Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Friday, July 17, 2009

The First of the Next (2009)

Now that the BLUE TAXI CD is done (though not quite yet in circulation), I can put my muse to other things. Actually, I've just completed a new one. It's called "Matching Smiles", and it was inspired by a beautiful story I've had the pleasure of watching unfold in the life of one of my online friends.

I tried following the advice I got from the recent contest, particularly with the vocals. Instead of belting it out, I sang "gently" and stacked it. I used a fattener effect only on the main vocal track. I'm not sure how satisfied I am with it...mainly because my voice just keeps getting worse thanks to my persistent throat trouble. I also tried some different mastering techniques for tone and level.

This song is also notable in that all the synth parts except the drums were done using software rather than hardware synths. Details on this and other things can be found on my Minstrel's Muse site.

Please listen and give me your comments!

UPDATE: Now that I know she won't mind my mentioning this publicly (Sorry...I'm still reeling from that privacy issue with my blog two years ago), I'd like to say that the song is about the recent ongoing odyssey and romance of blog friend Olivia. (Specifically, it was inspired by the pics of her and her Jeff smiling together on this post.)

(Did I just hear a blush?)

Anyway, as it turns out, the timing of this song probably couldn't have been worse (or better?) because Olivia and her family have been struck with tragedy. Her mother has just been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (commonly known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in the US, the best-known form of which is Lou Gehrig's Disease). Olivia has always seemed to have a knack for keeping her cool at the worst of times, but I know how hard this must be, especially after having gone through my mother-in-law's cancer and death in recent years.

Best wishes, Olivia!


  • My first off the cuff impression is "pillow music." Its all soft, which is perfect if you wanted to take a nap. The deep bass and multiple part harmony creates a condition at low volume levels where evereything washes out. But turning up the volume revealed a deep richness. In this case a softer vocal may be appropriate. For more lively tunes a more aggressive aproach would still be better. The guitar parts were crisper, but too quiet.

    Otherwise, good tune.

    wv: palins
    what would have been running around the white house if that other guy hadn't won

    By Anonymous Dave, at 12:09 PM  

  • Dave
    Thanks for your comments, as always.

    I was looking for a softer overall mood than what I usually do, sort of a relaxed and happy atmosphere that still has energy behind it. If you listen to the lyrics and think about what they're about (plus consider the fact that I'm paraphrasing someone else), you might understand why. "Pillow music" is an interesting description, though.

    When I was mixing the thing, I decided not to put too much weight on the guitars because that made it more aggressive than I intended. I wanted the ethereal strings, fuzzy bass, and piano riff to be the basis.

    I can't really sing softer, unfortunately. With the condition my throat is in, my voice starts to waver, gravel, or cut out completely if I don't put a certain amount of strength behind it. That's just the way things are at present, and I doubt they'll change anytime soon. Maybe I'll try using a session singer in the future.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 4:59 PM  

  • I liked the number but I didn't consider it much different than most of your ballad-ish pieces. I've mentioned this in the past, but the drum fill that exits the intro sounds very synthesized. I long for a more organic, acoustic drum sound.

    Your voice sounded fine to me, but I think for a contest like that one, a session singer with a pop-friendly voice would be better. With that said, writing and singing a good song is a much better thing than succeeding in a contest.

    Sorry for not reviewing the sound yet on Blue Taxi...I haven't been home much and catching up on emails, works, cleaning, etc. when I am home.

    By Blogger Don Snabulus, at 11:55 PM  

  • Thank you, Minstrel. The lyrics are spot on, and as I said on FB, I enjoyed the acoustic nature of the song.

    Your "gift" is much appreciated!
    I hope you will grant your permission to link to it on the post I will write today.

    By Blogger Olivia, at 1:41 AM  

  • Snabudon
    I appreciate your comments.

    I know...I need to try doing more things that are actually different. This piece was an inspired one rather than a concocted one, so I did it the way I heard it. Maybe I'll try taking a different route next.

    You're probably right about the vocals. I've been thinking the same thing. As for the drums, well, I do have other sounds to try, but it'll be hard to get rid of the "synth" quality completely without using real drums.

    You're welcome! Thanks for providing the inspiration...and I hope everything works out okay.

    Feel free to link it, share it, pass it around, etc. as you like!

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 3:23 AM  

  • Moody-I'm sure everyone told Geddy Lee he sucked too, but Rush went ahead and just used his voice. It's their signature sound now... On the other hand working w/another artist can sometimes bring out fun & inspiration..anyhoo that's my 2 cents

    Congrats to Olivia and best wishes to her mom & family.

    By Blogger ladybug, at 7:31 PM  

  • First of all, best wishes to Olivia and her mom! I know nothing about this illness, but hope that everything is as good as it can be.

    I thought the song was very good, made me think of some of the stuff my slightly older brother used to listen to. The only thing that I would think about adding is a gritty Yes-style bass line - but don't take that too seriously, as I want to add it to most songs!

    By Blogger Rock Chef, at 10:40 PM  

  • Ladybug
    (Shot in the arm...)
    Thanks! I needed that!

    Chief Rock Chef
    Thank you!
    Gritty, Yes-style bass line...yeah, I can hear it! That's definitely something to think about. Time to turn up the funk a bit! Actually, time to put some real practice time in on my bass to get my chops up to speed.
    (And I think it's time to slap on some Yes, too!)

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 11:23 PM  

  • What a beautiful gift. For those of us who have been following Olivia's blog(s) you have expressed the happiness she and Jeff are obviously experiencing.

    I had a friend who had Lou Gehrig's disease. Pretty tough road to travel for all concerned. I wish the entire family the best.

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 6:08 PM  

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