Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Generic Catchy Ska Song

Yesterday - well, Monday, but still yesterday to me as it's after 1am and I haven't gone to sleep yet - I bought my own birthday gift. I find that money's always the best gift for birthdays because you can do whatever you want with it. You don't have a sweater that's too small or scratchy, or some sort of item you won't use or take much interest in, you have freedom. So I bought a left-handed electric guitar.
Unfortunately it's a bit blurry, but you can see it at least. It's a Stratocaster.

It cost $269, plus the stand, cord and strap and HST, so I ended up only contributing $125 of my own money. Pretty good for a new guitar and its accessories.

I bought it after going through three options - the guitar, a microphone, or a used upright piano. The microphone was too expensive ($520 - and I need two, as overheads), the piano was too big to fit in the house (and even if I bought the cheapest one I found off of Kajiji, I'd then have to pay for movers and a truck) but the guitar was both inexpensive and not impractical. It could get down the stairs using only one arm to carry it, and the birthday money would substantially cover it.

A guitar is one thing I've been thinking about acquiring for months. My demos all lack a guitar. I'm not in a band - it would be nice, but I don't have the interest to generate enough willpower to figure out how to find people, and I'm not particularly interested in making music my overall career, running after fame, record deals, world-wide tours and travelling. At the most it's fun and an outlet for my creativity. I'd be happy to get to a point where I'm playing gigs and have municipal or even provincial exposure (national would be pushing it) and produce records/music videos, but that would be it. I want to produce songs and albums, but with all the rights and production owned or done by me. I've been playing with my acoustic since February or so. I know just about all the open major and minor chords.

To my surprise and delight, the transition from acoustic to electric really gave me a lot more in sound and fullness. Almost instantly, I was playing certain chords I struggled to barely produce at all on the acoustic. B major and minor, particularly. Just about any bar chord. It was almost unbelievable. Struggling with the acoustic sort of worked. Its strings are a lot higher over the fretboard than the electric's, and the strings are a little thicker. The back of the neck has a slightly deeper bow whereas the neck of the Stratocaster is shallower, so my hand can wrap around it better, with easier reach.

With this new instrument addition to my studio, it sort of completes the set (acoustic, bass, electric) and gives me something major to add to my demos. I already have parts imagined in my head. I just need to play it out to the microphone.

To finish, here's the secondary main focus of this post: The Ska song. I recorded it today - it's a sort of basic start to the guitar and rhythm and recording it. This is as bright and predictable and over-used and catchy as it gets. I recorded drums, bass, two piano parts and two guitar parts. All that's missing is saxophone - that's an instrument I doubt I'll ever learn or buy. My oldest friend plays it - I could get him to play it on my tracks if I wanted.

This video is a screen recording of Audacity; the sound isn't particularly good because the Mac's internal microphone recorded what came out of the speakers. I didn't put up the actual song because for YouTube that meant I had to create a video to add the music to, which was too much effort at the time. And this way, you see how multi-tracking works as I solo certain instrument tracks, such as the piano tracks, guitar tracks (which really sound quite good) and the bass. There's just no sax.

Even though it's a replica of probably dozens of other songs, Ska or otherwise, it is pretty catchy and a good start to playing around with and recording the guitar. In listening to it again hours later, I'm kind of surprising myself with how well I actually got it down. It's not perfect, but it's something, and pretty good. I could make a song out of it with lyrics talking about how over-used and inanely catchy and familiar it is or something. "Generic Catchy Ska Song."

Justin C.

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