In Depth Post #6

With a little less than half of the In Depth project remaining, it’s time that I start working harder on getting some songs recorded. Over the past two weeks, I’ve finalized my ideas and I’ve begun to record my first song. So far, I have the melody and bass line recorded. I’ve found that it’s actually harder than I would have thought to get the recordings to a point where I am satisfied with the quality. Quite often, I’ll be slightly off tempo, or I’ll miss a note here and there. When this happens, you end up having to restart the whole recording, which can be a very time consuming process. Due to the fact that I was gone to Cuba for a week during spring break, and had a 3 day course immediately after, I’ve had to put in some effort to get these recordings made.

Once I did end up finding some time, I put together the small set up that I would be using to record. At Christmas, I had gotten a Blue Yeti microphone, which is one of the higher end microphones that plugs directly into a USB port; USB ports are convenient and easy to use, making this microphone the best choice for my purposes. I had the microphone set up facing the amp, about 2-3 feet away to ensure that it picked up enough sound, without being too loud and sounding grainy. The microphone was plugged into my computer, which I was using to record the sound tracks. I also had a pair of headphones playing back a metronome track to help me keep tempo without the sound leaking into the recording; a regular metronome could not be used, since the microphone would pick up the sound and ruin the recording. I recorded the melody using an electric guitar, and then recorded a bass line afterwards. The next step for me is putting it into a sound mixing program, and adding a drum track which I will have to create digitally.

Over the course of this projects, I’ve ran into a few concepts that may have become problems in the future. For example, getting a drum track recorded would be difficult, since I do not play or own a drum set. Working with my mentor, we found an alternative, which was to either create or find a drum track that fit the song digitally. This way, I wouldn’t have to struggle to acquire and learn a new instrument, and a digital track will always have perfect tempo, which makes it much more convenient. During the beginning of the project, there was also the issue that I was still relatively new to writing chord structures. The alternative that we decided on was to use an existing chord structure, and write a new melody on top of it.

John Graves Simcoe, a reflection

Years have gone by, yet it still feels as if those battles were just yesterday. I was not always an old man, dying on his bed without a thing to do. I was once a great officer of the British army, conquering land and evading death day in and day out. But those years are behind me now, now the only thing left for me to do is to reflect upon all of the days I have lost.

I wasn’t always a commanding officer, I started off as a lowly infantry unit. After attending the Oxford University I pursued the military career that my father, a ship’s captain commanding sixty guns, had wanted me to take up. In the 35th regiment of foot I took up arms to serve the Queen. I was not with that regiment for long, as I became the captain of the 40th Grenadier regiment in due time. Those years of battle served me many victories, but what I truly wanted was to aid the slaves overseas. I was going to form a loyalist group to help free them, but I was taken away from my pursuits when I was offered command of the Queen’s Rangers. With that trusty group, we were nearly able to kill future president George Washington, but alas, I gave the order to spare him. It was then that I became a Lieutenant-Colonel back in England.

Once my years in the military were over, it was time that I looked towards the future of politics. I had my sights set on Canada, and with due time I became the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada. This position was vital for me, as it was my actions that were to decide what would happen with the portion of land that I looked after. With the American’s directly below us, I knew that war would eventually break out. To avoid this, I began creating a state comprised of Indians between America and Canada, to act as a buffer for us should the Americans decide to attack. However, it did not work in the end, the Indians were crushed by the Americans. Luckily at that point, America had no plans to attack Canada just yet, and within the time that I had ruling over Upper Canada I was able to set up fur trade routes around Lake Ontario, to ensure that Canada would hold strong in the years to come.

This is all behind me now, I’ve had to retire back to England. The 1800’s are within sight, perhaps I will survive to see another century. Until then, I can only wait and hope that the Canada I left will hold strong and free.

In Depth Post #5: Recording

During this segment of the in-depth project, I have made the next step towards finishing a song: I have been able to acquire a new microphone to use for recording whatever I have written down. The microphone that I got is the Blue Yeti, which is convenient since it plugs directly into a computer using a USB cable. This is much nicer than having a standard microphone, which uses a specialized cable that requires adapters and sound boards to plug into a computer. Using a USB connection, I will be able to record much faster, and spend less money on buying equipment.

The next step to recording is to get the best sound quality possible. Professional studios have rooms built specifically for recording, with walls that are shaped to bounce sound waves off in a way that gives you the best possible acoustics. However, I don’t have one of these rooms, and they cost thousands of dollars to rent. Instead, I’ll just have to use one of the rooms in my house. Although it may seem strange, it seems to be widely known that bathrooms actually have the best acoustics for recording music. The tightly enclosed space, combined with the materials commonly found in bathrooms, makes them ideal for getting a good sound quality. But because I have to be setting up guitar amps and a recording studio, I won’t be using a bathroom. I’ll likely end up just doing it in a bedroom, since it’s close to the right size for getting the right acoustics, and I already have all of my music equipment set up there. Using a guitar amplifier, I’ll have the microphone placed 1-2 feet in front of the amp, and then adjust the sensitivity to get the right sound quality. I’ll then be playing a metronome through headphones so I can get the right tempo when I’m recording. The microphone will be recording directly into my laptop, so I can use whatever program I want to get my songs recorded. After I have everything recorded, I’ll use a music compilation program to piece it all together. The one that I am looking at right now is called LMMS, which is a freeware version of more popular programs such as Microsoft’s FruityLoops. I haven’t had much time to look at any of these programs yet, so it will take some effort to learn how to use them. However, I won’t have much time to think about that right now since I’ll be leaving for Cuba in a few days.

 

 

Moving on, in my last mentoring sessions, I had recorded one of our conversations to identify all of the different “hats” that were used when we were talking.

The conversation started off talking about the strategies that we could use in writing a new song, an example of the blue hat, where we were talking about what would need to be done to complete my in-depth project. The option that he presented was to use the existing chord structure from another song, and write a new melody over top of that. This was an example of green hat, since it is presenting a possible idea, rather than a hard fact. Although this sounded like a good idea to me, I was still interested in creating my own chord structure as well. Using the yellow hat, we talked about how the first song could be based off an existing chord structure, and the next ones could be original ideas. This was also an example of the black hat, since we were looking for ideas that would fit both of our values, and therefore be a more productive idea for the both of us. Using the white hat to state facts, my mentor referred to many incredible artists who wrote many of their songs using existing chord structures, showing that it is a viable strategy to use. Reflecting on the conversation with the red hat, I believe that my mentor is a very qualified person to be teaching me, and I should generally be trusting his ideas and suggestions, even when they may seem odd at first.