Yearly Archives: 2006

Be it resolved, 2007 edition

When I uttered to myself, "I ought to be doing …", I knew I had the makings of a New Year’s Resolution.
I’ve already put myself on another shinkyoku moratorium, with an action item list to last me through the year.
One of those items is "Continue to finish the songs written up till now, Oct. 29, 2006." I spelled out that vague statement in painstaking detail, and two task seems to bear repeating: "Rehearse lyrics" and "Record vocals".
You see where I’m going with this.

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「跡なし」 (December 2006)

My level of ambivalence toward human contact can be disconcerting.
跡なし ("ato nashi") translates to "without a trace", which is what I would have called this song in English. It’s better to keep it in Japanese since I wouldn’t want people thinking I wrote about the TV show (which I like, by the way.)
I started this lyric some months ago when I decided to go out for a late-night dessert at Kerby Lane Café. I brought my lyric book with me just to see whether I could jot down a few verses while I waited for my food. It was a busy night, so I didn’t get far.
I found the lyric last night when I started Romanizing Supercar’s "Fairway", and I figured I may as well finish it. It’s a wordy piece, so whatever melody I fashion for it is going to be busy.

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Tempting fate

I’ve been saying over and over again how I wouldn’t sign up for NaSoAlMo but I’d participate anyway.
Well, I signed up. See? And now I’ve hit a wall.
What killed the momentum was "NaSoPiAlMo No. 6". I have to say, I like this song so much, I’m probably going to arrange it for a full band and add some lyrics.
I’m sufficiently knocked out by that piece, I really don’t know what I could do to follow it up.

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Shinkyoku moratorium, part the second

Unlike the last time, this version of shinkyoku moratorium is more of a game plan.
To be truthful, I haven’t really written any new material from scratch since last year. Yes, there are new songs on A Ghost in My Shadow, but they were created from pre-existing material.
I sketched out one new song, but I haven’t put it on paper nor attempted to record it.
I hesitate to say I have writer’s block because the truth is, I haven’t set out to write anything new this year. I haven’t made a conscious effort to sit at the piano or with a guitar for the purpose of creating new work.

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Hasty

I should have read the description more carefully.
I wanted to listen to a performance version of Michael Nyman’s score to the film The Piano, so I ordered a recording he made on his own label from Amazon UK. It’s already getting prepared to ship, so I can’t cancel the order.
There are two pieces in my sheet music — "The Attraction of the Pedalling Ankle" and "Deep Sleep Playing" — I want to hear performed, but no one seems to have recorded them, not even Nyman himself.
I’m reaquainting myself with The Piano as further inspiration for NaSoPiAlMo. I’m even toying with the idea of learning all the pieces in my sheet music to record for a future Eponymous 4 project.
While I wait for that concert suite to arrive, I downloaded a Naxos recording of Nyman’s Piano Concerto, which is based on the film score. It’s a nice piece.

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Video killed the MP3 star

I signed up for TiVo back in late July, and in the last two months, I’ve been diving into the wild and frustrating world of digital video — all because I just wanted to edit out the commercials from my downloaded TiVo files.
My, how long we’ve come from taping off from live TV and pausing the tape during commercial breaks.
After a month of fiddling with various and sundry software, I started developing the notion that perhaps I can use these burgeoning video skills for something more ambitious.
Like, say, a music video. For Eponymous 4.
Well, I just got back from a nighttime drive where I took my digital point-and-shoot camera and recorded six minutes of video. I put the camera on the dash, headed straight for the freeway and drove.
I could do something like draw a storyboard or something, but I think I’ll do this thing guerilla-style. I’m just going to shoot, shoot, shoot and see if I can make heads or tails of with what I end up.
I may need some larger flash memory cards.


[UPDATE, Saturday.2006.09.16 20:48] Huh. And here I thought I was going to take hours worth of footage, and cut something up. Instead, I took the six minutes of driving and spliced it up every which way.
I made up the editing as I went along, and I think some parts are a little clever. Most of it just screams "cheap!"
But hey — nighttime drive, introspective piano piece … pretty obvious combination no?
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHrzPHamgs8]
If the embedded video doesn’t show up in your feed reader, the YouTube is all you need.

At this point in time

I updated and reformatted this list. I was going to change the original publication date so that it would get bumped up in the RSS feed, but I don’t feel comfortable revising history too much.
I briefly considered turning that entire table into some dynamically-generated database thing, but my mind followed that line of thinking to its natural conclusion — a lot of development time spent on something that could very well derail the pace of the recording sessions.
Too, I don’t think the data I’d provide such an interface would be terribly meaningful or accurate. After 20 years, I’m hazy about when I wrote what in the Binder. I’m terribly with labeling my stuff with dates. I’m not exactly certain when I finished songs I wrote even a year ago.
It’s not like songwriting is a task-oriented process. An idea for something might be sketched out one day and not see actual completion till years later.
But even jotting down basic info should be enough to keep track of things. My goal is eventually to stop raiding my archives. There’s a lot of stuff in there, though.
I put all the files on that list into Winamp to glean some statistics.

  • Number of songs recorded so far: 55
  • Running time of all songs: 3 hours, 29 minutes

I have this vague notion that I would start seriously considering playing this music live once I have four hours worth of material completed. That’s at least another EP’s worth of work.

Fakey

Frank Black attempted to write some Pixie-esque songs as a proof-of concept exercise, so says Billboard. He was trying to convince a reluctant Pixies member to record a new album with the band.
Then he discovered he wasn’t all that into writing in a style he used 20 years ago.
I’m trying to do that now.
I’ve been digging through the Binder — a collection of manuscripts of songs I wrote back in high school — and I’ve been extensively revising some of those songs as a way to augment a new version of A Ghost in My Shadow.
The arm of Duran Duran and Arcadia is long, and it stretched into my hand as I penned a goodly number of these early songs. I’m listening to So Red the Rose right now to get me in that same mind frame.
But where Frank Black chose wisely to bag those newly-minted Pixie-esque songs, I am continuing down my mistaken path. I’m not sure what I’m going to uncover by doing so. I’m not sure how it will inform my writing, if at all.
But I’m not terribly afraid of going down creative dead-ends. I’m rather scientific about it, really — this kind of exercise may not produce good work, but it does produce more data.
So far, I’ve managed to take the first song I ever wrote — pompously titled "Untold Demons" — and revised to the point where I’m suprised, impressed even, by how it turned out.
I looked to Cocco’s "Yawaraka na Kizuato" to transform another early song to something quite different.
I’m still on the fence about this rip-off of Arcadia’s "El Diablo" I worked on this past weekend. On one hand, I really like the melody. On the other hand, it’s so "Save a Prayer".
There’s another song that ripped off "Winter Marches On", but I’m going to turn that more into Sinéad O’Connor’s "Just Like U Said It Would B". And there’s a rip-off of "The Promise", which will be the Duran Duran clusterfuck of clusterfucks.
Come to think of it, I’m actually having some fun.
But if I could play favorites with my "children", A Ghost in My Shadow would still be considered the black sheep.

We loves gimmicks!

Some gimmicks …

  • After considering whether the Sequentia from the Requiem mass could serve as a separate piece, I thought the kind of music possibly best suited for the fire and brimstone text would be post-rock. I’m talking Explosions in the Sky, mono, Eluvium, whoever is on the Temporary Residence label. Most of that music is instrumental, so it’ll be interesting for me to adapt vocals to it.

  • Remember the idea for a religious album? That’s what Requiem is going to be. (Odd that I titled that entry "Christian Burial Music".) I also took baby steps in the pillaging of A Ghost In My Shadow. I created a folder in my Cakewalk working directory for A Ghost In My Shadow 2.0. I’m still working out what will go where.

  • I wrote a lyric this morning — which I’ve posted — and I didn’t feel like giving it an English title. So I went with Japanese instead. It occurred to me a common practice with Japanese songwriters is to use English titles, even when they’re singing in Japanese. Why can’t it work the other way around? As such, I’ll title songs for this lyrics-first project in Japanese. I can’t seem to find a really appropriate translation for "What I Deserve", but "The Speed of Light" is now 「光速」, while 「光がない」 remains 「光がない」.