The Daily Whim

The Daily Whim

Mon. Aug 15, 2005

Sound Infliction, #1

I have no displayable musical skills whatsoever. My musical training consists of about three months of trumpet lessons in the sixth grade (they didn’t “take”). Oh, and as a teenager, I taught myself the rock and roll minimum for playing guitar, three chords … as long as the song allows lots of time to switch from one to the other. But thanks to the purchase of a Mac Mini loaded with the program Garageband, none of that matters. Who needs talent, skills, or training when it can be replaced with some computing power, some loops, some software, and a lot of mouse clicking? And thus, I get to inflict the result on you, Dear Reader Listener.

Aren’t computers great?

For some, I imagine this is somewhat like podcasting is for me. I’ve been trying to write an article about podcasting since May, but I can’t bring myself to finish listening to the podcasts. Due to nearly a decade in radio, it’s painful listening. Likewise, for anyone with any musical skills, talent, or training … this is probably gonna hurt.

Garageband is a software form of crack. It has the right mix of simplicity and complexity to allow you to quickly get rolling, and do more as you learn more. It has kept me up way too late over the weekend. But I’m still a rookie, both at putting songs* together from loops (that’s right, nothing but loops … anything else would require talent), and in the mixing process (mine’s a bit more distorted than was intended). I don’t even know how to properly bring a song to an end (so I made it an inside joke).

As I started making my first song, I thought, “you know, this is probably going to sound like a really bad version of Nine Inch Nails.” So I named it “Half Inch Tacks.” But as it developed, it ended up sounding more like a very stoned Joe Satriani, backed by a drunken Crazy Horse, as produced by a burned out Giorgio Moroder. Except … a really amateur version of that.

Have a laugh: Download “Half Inch Tacks” MP3 (4.6MB, 3:25) Update: as of 8/23, this download links a much better mix than the original

* Referring to this construct as a “song” is semantically false, as a song has a structure and goes somewhere

Peanut Gallery

1  Todd H. wrote:

Ok, for someone completely unmusical, you did well- it’s got a beat, you can dance to it. You’re right it goes nowhere though.

I think it’d win the vote for “Song Most Likely to be Heard After 1AM at The Cheetah 3”.

2  Reid wrote:

Hey, that beats having the kids on American Bandstand give it an 85 … at least, visually.

3  rturner wrote:

It would make great background music for shows like “Taxicab Confessions”, too. I think you’re onto something here. Speaking of a drunken Crazy Horse, I once heard a pissed Crazy Horse. When I was in college I heard that they were playing for an outdoor party at a frat house. Naturally I went over. There were a bunch of drunken slobs in togas up near the band screaming, “Louie Louie! Louie Louie!” Shortly thereafter, the band did indeed play Louie Louie….. for the next three hours straight.

4  Reid wrote:

I think you’re onto something here

Please, you shouldn’t encourage addiction. I’m already hiding a second song in shame.

Shortly thereafter, the band did indeed play Louie Louie … for the next three hours straight

Hehe. That sounds about right. I’m reading the biography of Neil Young, Shakey. It’s one helluva book (did you know Neil was briefly roommates with … Rick James?), and the parts I’ve read so far on Crazy Horse have been the most entertaining. Like I said, a three hour Louie Louie sounds about right.

5  Harvey wrote:

I’d be very curious to read your thoughts on podcasting, since I’m ensnared in one myself, and I keep wondering if we’re doing this right.

Oh, and well done on the song. I’m thinking Satriani circa “Time Machine”. Simple, but – in moments – not without charm.

6  Reid wrote:

I’d be very curious to read your thoughts on podcasting

It’s a time thing. I haven’t made the time to listen to all of the hour of podcasts I’ve downloaded, and to me, that’s part of the problem. It’s just a horribly inefficient process. I spend five minutes and a chunk of bandwidth downloading a file that will take ten minutes to listen to, and present content I could have read in 2 minutes.

Oh, you were wanting constructive advice? I haven’t gotten there yet. Quickly:

[1] Picture one person in your mind. Speak to them, not an “audience.” Despite the mass media nature of it, it is one on one communication.

[2] When recording, you must speak with a vocal emphasis about twice more than normal. The emphasis humans use via body language and facial expressions must be converted to vocal emphasis. When you feel like it’s twice too much while recording it, it will sound about right.

[3] Conversation is far more appealing than monologue.

[4] Learn good mike habits. Rather than speaking straight into the mike, turn it at a slight angle and speak across it. This will help with “splosive consonants,” like “p” and “t.”

Simple, but – in moments – not without charm

Hey, that sounds like rock and roll to me! Primarily, I had fun doing it. That was the sole goal. I suppose I should look at podcasting the same way. If people enjoy doing it, that’s their primary goal. My curmudgeonly criticism is irrelevant to that.

7  Harvey wrote:

Good stuff.

I’ll be mulling that over.

If anything else pops into your head, please post.

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