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2008-08-15 10:56 pm
mdlbear: (audacity)

So, at long last, I actually got off my arse and recorded a track. A scratch track, actually, for Quiet Victories. Three vocal flubs, which will be trivial to edit out, and a trainwreck at the end that I can safely ignore.

With both extra verses (and the promotion of Bev's verse to the cannonical last verse) and a couple of reps of the men's and women's endings, it comes to almost exactly 10 minutes.

  And it's Oh, No! a thousand times no
  Although it's my blood you'll be spillin'
  I shouldn't write songs more than 10 minutes long;
  I'm afraid I'm as bad as Bob Dylan.

The new equipment (Delta 1010 and a pair of CAD GXL3000 mics) sounds wonderful, to my aging ears at least.

I'm going to sing it at Kathy Mar's bash tomorrow. Probably more than once. I expect to break a few people with it.

mdlbear: (audacity)

Tweaked the guitar up a little on "Programmer's Alphabet". The last tweak? Maybe. I'm about 2/3 (12/18) of the way through the third listen in its present state.

If I hadn't stupidly procrastinated on the graphics, I could ship it all off on Monday. In any case, I'm pretty sure I'll have a master to put in the mail. Guess I'd better start filling out the paperwork...


2007-07-21 04:18 pm
mdlbear: (audacity)

Today was all about tweaking. I'm feeling lazy, so I'll just show the raw track notes with a little formatting cleanup.

[steve 732] grep 0721 */notes
alphabet  (0721) guitar up
bugs      (0721) reverb down 2dB on me
lcm       (0721) me up 2dB (env) -> 1dB
mushroom  (0721) joyce down
net       (0721) guitar up
silk      (0721) me down 2; flute down 1; callie up 1; flip guitar, flute
teotw     (0721) guitar up 2 (env); me down 1; shaker down 1
wannabe   (0721) guitar up ~2dB.  Normalize down 2dB

"Programmer's Alphabet" needs a little more guitar, I think. And I'm still of two minds about "High Barratry" -- the performance I have on the disk at the moment (from Baycon) is a better performance; the older one (from Consonance) had better audience reaction and better voice/instrument balance. Both have serious problems with with the sound, but they're different problems. I'll probably stay put, but just for reference you'll find the old one here: [ogg] [mp3] and the current favorite here: [ogg] [mp3]. You'll find the complete set of current rips in <http://steve.savitzky.net/Albums/coffee/Rips/>; the flac versions are hopelessly out of date because they take too long to push.

Comments, as usual, are very welcome. We are very close.

mdlbear: (audacity)

Touched more than half of the tracks today -- 10 out of 18. Mostly comparatively minor tweaks. "Guilty Pleasures" needed to be taken down 2dB; haven't quite figured out how to do that automagically yet, so I have to remember to do it whenever I update. Added some bass boost to my vocals on "Cicero", which makes it match its neighbors a little better.

"Someplace in the Net" was more problematic. I was singing three parts on the choruses: two in unison, and one (a lame attempt at) low harmony. Trouble was, the unison parts weren't quite in sync. Took out the extra one, and it seems considerably cleaner.

The comments on this post have been very helpful. Keep 'em coming. To repeat, you'll find the whole darned album, at least through Monday, at <steve.savitzky.net/Albums/coffee/Rips/>, or you can use the ogg or mp3 playlists.

mdlbear: (audacity)

Tweaks to "High Barratry" and "Guilty Pleasures" to bring up the vocals a little. Also discovered that on "Guilty Pleasures" I'd had the drum panned right on top of my vocals. Oops!

mdlbear: (audacity)

Especially on some of my older tracks, I would have problems clicking my fingernails against the pick-guard when I strum. In most cases it's minor, and I've left it in, since there doesn't seem to be any good way to filter it out. But a pair of multiple clicks in the intro to "Programmer's Alphabet" have been bothering me for a couple of weeks now.

On the other hand, the prospect of recording a new intro, then trying to match levels and eq with a track that's been in the system and messed with Gods-know-how for a couple of years, was totally daunting. Not going to happen. On the gripping hand, I used to have a lot of trouble keeping the number of beats in the instrumental breaks between verses consistent, and I realized this morning that I could take advantage of that: there were a couple of breaks that were long enough to cover the clicks in the intro.

So by leaving in the first chord of the original intro, and fading in to the first verse, I was able to splice it in pretty well. I think I might be able to notice something odd if I listened to it repeatedly and didn't go violently mad first, but it's no more than a couple of milliseconds off.

I lucked out on this one -- there aren't many, if any, other tracks where I could have pulled off this particular hack. Fortunately it was the worst of them by far. I think the only other one with noticable clicks in the intro is "Cicero", and it's not as bad. Good thing, because I don't think I could fix that one.

limited-time poofheading preview )


2007-07-16 06:55 pm
mdlbear: (audacity)

Did the final edits on "Little Computing Machine" this morning. Might have just a trifle too much reverb, but it'll take another listen or two to be sure. And it may need a bit of auto-duck on the choruses. But that was the last piece of the puzzle.

From here on it's all tweaking.

7:10 -- edited out the last second or so of "Cicero" -- there were some odd clicks in the guitar track. No big deal, but I'm glad I caught them. I gave the complete set of oggs a listen at work.

8:00 -- last tweaks on "LCM" and a full listen on headphones. Sounding good. If the graphics were done (stupid Bear!) I'd be tempted to ship it tomorrow. Probably just as well I can't.

(The mood is accurate: I have a long history of not finishing projects, and I've been sort of ok with that. Commitment is, in its way, frightening. The fact that I'm about a week away from shipping off a stack of disks, paperwork, and a substantial check to a duplicating house is, frankly, scary.)

9:38 -- more like a week and a half before the artwork is done. Hopefully not as long as two weeks, but we'll see.


2007-07-15 05:56 pm
mdlbear: (audacity)

Cleanup on "Daddy's World" and "High Barratry" (made an audacity project out of the live wav file, and trimmed off a little applause). Gave another listen to my vocals in "Bugs", "Daddy's World", and "TEOTW" and decided that bass boost wasn't necessary. (This included actually trying it on "TEOTW" -- barely noticable -- and doing A/B comparisons with "World Inside the Crystal" which is one of my gold standards.)

The only tracks still needing cleanup are "Little Computing Machine" and "Someplace in the Net"; EQ wants to be checked on those plus "I Wanna Be a Webmaster", "Guilty Pleasures", and "Mushrooms".

(later:) EQ on "Net" is OK. "Guilty"'s OK. "Mushrooms" is OK. "Wannabe"'s OK. So that leaves cleanup on "Net" and cleanup with possible bass boost on "LCM". OTOH it may just need a little more reverb.

18:45: "Net" done. There's one spot in the second verse where which version to use is really too close to call; I'm going to go with what I have.

19:35: Cleanup done on "LCM"; EQ and part selection close. Audacity's "acoustic" curve seems to help a fraction. I'm going to sit on it for a while and have some dinner.

mdlbear: (ccs-cover)

Cleanup on 6 more tracks: "Cicero", "Silk and Steel", "Demon Lover", "TEOTW", "Vampire Megabyte", "World Inside the Crystal". That leaves only the four tracks that might still need a little actual work: "High Barratry", which needs to have the .wav file copied out of the concert directory; "Daddy's World", where I still feel there's some work to be done; and "Little Computing Machine" and "Someplace in the Net", both of where I want to go back and compare the last two of my vocal parts to see which is better on which verse. "Daddy's World" has a lot of clicks where my fingernails hit the pick-guard when I strum; not clear whether to try again or leave them in. I've never managed to play that one without clicks, so it might be a lot of frustrating work for nothing.

There are some developments in the non-audio status, too. I've been making notes on the graphics, and decided to ship them off to [livejournal.com profile] artbeco to be turned into real Photoshop files by a real artist. The other possibility was to download a trial copy of CS3, struggle through the layout on my own, and come up with something that looks like it was done by a programmer pretending to be a graphic designer. Or throw money at Oasis; their designers are good and professional, but they don't know me and don't have a history with the project.

The remaining tasks are to give the cleaned-up tracks another couple of rounds of listen-and-tweak, get some additional text and logo graphics to [livejournal.com profile] artbeco, and to cook up a permission-to-publish form for the performers to sign.

I could use some advice on that... )


2007-07-11 10:37 pm
mdlbear: (audacity)

Cleanup so far tonight: "Bugs", "Paper Pings", and "Uncle Ernie's". It will probably go a little more slowly from this point; I'll have more things tempting me to tweak them. But I still don't have more than two or three days' worth to go.

The graphics are, I'm afraid, another matter, but simply writing up my ideas has helped considerably. I'm a text person, I'm afraid -- almost completely non-visual.

mdlbear: (audacity)

I've started the cleanup process: this consists of copying the most recent version of each track to a fresh Audacity project called to-ccs, and removing all the tracks that are muted out. This should result in a cleaner final track, even if the difference isn't audible in most cases. I know there's some audible bleed-through. So far I've done "guilty", "alphabet", "mushroom", "stuck", and "wannabe", so that's a one less than 1/3 done. It goes quickly, though; there are only a couple of tracks that will need more tweaking before I can clean them up.

I also have a preliminary version of a summary of the graphics and layout work still needed. Still needs some work.


2007-07-09 10:47 pm
mdlbear: (audacity)

Well, I think I have a pretty good idea now of what I want in the way of graphics for the album. What I don't have is any way of getting from vague ideas to something Oasis can actually, like, print. I have absolutely no talent for graphic design, and no experience with the tools I'd need. Spent about an hour playing with The Gimp and Inkscape (comparable in capability and complexity to Photoshop and Illustrator, respectively) and discovered that it would probably take me several days to get to the point where I could even do an approximation of what I want.

I may have one or two coworkers I can turn to. Not clear; it's a very busy couple of weeks at work. I will probably end up throwing more money at Oasis -- their rates are actually pretty reasonable.

Meanwhile, I think the main thing I have to do to the tracks is cleanup. Audacity doesn't seem to have a way to leave a track in the project but not in the mix -- you can mute them on playback, but they still get added in when you export. Reducing the volume sort of works, but they're still in there adding to the noise floor, and although I suppose you could expand the scale to the point where you really could reduce them down to zero, it'll be simpler to just copy the projects and delete the tracks I don't want. Not rocket science -- I think I can do it pretty quickly, then re-tweak the mixes if necessary.

Next week sometime? It's not totally impossible, if I can just keep focussed on -- Oooh! Shiny!

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Took my new little UP3 ogg player out for my walk this morning. Five miles again (might actually be a little longer, or I may just be walking more slowly than I used to). Nice and clear. There was a nasty moment when I heard childrens' voices over "Paper Pings", but it wasn't there when I checked again on the way home. Not on the CD, which I was playing in the car, nor on the player when I pulled over by the Rose Garden and gave it a careful listen. Must have been in the background when I was walking.

Came home (after looking for whistles at Guitar Center and coming up empty, as expected) and looked online. Turns out A whistles are generally considered "low whistles" and are somewhat scarce, though I turned them up at Susato who seem to have a very complete and not terribly expensive line-up.

The best website I've found so far appears to be Chiff & Fipple: The Tinwhistle Internet Experience. From the FAQ:

Q: What is a tinwhistle?

A: Ok. The tinwhistle, also called a pennywhistle, a tin whistle, a penny whistle, or just plain "whistle," is an end-blown fipple flute which utilizes the 6-hole, "simple" flute fingering system. This is an old system that predates modern "Boehm" flutes. In popular usage, the word "fipple" often refers to the sound generating system in which air is blown through a channel, split by a blade--which causes turbulence in the area--which produces vibration--which produces sound. And so on. The 6-hole system consists of open, unkeyed holes, normally covered by your fingers and uncovered in various patterns to produce notes. The 6-hole system also appears on instruments such as fifes, bamboo flutes, 10-speed bicycles and many Tex-Mex chili dishes.

I started looking for an A whistle because I've been hearing a countermelody for "Someplace in the Net" that I think would work well on a whistle. But even if I'd found one, and even if I could play it straight off without practicing (HAH!), I don't think there's time to get it onto the CD, which is close enough to done that I'm actively looking for things not to fix. For example, the drum parts on "Guilty Pleasures" and "Wannabe" would benefit from fixing a couple of missed beats. Worthwhile? Probably not. If I started tweaking those I might not come up for air until next week sometime. That would be bad.

After the album is in the can, I'm going to get back to flute, recorder, and whistle. Really. Meanwhile, I have verified that my Yamaha recorder can be tuned a quarter-tone flat. Evil is possible. OK, it's not as potentially evil as what you could do with a 12-string.

Tracks worked on this afternoon: "Little Computing Machine": pulled up the guitar part a little. "Vampire Megabyte": pulled up a too-quiet word at the start of the last verse. Decided that "Daddy's World" is just fine without a percussion part. So I can stick a fork in that one, too.

mdlbear: (audacity)

Spent a couple of hours recording this morning, trying to get suitable percussion tracks for "TEOTW" and "Daddy's World". I started out trying handclaps on "Daddy's World", but quickly discovered that I didn't like the way they came out. I'd picked up a set of nice rosewood claves at GS a couple of weeks ago, so I tried those. Bingo.

Interesting thing: on a couple of songs, "Daddy's World" included, I very consistently shift the beat going into the chorus. Makes it hard as hell to follow, but a double hit on the claves does the trick. Explains why I was having so much trouble with shaker parts, though.

A little more editing is probably in order, especially on "TEOTW" where I know I dropped a beat once or twice.

mdlbear: (audacity)

Edited in the new vocals on "Little Computing Machine" -- there was one flubbed chorus where I had to go back and grab the old ones, but on the whole it worked. Much tighter and cleaner.

Backed off a little on the shaker on "TEOTW", and removed it altogether from "Wannabe" (it sounded OK, but already had drum and it's right next to TEOTW). I'll probably remove it from "Daddy's World" as well -- it needs something; I'm going to try handclaps.

Just about ready for that fork. (Yeah; I know: still need the layout work. Grumf. Tomorrow.)

mdlbear: (audacity)

Put down new shaker parts for "I Wanna Be a Webmaster", "TEOW", and a shaker part for the choruses of "Daddy's World". Also put down new vocals for "Little Computing Machine", but don't have time to mix it this morning. My first take was completely clean, but was ruined by clipping because I didn't turn down the gain enough after switching microphones. (The shakers were all recorded using a Beta 57.)

I'll give it a listen anyway to see how levels and the latest track order are working out.

mdlbear: (audacity)

Did a little minor work on "Bugs", fixing a couple of too-quiet first words. I don't know why I tend to do that, but I do. I'm getting better; the older tracks are the worst. Fortunately a 3dB boost in Audacity is all it takes.

A little before lunch I was talking with a coworker who was in the process of moving his files onto a new MacBook Pro. I noticed an audacity icon on his desktop, so the talk quickly turned to audio. By that time it was lunchtime, and the little deli in our building was closed for the holiday, so we headed out to an Indian buffet at Cafe Bombay. In my car. With the latest dump CD in the player.

We got through most of the CD, and I got some good feedback, so I wound up counting it as a business lunch and picking up the tab. At his suggestion, I'm going to try swapping "Bugs" and "Barratry" because "Bugs" and "Vampire", which currently follows it, are a little too close in tempo, playing style, and key.

Didn't make quite as much progress this evening as I wanted to, but things are progressing.

mdlbear: (audacity)

Finally got back to working on Vampire Megabyte. Stick a fork in Drive a stake through it -- it's done. Added a 2600Hz tone in front of the DTMF tones, and a 2100Hz tone after them. Could, theoretically, go back and fix the modem tones now that I know what they're supposed to be, but I prefer the musicality of what I came up with. Follow the title link to the audio -- I just uploaded the current version.


2007-06-28 09:16 pm
mdlbear: (audacity)

Fixed a couple of syllables on "Bugs" and "World Inside the Crystal" that were too low. I've gotten a lot better, but these recordings were pretty old. I still do it occasionally.

Adjusted levels on "Daddy's World" to bring up the guitar part relative to the voice. My voice sounded say too loud after "Silk and Steel". I could probably have fixed it by lowering the entire track, which is arguably more like a recorded concert (where the songs clearly differ in volume -- I can see it in my various concert recordings). Might still have to do that, but this seems to work.

Applied a little EQ to "High Barratry", which is the only live track on the album. Basically rolloff below 100Hz and above 10KHz -- an attempt to make it sound a little more like the rest of the album. It's not as bad as the older version from Consonance, where the room was on the hairy edge of ringing during the whole concert, but it still sounds a little odd.

By my reckoning, this leaves only "Little Computing Machine" in need of some new vocals. It's getting close.

mdlbear: (audacity)

Took the shaker out of "I Wanna Be a Webmaster" -- it isn't needed now that there's a drum part. "Perfection comes, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to remove."

Took some disconnected fragments ("Hold in the palm of your hand") out of Emmy's vocals in "Daddy's World" -- it's not so much that they were out of tune but that they weren't connected. She's still in on the last lines of each chorus, and sounds good. The last repeat is especially sweet.

Moved "Daddy's World" up to after "Silk and Steel". I'll play that on the way to work today and see how it feels.

At this point the only things I'm pretty sure need to be fixed are my vocals on "Mushrooms" (I tend to swallow the first word of every verse; this may be fixable by amplifying the sound that's there), some out-of-tune words in the last two verses of "Little Computing Machine", and possibly EQ on "High Barratry" (which was recorded live).

I still have to get the email out, enter the envelopes from Baycon into the database, and add shipping status (now that some people have been given their bonus disks, mainly at Baycon, and some haven't). That's all scheduled for this evening.

And I still have to do a draft of the insert back cover and the tray card. I know what I want; it's just a matter of execution. Getting it into Illustrator or Pagemaker is another matter, but with track order still up in the air... I may just pay the designers at Oasis to do the actual layout; it won't take them very long if I give them all the data, and it's cheaper than spending a grand-and-a-half on Adobe software that I'll only use once a year at most.


2007-06-27 07:12 pm
mdlbear: (audacity)

Got a couple of drum tracks last night from Jordan Uggla, who's been playing along with Tres Gique on our last couple of gigs. So this morning I edited them into "Guilty Pleasures" and "I Wanna be a Webmaster". We decided that "TEOTW" didn't need it; I adjusted the levels a little, though.

I also made major changes to the track order. )
mdlbear: (ccs-cover)

I need some help on this one. Listening to the latest dump, I found the transition from "Little Computing Machine" to "Silk and Steel" to be rather jarring.

So I'm wondering... )
mdlbear: (hacker glider)

Only worked on one track this evening, but it was a fun one: "Vampire Megabyte". You see, it has this line: "...and the modem beeped and twittered as the mainframe lost its mind..." -- and it really wanted a suitable sound effect.

Turns out Audacity plugins are written in this Lisp-based language called Nyquist. "Aha!", says I to myself, says I. "I can play that game..."

It's been a while since I wrote any serious Lisp beyond the occasional Emacs tweak. But it all comes back.

Here's where we get into the serious hacking. )

In other album-related news, I spent some time consolidating my customer data someplace where it can be backed up safely, in an encrypted form, offsite. I hope to finally get around to sending emails sometime early this week. (\me grovels contritely) I am now very close to having something I can send to Oasis, though it's probably going to be the week after Westercon at the rate I'm going.


2007-06-23 08:58 am
mdlbear: (audacity)

A little work on "Demon Lover" (raising the very first word, which was too quiet), "World Inside the Crystal" (a little eq on my voice to suppress the sibilants), and "Someplace in the Net" (punching in the first verse from a different take). "Little Computing Machine" has a couple of words with wobbly pitch in the last couple of verses; I'll have to think about how to deal with those. Still need a couple of drum tracks, and a better shaker track on "Wannabe" and maybe "TEOTW".

Getting down to the wire here.


2007-06-22 09:41 am
mdlbear: (audacity)

I love audacity. Fixed sync problems in the choruses of "Little Computing Machine" and "Daddy's World", added reverb and tweaked levels on "Somplace in the Net". On "Net" there was one spot where the guitar was a little too hot, which of course meant it was too low everyplace else.


2007-06-21 10:11 pm
mdlbear: (audacity)

Did a little work on "I Wanna Be a Webmaster" and "TEOTW". Just tweaking, really; "Wannabe" might still want some work on the shaker part. Then I went over to the Baycon 2007 directory to check out the concert. Clean except for a couple of nasty noise spikes. So I think we have a new version of "High Barratry" [ogg] [mp3]. Check it out.

mdlbear: (audacity)

I've been struggling with "Someplace in the Net" [ogg] [mp3] for a long time now. It's the album closer, so it has to be good. It's good now. Not quite as good as it can possibly be: it still needs some level tweaking, and a high harmony part would be nice; but it works now. Basically what I did was add two vocal parts on the choruses: both me, one singing in unison and one a low harmony. Just a little ragged around the edges, but that's appropriate for something you'd expect to be hearing in a bar.

Still need: drum on "Guilty Pleasures" and "TEOTW" (tonight, if things work out right), general cleanup, and artwork layout. (I may conceivably throw money at Oasis for the final layout, but I still need to pull a draft together.)


2007-06-19 09:37 am
mdlbear: (audacity)

Recorded unison and low harmony vocals for "Someplace in the Net". I think it'll work this time. I'll go solo on the verses (where I was having massive trouble with the harmony before) and two or three parts on the choruses.


2007-06-18 10:04 pm
mdlbear: (audacity)

After yet another test drive, decided that the shaker part needed to be drastically reduced on "I Wanna Be a Webmaster" and "TEOTW". Also adjusted levels on "Programmer's Alphabet", "Stuck Here" and "Demon Lover". Still pending: minor pitch and sync problems in "Little Computing Machine", E's part in "Daddy's World", drum parts for "Guilty Pleasures" and maybe "TEOTW", and the trainwreck that is "Someplace in the Net".

Side note: I need to practice every night between now and Westercon (our concert is Saturday 10pm), and train [livejournal.com profile] chaoswolf on the recording rig. It's simple enough; mostly just a matter of knowing what needs tweaking and what to leave the heck alone. And come up with the rest of the set list by Wednesday night.


2007-06-16 10:31 pm
mdlbear: (audacity)

No, I probably shouldn't be allowed to try singing harmony. Finally have a decent lead track for "Someplace in the Net", but the harmony isn't where I want it yet. (We're not even going to mention that annoying hesitation in the intro.)

Also recorded a fresh shaker part for "TEOTW" only to find that I still preferred the previous one. Three steps forward, two steps back, I think.

for the insatiably curious )

I think I'll stick a fork in "TEOTW", and see what I can do with "Net" again tomorrow. I may try guitar for a couple of harmony parts -- I can tune my guitar.

And I have to come up with a setlist for the Tres Gique gig at Westercon, which is coming up in (urk!) two weeks! We won't have [livejournal.com profile] cflute, but we'll have Joyce and Jordan. It'll be good. 10pm Saturday after Alexander James, so we might actually have an audience (if they don't all leave).

General note: I will not be taking preorders for any future albums until they're actually in duplication. I was stupid this time.


2007-06-16 05:16 pm
mdlbear: (audacity)

Put down a new shaker part for "TEOTW" now that the horrible sync problems are fixed, and put down new vocals for "Someplace in the Net" I also tried, with mixed success, to put down a low harmony part. I'm not very good at harmony, I'm afraid, but I'm going to keep at it for a while.

Discovered fairly early that Robin's harmony part was fighting with me on pitch; I muted it during the recording and will probably end up dropping it. I also tried whistling a high harmony -- that has promise, but I don't think I can carry it off consistently through the whole song.

Also did a little more toward the tray card and insert booklet layout.

mdlbear: (audacity)

Flaked out fairly early last night, and made up for it by getting up at somewhere around 5am. Blink, blink. And since I didn't get any album work done last night...

Fixed the sync problems in the last chorus of "Little Computing Machine". There's still one pitch problem -- one blasted note -- that will probably require re-recording (it wavers, so simple pitch correction won't do it).

Fixed numerous sync problems on "TEOTW"; there may still be some minor ones left, plus one or two minor pitch problems. Possibly OK. I want to redo the shaker part now that I've fixed the timing.

This leaves "Someplace in the Net" as the only one I really can't live with, plus drum on "Guilty Pleasures" and one remaining effect bit on "Vampire Megabyte" that would be nice but not essential.

And then there are the insert, tray card graphics, and paperwork. I still have to come up with a suitable IP rights form for my performers to sign off on: anyone out there have an example I can crib? Yes, I'm running late with this stuff. Problem with doing it all myself -- I can blame my lazy, undisciplined, incompetent minions all I want; they're still me, myself, and I.


2007-06-14 08:03 am
mdlbear: (audacity)

Adjusted the mix on "Guilty Pleasures" so that it's no longer dominated by the whistle part. Still wants my half-assed "drum" part replaced.

That leaves vocals on "Someplace in the Net" and some fixup on "Little Computing Machine", "I Wanna Be a Webmaster", and "TEOTW". Tonight and tomorrow; I think my throat is probably up to singing again.


2007-06-12 11:20 pm
mdlbear: (audacity)

So far this evening I've done the easy fixups on "Demon Lover" (re-do the reverb on [livejournal.com profile] cflute's vocals after filtering out the sibilants), "I Wanna Be a Webmaster" (pull down the shaker part a little), "TEOTW" (take out the tamborine except for the little shake at the end, and time-shift that), "Vampire Megabyte" (less reverb on me), and "Cicero" (take my vocals down a notch -- again).

"Guilty Pleasures" and "Programmer's Alphabet" will take a little more work, since they involve balancing between verses and choruses with different numbers of parts. This may be a job for Audacity's new auto-duck effect.

(Later:) "Programmer's Alphabet" -- definitely auto-duck, though it seems to interact oddly with envelopes. I'll have to be careful with it. When it works, though, it's great. No more than 3dB of duck, though. The other one that wants balancing is "Guilty Pleasures", and may not be much point in spending time tweaking that until I have the drum part.


2007-06-12 08:52 am
mdlbear: (audacity)

Integrated the shaker parts that I recorded last night into "I Wanna Be a Webmaster" and "TEOTW". The latter still has some sync problems on verse 1, but it's not as bad as it was. The vocal track I'd been using showed signs of having been a cut-and-paste job, and I might well have bungled it.

I think there are still some timing problems on both songs -- there's nothing like a percussion track to highlight the places where I was playing fast-and-loose with the beat. I may have to start using a click track, or something.


2007-06-11 10:39 pm
mdlbear: (audacity)

Recorded shaker tracks for "TEOTW" and "I Wanna Be a Webmaster". They both have weird sync problems on the vocals; I think I'll be able to fix them with time-shifting. But there are a couple of places, especially in "TEOTW", where I seem to have skipped a beat on the scratch track and thrown everything else off. Or else I just got sloppy on the overdubs; it's hard to say at this point. Maybe my internal clockwork is missing a gear-tooth somewhere. More likely my mind wasn't fully engaged.

That leaves "Someplace in the Net" needing vocals, "Little Computing Machine" possibly needing vocals and definitely needing sync work, and "Guilty Pleasures" needing drum. My throat seems to be improving; I'll go for the vocals tomorrow evening.


2007-06-10 05:15 pm
mdlbear: (audacity)

Integrated [livejournal.com profile] super_star_girl's chorus vocals into "Bugs", and fixed a few assorted mistakes in the stereo map. Fixed [livejournal.com profile] cflute's whistle part on "Guilty Pleasures" by swapping in a clip from the first take. (Note to self: [livejournal.com profile] cflute has an excellent memory -- wait for her to stop telling me what she got wrong before hitting the stop button.)

Filtered out the sibliants on [livejournal.com profile] cflute's vocals on "Demon Lover" (audacity's "acoustic" EQ curve seems about right), and adjusted levels a little.

For those of you keeping track, this leaves 12 tracks that are essentially done, and six that still need work (two from others, the rest just me). I'm hoping I get over my cold sometime soon so I can re-record my vocals on "Someplace in the Net"; spending all day with a scratchy throat is annoying. The ones with just sync problems I may be able to fix by time-shifting -- I've gotten pretty good at that from working on the kids' chorus vocals.

I went to Guitar Showcase after my (3-mile) walk and picked up a shaker that I think will work for "TEOTW"; I'll probably get to that tonight. (Also got a nice set of rosewood claves and a couple of microphone stand quick-connects, but those don't come into this part of the story.)


2007-06-09 08:35 am
mdlbear: (audacity)

Got [livejournal.com profile] super_star_girl's vocals integrated into "Daddy's World" yesterday morning. Need to do the same for "Bugs" sometime over this weekend. I've found that with both kids, the right thing seems to be to combine their best two takes, and to carefully select the phrases where they're closest to being on-key.

The [livejournal.com profile] chaoswolf has expressed an interest in taking up guitar again; I'll try to set up a regular time for family or household music sessions -- possibly on Wednesdays. All they need is practice, I think.


2007-06-07 11:30 pm
mdlbear: (audacity)

It took me much longer than I expected to get set up for more recording. (The astute reader will recall my earlier struggles with Harmony, the recording machine.) Probably won't be until tomorrow that I get the new tracks integrated.

I kind of wish either of my kids could sing on-pitch, but they don't sing any better than I did at that age. Just haven't been singing along with records enough, I guess. I think they'll do for "Bugs" and "Daddy's World" (which is where I really wanted to have them both singing along on the choruses).


2007-06-07 08:20 pm
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Worked on "Cicero" a little last night, and "Paper Pings" today. The latter involved going back to a previous take for a vocal clip, pitch-correcting a word, and re-doing the reverb.

Audacity's pitch-correction stuff works, but it changes the length of the corrected clip slightly, which is not good when you're trying to correct one word in the middle of a long track. I don't think it's supposed to do that.

In about 10 minutes I'll record [livejournal.com profile] super_star_girl's chorus vocals for "Bugs" and "Daddy's World". Need to go set up now.

mdlbear: (audacity)

Worked on "Silk and Steel" -- it was less trivial than I expected, since I wanted to get the guitar right on this one, and it was already well above average. Working as much from the spectrogram as from my ears, I think I finally got the guitar part where I want it. Only question, really, is whether I should have brought up the bottom dropped D string as much as I did. The peak was 20dB down, I think because of the previously-applied EQ. So I lowered the other notes on the bottom two strings, but raised the D about 10dB to compensate for the earlier indignities. Opinions? [ogg] -- I suspect the mp3 is too lo-fi to tell.

special note for cflute )


2007-06-04 11:16 pm
mdlbear: (audacity)

Finally, worked on "The Programmer's Alphabet" -- put in [livejournal.com profile] cflute's nice new chorus harmony, took [livejournal.com profile] capplor (Robin) out of the verses but left her in the choruses for balance, and re-adjusted the stereo map to put me and the guitar toward the center and the backup vocals on the outside. Stick a fork in that one, I think.

At this point I think I've done all but one of the tracks that don't need either some recording or some pitch correction. Both, in some cases. "Silk and Steel" is the only remaining easy one; I'll probably do that tomorrow.

mdlbear: (audacity)

Worked on "Bugs" a little: less reverb on me, less bass on the guitar (which allows me to bring it up about 3dB in the mix).

Oh, by the way: the drive that died in Harmony was one of my Maxtor 160's, not one of the older IBM 120's. The other 160 is my backup drive; this should probably tell me something. That and the fact that it's 85% full now. I should probably be looking for a 400. Next time Fry's has Seagate drives on sale...

mdlbear: (audacity)

Audacity rocks, is all I can say. Just added the spin-up and spin-down effects to "Vampire Megabyte". Cool.

the audio-geeky details )

I'd still like some modem tones, somewhere around 300 baud. Which is something Audacity doesn't do, alas. May require advanced fakery. Or a real modem -- got one of those...

mdlbear: (audacity)

Spend an hour or so this morning working on "Vampire Megabyte". Still needs some sound effects, but it's getting there. A little more bass rolloff on the guitar, and some reverb on the sound of the stake being hammered in. It turned out that the various hammer-strikes, which all sounded pretty much the same dry, reacted very differently to reverb. I picked the best of them and duplicated it.

There was a power failure at work, about 15 minutes before our group's regularly-scheduled meeting. We all powered down our computers and went home to our live outlets and fast connections in hopes of getting some work done. Only thing left on my work agenda today is making reservations for OSCon, July 24-27. Unfortunately I have few friends left in Portland anymore.

The "hopefully quiet" CPU fan I acquired yesterday, a 60mm Thermaltake fan, turned out to be anything but. Loud, with a high-pitched whine that bored right through the noise-isolating case. I replaced it shortly after I got home with one of the 80mm CoolerMaster "neon" fans that worked so well on the Fry's computers. The results were astoundingly good. It's held onto the heatsink with gaffer's tape and a couple of business cards as spacers.

It's a good thing the fan worked out -- the alternative would have been deciding whether to spend $30 for a new fan and heatsink, or about three times that for a new CPU and motherboard. Which is a purchase I really don't need to be making right now. 8:10pm but I'll have to, because it turns out that gaffer's tape doesn't hold when it gets hot. Oops!


2007-06-03 10:46 pm
mdlbear: (audacity)

Worked after dinner (Mexican) on "Guilty Pleasures". The whistle really works. Revised my bass cut filter a little to get more of the boomy bottom string, and remixed to put my vocals in the center now that I have the whistle to balance the guitar. Still need to punch in one chunk from an earlier take (the break after the first verse), and get Jordan to do a real drum track. Other than that it's pretty good. Results so far: [ogg] [mp3]. Comments?

I can definitely hear further into the low end, even with my ancient ears, using the good soundcard. I'd probably hear it even better if I were in the same room rather than at the wrong end of two isolation transformers and 80' of cat5. Fortunately, now that I have the guitar EQ down pretty well I can get by on dead reckoning and eyeballs; I'll leave it in the bedroom studio until I'm done recording. Probably ought to take a day off for that. The new fan in Harmony is quieter, but higher in pitch. We'll see. Might have to replace the whole cooler, which would be annoying.

Progress is disappointingly slow, but it's happening. If I can actually sustain an average of two tracks/day I'll be done recording and mixing by this time next week.

mdlbear: (audacity)

Worked on "Daddy's World", "Demon Lover", and "World Inside the Crystal" last night. "Daddy's World" might want some choruses from Emmy; I'm going to try that as soon as I can put together a recording machine that actually works.

Ever since the hard drive on Harmony failed on Tuesday, I've had problems with both of my pro-quality audio interfaces, leaving me with the UA-25 on the Mac laptop as the only useable solution. Not good. I'm going to try a reinstall on Harmony, which is temporarily patched up with its old (40 GB) drive in a somewhat unknown state. (Translation: I thought it was working, but it's been behaving weirdly.)

mdlbear: (ccs)

Finally overcoming my laziness and the myriad distractions of Grand Central Starport and LJ, and getting back to work on CC&S. Callie and I gave it a close listen back on Monday; there were problems with almost everything, but mostly a lot of bass booming on the guitar. Applied some eq to "Cicero", "Mushrooms", "Stuck Here", and "Uncle Ernie's". So that's four out of 18.

I'm pretty seriously sleep-deprived at this point -- I'm going to take a warm bath and go to bed rather than risk screwing up on one of the tricky ones.

mdlbear: (grrr)

I'm especially idiotic when I'm seriously sleep-deprived. Or was that depraved. When attempting to synchronize my track directories before recording [livejournal.com profile] cflute this afternoon, I managed to copy the current track working directories from the fileserver into subdirectories of the corresponding directories on the Mac.

Fortunately, there's no real harm done: the tracks she recorded against were simply older versions of the most recent ones, so they're all synchronized against the same scratch tracks. (I can tell this because of the way I name my takes -- take-2e and take-2f are both recorded against the same original take-2.) So I should be able to snag the new parts, plop them into the really most recent version of the track, and have them work. Whew!

I think I should have gone to bed a little after lunchtime.

mdlbear: (grrr)

Last night [livejournal.com profile] cflute gave a good critical listen to CC&S in its present state. Main problem is boomy guitar, so lots of EQ is in order. More ears are good. We arranged for a last-minute recording session after I got off work today, and before her flight home.

A little before dinner, I went to update the audacity projects in Harmony (the recording box, of course)'s local track directory and got errors. Weird errors. Filesystem-corruption-type errors. Not good.

e2fsck'ed the drive. Twice. Attempted to reboot. It's fsck'ed but good. R.I.P. If I'm lucky I might be able to erase it. But by that time it didn't matter; I'd already given up on it for the night and copied the relevant track directories to the Mac laptop which, along with an Edirol UA25, constitutes my field recording rig. There was maybe half an hour of delay, but I got set up with a minimum of fuss.

Thank the Maker(s) for the fact that Audacity is cross-platform! Got good harmony chorus vocals on "Programmer's Alphabet", and a killer whistle part on "Guilty Pleasures". That one still needs some drum, but...

The drive in Harmony was one of the old IBM 120GB drives that were in the fileserver two upgrades ago (before the 200's and the current 400's). So it's not really surprising that it's finally bitten the big one. It could have picked a more convenient time, but at least it died before we recorded onto it, and before the corruption spread onto the fileserver. I hope -- there may indeed be some screwed-up tracks lurking in there. I have the weekly backups, but...

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