Week 5 - Complicated

Ironically, I wanted to simplify things this week and the result was Complicated.  By simplify, I mean my approach to the song, using just voice and guitar.  It’s very time consuming programming drums and other instruments.  I thought it would be nice to take a week off from that and just focus on voice and acoustic guitar.  In the end, I don’t know that I spent that much less time.  I think it’s just one of those things where the task at hand will expand or contract depending upon the time allowed for it.

I started writing Complicated last weekend.  It started (as they generally do) with some playing around on the acoustic guitar.  I knew I wanted to use just guitar and voice this week, so I was looking for something that I felt would work with that approach.  After toying with several ideas, I settled into the picking pattern that forms the basis for the song.  Soon after that I was humming a melody and wondering where it would lead.

As I played with some verse ideas, I began developing the idea of someone looking back nostalgically at their wedding day.  It was sweet and sappy (and autobiographical :-) ) but didn’t really have anywhere to go.  In fact, it was starting to sound like a song that a wedding couple might choose for their first dance.  After scribbling down a few verses, I decided it would be more interesting if the song took a little different approach.  Anyone who’s been in a long term relationship knows that it requires work and effort to keep it going and growing.  It’s not simple thing.  In fact, it’s complicated.  And with that, the song took off in a new direction.  Well, it didn’t really take off.  It sort of meandered.  In fact, I was tweaking lyrics into Friday evening.  But the new direction did make for more interesting writing.

As for the recording process, I did have an early hiccup.  My initial attempt was a little too fast.  Actually about 10 beats per minute too fast which is quite a lot.  I'm not sure how I got so far off track but I did.  I had the guitar recorded and ready and then tried to do a pass of the vocal.  I couldn’t keep up.  It was comical.  Thankfully, it was just a single guitar that needed to be redone.

The other thing I tried this week was a new approach to my microphone setup.  Basically, I record at my workstation with headphones on.  The microphone is on a little stand on the desktop.  I thought it might be nice to set up some blankets around it to minimize the sound reflections bouncing off the walls and floor.  I guess I was trying to create a poor man’s vocal booth.  I then did some playing around with various reverb ideas as I got into mixing the song.  I’m not yet sure if I accomplished what I had hoped, but it was good to experiment.  I will learn something from it.

That's about it for the week 5 summary.  I hope you enjoyed Complicated.  I was thinking the other day that if this were a 26 mile marathon, I’ve just crossed the 2 ½ mile mark.  Which basically means the finish is still a long way off, so put your head back down and keep running…one foot in front of the other.  On to Week 6.  Have a great week!