Audio Painting

Audio

So – Here’s the progress I made on the next Mamma Ouija song in the first week.

If you listen through the entire three minutes, you will hear that the arrangement is very rough. Maybe even ear splittingly rough, but that’s how I begin to construct one of these things. The break is a big mess,

the bridge is just a skeleton, etc. I think I probably mapped where a couple details will be in the first and second verse, just kind of adding things in as they occur to me, but at this point I am avoiding getting immersed in any of the fine points. Like I mentioned last week, my approach to making this kind of song is very similar to my approach to painting, and like with painting I think it’s pretty important not to let myself get too carried away in a stream of consciousness in the beginning stages of the process.

I completely abandoned the idea of tempo mapping and looped most of the guitar instead. I still want to learn how to do tempo mapping but as it turns out FL Studio, the DAW I use the most, does not make this easy at all. I’m fairly familiar with a couple other DAWs, but FL makes a lot of what I’m doing seamless and snappy so the inspiration doesn’t get lost while working with the software.  What I ended up doing was accidental really, and I live for those happy accidents! Just out of boredom and not knowing what else to do, I started playing around with ideas for the rhythm section without having the guitar to guide me. I started working with getting a decent groove down with drums, percussion and bass, then dropped in the guitar. I already had the scratch track recorded for the vocals to help block out the rest of the arrangement. Every part, including the rhythm section, will evolve as the process continues, but it seems to be off to a solid start.

Making this kind of song is not like playing live or playing with a group where you work along a linear timeline and express whatever comes to mind and fingers and fits in the moment. This is more like painting in the sense that the time frame is like the four borders of your canvas. I look first at how I will divide the space, map the placement of the basic elements, and map lights and darks so I don’t lose perspective on the overall contrast within the frame. If I get carried away with a specific detail on the outset, I’ll do so without context. Every element in a song or  painting only exists in relationship to all the other elements within the piece, so I keep moving, like a butterfly, from one bit to another, back again and all around, on and on, to keep an overview of how things are balancing and relating to each other. The process requires a delicate balance between organized left brain thinking and intuitive right brain thinking.

This song is not yet to the scary place that probably most artists often find themselves with at some point while working on a piece. I’m enjoying it and am not yet afraid that I’ll ruin it. That will probably occur in the coming week. 🙂 By the end of the entire process, I’ll probably hate it, refuse to listen to it for three months, and then muster up the courage to listen to it and realize it’s not as awful as I thought it was. This is pretty much my relationship with all my music… but hey, at least I’m aware of how neurotic I am about it. That’s got to be worth something. In fact, the entire reason I’m doing this song project publicly and blogging it out is because the idea that even just a few people might be following it is enough to make me actually keep doing it and then review the work I’ve already done. If I wasn’t putting it out there at all, I would make it and literally never listen to it again.

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