New work and Vocals!

I finally started working on ideas based on a piece I wrote back in the mid-late ’80s, while in high-school.  I actually did compose a piece for the symphonic band, which they played for me for a couple of days at the end of the school year – that was very cool.  It was based on a piano piece that I’d been tinkering on for a while.  In the years since then, I’ve imagined it many ways, and it has evolved into a combination of a slow orchestral piece with transitions in and out of a faster jamming part.  I just started working on it in my studio in earnest, and I like where it’s going.  It’s going to have vocals!

So, my daughter Christy is a fabulous singer.  She could be a professional, but she’d rather be a wife and mom – nothing wrong with that!  But she’s written lyrics and a melody to go with the track Beautiful Lonely One that I put out late last year.  The lyrics and the melody are fantastic, so I definitely want to update the music and get her vocals recorded with it.

Also, the vocals for my new stuff really seem to want an operatic style female vocal.  I also think that it needs lyrics that are in Italian.  So, since I’m actually trying to learn Italian in preparation for a vacation in Italy later this year, I’m going to see what I can do to write some lyrics for the melody part of this piece.  I also have a vocalist in mind – a young lady I know who is graduating high-school in a few months, and is a statewide top-ranked singer in many styles, including the one I want.  And the tone of her voice will perfectly fit this music.  So I’ll see if I can get her to record this when I have the music ready.

In preparation for recording vocals, I’ve had to get some more gear.  So yesterday, I went online and spent just under $250 total for what I think will be very good stuff for recording vocals in my home studio.

For the mic, I got the MXL 900:


I also got a heavy duty mic stand, a vocal pop shield, and splurged a little on a good mic cable – the Planet Waves Custom Series 10′ XLR mic cable.

I also ordered an acoustic isolation shield – this will help keep the recorded sound dry and crisp, without any ambient room noise or sound reflections:


I’m happy that I picked some really good gear for a really good price.

That’s all for now!

Musical Update

bIt’s been a while since I’ve written an update on my music, so here’s the latest news.  This post has all the music I’ve done over the last 6 months… with the most recent at the bottom.  Read through, listen to the songs, and enjoy!

Once I completed “More”, I decided that I’d do quicker and simpler pieces – mostly to just practice and create anything.

I acquired the Arturia analog synth collection, which is a pretty faithful soft synth rendition of a number of classic analog instruments.  I did a little piece, which I called “5cience” with mostly nothing but a couple of analog synths (Matrix 12 and JP-8), and another called “Little Rain Song”, also with analog synths (Synclavier and ARP2600) plus a rompler (Evolve) for the background sounds.  Also there is “Electronic Mess” which, again, is just me playing around.  Don’t remember which instruments.

Nothing really special, but here they are:

After those, I took a little break and then thought I’d play with Damage, which is a big drum and percussion instrument.  I also wanted to try something that was in 5/4 time, and see what the feel of that turned out to be.  “Majestic Mind” is the result of that:

That turned out to be pretty cool, I thought.

So, up to this point I was just doing quick little experiments.  For a long time, I’ve been playing with a particular musical motif, one that’s is part of the basis for a piano piece I wrote in high school, which also formed the basis for the symphonic band composition I created back then as well.  I was playing around with this motif one weekend while my wife was out of town, and “Beautiful Lonely One” was born.  This has turned out to be the most popular track that I created during all of 2016.  Here it is:

My daughter, Christy, who is a fantastic singer, has written a melody and lyrics.  One project for this year will be do expand this song and include her.  That will be really awesome.

After that, I wanted to try out a dance track, but apparently I don’t really fit in that genre… but here’s the start of what I came up with.  This one is a work in progress, and I’ll finish it out sometime this year.  This is the start of “Dark Streets”.

My son, James, is a big fan of Trap music.  I told him that I thought the music was very simple, and even I could throw it together in less than an hour.  Which I did:

Then Christmas came along.  I took piano lessons when I was about 12 years old, for only a few months.  One of the few things I remember from that was how to play a simple “Greensleeves”.  So, for Christmas, I spent just a few hours and put this together:

So… finally… over the Christmas break (last 2 weeks of December) I had quite a bit of time off from work.  Of course I spent plenty of it in my studio.  I wanted to do something “cinematic”, so I again pulled out Damage for some big drums, added the new Form sampler synth, and a number of my other favorites, and created “Life is Something”.  I’m very very proud of this one.  I spent more time on it than ant of the others since “More”, and I think that working on those quick ones in-between helped improve my skills so that I could do something like this more quickly than before.

I seem to like airy vocals and deep droning bass textures, and this has plenty.  For the first time, I’ve included “vocals”… in this case a modified recording of e e cummings reading his poem “anyone lived in a pretty how town“.  Cummings has always been my favorite poet, and I like how this one laid right into the track.  I did do a little editing for cadence, and added effects.

So for the finale for 2016, here’s my favorite: “Life is Something”…

Stay tuned for more to come in 2017!!!

More… is finished!

Yay, all done!

Ok, so as I wrote before, I wrote this song many many years ago.  In fact, this is a simpler version, musically – basically just a couple of chord progressions and a single repetitive melody line.  So I figured that I’d use it to learn all my new software and such with the new home studio I’ve built.  I’m very pleased with the results.  I’m going to write a long blog post going through the song in detail and how I created it, what software/instruments I’m using, etc., sometime in the next month or so.  Right now, I need a break.  My next major project will be a unique arrangement/rendition of “O Holy Night” complete with vocals, and I also have a few short pieces written by a friend that I want to do versions of, plus a new basic original piece.

I have uploaded an MP3 and AIFF file of the song, so that you can listen to it in the best quality.  The track is unmastered – meaning it hasn’t had any work done on engineering the audio for best quality across all kinds of devices.  It will probably sound best using headphones (with minimal-to-no EQ-ing), or studio monitors.  It sounds OK in the car over bluetooth, and I haven’t listened using earbuds yet.  YMMV.

Let me know what you think!

Download high quality files here.

Or stream (lower quality) here:



T minus 2

So over the last couple of weeks I’ve been able to basically get “More” (I have no idea where that name came from) into its nearly final state.  I call this “T minus 2” because I think there are two more efforts to do before it is completely done.  I need to go through and do a mix/EQ pass, where I make sure the volume levels throughout are good and consistent, and the equalization is nice.  I know there is at least a couple of places that need some real EQ tweaking.

The final and last thing to do is the drums.  That part is killing me, because what is there is a stupidly simple placeholder, but it seems to work for most of the piece.  I think I can keep it, and add some fills, do some EQ work on the kick, and a little reverb on the snares… and it may be good after that.

Anyway, here’s where it is now.  I think it is pretty listenable…


Long road back

Spent a few hours this evening working on getting the automation in the song back.  Some parts I got close to the original, and some I think I made better.  It’s tedious and exacting work, but it’s these details that make the music so good (to me at least).

For instance, here’s a section where I’m automating the filter on one of the parts:

Screenshot 2016-05-10 23.47.55

Here’s what it sounds like alone:

Here’s what it sounds like in the mix (so far):

Oh no!


While working on part of “More”, somehow all the track automation in the entire song was deleted!  This means all the volume changes, filter sweeps, effects… all the automation – gone.

For some things, like volume, this is easily fixed (have to do that for mixing anyway), but for the filter changes this was hours of work gone.  So today I started working on putting it back.  I’m trying to get it as close as I can to the original, and even make some parts better, but it’s trying work.

More progress

More progress this weekend on “More”.  I finished laying out the basic song structure, and added a couple of layers to the middle break.  I started playing with a solo guitar, running though Guitar Rig, trying to see if I could come up with a heavy sounding solo part – but nothing was coming together.  While running through the Guitar Rig presets, I found some cool ambient and spacey sounds, so I layered one of them in.  Then I added a vocal part using Heavyocity’s Vocalise – and I think it will sound really great once I can really do the mixing.

Before I do the mix, however, I’m going to compose the entire percussion track.  Not yet sure how I’m going to approach it – some parts in my head sound like they could use a basic kit, and other parts feel like electronic kits, and yet other parts sound like they want an orchestral percussion section.  I’m thinking of using 2-3 instances of Polyplex, however, and doing something more creative.  That will take some time, but I think it will be worth it.

Once the percussion is done, I want to tweak and clean up the transitions between the sections.  Then I’ll start working through the song getting all the final levels and volume automations in place.  I will also EQ the individual parts as necessary, add compression (sparingly) where necessary, maybe a touch of reverb to add some space where appropriate.

So, still a lot to do, but here’s where it is at the moment.  It’s not very listenable yet because of the muddy mix in some parts, but maybe you’ll get the idea.

Feedback and suggestions welcome!