What Am I doing?

Remember in that last post when I mentioned doing another round of re-recordings of older songs?

I have literally lost my mind.

How about two more rounds?

I picked out a handful of songs to think about re-doing. Most were from the last couple of RPM Challenges but I poked around through other projects looking to fill out the numbers. When I got to the 2020 50/90 playlist I thought about how I made a whole 10 song project out of songs written for the 2021 50/90 and I thought… do it again?

Sure enough, I have 10 songs from various places and projects, that will be round seven. I also have 10 songs just from the 2020 50/90, and that will be round eight.

Robert… come on… what are you doing?

Realize that this is just me trying to be a 50 year old schmuck who is following social distance protocols up to and beyond their maximum who still wants to play the guitar a lot and who also likes to think that part of him is still that 22 year old kid who went to school to learn how to operate a recording studio.

So… yeah. That’s happening.

It might be a while before I get too deeply into it as I still haven’t started doing the laundry. I’ll get to it though.

The Nerdiest Music Nerd Thing I’ve Ever Done

I’ve done a lot of musically nerdy things in my life. I’m a Rush fanatic so I sort of goes without saying.

Years ago I made a playlist on Alonetone that held songs I wanted to re-record. Before I started actually finishing songs I just kept adding songs to the playlist. When I started finishing songs I added those to the playlist and matched them up with the originals. Now that it’s done there are 114 songs on the playlist.

Through all of this time I kept the playlist private. Today I made it public. Good lord what a nerd I am.

The Great 2015 Re-Recording Project Reference Tracks

Done and Done

At last, The Great 2015 Re-recording project has come to an end. Volume six has 11 songs. For a while there I thought it was going to have 12 or 13, but enough’s enough, right? Maybe at some point in the future I’ll pull together another batch of slightly better than shitty songs, but for now let’s consider this nearly seven year old exercise complete.

The last two songs include one that’s basically meh:

And one that might be okay in more capable hands:

I still have to get volumes five and six onto bandcamp, but for now I think I am just going to rewatch season two of The Mandalorian because this is the way.

Tracking is Done

The Great 2015 Re-recording project started in, you guessed it, 2015. I failed to finish it in a timely manner and it kept getting extended and each time I revisited it I added more songs to it and by the time 2020 came around and I really got to it for really reals it was gigantic.

I just put the last guitar track onto the last song. Tracking is officially done.

What was supposed to be 8-10 songs has turned into 58, I think, and instead of one little best-of playlist it’s going to end up with six.

What did I learn from today’s monumental (#sarcasm) guitar tracking session?

Stringjoy strings last longer than any other strings I’ve ever played, but they don’t last forever. When they’re dead, they are really dead, and the strings on my Les Paul Standard are dead. I will change them before RPM starts next week, I promise.

Also… calluses are important. Ouch.

I’ve got two songs left to mix and then The Great 2015 Re-recording Project, aka Quarantine Tunes, will be over. I want it done today. Let’s move on to new things, shall we?

Song Time

I said in the last post that I was going to play guitar tonight but I decided to mix a song instead. The Great 2015 Re-recording Project only has two more songs outstanding after this one. They both need lead guitars and a mix, but after that the whole shebang is done.

Which means that after RPM is done I’m going to have to think of something new to do to waste my time.

Here’s a Song

The only song from last year’s RPM Challenge to be added to The Great 2015 Re-recording project is this little sucker. I think this version is better than last year’s, which is nice. Mission accomplished. I also think this needs to be played loud. It doesn’t seem to land as well at a lower volume. That’s probably a sign that the mix is shitty, but I don’t care. It’s done. Again.

Recording Studio Magic-ish

Back in 2015 I worked out a song for the RPM Challenge that tricked GarageBand into using different time signatures. It chugs along at 120 beats per minute switching between 7/8, 6/4, and 4/4 like nobody’s business. It was a cool song to play and I had a lot of fun working on it, but it took me a long time to get the rhythm guitars recorded in a way that was good enough to keep.

There was a section in the middle of the song though… 24 bars… written on a keyboard with the tempo set to something much lower than 120 bpm. It was, to my lame ears, a cool break in the middle of the song. Unfortunately I couldn’t play it at 120 bpm on the guitar. It was just too fast for my fat fingers to grasp. I ended up recording it in pieces. Three bars then one bar, repeat six times, then move to a second track and repeat the whole thing. It was pretty brutal to get through.

That was in 2015. One month later I started messing with the idea of a re-recording project. I didn’t get far. Then in 2016 when RPM ended I went back to the re-recording thing and added this particular song to the list. Apparently I forgot about all of the stress it had caused me when I first recorded it.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago and the re-recording project finally gets around to this song. I had forgotten everything. I started with the bass and drums and had to remember how to trick GarageBand into using different time signatures (hint: it boils down to math). Then I had to remember how to trick GarageBand into letting me use the Session Drummer with the different time signatures (hint: lots of bouncing segments between two tracks, one of which is not the session drummer). Then last night I took my first crack at adding guitars.

Intro? No problem. Verses? Easy. Chorus? Cake. All the little 1-2 bar bridge sections? No problem. The section in the middle (actually, while working on the MIDI tracks I cut a few sections out of the song. One of them was the last eight bars of the middle section so the 24 bar section is now only 16 bars, dig)? Hello? Anyone?

Could I play it?

Not even close.

While I was struggling last night Harry came home from work so I stopped trying. Today I had a little time to get back to it. I scrapped everything I did yesterday and started fresh, mostly just to build up my confidence. When I got to the middle section I did something unusual. I just sat here at my desk, looking at GarageBand, and practiced. Not for long. Just enough to get it under my fingers, even though it was wrong 90% of the time. Then I split the 16 bars into four, four bar segments and started on the first segment. Remember I double everything, so each four bar segment needs to be done twice. It took me a long time to get the first one. The second track went a little quicker. Same with segment two. For segment three, it took a lot longer to get the first track, but the second track was nailed in one take! WOOHOO! Of course that just jinxed me for the rest and I needed like 10-15 tries for each piece.

The end result though… I have the full 16 bars, twice. Kick ass! The punches were nice and clean too, so I can’t even tell that it was recorded in pieces. It just sounds like I am actually able to play the guitar like a big boy and I just did it. Nice.

Wow… I wrote a lot about this stupid little song.

Guitar pictures to celebrate my being able to pretend I don’t suck quite as bad as I clearly do!

I also retired a pick today, and the battery on my clip on tuner is about to die. That’s all the news that is fit to print.

Another New Old Song

After including three Rush songs in the last post, this new thing should sound that much shittier.

A song from 2010 with new lyrics and a new coat of paint. I waffled on whether to re-do this song for years. Literally. It went on the list of songs to work on in 2016 and was dropped off and re-added at least twice. Now that it’s done… I probably should have left it off.

It has a drum solo though.

Guitar Pain

I hid away in the cellar tonight playing the guitar. I came up with something new for the Record Every Month thing for January. I came up with something last night but tonight’s is probably a little better. I’ll probably finish them both. The thing I worked out tonight was really hurting my left hand. Lots of cramping (arthritis, maybe?) painful pain.

Next I worked on a re-recording. I hadn’t done anything accept setup the GarageBand file. It’s the same file I used when I wrote the song last February. I pulled apart the mix and left one rhythm guitar track and one vocal track as guides. Normally I replace the MIDI tracks, drums and bass, before I replace the guitars, but this time I started with guitar. Why? Because I just didn’t want to stop recording tonight, that’s all.

I probably should have picked something easier because this particular re-recording took my already hurting left hand and amplified the pain by a factor of 50. Damn, was I hurting. I got through everything, though I am not entirely sure I’m happy with it. I’ll have to live with it for a few days before I decide if I want to do it again.

My hand is still a little sore, but mostly I am feeling better. It was really hurting tonight. I don’t like when that happens. I don’t like it at all.

For the record, here is the already super messy desk I’ve been using, complete with the Bruins game (second intermission, leading 3-2 over New Jersey) on my iPad.