It’s been a while since I’ve made one of these, looks like over two years, yikes. A whole lot has happened in that period of time, lots of good, some bad, but overall, way more eventful than this blog would make you think.
Here’s one quick awesome thing that happened, that needs updating way more than this does: quitting our jobs and checking out a new continent
Since this blog is mostly about music stuff though, I’m gonna stick to that theme. This huge gap of blog updating pretty directly coincides with the huge gap in my music output, so I figure I should put an end to both of those! I finished a couple songs recently, it’s good to know I didn’t forget how to do it.
The first one I finished took a pretty crazy amount of time to finally get there. Check it out:
I used a fun chord trick where a phrase doesn’t end on the same chord it starts on, but rather on a chord a major 3rd down from where it started. The cool thing about that is when you repeat it three times, you end up on the very first chord you started on. I definitely didn’t invent the trick, Beethoven is famous for doing it in his Waldstein piano sonata, Muse actually uses it in “Knights of Cydonia”, it’s a good one. To get a sense of how far this song travels while on this little journey, skip around to random parts of the song really fast, and it should become apparent. The progression itself hopefully doesn’t sound too weird, I just really like the idea of a melody that on the surface seems like it’s repeating, but it just feels a bit off each time it comes back, like it’s trying to find it’s way back. That makes it pretty weird to sing, it took a lot of takes to make it sound remotely natural.
I just had that chord progression lying around for a while, I couldn’t really figure out what to do with it. It all came together pretty quickly when I decided I should make the lyrics follow a similar direction as the chords/melody, generally positive, but with a kind of ambiguously meandering feeling. That, and I like to write about water-based metaphors (see: Treading Water by Near Peak). It’s loosely about life/death, about rivers, about time, the usual.
After I had the chords and lyrics all figured out, it was recording time. I went to my usual bag of mellotron tricks, and used a mellotron (actually Chamberlin) glass sound going through a bit of modulation to give it a good unsteady warble. Since I don’t have drums, I decided to get a bit creative and use a mallet on a big plastic bin with a mic set up inside as a bass drum. After enough reverb and eq, I think it sounds pretty cool. Not like a normal bass drum, but like its own interesting thing. And then I grabbed a decent sample of a snare rim hit, and did some reversing stuff, added some reverb, and there it is. After it was all done it felt like it wasn’t really conveying the uneasiness I wanted the strange chord progression to bring, so I added some ambient prepared piano sounds that I had lying around. I’m pretty happy with the way it sounds, a few months after the fact.
So there it is, a bit overdue, but I’m glad I didn’t forget how to write a song!