Album status update 04/16/2017

Finally finished tracking bass. Some of these parts have really been quite challenging to play right (and sound right).
For those who have been following my updates, my approach of this record has been thoroughly composed and orchestrated, in a way. Most of the parts were written without ever playing the parts over on their respective instruments beforehand. One of the strategies I’ve been using on this record was realizing that one of my favorite bands, don’t rely on the heaviest-sounding guitar and bass, but their overall music is probably most heavy (in my mind) due to the way their songs are written and arranged – the harmonic choices, and instruments that don’t get in each other’s way. My approach is that if I can get things sounding heavy and *somewhat* presentable with virtual instruments, when they’re translated into real instruments, I would get a multiplier effect. I’d also be able to tweak the compositions, rhythmically and harmonically. I had never written out complete scores of my music before, but doing it this time, I get to visually identify places where I should have played a an F instead of a B, for example. I’d also get to tweak a melody to my liking and not think too much about how it would be played on the guitar and other instruments and be constrained tendencies of repeating myself due to physical memory tendencies.

I always feel a major limitation in my abilities to play my instruments. Neither bass or guitar were my first instruments and I don’t get to practice or play as much. Approaching the compositions this way, I get to decouple my limited abilities on these instruments and have a more direct line between what I’m hearing in my head and what I’d want in the song.

My approach this time resulted in written parts that wouldn’t have been natural to play. Having said that, I don’t intentionally try to make the parts difficult to execute, but the parts do require learning and are not as obvious as some of the straight-ahead “rock” songs that I have done in the past. This is because the harmonization is dense and if you look at the bass parts independently, there are times when the notes being played are not repeated by the other instruments. The lines by themselves do not make any sense why they would work in the song, or any song, but in context, everything would sound right (to my ears). It was really fun writing these parts and seeing when things come together.

In one of the songs, I was trying to experiment with different tunings on the bass to see if it would make things easier to play. After many attempts in finally recording the part, I realized that a 5-string (which I do not own) in standard tuning would have made things straightforward. Oh well…

But this makes the experience fun, until getting frustrated with the overall progress, because of the urge to release the project as soon as possible.

In a really odd way, I feel that I’m hiring myself as multiple studio musicians, learning and playing all the material. Once in a while, I would imagine the scenario having real studio musicians, if this wasn’t a self-funded independent record, and would realize that this record would have been really expensive to make if that were the case.

…But I do enjoy pretending to be a real bass player (and a guitar player) at the privacy of my studio!

Looking at the guitar parts now and I have some more learning and exploration to do.

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