Friday, March 11, 2011

Shoes on a Donkey, and My Past Week

Before going into what I've done in the past 7 days, I'd like to go into a bit of a side story related to my last blog post. Oinkness' OHC entry from that week titled "Life on the Farm" both tickled and inspired me. I had avoided using FL Studio for the week, and this abstinence coupled with the humor I found in his entry prompted me to record a cover version. I was particularly pleased with the syncopation on the repeated "OH"s as well as my 3-part vocal harmony at the end.

My week of compo proper started on Sunday, with my return to ORC after a significant hiatus. I analyzed the provided MIDI file to get my head around the source material, and as I did so I isolated the piano section. When I slowed the tempo and experimented with different accompaniments, I stumbled across a particular combination of instruments that bore a striking resemblance to Massive Attack's "Teardrop". This song may be better known as the theme music to the TV show House.

In an effort to get even more musical exercise that day, I visited my local Best Buy and performed on a digital piano on display there. By request, I played a version of the ending theme from Super Mario Bros. 2 on the ivories. Coincidentally a compo round at SolidComposer was open on Sunday, and I used that opportunity to upload a recording of my piano cover. As it later turned out, I was the only person who submitted an entry to that round.

It was quite unusual for me to work on such tracks in the morning and early afternoon. I usually compose at night, and I think I know why 8 or 9PM EST is such a good compo time for me. It's when I successfully transition from post-work exhaustion to being lucid and nimble. The ol' batteries are refreshed, and at that point my brain no longer goes into frequent sleep mode.

Just prior to writing my JHCompo entry on Tuesday, I impulsively decided to lay down an idea I had for remix of Shael Riley and the Double Ice Backfire's "How to Fire a Gun". When I first heard the original a while back, Shael's melody brought to mind a reggae pattern, and I imagined such an arrangement casually playing in my head. I had initially intended to have more dub influences for the remix with heavy delay effects on the drums and other instrumentation. However, the tempo seemed too fast for this idea and I went for a drier sound instead. Incidentally I didn't know the tempo of "How to Fire a Gun" so I randomly guessed 90 BPM at first, and I got it right.

Shael's voice within the new context seems uncannily cheerful and exuberant to me, almost as if it was recorded with a joyful attitude in mind. As it so happens, this wasn't the first time I had worked with a Shael vocal; he previously had offered up an unused a capella of his, which I incorporated into a past SolidComposer entry. Working on the "How to Fire a Gun" remix whilst submitting a JHC entry reminded me of why I love to make albums; I get great enjoyment out of producing a large amount of material in a short time. In some cases, the act of multitasking brings out ideas that I never would have thought of otherwise. Despite my love of creating albums, my focus at the moment is making one-offs and videos.

After finishing the Shael remix I
immediately set out to make an entry for the JHC round, which by then was an hour and a half past the start. I chose a handful of pizzicato strings soundfonts and threw together a tune to represent the "Secret Garden" theme that night. Incidentally my entry, "Behind the Hedge" was the only one made for the round without garden in the title. The problem from last week of being unable to extend the compo deadline was gone, and a handful of entries scrambled in within the final few minutes I added to the timer. JHC newcomer OverCoat submitted his entry the earliest, not counting Draconiator's submission that had been created prior to the round, and which Draconiator disqualified himself.

At the end of my week of compoing, I revisited a idea I had bouncing around my head for a while. The OHC theme on Thursday was "Jumping off a building" and I immediately thought back to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; more specifically a particular passage about a guide to successfully missing the ground when falling toward it. My favorite comment about my entry from the listening party was that it "feels like im playing a poker game from 1998". I guess we all fall for a reason.

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