Saturday, February 19, 2011

More Tascam Experiments

I was in a hurry, so this isn't as polished as it could be. However, I am definitely having some success with the Tascam 8-track unit, and am actually picking up some speed when it comes to blasting through the learning curve.

I love T-Bone Burnett, and a particular favorite of mine from his oeuvre is a song called "Shut It Tight." Obviously, I am no T-Bone Burnett when it comes to playing my guitar. I play rhythm, mostly, as an accompaniment to my own voice, and I do a lot of cover tunes, and do my best to put my own spin on them, rudimentary though that spin might be.

Some folks have said recently that they think I'm a good guitarist. One, a guitarist himself, went so far as to say he thinks I'm a better guitarist than he is. This embarrasses me. I don't take that sort of compliment well, especially when I think the guitarist in question is better than me, because he can do things with his guitar playing that I will never be able to do.

I prefer to say, we are different from each other, in technique and style of playing. One is not necessarily better than the other. Just...different.

That said, here is my hasty, recent attempt at Shut It Tight. I sang the vocal three separate times and layered them one on top of each other, just for a lark, to see if it was possible.

It was. What a hoot! A chorus of "me."

Things I plan to change in future:

1) Position the microphone in such a way that certain consonants and exhalations aren't painfully audible.

2) Tempo. Crikey, it's not a race!

3) Harmonies between verses should be more than a vague, off-the-cuff idea performed on the fly.

4) If dogs bark and family invades, I should just erase the botched track and try again later when it's quiet.

5) Add reverb during the mixdown, not while I am laying down individual tracks.

This is an interesting process. Nice thing is, I don't need a quiet house to lay down guitar tracks. I can plug directly into the machine and record any time. The guitar parts for "Shut It Tight," for instance, were recorded while everyone else in the house was watching the Super Bowl. I monitored through headphones and saved the tracks for later. Nice to know I can proceed in that manner any time I want to.

Sometime in the next year I should have something of much better quality to share with friends. If enough people like it and say nice things, maybe I'll break past the shyness barrier and play and sing in public someday.

And by the way, if it wasn't for the fella in the two videos posted below this entry, I would never have gotten this far. Watching him play and sing in person for the first time, a little over a year ago, made me realize how starved I was to play and sing myself, and I picked up my guitar again after an eight-year hiatus.

The circumstances of my giving up playing eight years ago were traumatic and painful. I thought I could never do it again, or care enough to try.

Grant Hart changed that in a single evening. I owe him a lot for helping me get that healing process started, so I could come this far, and focus my intent on going even farther. To make music is, for me, the very breath of life, and I had forgotten.

Grant Hart infused me with that breath of life, and called me forth from the tomb I had hidden myself in.

That is no exaggeration.

What can I say, but -- thank you Grant. God bless you.

And what can I do, but -- keep on keepin' on.

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