I hope I never lose my sense of wonder. If that makes me naive, then so be it.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

the battle begins

Stories from the field of battle are often so laden; heavy with raw emotion, alive with adrenaline and urgency, and momentous as turning points in history itself. So today, I brace myself as I blog about my experience: I went Christmas shopping this afternoon.

I knew it would be busy, and my shark-like circling around the parking lot looking for a space in the same time zone confirmed it. Drive, look, turn, oooh, are they going to their car?, try to follow, find out someone else has seen it first, look to see tail lights and think oh! at last! only to realize they're arriving, not leaving.

My first stop was a store that will remain nameless except to call it "A store with a ludicrously large amount of toys and a backwards R in the name". I am so very glad of one thing: I went in with a good attitude and came out with it intact. I found the whole thing more amusing than frustrating. Nobody yet had the look of raw panic that's more likely to come in a few weeks' time, but the place was just plain crowded. And whoever designed the stores really must have a chat with the people who designed the shopping carts. Either one's to narrow, or the other's too wide. Passing someone coming the opposite way required precision driving, and signal lights wouldn't have been out of place.

I found a few good candidates for the girlies, then decided to look for one thing from A's list, just to get an idea of pricing and such. She'd seen a thing called "D-Rex", a remote-controlled dinosaur, advertised on TV and it quickly made its way to the top of her list. So, dutifully, I looked in the section called the "Imaginarium" where there were other dino-ish things. No luck. Seeing a slightly frazzled-looking clerk there, I nicely asked if she knew where one was to be found. Did I know the company? No, sorry. Hmm, maybe in here (this while I tried to weave my too-wide cart through the too-narrow aisles), or in here. Nope. Sorry!

I continued through the store, thinking, maybe in with the boyish toys. Peeking down each aisle didn't find it, so I saw another employee and repeated my question. "Oh, I heard someone say we had that!" (insert surge of hopefulness here). "It's over in the Imaginarium section".

Oh, ok. Maybe I missed it. Back I went, past crying kids and frustrated parents, weaving around more Hannah Montana junk than I could shake a stick at. Did I mention that the two departments are on opposite sides of this very large store?

Tried the Imaginarium section again - maybe I'd missed it the first time. Oh, good - two employees to ask. Did they know where the elusive dinosaur might be found? "Oh, it would definitely be with the boys' toys."

I thanked them for their help, turned, and walked out to the checkout. I laughed the whole way.

Never did find the thing.

But I just googled it, and it goes for $150, so I won't have to search for it again, either. Mission accomplished!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

in the lull

I find my life at home this week to be nicely calmed, but holding the 'it's coming' feeling I get on a still summer day when you just know a ripping thunderstorm is coming to clear up the humidity.

Yesterday was a normalish Monday, today we're back at regular school (much to the girls' chagrin), I'm doing laundry and cooking pumpkin to freeze for pies and other lovelies, I'm planning Christmas baking and going over the kids' wish lists.

On that note: A makes me laugh sometimes with her very thorough approach to things. Her Christmas list was neatly printed, each item categorized in a careful five-level system of grading from "really really want" to "kind of want", then folded origami-style into a self-containing envelope. After each name-brand toy, a miniature "TM" was carefully inscribed. Gotta make sure those trademarks are accounted for. Very cute, very her.

Originally next week was to be a quiet one here on the recording front, but we are slotting in days to record 'Silence Broken' for single release. Guess that means I have more to do this week.

But right now I'm just looking out my window and remembering how much I enjoy watching the snow fall. There is planning in the lull, but it's still a peaceful place when I look for those moments.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

day six

We're done the ghost tracks. What a great feeling. We've done so much, I thought, as I listened to the quickly mixed cuts before Tim left yesterday.

But it's only the beginning. All of it will be redone and better, but to hear it back gives such a sense of having done something really great.

Tim now has a week of mixing the tracks before getting them to the drummer for the week, so in two weeks' time we're at it again.

Two weeks of normalish life for our family. Two weeks of getting Christmas plans figured out, planning baking and cards and what shopping haven't I done and decorating our house for one of our favorite times of year.

Of course, that doesn't take into account that we may be redoing some of 'Silence Broken' in those weeks to get it available online for this Christmas.

I'm very happy with it all. It's a little less surreal now, but still filed under "things I never would have thought I would or could do even though I wanted to do them".

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

and day five

Today's session continued in the same vein, with more work on 'Silence Broken' and Tim's thinking that releasing it as an acoustic single for this Christmas would be a good idea. While I was listening to it in the headphones that was sounding like a pretty good option, but he's going to check on the mixes before that goes ahead.

We did one more song, 'Only You', which is one of my favorites and has some really nice dissonance in it, and went over the rest of the time we have booked. I am rerecording 'We Hold On' but as that's just piano and vocal we don't need ghost tracks, which leaves us with 'The View From Here'. We got a start on that at the end of today's session and so have two days to finish that and then go over any changes we want to make to the other songs.

Still tired, still loving it.

Then it's two weeks off while Tim does some mixing and prepping for drums before my house gets very loud while we lay down those tracks. My rule for band practice is, if the plaster falls from the ceiling, we're too loud. Should be interesting.

During those two weeks, I really should do some Christmas preparation. At least baking, right?

And on the broader scope of the home front, our freezer will have a nice addition to it in the form of venison this year as D bagged a doe this morning.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

back at it - day four

After a weekend's break from recording (greatly needed - I'm glad we didn't work on Friday, as my brain was still shut down), I was back at it tonight. It was more of the same but with having had a few days to listen to last week's material, which served to highlight some areas that need focus for pitch and such.

I'm loving the music. I mean that in a non-egotistical way. If someone else had recorded it, I'd still love it.

Tonight we got the ghost track done for the Christmas song, 'Silence Broken'. This one will have lots of cool choral BGVs and may even feature a small bit with our girls singing.

Three more songs to go, and I'm looking forward to the week. This time I know a bit more of what to expect.

Friday, 14 November 2008

recording, day three

Day three was shorter than the other two; two more songs got ghost tracked to bring the total to eight of twelve songs. We are ahead of schedule so are taking today off, to restart on Monday.

I am mentally and creatively spent. But oooh, it's good. I've never had such a concentrated time of creating, trying ideas, hearing results, then creating some more. I am really enjoying working with Tim, who knows what he wants to hear and then is awesomely encouraging when I get it.

We throw out ideas, I sing them, he plays them back and we sometimes laugh maniacally when it sound great. I'll try a vocal line, love it, then try desperately to remember just how it went so that I can duplicate it. That sometimes takes a few tries but sometimes finds something even better.

Yesterday he pushed me to try things that were vocally out of my comfort zone, which took some trying but ended up yielding lines I'd never have thought to try. Musically and creatively I am learning so much through this.

But I am looking forward to the weekend off. Time to get my house back in order.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

recording, day two

I didn't think it would be so tiring, but the mental gymnastics and the constant focus wore me out. I spent Tuesday night in a sort of mental haze, and woke Wednesday still brain-fogged. Yesterday I realized that the muscles in my forearm were hurting a bit - I've never played so much in such a short time and they were getting tired, too.

But day two was another great one. We've now finished the ghost tracks for The Lord Reigns, Compelled (which got quite a facelift and is a bright-shiny-new song that is much stronger than it used to be), Overcome (I've fallen in love with the BGVs on this one), Lament, and For His Praise. The tweaks are improving the songs and new ideas are popping up.

It's a funny blend: it's very precise and technical, because if the ghost tracks are off then every piece of the band that uses that reference for their own tracks is also off, and the whole thing falls apart. The click track is a must here. It's also very creative as we do the fixes and try doing things different ways to see what sounds the best. 'Organic' is the word I keep coming back to. It's an organic process, constantly moving and changing and then changing again in response.

I heard someone compare CD making to bring a baby to term - you plan, you prepare, then you release it to the world and even feel something akin to post-partum. I have no idea if that's the case, but since my three pregnancies all started with three months of morning sickness, I'm just glad I'm not throwing up every day.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

recording, day one

I've just finished an 8-hour recording session. Well, eight hours less the time for supper. But by and large, we spent that time working. Figuring out the songs, finding just the right tempo, then playing through it to get the piano tracks right.

To make sure the tempo stays the same throughout the song, I play the reference tracks to a 'click track'. Imagine singing a song while wearing headphones on that are feeding 'tick-tick-tick-tick' constantly into your ears. I started giggling and almost asked "what is that mysterious ticking noise?" but restrained myself.

Apparently I am some sort of click track prodigy. According to Tim the Producer, it usually takes several tries to get it in sync, but I'm generally managing to keep the tempo right the first time through.

After that's done, I stop playing and sing the same song through, now with the piano recording I've just done playing in my headphones. That's done two, three or more times depending on how it goes. These aren't the final vocal cuts, but you never know, I might get a little piece of vox that's just perfect.

The microphone I'm singing into is beautiful. It's vintage. It's ridiculously expensive. A 1968 Neumann something-or-other, but there must be some sort of magic pixie dust inside it because it sure makes me sound better than I think I do.

This is not the norm, but I am adding some BGVs (background vocals) to the reference tracks. I had them swimming in my head and wanted to see if they worked, so Tim very obligingly is recording these.

I listened to the final playback of one song today and teared up. I didn't know it could sound so good. And these are the 'reference only' tracks. What will it sound like in the final cut?

I'm excited.

I'm encouraged.

I'm beat.

I found myself wishing I could tell Josh about it and hear his take on it.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008


To preface: I know a little bit about American politics, economy and such. A bit. So I can't honestly state that yesterdays election results are a horrible thing for America, as I've heard, or average, as I've heard, or the best thing to come in a long time, as I've also heard. I will not pretend to be able to give a thoroughly educated comment on it. That would be silly and potentially embarrassing at parties.

person: "So what did you think of the election?"
me: "I thought that Tina Fey looked a lot like Sarah, but the socio-economic crisis facing America at this time requires a leader who can unite everyone and share the wealth or at least some cookies, but they need a person with experience and wasn't that part about Joe the Plumber funny?"

To be crass and low, I'm just sort of glad it's all done now and whatever will happen can start happening.

Though I do know enough to be a wee bit concerned about the fact that the president, house and senate all being Democratic could make the next four years quite a ride. I'm a little leery about giving any one party so much rein. I have no idea when the last time was that one of the three wasn't different, allowing for some checks and balances.

But part of me, maybe the Pollyanna part (and while I can be pretty sarcastic and hold a PhD in worrying over random things, she's always hiding in there being annoyingly happy and perky and positive), just thinks: wow, they've done it. You can almost smell the vindication in the air. Yeah, it wasn't about race and I do really hope and pray that Obama will lead the USA well - but the weight of history was always there and so I will state in my uneducated opinion: it's pretty cool.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

congratulations, it's a company

It's been for a little while now, but I've not made it official by spewing the words out into cyberspace.

Creekside Music, Incorporated is officially an entity. We even have some shareholders. Whee!

Another step in the long journey.

I've been listening to the demo ad nauseum (well, not that much) and hearing things to keep, things to change, and things to add. By listening over and over to the same song as opposed to only doing them live, I am hearing little details - a new harmony I've never thought of, a bass line that might just bring the song to the next level, a piano bit that will peek out here and there, tempos that need adjusting.