Posts Tagged ‘#recording’

I know it has been a while since I have posted much, but in reality I have been pretty busy. I have a lot to catch up on, but for now I want to share a new song with you. I wrote the lyrics to “Trap” a while ago and now have music for it. The lyrics have changed a bit so I will include an updated lyric sheet as well.

I have a vocalist coming in to redo the melody track to replace mine, and I will keep my harmony track. Soon another friend will send me bass guitar tracks, but for now, here is “Trap”.

When you think you are making the right decision
Everybody you connect with is on your side.
Well, buckle up your seat belts and hold on to your cap
You don’t know it, but you just walked into a trap.

A trap you can’t get out of. X2
A trap you couldn’t see.
A trap of your own making.
Trapped for all eternity.

Still struggling and squirming trying to believe
Yellin’ ‘I don’t understand’, makes you look like a fool.
All bundled up nice with a box, bow and pretty wrap
However you say it, you’re stuck in a trap.
Lashing out at anyone that comes even close.
You keep pushing yourself further and further away.

Suddenly you hear a loud and powerful snap
Now you know it, you just walked into a trap.

When you think you are making the right decision
Everybody you connect with is on your side.
Well, buckle up your seat belts and hold on to your cap
You don’t know it, you just walked into a trap.

It seems like you are making your own choices
Everything’s going down just like you planned.
The box is smashed and you’re hanging from a strap
However you play it, you’re stuck in a trap.
Suddenly you hear a loud and powerful snap
Now you know it, you just walked into a trap.

I mentioned before that one of the more painful things about getting old is inheriting stuff from your friends that are either no longer able to access older technology or loved ones that checked out of life before you do.

Recently, many wonderful musical things of no real value have found a home in my house. Some make noise, some record noise, some avoid noise, but all have been turned into music by friends of mine for decades. The memories and cave-man-level responses to sounds from the past hits me hard. You probably grew up hearing these sounds, but you might have been in the womb or soon after to this world when hearing them. These toys literally created most of the pop – rock and country music you grew up to. The list is too long for TV and commercial applications.

Anyway, unless you know what this stuff is (and things weren’t small in those days) and how to make it work it might as well be a pyramid that becomes nothing a storage problem. As usual, I digress.

Recently, I was given half a ton of old 45 rpm vinyl records.

But not the ones you buy at a store. To avoid another really interesting connected tangent, I will simply say that these came from a company where my wife worked. It was one company and then absorbed then another company and Clear Channel picked them up when their critical mass became too big to ignore. I apologize for the brevity, as most people won’t be interested, but they conducted surveys for radio stations across the US.

They condensed the song – ALL of the songs you would likely hear on commercial radio decades ago – to a 5 or 10 second “hook“. Whatever it was that identified the song to listeners was the hook. They conducted thousands of live – in – person paid surveys across the country to get listener’s opinions of the NEW artist or POTENTIAL new hit. These are not for sale and not available at the stores. My people know I can still use vinyl and other technologies but more importantly I can take care of them.

This brings me to another tangent I cannot avoid. So many of the treasures I have been given are no longer operable or salvageable. A little more thought in storage would have turned so many of these treasures into true gems. Rust, mold, misuse – no use, all take their toll. My stuff still works. From the time I was in high school forward. I bought good equipment and accessories and I took care of them because I knew I could not afford to replace them.

I finally get to the point to this post. I have hundreds of records. My wife worked for years watching literally thousands of bands and their best efforts to make it big. Yes, I heard many of those as well. Some were interesting, some were cool and most were painful. But the thing I am getting to after listening to each 45 record after the other is a simple but powerful message if you are trying to ‘get a deal’: Don’t spend all your energy creating the GREAT HOOK. I hear failure after failure after failure trying to be something you are not. Maybe you have to be cute or edgy to get noticed. Just make it your own edge.

ANY of these bands produced records and demo’s that are much better than my in-home singer/songwriter efforts. They have money and backers and investors looking for the next best thing. But the great hooks are organic and time-locked so you are chasing a dream. So much potential dedicated to making your band sound like someone or something else already out there. To fit the cookie-cutter rather than make the cookie shape. It could be said I make the cookie shape and I am not famous. Mine is not a formula for success.

There are famous artists in this small collection so many do succeed, though I see so many failures because they are trying to find the magic lamp. Stop looking for it and create one for yourself. If it was that easy I would not be sitting here, lol. In the future I will share some of these records. They are not for sale, but I am not sure that means they are not for share.

Here is a record by Gipsy Kings I thought was pretty cool.

I am working on a musical arrangement for lyrics I posted recently. It is not much right now. I have a piano and bass track using my MIDI keyboard, along with my vocal track for the melody line.

Enemies In Your Head by MSK

Here is to a great new year for all of us.

In no specific order here, we have our third vocalist working with my cover band called The Chase. Performing with us now is Sean Bandy (Shoeless Sean to his followers). I don’t think I have any real pictures of this time. I will keep looking but so far nothing great.

Sean also played acoustic guitar and does a great job of working with the audience. We played songs from the Beatles to Zappa and from James Brown to Queen and he kept up with them all. I am playing keyboards and electric rhythm guitar, as well as back up vocals. I am not running sound at this point from what little I can remember. I posted a couple videos of us on my You Tube channel earlier. See the following links THE CHASE LIVE 1 and THE CHASE LIVE 2. These are more like music with pictures and old video clips. The video recordings I made for that time did not translate well to the leap in resolution 30 years later lol.

The Chase and vocalist Sean Bandy performing “Cross Eyed Mary” by Jethro Tull
The Chase and vocalist Sean Bandy performing “I Feel Good” by James Brown
The Chase and vocalist Sean Bandy performing “Freeway Jam” by Jeff Beck and “Black Friday” by Steely Dan

Which vocalist is your favorite from the few examples here?

For a quick recap, I have been going through archived recordings I have made over the years. Recently reviving performances with the bands I have played in, I want to give you a few samples of recordings I made with The Chase.

For a period of time we were reforming the band Euphoria and looking for a new vocalist. These recordings were during that transition period working out with different vocalists. Short story for new visitors, I worked at a local instrument store as a salesman when asked by The Chase to fill in for their sound man while he was on vacation for a few weeks. I had never run sound (with the exception of one hotel gig band that was in desperate need for one night.) I filled in, loved it and the band, the sound man could not return and I became their regular sound guy. The band was smart and paid the sound engineer the same as the other members of the band. They knew the house sound was important.

Once running sound, the keyboard player took a break for a few years and I worked really hard to fill in for him. Soon after that I started playing rhythm guitar too………. and yes, in the early years I ran sound, played keyboards, rhythm guitar, back-up vocals and percussion all at the same time from stage. For a period of time I ran sound from the audience and had my instruments next to me. Not as strong a player as the others in the band I tried to “earn my keep” by being a jack of all trades.

I have recorded music since I bought my first four-track reel-to-reel when I was around 13 years old. I am closer now to 70 years old. When working with bands as a sound engineer or member, I record for a lot of reasons. Some were not intended to be hi-quality recordings and often were stereo cassette or DAT machines connected directly to the main outs of the sound board. Usually there was no level test and the band members would not know I was recording at all because it was so basic.

In the next few posts I will share cover songs we played live with three vocalists. In some I am playing Keyboards, rhythm guitar etc., and some I am running sound using various techniques to find quick ways to get a decent live recording. Many of these I have detailed here in my Live Sound Reinforcement Series.

Here are a few samples, starting with Gary Jefferson as the lead vocalist.

Vocalist Gary Jefferson performing The Rooster by Alice In Chains
Vocalist Gary Jefferson performing Middle Man by Living Colour
The Chase performing cover of Cliffs of Dover by Eric Johnson
When we decided to be Personal Touch

As mentioned in the first post of this series, we played original songs in each set. Here is the only recording I am aware of for the song “For Those Who Wait”. We were touring in Corpus Christie Texas and I met with Ric in the afternoon to do a little practice and system fine-tuning. After we were settled he said, ‘hey, whip out the lyrics you are working on. I have a few chords I want to try. We worked for about half an hour going through his chords and arranging them into a song.

In very short time I came up with the melody and we were able to finish the song enough that we performed it later in the tour. I programmed the Yamaha RX7 Drum machine to fit the arrangement. Ann and I sang the lead vocals and Ric did everything else. In the picture above you can see the two silver discs on the lower section of Ric’s guitar. While playing guitar, he would touch one of the silver pads to make a cymbal crash sound from his drum machine and the other one triggered a pre-programmed drum fill pattern for each time he hit the pad. He also kicked bass pedals and triggered string or piano sounds. Pretty amazing when two out of three are just singing to get all that sound.

For “Those Who Wait” by Ric Ahlers and Michael S Kennedy

This is easily the best song I have co-written. Years ago I posted lyrics and said that I wrote this duo for existing country stars at the time. It was my hope to have Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers do this song. I think it would have blown the charts for the time. But who knows. I think we sounded pretty good.

A surprise April Fool’s Day Snow got to our goblin.

I have been pretty busy lately. I have been jamming on-line with my originals band “The Merchants of Death”. We have not played together in almost forty years! They were champs with handling the technology, but the latency or delay you get is a bit frustrating. A couple weeks ago – after all of our Covid 19 shots and waiting periods we got together and played live – IN THE SAME ROOM!

That was really very neat. Our on-line sessions have been a blessing during the lockdown and restrictions. Playing our old original songs and mixing them in with current cover tunes is just a perfect environment for me. I will share some of our recordings soon.

I also did a live recording session a few weeks ago. It was a cool project. I was to record the drummer playing in isolation as the drummer listened to a mix of the other recorded instruments and vocals! The drummer did an excellent job in following the band as drummers usually try to lead the band. The recordings were clean and after a little post production I sent the final tracks for assembly and final mix.

I have also been doing a lot of long-needed outdoor yard work and landscaping around my house. This winter and spring were bizarre. I wish I had posted these pictures earlier, but it is a challenge sometimes deciding which project to focus on. I hope you enjoy a look back at this year’s snow and blooms. All of these pictures were taken within a few days of each other. It was an amazing sight.

Setting up my drums for the first recording project of 2021!

Smiling because 2020 is over!

I just released my newest project on CD Baby. This is my sixth album release over the years.

Very soon the Album/CD titled: “Eye of a Storm” will be available on Spotify, Apple Music, TikTok, Instagram, Amazon Music, YouTube Music, Deezer, Pandora, and about 150 other streaming services globally. Search for Michael S Kennedy and with a bunch of luck it will appear on the list. The songs and CD are cheaper on CD Baby so you can also save a little cash there.

I think I settled on 18 songs since my last release. I post almost everything on this blog first so if you have been here a few times you may have heard many of these tracks. I really like a lot of these new songs and they include some of the best lyrics I have written. In the year we have had, there were few opportunities for my friends to add vocals or instruments to some of my songs as in the past. As a result, all of these songs were written, performed, recorded and mixed by me. While it is a lot of work and I really wish someone would do it for me, it is also a lot of fun and I am proud to look back at this collection. I hope you try a few out because they are all different in their own right.

Happy new Year!

MIDIMike

Michael S. Kennedy

Holidays are fun with creative people.

I often mention my talented wife and children sprinkled within posts over the years. When the girls were very young we made Christmas and the holidays a creative fest whenever possible. From pumpkin carving parties with over 200 pumpkins, costumes and haunted houses, we put our own flair into everything. We avoided the commercial and traditional.

Each year we would send our many friends a hand-made original Christmas ‘Card’. We would start two months before Christmas to imagine, design and create a unique holiday greeting from our entire family. Many are still hung up or placed on mantels to this day. It is hard to describe so you can get an idea of the projects. One time we made small cloth trees decorated in style with a hook on them so you could hang them as an ornament. Another year we took clear glass ornamental globes and other shaped bobbles and poured paint inside making them sparkle with bright colors and/or glitter on the inside of the glass.

As a musician I built up a small home recording studio over the years. In the lyrics we reference “7 tracks and SMPTE”. I had a digital recorder back then but advanced as it was at the time it only had eight tracks, and one of them you used to record a clock signal so it would sync with the MIDI instruments I had controlled by a hardware sequencer (RECORDING WAS A LOT HARDER IN THOSE DAYS!!!). Every few years I managed to work in a family musical project. Here are two audio recordings we sent as that year’s ‘card’.

This tradition really became a thing and people looked forward to getting their next card, knowing it would be unlike any other they would receive that year, or ever again.

Here is my family recording two Christmas carols for our annual card project. One is a traditional cover of a song you are familiar with. The other is our version of a classic. Even if you aren’t ‘all about Christmas’ and everything, I think you will find this cute and maybe hilarious at the same time.

I wish you all well and hope we can keep lost loved ones close to our hearts and friends and family in our thoughts.

MIDIMIKE

The Kennedy’s carol
The Kennedy’s Original 12 Days

I posted a poem earlier called “Let You Go” https://midimike.com/2020/07/07/let-you-go/ that I really liked. While I was working on writing the music for these lyrics I got side-tracked. I had recorded a few MIDI drum parts and had a guitar theme I liked playing on my Martin Acoustic/Electric guitar chained together trying to get a feel for the song.

A good friend called me out of the blue and asked if I wanted to have his old MIDI studio gear. No instruments or toys will be orphaned if I can help it so I drove over that day. We chatted for a while and I left with a van full of what most people would call ‘ancient’ gear. This is the stuff hits were made with. Everything you heard growing up using electronic drums or synths used these gems.

I got home and hooked up a few pieces like a kid not knowing which present he wants to open first. DAYS LATER I opened up my recording project again and played with a vocal effect toy I had not gotten to yet. Not wanting to stop an idea I was working on I started recording in another section of the session. As you will hear, I decided not to sing the chorus parts. Instead I used some of the lyrics to do a chant-style intro and outro.

After juggling the original music around I started to work on a melody for the lyrics. I used some of the chant themes so the melody took shape pretty quickly. Not wanting to overdo the vocal effect, I just used reverb on my voice. Then I added some MIDI bass guitar sounds and put the pieces together.

Next, I added a little MIDI piano in the chorus sections and sprinkled through the end of the song. Then I made some stupid editing error and trashed all of the drum tracks!!! Redo the drum tracks and a few days later I have a rough mix for you.

As some of you will know, a rough mix is probably the last one I do! LOL.

Here is “Let You Go” as it stands today. I hope you enjoy this one.

“Let You Go” by MSK