I have a bad habit when it comes to recording music. When I am playing around on my guitar I have all sorts of ideas that I want to record. So I spend a couple of hours recording things, get frustrated or distracted, and end up deleting everything and never following up on or completing any ideas. After a couple of years with a Firebox interface and Cubase LE4 on my computer I have produced a very small number of recordings.
On Sunday afternoon I decided to set myself a few goals to combat this. I resolved to record a full song during the afternoon, from nothing to composed and recorded. It had to mixed down before the evening arrived. My only musical requirements were that it had to be all original and my ukulele had to be featured.
So around 1:30 I picked up my guitar and started thinking about chord progressions, melodies, and dynamics. Over the next five hours I ended up with this:
I played around with many things that did not make the final mix. Obviously this is a hurried and non-polished song considering it was written and recorded in just a few hours. There are rough patches.
I wrote out the chord progressions I wanted to work with first. Incorporating a flatted VI minor in the chorus was an idea I had a few weeks ago that I decided to borrow. The next step was putting down the instrumental backbone, followed by coming up with lyrics (the original lyric that the song is built around is “If your eyes are cold tonight I can make them warm” which was inspired by someone I once knew). I drew from my life, the story of a friend, and a movie plot to write the song.
With the lyrics recorded I added a few musical touches (like the repetitive piano line, the muted electric guitar in the chorus, the string fills in the chorus and outro). Then I mixed the song down shortly after 6pm (I’m not sure when the afternoon offically ends, but I like to think of its final moment as being at 6:59:59). Goal accomplished.
One thing that I’ve experienced with recording music is the crushing blow of taking off the headphones. The mix that I hear when I have my mixing headphones on while working in Cubase is far better than the version you get through computer speakers. I’m not a good enough mixer to make it translate. If you listen to the MP3 with a good set of headphones you get a better picture of the song, but you still lose some subtleties. If you want the full picture you’ll have to visit me and listen to the song in Cubase.
Acoustic Guitar: Martin DC-1E
Electric Guitar: Schecter C-1E/A
Pedal Board: Boss ME-50
Bass Guitar: Washburn Bantam XB-400
Ukulele: Lanikai LU-21
Keyboard: Yamaha PSR225-GM
Shaker: Rice and sunflower seeds in a film canister
“Snare”: Two Reebok running shoes
Microphone: AudioTechnica AT2020
Interface: PreSonus Firebox
Software: Cubase LE4
Into the sunset I saw you go/full of confidence and hope
I’ll always be right here/ if you should ever return
Sometimes nothing goes as planned/some days we’re dealt a lousy hand
If your eyes are cold tonight I can make them warm
Don’t wait, alright? You said
Don’t wait, alright?
I’m gone and not coming back this time, alright?
I checked the paper for news of you/it was quiet, I was confused
If you wanted to return/could you even come home?
The bridge was burned and bombed by you/ sometime bridges can’t stand the truth
But we could build one that’s better you’ll see/ just give it a chance