Archive for the ‘Making music’ Category

Dave Grohl on how to write a hit

February 17, 2011

 

“Most white people dance to the lyrics..” HA! Still, some good tips here from Mr. Grohl.

“Jefferson”

December 19, 2010

Here is a link to a song I just finished up last night. It’s called “Jefferson,” and it’s about the tiny East Texas town that my mother’s family have lived in for several generations. Mom lives there still, in the post-Civil-War house on the hill that I grew up knowing as my Pa-Pa and Boots’ house.  (My grandmother, the legend went, was small enough to fit inside a cowboy boot when she was a baby — thus the nickname).

The song is a piano ballad that contains a series of literal images from visits there in my youth. For you fellow recording nerds out there, I recorded it with Sonar and some software synthesizers by Cakewalk. I used plug-ins by Line 6 and Ik Multimedia, among others.  I used an AT 4047 as my main vocal mic, with a ribbon mic for background vocals, and Line 6 and Hagstrom guitars and my old Epiphone bass (with a “toaster” style pickup in it). Everything went through a gray market “Neve” style preamp.

Hope you enjoy it! You can listen to it as often as you wish at the above link; if you’d rather purchase it, you can do so via iTunes here.

Here are the lyrics:

Jefferson, by Christopher Ave

Hide inside the old clubhouse my Mama’s Daddy made
Fly beside me as I rush to the moss beside the glade
Climb up the narrow stairs that lead to the attic mysteries
Sit down upon the old green rocker and sing your melodies

Oh hear the mournful song
of the lonely midnight train
So near, it won’t be long
till the morning’s sad refrain

So come down with me to my history
With hopes displayed, where outside games were made up, lost and won
Just walk with me on those red brick streets
And see the way my worries were undone
In Jefferson

City kid of eight or nine with glasses on my face
The folks had split and I was fine with changing up my place
The town was where I lost my cares in a southern state of grace
and learned the life away from strife in an ancient, languid pace

Oh hear the mournful song
of the lonely midnight train
So near, it won’t be long
till the morning’s sad refrain

So come down with me to my history
With hopes displayed, where outside games were made up, lost and won
Just walk with me on those red brick streets
And see the way my worries were undone
In Jefferson

(bridge)
In Jefferson
the only time I saw
my paw paw cry
he’d lost his bride

So come down with me to my history
With hopes displayed, where outside games were made up, lost and won
Just walk with me on those red brick streets
And see the way my worries were undone…
In Jefferson

Line 6 offers new blog series on home recording

November 5, 2010

Line 6 has started a blog series on home recording. Find part one, about computer recording, here; part two, on microphones, is here.

Line 6 is a well established company best known for its Pod series of guitar amp simulators and recording interfaces. It also produces the Variax line of modeled guitars. I have and use many Line 6 products, which I find offer incredible variety and quality for the money. You can hear Line 6 guitars, modeled amps and effects all over my music.

New version of Sonar coming: Sonar X1

November 1, 2010

My friends at Cakewalk just announced a brand new version of their flagship multitrack recording software product: Sonar X1. Read all about it here.

As a longtime, loyal Cakewalk user (remember Pro Audio anybody?) I am PUMPED about this one!

STUDIO SECRET REVEALED: How to improve your sound

October 25, 2010

Craig Anderton is an institution in the studio music world as an author, blogger, performer, designer and all-around nice guy.

Today I wanted to share a simple insight from Craig that I saw over on a forum he moderates over at Harmony Central, “Craig Anderton’s Sound, Studio and Stage.”

It’s this:

“The cheapest, quickest, and most effective way to improve the sound of your studio is to write a better chorus.” -Craig Anderton

What a marvelous way of saying that in the end — after you’ve updated your software and mortgaged the house to get the latest tube preamp and that pristine 1957 Strat — what counts most is whether you have a good song in the first place.

So thanks, Craig, from one more composer-performer-engineer guy who needed to hear that it’s about the music, and the performance, much more than it is about the tools.

SND video uses “Mad Designers” as music theme

September 24, 2010

Here’s a promotional video done in 60′s-era animation style by Brian Williamson to promote the Society of News Design’s 2011 conference in St. Louis. Brian asked me to produce a piece of music for the video, and I tried to come up with a Mad Men-esque sound to suit the visual style. (Which was a treat for me, as Mad Men is my personal favorite show).

For you musicians, I used Cakewalk’s Sonar, synths from Dimension Pro, a Hofner-style bass, a Strat with Line 6 amp and effect sounds and drum samples from Smart Loops.

Let me know what you think!

Tom Petty guitarist Mike Campbell on his two loves

September 15, 2010

Here’s a fine little piece by my former colleague at the St. Petersburg Times, Sean Daly, on guitarist/producer extraordinaire Mike Campbell, of the Heartbreakers. Nice work, Sean. In my book Campbell is the all-time master of playing EXACTLY what the song needs — no more, no less.

Damn the Torpedoes, a Tom Petty masterpiece

August 22, 2010

Here’s a promo for the new “Classic Albums” DVD, this one on Tom Petty’s third album, Damn the Torpedoes. I especially like the story of the genesis for “Refugee,” which came from a bluesy lick that guitarist Mike Campbell came up with after listening to an old Albert King song.

Hearing Campbell’s lick and chords, Tom Petty came up with the melody and lyrics, an effort “that might have taken 10 minutes,” he says. Classic!

Four chords and you have a pop hit

August 20, 2010

Here’s a hilarious demonstration – courtesy Axis of Awesome – of just how many pop hits have been created with the C-G-Am-F progression. Enjoy!

Top 100 guitar riffs…. all in a row

August 18, 2010

My youngest son, aged 8, is learning guitar. I recently bought him an electric Strat copy and a small amp, and he almost instantly started playing the riffs to “Smoke On The Water” and “Iron Man,” along with the melody to the theme from Pink Panther. It got me to thinking about those classic rock guitar riffs all guitarists fumble around with at one point or another. The man above, named Brodie Cumming, managed to play what he’s calling the Top 100 guitar riffs of all time in a single take, over about seven and a half minutes. Check it out!


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