Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wall of Sound.. Layers and Chilling Out

It's been a a wild ride this album so far. Song after Song, lyric after lyric, sound after sound. How does it all come together, and how does a song come together more importantly. This is the stuff i am learning. It's hard to not impose yourself on your own project every second you are in the studio.. no 'that doesn't sound right'... 'too much'.. 'too little'.. that snare isn't right.. that kick is too hard.. that this, that that. I am a pretty engaged pain in the ass in that way, and elements of that will lend itself to creating a great final product, but elements of that also can degrade from possibility too.

I guess when i started this project i envisioned, only what i could envision through my past musical experience- a very bare album with a Piano, maybe a guitar, a voice, maybe some harmony, and a synth string in the background. Who knows, maybe a simple drum beat as well. But you turn on the radio, listen to any great song, even the simplest kind of beatles song, or a simple singer songwriter song, and there is generally more to it than that. Especially in today's world, and especially from the late 60s onward. Even Bob Dylan went from Folk to electric with a band and got heavily criticized for doing so. But it's important to experiment and push boundaries. I do it everyday with my voice. I couldn't sing half the notes i can sing now, with five times the ease, just one year ago- i challenged what i thought i could do and went to a better level. And i need to keep that same open mind with sound and production. I do feel blessed i have a producer that can play any instrument better than some of the most virtuosic players I've heard- but then i have to step back and let him do his thing too. I will never let him take over, as it's my stuff.. but during creativity and building and development, you have to let ideas fly, and the soundscape and song to build.

We have been layering parts of a great song called Mine. What i saw as a simple piano vocal, Coldplay Scientist-Esq kind of vibe, has become so much more, and has become just a scape of sound and feeling and evocation of the themes of the lyrics. There is also more possibilities for vocal harmony parts, and an almost string like vocal harmony arrangement to give even more body to the songs.

When we build, i think in anything in life we start to realize the importance of process and layering and development and fine tuning. I was reading a book lately, albeit fiction, and the ageing rock star in it said, 'how can anyone fucking like the acoustic rough bootleg recording of the original sessions better than the final product that fine tuned and fine tuned and brought out everything the song could offer'. He knew what the fine tuning process could bring. I only know the opposite in my life. Just setting up a mic doing a one take live put down, adding some reverb and e-q on the vocals, a compressor on the keys, and bouncing to my Itunes.

Give over to the opportunity to create amazing, layered art. Beethoven didn't just write the fucking melody line and hand it to his master of the house- here you go.. done. What?? WHAT IS THAT?? That is not a masterpiece. A masterpiece in any art, or even a fucking water right pre-nuptial agreement or business contract (not saying that i write masterpieces however, but i still want to learn from them) has contrast, chiarascuro, layers. The great symphonies have melody lines that go one way, and harmony lines that follow then dip. The horn arrangement sitting behind everything if solo-ed on a mixing board might sound like a syncopated horn section of a black eyed peas song, but when blended, that syncopation of the horns actually layers the overall feeling of a hugely smooth driving orchestral masterpiece. By itself something totally different, but when combined a sensory explosion.

It's better to have more to choose from on your palette, because i am learning you can always take it away in the final product. But if you stifle creativity by limiting potential then you don't have the freedom you could have. It's like singing lessons. If you have a 3 octave range, doesn't mean you use it all the time, then it become annoying and disjointed.. but maybe in one certain song it will blow it out of the park, so it's much better to have it there than not. And the top that you don't even use in your voice if strong, can heavily influence the bottom and make it sound five times as good, even if you never actually use the top in a final product.

Don't stop yourself from creating a big sensory product if it serves the art because you don't think yourself as capable of being big, or being overwhelmed by big. And by big i don't mean, huge for the sake of huge, i just mean layering. You don't have to play the bass and the guitar and the drums. So don't imagine you have to. You hire people to do that, and they'll only focus on that. You focus on the soul and the voice and keys, and the other sounds will once pieced together, create the whole, beautiful thing..

That is what the Last Supper Is About, Beethoven's 9th, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, and even a car engine. Parts working together..

Bring it on!

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