Archive for February, 2010

new song > lay it down

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010
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I have to tell you, this song posed some new challenges. It was one of the first songs I did where I sat down and kind of felt like just going out to the hot tub and saying…why bother? There was not a particular reason, it was just one of those motivational challenges. No inspiration, no enthusiasm, no motivation – and that folks is a recipe for trouble no matter what you are trying to finish. Thankfully I managed to roll up my sleeves and catch a wave…and what a wave we have here today. Lay it down…Some of the notable firsts; very chillin groove, clocking in at 63 beats per minute, any of you drummers out there know that a slow groove is hard to maintain – and that was the case here. If you have a decent stereo system and get the cd audio (when I make it available), you will find your house rumblin from the bass on this song- very full and clean low end there… I decided to beef cake the outro with a kind of drum solo – but in order to keep the vibe I had to really mix down the drums…it almost sounds like a thunderstorm to me. I let it go vocally too on the outro – why not?

Lay it down

Well I was going down Highway 96 today
And I finally figured out what I wanted to say
So I wrote it down put it in this song
Hope you don’t mind it shouldn’t take long

I see you suffering and dying on the inside
You got a feeling like a hole a thousand miles wide
But my friend there is hope
And I’m not talking about just a little more rope

So the word is get yourself up and ready
For a new life, full good and steady
But before we go, something you should start with
Is to grab ahold of that thing that you should part with

lay it down lay it down lay it down now
lay it down lay it down lay it down now
lay it down lay it down lay it down now
ooooh won’t you lay it down now yeah

So the story goes I don’t want to deceive you
If you lay it down, that is what’ll relieve you
All that lying and cold hard evil hinting
All that bitterness, all that jealousy squinting

All the heresays, hateful, unkind talkin
All the selfish strivin, and each other balking
We will build ourselves one fine tomb
And throw into it all the misery and gloom

lay it down lay it down lay it down now
lay it down lay it down lay it down now
lay it down lay it down lay it down now

ooooh won’t you lay it down now

lay it down lay it down lay it down now
lay it down lay it down lay it down now
lay it down lay it down lay it down now
Oh won’t you lay it down

the Olympics and music

Friday, February 19th, 2010
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olympicsmusic
I was watching the Olympics last night with my daughter and I was struck with the similarities between competing for a medal, and performing and releasing music. Apart from the fact that a gold record and an Olympic gold medal are icons of success, I was thinking more along the lines of the “behind the scenes”…The downhill skier as an example spends their days, weeks, and years perfecting a downhill regime that allows them to better their time. Daily, persistently and, to a large degree anonymously, they train, tweak and work to shave another fraction of a second off of their time. As a musician writing songs, or playing an instrument – there is a lot of old fashioned work involved too. Learning theory, running scales, hours of repetitive practice to better understand a song, or countless listens to a song one tries to complete… I think in the ideal of both scenarios there is a romanticizing. A downhill skier out in the nature, experiencing the thrill of downhill, sun shining, birds chirping, awe inspiring mountain scenes…the musician by their bay window, sitting at the piano, passionately expressing the tongues of angels (or demons as the case may be). Granted – there are truths to both, and the analogy continues. Years go by – the big day arrives, and all is thrown into a few minutes of performance – for which the athlete has striven…do they rise?…are they defeated? How about music – the big record for which thousands are invested is released, does the public care? Is there a tap into the public in the form of a hit? Hit or stiff? Flight or flounder? And then – after time, back to the routine of improving, and, as a Christian musician, celebrating the mere act of creativity as given by a loving God. Too often the “big thing” is seen as the objective – and the process of acquiring it is miserable…I submit – that though the gold is certainly desirable and worth striving for, you had better enjoy the simple act of the process in which you strive ( and this applies to all disciplines artistic or not), because if you don’t – your arrival will only bring a bitter realization that that wasn’t what you really were seeking to begin with. Finally – anytime anyone ventures out of the socially accepted norms of occupation (occupation being defined as how you use your time – much more valuable than money) you need a will of uncommon veracity.

new song > dust and divine

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010
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this song started out with an experimental drum sound I’ve been chasing – then with the ring of the snare being more or less in the key of the song, the decision was made to emphasize that, and save the other sound for another day… there was a total 4 mics on the snare (top, bottom, off center – floor, room), and to me it sits good in the mix…as the lyrics were worked out I found myself enjoying the harmonizing…I might have gotten carried away – but it was fun to do. There was also something I am calling subtractive drumming…there is probably a proper musical name for it – but it is essentially doing less rather than more…instead of a fill pause – instead of a build, silence. I also really fought the desire to play anything other than straight 2 and 4 on the drums…it was hard to do. This might be a subliminal revolt against hotbeds extravagance – dunno… There is a total of 1 cymbal crash on this song, and I believe 1 kick drum fill (gasp) – the bridge introduces a rather hyper panned drum fill – which you can decide if it balances the rest nicely…you can decide that right? 🙂 I’m not going to get a lot into the rest of the song – if you read around my blog you should have a good idea about what “dust and divine” is getting at…and the music on this is very straightforward too… anyway – this is dust and divine, you can stream it here

dust and divine

well the night has fallen
and I hear you callin
you seem so far away

and I know there’s more
through that open door
I feel it that’s the way

but this bloody city
it has no pity
it has no hopeful rays

yet I will stand and rise
take off the disguise
between the Holy and profane

dust and divine
what’s yours what’s mine
dust and divine

well I turn my back
and the odds are stacked
against the only one who cares

am I the only one
with all this filth and scum
am I the only one who dares

those who lead like wolves
destroying souls
seeking dishonest gain

so the wrath and fire
prepared draws nigher
who can bear the pain
bear the pain

dust and divine
what’s yours what’s mine
dust and divine

bridge

outro

it’s going to be allright (2X)

snare drums, sounds and production

Sunday, February 14th, 2010
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I am working on the next song and I find myself really wanting the “right” snare sound. It is a bit strange – since I am often flying fast and furious while recording, and will use various mics and placements – just to execute the idea…but not this time. The last time I really spent a lot of time trying to get the right sound was at Paisley Park, Princes studio – and I had about 15 snare drums, and Tom Tucker had me work through them ad nauseum. Nothing against Tom, I had em, he wanted to hear em. at the time I was a bit in awe of Paisley, and found things a bit over thought. Gordy Knutson (amazing drummer) happened to be doing a session at the same time and wrote on my drum set (which was a single head Tama Mahogony) “GET BOTTOM HEADS”…which is like saying ADD SALT TO YOUR SOUP… he might want more salt – but not me…it is truly a taste bud issue.
The more I learn about music and recording, the more I learn that there are a lot of ways of doing things, many I find disagreeable as far as the final sound, but not necessarily wrong. One of my favorite snare sounds is actually from a sample CD Brian Eno did, with Neil Conti, Dark Side Of the Groove…but there again, sometimes the ” Salvation Army Snare” sound of Bonham is the cats meow…FYI I will be using a SM57 on the snare – which is probably the most used snare drum microphone in recording studios worldwide…and I will play with an AKG C414 under and around a Noble and Cooley 14″ maple…additionally I am going to use a cheap condenser ambient mic – with lots o’ compression stay tuned…

new song > hotbed

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010
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this is a song I started in September…it has about 20 different drum / percussion tracks – a tuba bass line, horns galore, clarinet, whistles, marimba, and a general feeling of New Orleans…aiming for and hitting that vibe I hope. I did not have a lot of time to spend on this one- as we got back from Europe yesterday at 2:30 a.m. – not to seek pity, but I am sick too, and feel it crawling into my lungs…hey – you do what you gotta do right? Lyrics will be forthcoming.

back in the USA…kind of

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010
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physically at least. It was a wobbly return to say the least. Actually everything was fine until Chicago.
1) Our luggage was lost.

2) I was confused with another David Hill and separated from my family for questioning…they never said what the other David Hill did, but they did apologize to me for the mistaken identity.

3) Our flight from Chicago to Mpls. was delayed then canceled.

4) Because of the impending storm, heading straight for Chicago – they got us out asap – which meant the only option they gave us was to go to Duluth.

5) The only rental company with a car in Duluth was Hertz – and the only car they had (a Toyota) was $556.00 for a one way to Mpls. No, this is not a typo, I guess it was a privately owned car or something (can you say scam? I knew you could).

6) Rick Ayyyy (THE MAN!) saved the day – driving up to get us, starting at 7:30 p.m., and then getting home at about 2:30 a.m.
I was so tired on the drive my eyes literally started to cross, as I fought to stay awake, I could just imagine how Rick felt with the storm and driving conditions. The return trip took about 30 hours. One of the roughest jaunts I have ever had. I have to tip my hat to my wife and family – they are amazing “can do” travelers…an attitude that made the whole experience a good one.

After a couple hours sleep – the kids are in school, my wife went to get Jeb, I plan on shoveling, drumming, working on the next song, and hopefully getting my examiner article out.

clouds

well – it’s been a great time in NL!

Sunday, February 7th, 2010
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we have been in Holland for 5 days and it has been really incredible. If you are here for the first time – feel free to look at the music section, where I post songs that are more or less finished. I think the most popular song I have done so far is “Glorious Day”… keep in mind, I have written a variety of songs…and I try to do the self – production thing…stylistically I really don’t have a hard direction yet, and even the next song I do this Wednesday is up in the air. I hope you enjoy your visit, and if you want to drop a line, it is always nice to hear from visitors. One more comment – I have just discovered that in Holland my streaming button does not show up – not sure why this is – but it forces a download if you want to hear anything…I am putting it on my “to do” list for things to fix.

new song > squank

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010
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The definition for squank is (as defined by the urban dictionary);

1.(n.)An unseen energy or force said to be the basis of all music creativity. From pre-macedonian lore related to those that are deeply driven by musical ambition.

example;

It must be the squank that drives those musicians to play with so much heart and passion.

personally I believe that any time anything good is created, it comes from the creative core (God Himself)…but if you have read this blog for any length of time you know who that would be, and how I see this. It is an old story of musicians creating music and taking the praise onto themselves…as if they have the ability to create a single thing without God giving them what they have. I think deep down most musicians know this, and that is hard to ignore, especially when one tries to deny the existence of God from the get go. However, anything that falls short must needs be taken on my own back as my own imperfections…right? I mean after all – music is moving air, and there are a lot of ways to do that… :-)… I named this piece squank – because it feels squanky, it has undertones of squank – a certain squankish flavor if you will.
This song is a bit frantic, and the sounds seem to me appropriate for the week, air raid sirens, technology amock, backward masking, scream of rage, a synthesized voice with the only lyrics…”drum”, “the drumbeat goers like this”, and “funky drummer”.. There is in my life currently a concern for an acquaintance possibly using drugs (a complete surprise to me), a grandfather dying, haste in overseas plans and preparation, and a seeming deluge of other distractions, and so these sounds come into my mind. this is less a song and more a mood. It is definitely a departure, but I did enjoy it, and may visit the land of some of these genres more. I haven’t really ever been a big euro / techie guy – but there is a vibe to explored in some of this. Probably not many will like this…is it good? For me to say something is good means it is what I meant it to be. After that too many variables come into play – and I would rather not go there. Without further ado – I present to you

squank