Tuesday, June 4, 2013

My Last Post

Well, not really the LAST post, but this will be the final post that will appear in my printed version of my blog. Post #70 too. The little OCD in me is glad it's a nice, even number. All of my materials are due tomorrow. This includes my print journal, my narrative, my research commentary, and my annotated bibliography. All of which are done, and ready to be handed in. This is definitely not the end of my project. I still have a song to record and mix, and many more things to research, write, record, and engineer. This project has been one heck of a roller coaster ride. From extreme, hair-pulling frustration, to winning a $25,000 scholarship, it's all been amazing. It has truly been a unique experience, and I have the WISE program to thank for this. To all who have been following and reading, thank you for joining me on this very dynamic adventure. It has been a pleasure sharing my thoughts, feelings, frustrations, and happy times with you all. To future WISE students, you will not regret taking this class, but be sure to do something you love, because you can only go as far as your heart will take you.

                                                                                                                 Thank you all!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Preparing for my Presentation

Sadly, no progress on the song today. I was hit with the fact that my presentation is a week from Wednesday. That's really close. I needed to take care of my research commentary today, so a lot of time was spent writing it and trying to polish it the best I can. All my materials are due a week before my presentation, which just so happens to be two days from now. I also have to get this blog printed as part of my materials submission, so I'm going to get that done as soon as I possibly can. I'm still going to be blogging after I submit the print version, so some posts won't appear in the print version, which is unfortunate. I also need to organize how I want my presentation to go. I want to make a power point showing everything I did, but I also wanna throw in some creative elements into it, utilizing the sound system provided to give clear examples of what I learned. Today, I took care of the research commentary, and wrote a plan of how I want my power point slides to go. It's still a very rough idea, but at least now I have a foundation. I really want to make this special, because I have so much to share. Victory lies in preparation, and I could use a little victory right now.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Work, Work, Work.

Made decent progress today. I recorded both rhythm tracks up to the fourth song in the medley. I really started to experiment with how I wanted each song in the medley to go. As I recorded, I listen to the original songs in the medley very closely, to get a sense of what's going on in the song. I attempted to record a guitar part similar to what is being played in the original song. Some songs have iconic instrumentals in the background, and I'm trying to replicate it the best I can. Some songs require I do a simple rhythm, but have leads added on top of the rhythm to give each respective song its own feel. There's still a huge hint of "me" in there, mostly because I'm using my guitar to express what the original songs express through other instruments. What I have sounds great, and I'm already hearing what could be done to make it sound even better. Mixing this song shouldn't take nearly as long as my first one, because this time around I know exactly what I'm looking at, and what problems need to be fixed. Can't wait to start mixing, but at the same time I can, because I'm already having fun recording.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Time Flies

Its June already? It seems like I started this project yesterday. I looked at the first Reaper project I finished today. Its a great example of what I should do with the song I'm working on now. I looked at all the tracks I had, and all the effects on each of them. I could see the many hours I poured into it. When I played through it, I noticed that the version played directly from Reaper sounds a lot better than the version on my Soundcloud. This could probably be the case because Soundcloud transcodes every audio file loaded on their site, changing how it sounds just a little bit. Another thing that could have altered the sound is the fact that I don't have good equipment to render the song as powerful as I can. Professional studios make very high quality recordings, and I can only do so much. I experienced this first hand when I rendered my first song as an mp3 file. No matter now I rendered it, the song always came out quieter than any of the music I have on my computer. It seems like professional studios on average have louder mixes. I don't understand how to achieve this, mostly because when I finished my first song, I set a limiter during the mastering phase that blocked the song from getting louder than .1db away from clipping. That's the loudest I can possibly get it, so I'm not quite sure why mine don't come out as loud as the pros. I haven't done much research in a while because of recording, but this could be something to look into. It's certainly something that could make my mixes better in general. Although there's a lot that can be done to make my songs better, the goal is to make a song people will enjoy, not to make the best mix. I named my first song "Perfection Doesn't Exist," after all. After all that, I did the second guitar part to accompany the first. As expected, there was a lot of trial and error to get it all down the way I want it. I still got some stuff tracked, however, and it sounds pretty decent together with the other guitar track panned to their respective sides. The thought of completely finishing this song by my presentation date is beginning to seem more and more unlikely. I'm still trying to get it done, so I hope to accomplish as much as I can.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Getting Good Tone

So today I planned on tracking the rhythm guitar, but first, I decided to listen through what I have so far. I have the drums, the tambourine, and the acoustic intro. On my first listen I realized I need to re-do the acoustic intro because it sounded off. I decided on this round of recording the acoustic guitar, that I'm going to change up one of the two tracks I have. Both tracks are identical, so I wanna freshen it up a little. After I did that, I went ahead and did the electric guitar. One important aspect of my songs is the tone of my guitar. There are different guitar tones for different genres of music. I wanted to give this song a 90's rock kinda tone, so I had to find a good amp simulation and cabinet impulse to do the job. After finding an amp, I can twist around many different knobs to alter the tone further. When I was selecting the cabinet impulses, I noticed that all the impulses made the guitar tone heavier. I don't wanna give the guitar too much distortion, so I used fewer impulses for the tone. Maybe ill try to find some softer impulses online, but for now I got the tone the way I want it.  I recorded up to the middle of the first song in the medley, and I'm only just starting to add in more things to individualize every song in the medley. I'm gonna have to listen to all the songs that are in my medley to find out what leads are being played during each song, and see if I can replicate it on guitar. Getting the right tone took longer than it usually does, but I still got a decent amount done today.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Back to Recording

Aahhhh that feeling is all too familiar. I love recording. It can be frustrating but I love it. Today, I started recording the acoustic guitar for the intro. My acoustic guitar has a preamp in it already, so it already sounds good just after plugging it in. I don't even need to run an amp simulator or a cabinet impulse simulator on the track. I decided to record the intro part twice on different tracks, and pan one a little left, and the other a little right. This way, the guitars will have a much thicker sound in the mix. I recorded the intro twice, and I already noticed a problem I have to address when I start mixing the song. During the intro, I sometimes strum, but mute the strings, creating a dead notes. Each time I strum without letting any notes ring out, I get a huge thump in my recordings. This must be the pickup within the guitar picking up my hand slamming on the guitar as I cut out the notes. The thump is very bass sounding, so I know that once I start mixing, I'm gonna have to do some serious EQing on the two acoustic guitar tracks and take out a lot of the lower frequencies. Acoustic guitar sounds the best at higher frequencies anyway, so cutting the bass should give it a more bright, airy sound. Also, I got a mouse! My whole project has been done on my laptop. Using the mouse pad on the laptop really slows down my progress because it's much more uncomfortable to use, and I can't move as fast as I do on a regular mouse. With this new addition, my clicking, dragging, and moving is a lot faster, and it should be a lot easier to navigate through menus and click in notes. It's funny how the little things can really make my life that much easier. So far so good, and the best is yet to come.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Drums are done. Jesus, that took a while. My clicking hand is sore from putting notes in all day. It's great to know that the tedious part of this song is over and done with, and now I have more fun things to take care of. For each song in the medley, there's a special drum beat, similar to what is played in the actual song, with a little touch of "me" in there. I threw in a few fills here and there, and spiced up what I thought was necessary to make it a little less boring. I found out today that the hi-hat in EZDrummer is a lot more versatile than I thought. I figured out how to have the hi-hat ring out in certain spots, and cut it off when I need to, instead of letting the sound bleed through while the rest of the beat is being played. Now it's really starting to sound human-like. So far, I have the beginning tambourine part, and the drums. To me, it sounds very empty, and sometimes it feels like what I have on the drums won't fit what I have to record. I believe this thought is just occurring because I don't know what everything together sounds like yet, and once I do it should sound better. Just the drums by itself sounds great in terms of the quality, but sounds empty without everything else. I can't wait to see how this song turns out. It should be very fun to record. I plan on keeping the same riff throughout all of the songs in the medley, but making each song in the medley a little different by adding in my own leads that make that particular song iconic, all over the main vocal line, of course. I'll be imitating the vocals as much as I can on guitar for each song in the medley. I want each song to have its own sense of identity, so that people can easily differentiate between each song that is being played. I hope to have at least this song done before I present on June 12th.