Posts Tagged ‘#singer’

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.

CRASH LANDING

I posted another you-tube segment of Crash Landing playing cover tunes at a gig in Cincinnati back in 2002. This is the last segment of the 1st set. I tried to break them up into chunks so they are not huge files.

I ran a straight line out from the mixing board. Few live recordings are perfect, and over the years I tried a number of ways to get a good mix. Keep in mind I record all the time so this was not a special occasion and I don’t even think I told the band members we were recording.

I am still collecting new photos from friends and relatives and will add them to future posts. So sit down and grab your favorite beverage and listen to a great live band!

This Tuesday I wanted to feature a song by a good friend of mine. “Denham Street” was written by Bob Enderle. Bob Enderle died too many years ago. He wrote a number of songs that I really like. I am not a fan of most popular music. I don’t need to hear one more song about boy loves and loses girl, or how the singer wants to party and have sex all night.

Denham Street and many other songs he wrote are about social injustices we so easily overlook and ignore. This song points out how unfair, uncaring and mean our social policies are. He makes the song sound sweet while the dark lyrics dig into our consciousness.

I did a simple recording of this song. I started with some drum tracks and I played my 12 string Ovation guitar for the main instrument track. I added strings to reinforce the guitar. Once I sang the melody I thought it would be a good song for harmony. I added the harmony vocals and listened to the rough mix a few times.

After a few times through the song I turned off the drum track and liked it better without them. I worked on it for days. I wanted to ‘do the song justice’ and make it fit the image I have from Bob’s version. Sweet tragedy.

Here are the lyrics and my version of Denham Street. I hope you enjoy.


            “Denham Street”                                                     Bob Enderle
 
Car alarms squeal on Denham Street     
Like coyotes howling at the moon.
Tattered grey men look for some place to eat
Teen age mothers search for her womb.
Street lights shattered near the playground;
Darkness hides an old routine.
Cracks in the family, crack in the hall.
 
There’s an overpass over Dehnam Street
Supporting Highway 95.
There are no exits for Denham Street
But it’s only a twenty minute drive.
To the shops with plywood windows
Through the alleys of despair
Just another wrong turn and you’re almost there.
 
To every city there is a Denham Street
And to everyone who grows up there
There are few exits from Denham Street
Fewer thoughts behind an empty stare.
Social programs lack the funding
Social consciousness has died.    
Solutions on the shelf have never been tried.     

I kept hearing a melody line while reading the poem “Hearts Of Stone” I posted earlier.  It is a haunting melody in many ways.  The music behind it is sparse and supports the vocals with open space and fluid timing.  The music seems out of place at first as the lyrics are happy, hopeful and even loving.  On the other side of the chorus the lyrics take a darker look at the conditions many people live with.  The minor key and slow progression of the instruments come into play and help paint a portrait of dismal human experiences.

As with a number of my original recordings, I wish I could sing the piece with power and passion the way it needs to be sung to convey the ideas in my head, but this is probably the best I can do.  Close your eyes and pretend your favorite vocalist is singing.  That MIGHT help lol. Comments suggested a rock song for the lyrics and I agree.  I am playing with the idea and may have another version in the future.  For now, here is my eerie version of “Hearts Of Stone”.

Heart-of-Stone

“Single Desire” is one of my favorite original lyrics.  I think a number of my songs get too “preachy” and sound like I know all the answers.  I usually don’t know all the answers, but I sure have made a lot of mistakes to learn from.  Single Desire takes another path. With fewer words than many of my songs it tries to paint images using sights from our normal day to day lives.  I like using the sunset comparison as sunsets are one of the most beautiful things we get to enjoy on this planet.  Yet in this analogy, they can be burned permanently into our hearts and minds.  Sometimes the loss of beauty is the worst experience of all.

https://midimike.com/2017/12/06/single-desire/

 

“Single Desire”                                  (C) MSK 1988

You left your mark upon me

Like sunsets on fire.

Plunged deep into the sea

With a Single Desire.

 

Always got what you wanted

Nothing worked more than your charm.

As the hunter you hunted

Without thinking of the harm.

 

I never let you down

“But did you really care?”

I never put you down

“You just tried to keep me there”.

Once I had to follow:

Now I walk away.

 

You left your mark upon me

Like sunsets on fire.

Plunged deep into the sea

With a Single Desire.

 

I never let you down

“But did you really care”.

I never put you down

“You just tried to keep me there”.

Truth is hard to swallow

My Single Desire

 

Once I had to follow.

Now I walk away.

MSK Yellowstone

MSK Yellowstone

00001341

Photo by MSK Yosemite

Burning Impressions That Last Forever                                 

“Single Desire” was written in a time when I must have had a lot to say.  The year was 1988. Once love has grabbed you it can burn deep.  No matter how you want things to turn out, sometimes you have no control on the direction they take.  You find yourself helpless at the time and unable to avoid mistakes that seem obvious even to you.  Single Desire tries to describe the condition when adoration is not reciprocal.  When you are not loved in return.  Only one thing matters and nothing you can do will make it happen.

When the other person learns that type of control is in their hands, they have power that can turn lovers insane.  He/She can make the helpless romantic into a tool that can be discarded when no longer useful.  There is no cost to them.  Displays of charm and hints of affection can destroy all resistance and common sense in the admirer.

We need to wait until the fire burns out completely before we can stop following and finally walk away.  The problem is there is usually very little left to walk away with.

I tried to give this song a full arrangement as powerful as the lyrics (or the idea behind them) felt to me.  I knew I could not sing it the way it required so I called my  good friend and band-mate Gary Jefferson as I have many times over the years to do the vocal tracks.  My wife Ellen does the chorus ‘response’ vocal parts.  I used my keyboards and MIDI tone generators to do all the instrumental tracks including the drums, strings, brass and bass guitar parts, and invited my buddy Shawn Anderson to come over and lay down the lead guitar tracks. Harlen Lee, another great friend of mine, came in and added additional guitar parts.  I really like the bass guitar line, and think the strings add movement and dramatic accents to the song.

Please give “Single Desire” a few plays to let it sink in and I hope you enjoy.

Mara – The Making of a Video

I usually did not have to search for new projects.  There were plenty of musicians, bands and performers that did not have a lot of resources – or cash – when starting out.  Working at the local music store chain, I was lucky to know some great players, writers, and musicians of all sorts.  l am attracted to talented people of all kinds.  I often wish listeners of my music would give me the benefit of the doubt that I gave to many of the people I met and came to appreciate.  I realize my songs are not always ‘radio worthy’ or commercially viable, and always hoped someone would look beyond that and realize the songs I offered for what they could be if recorded professionally and marketed on a large scale.  Maybe that day will still come, but back then there were a number of artists that I could help take the next step.

Word got out that I had an understanding of technology and could usually pick things up quickly.  I absorbed owners manuals, dedicated time and when possible drafted other talented people to make projects work.  One of the fun and exciting things I got to do was shoot and edit live musical band performances.  MakeShift Kreations was an early company name I came up with using my initials: M S K.  I believe this was filmed way back in 1988!!!

Using the same video and editing suite from the cable company available for local access channels that I used for my first conceptual video: “Walking Man” I learned how to use multi camera filming and video editing techniques.  In some situations I offered to do videos for friends as this was a new (again, at the time!) medium and was very expensive for most bands.  In Part I, I would like to present the video I made of Mara, a local band with highly talented musicians.  My wife Ellen and I did all the camera, editing and post production work.  These are their original songs performed live over a two-night period. It was a lot of work, but I learned a lot and had a great time.

Please use the following link to see the Mara: Part I video:

https://youtu.be/VwKz1Po4_XM

Bill K No Worries DSC_0065.jpg

So many experiences are composed of related stories and within each story a number of players or artists.  The telling or remembering of some stories becomes difficult before the first words are shared.  What stories do you include?  Which ones do you leave for another time, even though the knowing will make this tale more complete?  Which characters will be the focus today when so many were needed to play their part.

Too many things to share.  If that were the biggest problem we would all become happy and prosperous.  Often, your spouse is also your soul-mate.  Sometimes your boss is your friend.  Do we present the boss or the friend when the story is told?

No Worries.

I do not advertise or promote my recording studio.  Every project has been from word of mouth or referrals/introductions that happen when good people want to introduce you to other good people.  Here is a quick summary of a recent project I was fortunate to be involved with.  Through my wife, my studio and talents were offered to record and back-up a song written by Bill Kreutzjans of the band Smokin Zeus to comfort someone after the primary – election process had finally ended.  He will play acoustic guitar and sing his song, but wanted a fuller sound and maybe some harmonies.

Before he came over to record I got ready.  I listened to a recording of the song and took out the copy of the lyrics.  First; I checked the tempo of the song.  Then I “mapped out” as I call it, a detailed arrangement of the song.  Not just how many verses, bridges, and choruses but also how counting full measures, partial measures, key or tempo changes, and getting an idea of the dynamics that evolve as the song plays out.  I pull up my computer and recording software (I use Sonar, but there are many others).  I created a basic drum pattern to use as a fancy metronome.  Bill laid down his tracks listening to the drum tracks and as most artists do in a studio, he fine-tuned his sound and melody.  Very quickly we had a great foundation recorded.

This was one of those dream songs where everything dropped into place.  We all had ideas of what we wanted to add.  The equipment worked well and everything went smoothly as the song kept building.  I played each section of the song back (sometimes over and over) and used a MIDI keyboard to “record” the bass guitar parts.  Then I used the MIDI keyboard to again trigger sounds from the computer software and plug-ins, but this time I picked a natural string sound to fill around the acoustic guitar.

Good enough progress for a few hours stolen in the day, so we save and back-up files and plan to meet soon to finish.  Send rough mix mp3 so all can listen to tracks we have so far.

In the days before we meet to finalize and mix the tracks, I clean up the drums and add accents to help the song build.  The drum sounds are also provided by the software and I can trigger the individual sounds or use pre-recorded and/or user-created loops.  These ingredients can be blended, added together and shoved in the oven until you get a great loaf of bread.  I add the vocal harmonies based on previous discussions.  Now I spend some time with the mastering tools I have and process tracks using E.Q., compression,  (where needed.  I am not big on heavy compression) volume leveling, etc., and then fun stuff like reverb and stereo placement to make each part noticeable and clear.  Send rough mix mp3 so all can listen to tracks.

At this point I am playing the song over and over because I like it.  I think it sounds cool and we meet to mix and master.  I always try to get an idea how the author/performer wants the components or project to sound like.  It is a difficult language, but if I get a feel for what they want – or an example of things like it – I can usually find the ‘tone’ of the mix they are familiar with.  We pick preferences as we go and the mix continues to bake.  We blend track levels with effects and record the master mix to a stereo track      ( ….. this topic will be a series of articles in the future ).   

For all of you; “No Worries”            © Bill Kreutzjans 10/2016

 

Yesterday I heard that I lost another great friend and musical partner.  My sister called me last night to tell me there had been an accident and she did not have a lot of details, but a great friend of mine died yesterday.  I mentioned Ric Ahlers in my blog posts before.  He was the guitar player/vocalist in the first real band I was in called The Personal Touch.  He co-authored with me one of my favorite songs I called “For Those Who Wait“.  (With music it was titled: “Our Bodies Move“).

Ric was my brother-in-law and was looking for a keyboard player to start a duo to play locally and out on the road.  Though I had only dabbled with piano and was mostly a rhythm guitar singer-songwriter, he gently persuaded me to join him.  Then for about three months he patiently guided me as I learned not only how to play keyboards (not just piano, but all the other sounds keyboard players are responsible for), but also a bunch of popular cover tunes for the first time.  He was way ahead of me as far as knowledge and talent (I try to take my own advice and play with musicians that are better than me!) and had played out before.   We also played our original songs as part of our normal set list.  He had more confidence in me than I did, but I guess that is a familiar story to my blog readers.

We started as a duo and played local clubs.  We had a full sound as we both sang (as well as we could) and I played my 12 string guitar and the keyboards and later programmed drum machines.  He played lead guitar and also controlled a drum machine with an accompaniment triggered by his  bass pedals that played bass and added filler strings and piano chords.  We could play anything from classic standards to Jimi Hendrix tunes and fit into a very small space.

He sat while playing guitar and kicking his bass pedals.  He stood over 6 foot 10!  Some people would come up to shake his hand after a tune and jump back as he stood up to talk to them!!

He was as tall sitting as I was standing and it really surprised people and caught them off guard.  I would have to warn him about low ceiling fans at hotels and lobbies!  We added Ann Ellis as a vocalist and traveled around the county as a trio in his van.  THOSE WERE THE DAYS!

Life is not always easy but Ric was always a gentle giant.  With a heart just as big, he climbed back up if he got knocked down, and carried you on his shoulders if you could not keep going.  He is also family and we will all miss him and are stunned by the sudden loss of a great man in many ways.