As my throat still won't allow me to sing - there are times when I can barely talk, either - I haven't been able to create very much music lately. What I have been doing whenever I feel the urge to be musical is to take a previously recorded song and remix it. This remixing can be at any one of several levels
- Changing the balance and effects on a recorded vocal to improve the final result
- Running the vocal tracks through a very clever program which can autotune the vocals. I am very happy when this works, but I have noticed that in some cases, the tuned vocals are worse than they were before. In such cases, I leave the vocals as they were.
- Changing the music track slightly, normally by syncopating some notes, but also by changing parts slightly
- Creating a new music track
A song which I mentioned before, 'The road to Antibes', underwent the first three treatments and now sounds even better than it did before. Unfortunately, some of my older work was not backed up correctly, meaning that I don't have separate vocal and music tracks. No separate tracks means that I can't remix them.
I played a gig on Saturday! A friend (who has a beautiful voice) was arranging her father's 75th birthday party and asked me to accompany her and her family on some songs. In the end, I played six different songs and attended several different rehearsals. It was really good playing live again - this time, I used the semi-acoustic Washburn guitar which is easier to hold and easier to play than the acoustic Ovation. My amplifier also helped in the process - I added chorus and a slight delay in order to produce a fuller sound. My friend asked at the beginning how I was managing to sound as if I were playing two guitars.
To my slight surprise, I fingerpicked all the songs: I even left the plectrum at home! Some of the songs were picked and some strummed, but somehow using the plectrum didn't feel right. I also took a leaf out of the Robert Fripp school of guitar playing and played sitting down.
It was very interesting to look at the songs that I played from a harmonic point of view, as opposed to my songs. The chord sequences were fairly straight forward: one lovely song had either a minor i-iv-v sequence or a major I-IV-V sequence, where the minor was the relative minor of the major (in other words, Em-Am-Bm and G-C-D). Another was also based G-C-D, but then had a familiar B-Em-Am-D sequence. One tune was a jazzy waltz based on the chords Bm-E, but this too had a sequence of dominants (from E to A and thence to D, also C#-F#-Bm).
My songs, on the other hand, tend not to have dominants at all; to an extent, this is done on purpose, but it tends to happen automatically. I prefer 'chord streams' - Em-F#m-G-F#m or rather stranger sequences.