Jamuary 2022 - Week 1
I serendipitously learned about Jamuary on a Reddit thread on New Years Eve and decided to give it a go to stretch my strongwriting and music production muscles. I am one week in and enjoying it immensely. The structure forces me to get something done so I have to push through tough parts, learn to accept 'good enough' and still try to pull something together. I just listened through the last seven days of pieces and I'm pretty happy with everything. There are a bunch of things I'd improve on in all of them but not getting lost in the perfectionist weeds has finally got me in the groove of finishing things.
I added a Jams section to the first page of this site that has all the jams so far and I'll continue posting here. I've been sharing on Soundcloud, which I've discovered is rife with annoying spam, and am I likely to hit their free account limit as I keep going.
A few more notes about each track:
Lockdown Libre: this one I "cheated" and started with a loop and some ideas I'd banged out when goofing around with virtual instruments over the holiday. I do this (goof off making little loops and musical ideas) a lot, and it is fun, but I rarely try to finish that stuff into a complete song, so I took the day to arrange this, record missing pieces and layers and mix the whole thing. I really like the energy of this one.
Moog Lang Syne: At some point last year I decided to take my exploration of synthesis into the modular synthesizer world and start building/buying modules and racks. I also finally came up on the list from the Ann Arbor District Library to borrow one of our Moog Grandmother synthesizers. My current modular setup is a mess (awaiting a basement reorganization) but I decided to put together a small rack to see what I could do with the Moog, a new module I built (the Dysphonia from Dreadbox) and the Keystep Pro keyboard/sequencer I bought myself for Christmas (after falling in love with Arturia's sequencer on their Minibrute 2S). This one is a mood.
We're Goin': this is the first full song I wrote, recorded and mixed in a single day. It is also the first one with real instruments (acoustic guitar & banjo) and the first time I've actually released something with me singing. I really like how this came out. The lyrics are a little cheesy and the song structure is simple, but I think it works. This was the first time I recorded both with a mic and the direct input of both my acoustic (a low-end martin with a built-in pickup) and banjo (a piezo button pickup stuck under the head below the bridge) which ended up being a cheap and easy way to get a bit of a double-tracked effect. I am too poor a performer to do double-track these the right way.
I'm Delighted: this is another one that I'd had pieces of written but never sat down to finish and is part of an inside joke for people who are active discussing local Ann Arbor politics on the #A2Council hashtag. This one could use some polish. I mostly learned I really need how to learn to breathe better while singing and work the mic. Also, I am planning to build a little vocal booth in a basement closet so I can get better, dry vocals. I'd also love to spend time on the drums on this one, add a bridge and spend more time dialing in guitar tone and more guitar tracks. But this came out better than I'd hoped, overall. You might even say I'm delighed!
Spaghetti Dinner: this is just a weird synth jam. A lot of the time I am playing around with my modular setup, I do weird stuff like this. It isn't the most amazing jam I've done but I find it soothing and I loooove the bass drone from the Moog. I will probably start selling gear so I can buy something Moog-ish at some point this year since I have to give the Grandmother back soon; maybe a Boog (Behringer Model D clone).
Nonny's Song: I decided to spend more time with the borrowed Moog Grandmother for this track because I have to return it to the Library soon. Every sound on this track is from the Grandmother. This workflow was a challenge. I'm used to using software synths when recording, where I can save presets and re-record things ad-infitum, so being forced to commit to recordings before moving to another patch was stressful, especially as I am still learning the synth. I found a couple YouTube videos for ideas on how to get decent drum sounds, which came out pretty good, especially the snare, but I'd probably spend more time on those if I did this again. The pads were tough to record (one note per track) but sound great except they are way too high in the mix. Oh well! I am particular proud of the bell voice I coaxed out of it for the little melodic bits. If I were to do it again, I'd like to add another lead voice and counter melody and extend the arrangement.
Induced Demand Remix: this was really fun to work on but really hard! The original song is great but has a very fluid tempo. I tried tempo-mapping it in my DAW (recording software), which took almost 2 hours, but I did not do a great job; and my finger drumming skills are not great so the tempo gets wonky in lots of spots. That said, I am really proud of parts of this including some of the percussion sounds I pulled out of the vocal track (the only percussion sound not extracted from the track is the very basic kick drum sound I used). I also like how to chorus backing vocals worked out, the little drop before "these brave people took a lot of shit!" (though I'd like to tighten that more). I used Spleeter to isolate the guitar and vocals which worked pretty well given the low quality of the recording and made some of the stuff I did possible.
And now I need to figure out what I'm going to do for today's song...