Posts Tagged ‘#recording’

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
Sonar Track Panel Wave and MIDI files that generate sounds from computer programs called plug-ins

I mentioned experimenting with an on-line jamming program. It became the clipboard for a few guitar sections I created while waiting for one thing or another to work. I titled each as verse, bridge, chorus, etc. I had to give it a project name to save the clipboard and I came up with “Not Now”.

I used those short pieces and assembled them into a song arrangement. Once the chords and arrangement were in place I naturally started thinking of lyrics (as I have a tendency to do). The file was named Not Now so I kept it as my Cakewalk (BandLab) project name. So it becomes the theme of the lyrics. In one hour they were written. Getting them to match the odd rhythms and sparse instrumentation became a challenge. It took me a few days to come up with the melody and then practice it enough to get the rough tracks down. To all just joining; I get things down to rough tracks and then write another song, poetry, lyric or instrumental. When I was young I hoped some band would do my songs correctly in a studio. I am not young now.

Here is a rough mix of “Not Now”. I used a Martin Acoustic/Electric guitar for the guitar track. Using my MIDI keyboard I pulled up a plug-in for drum sounds. I imported the original noodling guitar parts I did from the clipboard but they were not recorded to a metronome or drum pattern. I listened and figured out the tempo of the segments and set Cakewalk to match. That way I could listen to the short guitar segments as I created the basic drum parts and arranged all the segments in order. I pulled up a bass guitar sound and played the MIDI keyboard to generate the bass line.

Next, I Muted the original guitar tracks and recorded a new track to replace it. The song seemed to cry out for strings but that is usually just me. I like good sounding strings in various styles of music.

Lyrics were posted here: https://midimike.com/2020/06/01/not-now/

I use two monitors as there is a lot of information to keep ‘track’ of even for a small project.
This is the Piano Roll view. Each color represents different instruments. The lower group triggers drum sounds.

I gave a link to BandLab above. Full disclaimer this is not a commercial and I do not get paid for anything I do here. However….. if you are interested I used to pay hundreds of dollars every year or so to keep this great recording program updated. They now offer the program and all updates for FREE. No kidding.

I hope you enjoy “Not Now”. Each time I listen to it I like it more. Again, this is just me as each new song I write becomes my newest favorite.

If just for a little while.

Thank you for your continued friendship. The story of friends and talented musicians, artists of all kinds was fun in the telling. Followers will know the names and projects I have been thrilled to be involved with. Sacrifices. Heart break. Overwhelming joy.

I have told the story but I also have my archives to share. I started recording with a reel-to-reel tape deck when I was 14. I recorded everything. Everyone. Everywhere (once I had portable recorders lol!)

The medium has changed many times over. Some of the video, for example, was amazing on a small tube television. It just does not stand up to the quality of large screens with high resolution. I did not include the ancient videos on this post because it just looks bad/old.

For some reason I did not take a lot of photographs in this time frame. Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures of the lead vocalist in this recording….. Shoeless Shawn was not with The Chase long before we stopped playing out. So I collected more recent pictures I had taken of group shots of friends, family and fans we have known over the years.

With a little free time on my hands, I have been going through my archives. This is an old recording from my Nakamichi stereo cassette player! I think it is straight off the board. I did not run sound for this recording. Our friend Dave Houston was at the helm.

Everyone stay healthy, and with social distancing, stay at home, grab a drink, and put up your feet. Press play and listen to some live music!

The Chase

I think we started recording Project Two in May of 1996. Project One was mixed by the end of March so we had a good feeling for the next project. I will eventually dig up archives for details as I am now relying on brief notes and scribbles of information. I do not have lyric sheets for these songs but I know most of the lyrics by heart.

As you know I am really bad with names. I know Annette Rogers was the lead vocalist and I believe she wrote most of the lyrics. My notes also mention Robert Downing with the band.

This was a band I wished I had kept in touch with. At the time in my life there were so many projects and I had my own music and bands I was involved with. All this and I worked a regular full-time job!

I have a brief video of the band setting up – somewhere. Who knows, maybe I will dig it up along with my track sheets and band info.

By the middle of September we had all the recording done and mixed Project Two. We did ten songs in all and I will share a few more with you today.

jjaR at MSK Studio – Butterside Down
jjaR at MSK Studio – Paralized
jjaR at MSK Studio – My Heart Tricks My Head
jjaR at MSK Studio – Overboard
Annette Rogers from jjaR at MSK Studios

Early in 1996 I was introduced to a Cincinnati band called “jjaR”. I met them while they were playing at a popular club called Top Cats. I was really impressed with the band and their original songs. Annette Rogers was the lead vocalist and she commanded the room with her emotional portrayal of each song. The band was intense and dynamic.

March 13th, 1996 we started recording in my home studio. They were troopers. I have a small space for recording with no isolation rooms for drums, vocals, etc. The band wanted a clean demo. They did not want a lot of processing and effects in the mix. A band after my own heart!

jjaR at MSK Studio in 1996

We did two separate sessions. The first session was mixed on March 26th, 1996. I was recording on the Alesis ADAT (Alesis Digital Audio Tape) machine for the first project. We only had 8 tracks to work with back then and no computer editing or effects. They were pros. They set up, got settled in and played their songs with obvious passion.

One of their tracks appeared in a collection of bands our local radio station WEBN (102.7FM) published on CD. They were featured on the second annual CD release. Deary Me Presents – Cincinnati Scene II included “Food Chain Of Love” on the 3rd track of the compilation CD. You can still find a copy or two on on-line.

Here are a few tunes from Project 1 for your enjoyment.

jjaR at MSK Studio – Food Chain Of Love
jjaR at MSK Studio – Super Size
jjaR at MSK Studio – Aliens
jjaR at MSK Studio – Misunderstood

This is an early recording of a Cincinnati band “Chakras”. I recorded them back when I used the ADAT digital tape recorder. It does not have the ‘bling’ of modern recordings but I think you will enjoy the performance.

https://www.facebook.com/chakrasrock