Monday, August 10, 2015

New Song!! (but also some problems I need your help with)

As I alluded to last week, I have begun to record music again. Over the last few days I put down a new track, called "Unknow," which is the first to be recorded for the forthcoming album Hydrogen (the album from which this blog takes its name). I attempted to record Hydrogen three years and a half years ago, but I soon abandoned it in favor of the album Expression. "Unknow" is one of two songs that caused me to put the entire Hydrogen project on hold, as my attempt to record the song in 2012 produced unsatisfactory results. But this past week I have taken another crack at it, and I would like you to hear it:

This track still has a number of problems, and I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions. The problem stems mostly from the programmed electronic drums. They sound kind of cheesy.

As I've complained before, I don't have a drummer, I don't have drums, and I don't have the resources or equipment to record drums. So my options are to either not record anything at all, or to try and make do by programming electronic drum patterns using software. But if you try to use software to impersonate real drums, this usually sounds fake. Electronic beats usually don't work if they're trying to mimic something real. Rather, electronic beats work best when are trying to sound...electronic. This is usually why I perceive a rock song with fake drums as sounding way cheesier than straight up techno music, because techno is not trying to be something it's not, it's just being techno.

And so that's the issue with "Unknow." The snare-drum-type sound here sounds very synthetic. That was partly intentional. I have a more realistic sounding snare sample I could have used, but I was worried it would sound even sillier because it would just sound like I was trying to trick people into thinking the drums were real. So I thought by using an obviously fake sample, I would clear the air, but instead it also sounded stupid. (On a side note, could the question of how we define "cheesy" be an interesting one for academic study?).

So going forward, what do you think I should do? Should I (1) leave it as is because, you know, it can't really be that bad, can it? (2) try to make the drums sound more "real" even though they're not? or (3) go in the other direction and use beats that are more techno-sounding? As for the last option, since this track prominently features acoustic guitar, I am worried that throwing in a bunch of weird bleeps and blurps will be too much for the song to handle. But at the same time, could that approach be "innovative"?

Probably not. Part of me is tempted to can the whole thing and say "see you in another three years." I think it's appropriate that the album is called Hydrogen because it is a lot like what scientists say about nuclear fusion. It's always coming but it's never here.

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