Week of August 1-5
My guide vocal turns out to be OK so I fix a few pitching discrepancies and Jill sings the harmony for the first chorus – to my vocal.
This is not easy as I have my ideas about timing and delivery and they do not come naturally to everyone. She gets it pretty quickly. 3 takes and I edit them together.
Verse 2 – Jill sings. There is a fine line in the song with the delivery. It is obviously sad. This doesn’t need reinforcing. We end up agreeing that she should sound like she’s trying to keep her chin up, even if she is really depressed. This gives an almost Broadway feel, which I like, and goes with the ‘Carousel’ vibe (I hope) of the backing track. Same as with the harmony, Jill sings 3 and I comp them together.
Jill thinks her verse needs another element introduced – she is thinking along the lines of a string line, or a melotron. I provide numerous sounds to play with and we eventually arrive on a Prophet 5 sound my friend Robert Hanline programmed. A very simple repeating descending part works and plays out through the remainer of the arrangement, looping along through all the changes (standard LC post 2000 technique).
Now I need to sing the harmony to her vocal. This is not easy for me at all, but after a lot of trying and quite alot of help from technology, I get the first half of the chorus sounding pretty good. It is now late and I’m exhausted. We get a quick meal and go home.
Jill has to get to NYC for an early afternoon meeting. I drive her to Sprinfield for the train.
Back to the harmony vocal. I work several hours trying to get the 2nd half of the chorus, but I can’t seem to deliver it the way she did in the first one. I get something sounding OK, and then give up. I need a break to come back with fresh ears.
I email the curator of the project to make sure I have enough time, and I’m given another week.
Week August 8-12
Monday – Wednesday
Work on ‘How wrong can you be?’ for my record.
Listening to For Good Times two things are wrong – my harmony, and the track is too naked at the start.
My problem with harmonies is that I find it near impossible to sing along with someone singing a different melody to them – I always subconsciously revert to the lead. So it is very hard for me to listen to Jill’s part and sing along with her, with different notes. I’m no James Taylor.
I’m learning to use this Melodyne software, which allows me to analyse and manipulate the pitching and timing of monophonic melodies. I import Jill’s harmony in to it and then I try to sing as close I as I can to that. I don’t get that close. Then I edit my sad singing with melodyne, and I get something which sounds like a kraftwerk LC singing Jill’s harmony melodies pretty well. I then line them up to match the timing of Jill’s Chorus delivery. This is great but it doesn’t sound like me, or a person, really (I should stress that I’m just starting with Melodyne, and I’m sure it may be possible to get something that sounds just like me, but I’m not fluent in the subtleties, yet). But I can sing along with robot LC, and sing the same notes. So after a lot of work, I eventually sing a harmony!!
I decide that what the track needs is some kind of amp noise, or distortion, but not distortion of the existing parts.. This is not easy. Eventually, it does take a lot of trial an error to arrive at this, I play a Spectrasonics Atmosphere patch through a leslie cabinet simulator with the distorion up full and the speakers rotating at slow speed, so the sound has movement, I play the patch by ear – it hyas no real tonality – through the song. If I’m successful, it sounds like some old mechanical, metalic thing, churning away. Like a carousel.
I then make a rough mix, end it to the curator, producer and JS. Tidy up the parts – that is make sure all the audio files start at the same point, bouce any virtual instruments to auctual audio, and make mix notes. Burn 2 DVDs with all this on and mail them to Tennesse. Hopefully I’m done with it. Tom, the curator emails to say they are happy with the track.