The last time I was at his studio, I showed my friend Peter (with whom I recorded Open Mile) my version of "The show must go on". It is a rather mellow version.
I think this suits the lyrics - after all "the show must go on" stands as an almost neutral fact, right next to a cohort of philosophical questions that remain unanswered and biographical observations that fill the whole spectrum between sadness and joy. I also gave it a 3/4 rhythm, which makes it less like a military march (don't get me wrong btw, I love Queens version, as well) and more like a dance.
Well, he liked it and we jammed on this version together for a bit. Peter added a touch of The Doors with his keyboard, which really completes the picture, I think. So, last month I came back to the studio to record us playing it. Here is the result:
I made a bandcamp.com account, because they seem to offer the best technology these days to host music on the internet. For instance, you can download in all formats you like. Pretty nice.
So if you click on 'music' in the menu at the top, it will from now on take you there. It's of course still possible to listen to music online there. I'll keep the soundcloud account open, but will not link to it here.
I have activated the download feature on the soundcloud page (click the little downward arrows).
I have recently put my songs on Soundcloud. There, streaming doesn't hurt my server and I get some stats for free. Also, they have a nice Flash player.
Also, I found a small community of songwriters which is pretty nice. People share their songs with each other and comment on the parts they like. You can check my list of favourites to see what cool songs I have discovered so far. It is encouraging to be with others who share this amazing hobby and open up just like yourself.
Finally a social network I actually need!
I have also realised that the concept of an album is not dead. I thought it was and I'd just publish a stream of songs. Some people do that, but they are extreme in their commitment (e.g. publish one song a week) and I can't do that. On Soundcloud, I can create sets and sets have the order I choose. I like that. On magnatune, everything has to be in albums. People still think (and buy) in the album concept.
Anyways, my first album is called "Western" - honoring the beloved guitar I recorded all of it with and also the direction all my moving of the last years has been. It feels good to be able to close a chapter and think of the future songs as a new one - so I am happy with albums, too, it seems :)
What I am doing here is basically a One-Man show. I decide everything, from conception to recording. While it is great to have a hobby where I am my own boss, total freedom comes with total responsibility.
Along the life of a song, I make dozes of decisions, and each of them could be critical for the reception of the end product*. I am currently getting acquainted with the recording process, so I'll make a list from the top of my head:
Which guitar should I use (I have my usual Western Guitar, but sometimes the Telecaster Copy might be better)? Shoul I use a plek or not (here I switch a lot)? Is it time to put on new strings already (the clarity of strings gets worse, but only devilishly slightly, over time)? When I record something, for example a guitar or a voice, when is the right time to stop agonizing over unperfect details and just live with what I did?
Does the track need some percussion or not (my principle here would be to think simple first)? If so, which drums - A rock kit, more jazzy, or Bongos (I tried all of them in my first songs)? I could also try to come up with a little Bass riff, so should I? I also have to decide if backing vocals would be helpful - you see, "helpful" is difficult to define, and what sounds awesome today could sound like too much next month. I also need to decide which tempo is best - until the reording I played like I felt like, but now it has to be a number: 120? or 130?
The loudness problem: My recording should be as loud as possible, because people intuitevily like (comparatively) loud songs better - but too loud, and I get distorted peaks... How do I trade between peak control and uncompressed clarity of the sounds? If I optimise the sound, for what kind of speakers (there are cool Hifi-setups, but also Laptop-speakers and earphones and they all make a song sound totally different in certain aspects)? Shouldn't I start to write down my perfect setup for loudness, from the distance between the guitar and the mic to all channel settings in GarageBand? By the way, what is the perfect distance for my guitar to my mic? There is so much to know here - what else is there to achieve the general feeling of high-quality mastered music? And when should I just stop bothering and enjoy life?
I already mentioned the decoding question in my last post. Interestingly, while recording, I sometimes decide that the song should be faded out. Will I think that is cheesy a year from now?
Maybe I should make such a list about the writing phase, too. But I have abstained from writing so long (I swore to first record all old stuff) - I'll just wait until I am in that phase again. It will be interesting to see if it makes a difference to walk a song through the whole process, from writing to recording, in a couple weeks, without this big brealk in between.
*by that I also mean the reception by myself later on
One of many first decisions when recording music: which bitrate to use?
When the recording software turns everything into an MP3 file for distribution on the web and MP3 players, how much of the information should be thrown away in order to save space?
Today, 192 kbps is considered a pretty good encoding rate, but since this is my very own music, I'd definitely like to convey more clarity, maybe at 256 kbps. But then, if I stream the MP3 from my website, will the streaming stil work for visitors when a 3:30 song is twice the size? How will that affect the bandwith limit of my web provider?
In general, most people couldn't tell the difference between 192 and 256 kbps, but audiophiles (and sometimes those are the most avid listeners) often can. Also, since disk space and streaming speed becomes less of a bottleneck each year, I decide to go for 256 kbps...