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July 22, 2008

Summer Strum

I realised last night that I haven't actually posted any music here lately, so I figured, well, I might as well upload a sample of the work-in-progress song I've been screwing around with over the past few days, originally entitled "Five Minutes Of Summertime" but now the working title is simply "Summer Strum" as I want to leave myself open to all possibilities.

It's a long way from a polished demo or even a complete song, so don't expect too much! I basically just sat down with the acoustic before bedtime and strummed the chords randomly for a few minutes, paying no need to verse/chorus/bridge structure. Next I got down to the task of adding some drums on top.

I'm terrible at programming rhythm tracks, so that's actually what takes me the time on demos. In total, including set-up, the guitar parts took around 10 minutes to get down. All I needed to do was plug in the mic, hit record and after a couple of false starts they were in the can. The drums took forever, though!

At about midnight I figured I might as well draw a line under the drum track and have a go at getting the flavour of the melody down. I recorded my first pass through then blanked out anything that went horribly wrong. That first recording is what you hear on the tape, complete (or incomplete) with gaps and accidental noodles, where I forget that I was supposed to be writing something that can actually be sung!

Here it is... "Summer Strum (Work In Progress)"









Non-project news? A while back I heard that one of my favourite musicians, Derek Trucks, had started work on a home studio with the aim of recording his band's next CD there. The Derek Trucks Band is a group that I don't talk about much here, mainly because I tend to gush about them. I absolutely love them and take every opportunity to see them play live, which is really their 'thing'. Previous albums have been good, but live they're absolutely great. Check them out on the Live Music Archive if you don't believe me. I have to be careful about listening to the dTb as once I start I often listen to them compulsively, ignoring every other band.

Any road up, I'd not heard any news about them for a while so I thought I'd do some googling and I came up with a recent report that got my pulse racing. Cherry picking snippets from various sources, it seems that not only is Derek's new home studio complete, but it's a 2,300-square-foot affair, designed by the man who built Electric Lady Studios. Sounds like a no-expense spared effort, with Derek even purchasing the 1970's soundboard that was used in the Kinks’ studio in London.

What really got my attention, though, was a quote from Derek which suggested that the new dTb album is in the can and that they spent months working on it as opposed to the usual 7-10 days in a rented studio. What does that mean? I'm hoping it means that the band have been writing some new material. My guess is that even if the record has been finalised it probably won't be released until late 2008 or early 2009, though. D'Oh! I already know what I want for Christmas!

Update: I just checked out the Live Music Archive and it looks like the latest dTB recordings all feature new songs, or at least ones that I've not seen them perform live before. I'll have to get myself, my broadband connection and my iPod down there quick smart to see what's shakin'. I'll bet they're honing some new cuts on the road...

8 comments:

Frank said...

Hey Kenski,

That sounds really good. Like you said, it is a little rough but it is getting there.

I look forward to the finished product.

Can i ask you what you used to produce that? How did you do the percussion and the mixing of the tracks?

Regards,
Frank

Kenski said...

I'm pretty low tech (or at least low cost) when it comes to recording stuff. For this I used an old Sony condenser mic I bought years ago and which sat in a box for most of those years. I then record and mix using a shareware utility called Goldwave (by 'mix' I mean just blending 2 tracks at different volumes, really).

The drum track is created using Leafdrums (shareware) with a free sampled drumkit I found floating around on the 'net. Leafdrums is really easy to use, but I'm terrible at all things 'percussion' so it takes me forever. I really did things the wrong way round by recording rhythm then adding a basic drum on top. The patterns had to be different for the verse and chorus chord sequences (which threw me to begin with), so I basically set up one beat, looped it and mixed the rhythm on top, then noted where it didn't work anymore, switched beat and repeated the process.

One thing that I read on the 'net which helps me somewhat is that rather than just going back to the first pattern if you switch back to a verse etc, if you add a beat into the pattern or maybe accent differently then it adds interest and momentum to the song. Seems to work.

When I do 'the real thing' I need to a) figure out mixing levels better, b) either record in the bathroom (better acoustics) or record through my amp then line out (no need for mic). We'll see... work in progress!

Axe Victim said...

I’ve no time for playing games
Just to see you there
Always thinking things are the same
But I know you’ll always be right here

No matter what the future brings
Or what we say or what we do
If we believe we’ll always stay true
Through times of wonder or despair

You’ll always be there for me
In the morning I can see you
Touch your face I know
No matter what when the morning comes
You’ll be there

Kenski said...

Cool beans, Mr A!

I have no idea how you do that so quickly. I guess it either comes or it doesn't.

I can't quite get the meter of the lyrics 100%, but that's probably just my head being stuck in a rut. Need to shake it loose.

Particularly like the idea of:

"No matter what the future brings
Or what we say or what we do"

...and the possibility of fading from vocals to guitar on 'here', 'there' etc.

I may just steal some (or all) of that! You don't mind, do you?

Definitely cool beans. Magic Ship's Captain's at the helm.

Axe Victim said...

Sure thing Ken, you can have it all if you want to use it. I just started playing about with whatever words popped into my head while I was listening to your excellent little melody. I guess I played it through three times before I hooked onto it. Maybe you can use it as a springboard to develop your own lyrical idea.

Axe Victim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aunt Jackie said...

I like it, it's quite bluesy. I feel the "Summer feeling" too.

Good start.

What type of guitar do you play?

My husband has a PRS, a Stratocaster (he's really partial to), and he has a 1974 SG.

Kenski said...

I've got an Ovation 1861 Balladeer (USA made) which is what I use for the strummy stuff. On the electric side I have my beloved Gibson LP Standard and a LP clone which wouldn't be up to much except that I put in Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates pups and it tends to scream even at low volumes!

I tend to work most stuff out on acoustic then transfer to electric as it's easier going that way!