Sunday, July 31, 2011

Track 1: with hands raised to the sky

While the oldest song in this collection is 'Ivy,' which I wrote in 1999, the song 'with hands raised to the sky' really marked this album's beginning in August of 2009.  Musically, it's a gathering of ideas of minimalism, electronica and rock/jazz lead guitar, but for me it had its origins in instrumental worship music.

The Boss RC-20XL Looper

My wife Julie and I had been volunteering at the Nashville House of Prayer (NHOP) since it began in 2007, leading the music for a weekly two hour 'devotional' slot. We would play ambient background music during prayer and meditation times, and then go in and out of different songs that people could sing along to.   After a couple of sessions with Julie trying to play rhythm guitar (which wasn't much fun for either of us) I started bringing my Boss RC-20 Loop pedal.  It allowed me to record simple guitar parts on the fly, and then layer other parts on top of them.  A lot of times I would create a guitar 'track,' then play lead lines over top of it.  'With hands raised to the sky' is basically a more composed version of one of those NHOP selah moments.

A screenshot from Logic, the recording program I use.  You can see all the segmented 'loops.'
In the studio, instead of using the loop pedal, I would either play the 'looped' theme over and over again, or copy and paste the recording.  I also had the flexibility to have the 'track' change themes or modulate while soloing on top of them, something that wouldn't be possible live.

I did want to keep some of the spontaneity of a live performance, which I did in the way I recorded the lead lines.  In the olden days, before I had a workable digital recording studio in my spare bedroom, I would write out a song, work out the solo lines, practice it for months, and beg, borrow or buy studio time somewhere and squeeze as many songs as I possibly could into the time I could afford.

Having the luxury of my own recording space, I could take my time and record as I wrote, something I've never been able to do before.  I would basically take the songs a phrase or two at a time, writing a part, getting it under the fingers, and taking a few stabs at it until I had a take that I was happy with.  The result seems much more immediate, maybe a bit less polished, more improvised and raw.

The guitars on this (in order of appearance) are my Takemine CP 132-CS nylon string, and my Taylor 814 CE steel string.  The bass is mix of sample sounds available on Logic.  I'll do a post later on the studio and talk about mics and effects and other exciting tech geek stuff.

Here's a video I shot with my iPhone.  Thanks to Trace Scarborough for his amazing help editing and coming up with the opening sequence.  You rock, Trace!

1 comment:

  1. "ideas of minimalism" is what makes it so artful and gives the listener room to breath...peacefully inhaling and exhaling with ease throughout the layerings. the deeply moving, melodic progressions can not be taught, but only passionately felt by the player and released into song...and no surprise to find my spirit hijacked and carried into a place of worship. one can not help but feel a sense of engagement, when the human soul is addressed in such a way through the medium of "art-songs"...

    and that's ALL i have to say about THAT. :v)