Monday, April 8, 2013

i love music

i love music. unlike many other people who feel that way, i made a choice to actually take up an instrument in the hope of making a living as a musician. that didn't happen for me, but i still love playing music (ie: physically picking up and playing an instrument, as opposed to simply putting a cd on, dummy!).

it began in my last year of high school. i didn't receive much in the way of an allowance and had to get a part-time job in order to buy a bass. i started somewhat later on guitar. i was about 20 when i finally purchased a six-string.

in my early 20s i played bass in a few different bands, none of which got anywhere. by the time i was in my late(ish) 20s, i felt confident enough to try forming a band based around my own singing, songwriting and guitar playing. i was probably over-estimating my talents at the time. i was writing pretty good songs, but my presentation of them was terrible. i sang in the most godawful loud, blustery, faux-soulful voice it might ever be your misfortune to suffer exposure to and accompanied myself on a guitar amplified to the most perversely grating and unpleasant tone imaginable. looking back, it's hard to believe that i actually found people willing to play with me in a band. maybe they figured there was something so strikingly rotten about what i was doing that it was bound to make waves. obviously, they were wrong.

i essentially gave up on playing music with other people when i was in my early 30s. the band i was fronting at the time had completed its third demo, but then dissolved since the three of us could not see eye-to-eye regarding the band and where it should be going. to be honest, over the four-or-so years i'd spent playing my music with other people, i'd had serious problems regarding their creative contributions to my songs which made it fairly easy to close the door on that part of my life. for about seven years i resigned myself to the idea that i would not be playing music in much of any capacity beyond noodling on my guitar in private (and occasionally for friends).

sometime during 1999 i got the itch to do something with music again. something that wouldn't put me in the position of having to include other people. i bought a bass guitar and a drum machine late in the summer of '99, thinking that if i could record satisfactory backing tracks using my stereo cassette deck, i'd then go ahead and buy a tascam 4-track machine. after roughly a month's worth of experiments, i felt confident enough to set up a proper home recording studio. along with the bass, drum machine and tascam recorder, i also purchased a ZOOM effects board.

my lo-fi solo odyssey began in january of 2000. i was briefly encumbered by some (in retrospect) misguided ideas about keeping things as simple as possible (the rule was 4 tracks of instruments/vocals per song, with absolutely NO track bouncing), but by mid-february i had thrown that nonsense out the window and was experimenting with overdubbed vocals and guitars. during 2000 i recorded over 150 songs: some brand new, some written during my seven years of (not exactly but sorta) inactivity and some dating back to the period when i'd led my own band.

in december of 2000 after nearly 12 months of recording whenever the mood hit me, i actually needed to take a break from music again. i decided that after this interregnum (which lasted roughly three months), i would record only when i had enough ideas on hand to make an album's worth of songs.

and so from march 2001 to january of 2004 i kept my home recording activities confined to short bursts which generally lasted 1-2 weeks and which, as a rule, had to yield at least 40 minutes worth of music.

my interest definitively waned after january 2004. i made attempts to record material during the summer of 2004 and spring of 2005, but was unhappy with the results. in the spring of 2008 i wrote a half dozen songs and decided to record them while also finishing up the tracks i had lying around from '04 and '05. the work i did in the spring and summer of 2008 constitute my last completed "album". it's not that i'm lacking for inspiration, mind you. when i pick up a guitar, it's inevitable that i'll create the germ of a song within a few minutes. for some reason though, i never feel like doing anything with the ideas i come up with. it's not writer's block. more like writer's ennui. writer's laziness? old age? i dunno.

in any case i've decided to start posting my "albums", hopefully at the rate of 2 per year. which means that i should be done with this little project in about a decade. the music's offered under a standard creative commons license: free to anyone for personal use, but if it's employed in any context where money is generated, i want my share.

first up: october 2003. along with some notes on the recordings, i'll be including lyrics with the downloads. though i don't think they'll make my songs fully comprehensible, as lyrics are not especially crucial to what i try to accomplish as a songwriter. for me, songs are (more or less) finished once i get the structure and texture down. while the vocal melody is important, it's only one component part of the song. that's why i generally mix my vocals low, so that they're part of the overall texture without dominating the song. at least that's the idea.

enjoy! (updated with new notes and creative commons license)

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say whatever you'd like, any reasonable criticism will be read and (eventually) responded to. unless you're an idiot, in which case i'll delete your post and it will never get published.