdubbed over the same clangorous drum part. The first version I recorded without any prep or forethought. It has a certain inspiration to it and is perhaps the smoother take. The second version introduces a basic melodic theme that recurs at various points, giving it more of a finished feel. The playing is hotter in the second version, also. If I was still doing albums, that would be the version I'd use. But since I'm not limited by the album format, I figured I should throw both versions out there for your amusement.

I call it "Decaffeinated" to celebrate the fact that this is the week I quit caffeine cold turkey. The reasons for doing that aren't germane here, but it did inspire both the title and the artwork--which is just a photo of a coffee cup taken on my dining room table, and then heavily tweezed in Adobe Illustrator. Lots 'o fun!

As a final note, I was just too damned tired this evening to record another duet, but hopefully I will do so tomorrow, and then work on a more developed piece this weekend.



"Decaffeinated I":

"Decaffeinated II":

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Getting ready for the aches and pains

I'm getting ready to do some actual recording tomorrow. I'm starting to feel mentally ready to tackle the challenges of a guitar/drum duet format. The main challenge is to make the guitar solo compelling enough to stand by itself with only drums clattering away in the background. What it really requires is absolute commitment and full attention. Playing a bunch of stock licks won't cut it. I think I'm ready.

I'm also finally starting to feel physically better again. I overplayed this weekend and gave myself a hell of a backache, as well as sore wrists and hands. Playing the way I do is taxing on a 41-year-old body. Add in the fact that I quit caffeine cold turkey yesterday (after several weeks of steadily decreasing my daily "dose"), and I was just a bloody mess yesterday. With the aches and pains, I didn't sleep well last night, so I was too tired to be musically productive tonight, other than an hour or so of getting into 'the zone' with the Les Paul. A nice confidence builder for tomorrow.

I'm going to be recording the Les Paul with a particularly nasty distorted setting on my Axe-FX preamp. Think Zappa at his best/worst. Of course, you the reader have almost no idea what my various guitars look like. To remedy that, I'm planning to start a Guitar of the Day series here with some pics of my babies. Some of which I may be giving up for adoption soon.

Monday, February 16, 2009

new guitar

This weekend I got a Charvel San Dimas II off of eBay. Maple neck, rosewood fretboard, and koa body, with a Wilkinson trem. I've been wanting a shredder with a non-locking trem for awhile, even though I've been playing my Soloist w/Floyd a bit lately. This Charvel has all the features I've been looking for. I'm not sure how long I will keep it--it's a cool guitar but I'm not sure the sound is right for me. Koa is a very "snappy" sounding wood that gives a heavy attack, and I'm more about the legato. I've been playing my Heritage Les Paul and semi-hollow a lot recently, and that seems to be the general direction I'm moving in. It may be that a big purge of guitars is in the offing, and this after I've already sold three in recent weeks. I'm starting to move away from the superstrat as my main type of guitar, and I simply do not need so many of that type.

I've been playing quite a bit recently and getting my chops hopefully into the best shape they've ever been. Right now, I'm toying with the idea of recording a bunch of guitar/drum duet pieces, inspired by John Coltrane's album "Interstellar Space." I just need to get the ball rolling on something. You may have noticed by now that procrastination is a problem for me. ;)

Friday, February 6, 2009

A day off, a day on

I'm taking the day off from work today, hopefully to get some music accomplished. I've got to get the drum stuff on "'Funkoverture" done--if for no other reason than to kick start the sort of "Interstellar Space" type weirdness that's building inside of me. Music for just guitar and drums.