Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Song 16 in Db major

Song 16 in Db major (mp3 file)

Two steel string guitars.

Okay, I made it! The power supply on my main computer died today, so I had to go out and get a new one in the time I had set aside to record. Now, I've got an old computer in another room, which I use for practicing sometimes. I can record on that one as well, but there IS a difference between my digi001 soundcard and a regular old soundblaster... There's also the issue of moving and setting up the microphone, plus the old box is REALLY noisy. So that means if I'm going to record, it's more practical to use some sort of direct input.

Now, I had a little time before I could go get a new power supply, so I decided to jot down some ideas very quickly on the old box, using the built-in piezo mic... I have tried to avoid using it for serious recording. As it turned out, I had to use that recording for this project. That means that what you're hearing is a built-in piezo mic recorded through a soundblaster card. And in that respect, it doesn't sound too bad!

I originally planned to do something jazzy for Db major, but the idea I had in mind wasn't working, so I decided to cheat a little bit. I put on a capo on the 6th fret and starting fooling around with G, C and D chord shapes, which transposes to Db, Gb and Ab in concert pitch. In addition to not having to think so much about awkward fingerings, the use of a capo in this way also has a sonic impact. Regular chord shapes take on a new sound, often resulting in a crisp and sparkling sound, which is ideal for strumming. (A little bit mandolin-like, actually.) One of my favorite uses of this technique is "Here comes the sun" by the Beatles. It also works great if there are two guitar players, with one playing regular fingerings, and the other with a capo.

For the melody, I decided it should be played in the lower register, and to get that crisp sound that I like best for this type of music, I decided to play the melody with the capo at the first fret, giving me access to well known C major scale fingerings, with the notes on the first fret becoming "open" strings. I think I recycled some melody ideas from one of my older tunes, it's hard to know when you're trying to do something new every day!

I needed to edit the recording quite a lot, and since it wasn't recorded to a click, I feared it might be difficult to patch things together. As it turned out, it was pretty straight forward. The main problem was that I tried doing an improvised solo that wasn't working, so I took one bit from that which I sort of liked, and then I edited in some bits from the melody line, so it ends up being more of a variation than a separate part.

In the end, I think it turned out OK, at least I managed to rustle up a slightly different sound, although it isn't all that original in terms of melody.

Now, we'll have to see what tomorrow brings...

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