January 31, 2005
starting with a bullet
January 2005 has been by far my best month for song downloads from my site. So good, in fact, my host is sending me messages that I have gone over my limit of 1G/month (~200 songs). This is a bit strange as I haven't released a song for a while. Usually, I see spikes in traffic when I release something new as my loyal and dedicated fan base is chomping at the bit for new stuff(!), but this time something is clearly different. Could this mean that the word is spreading a bit? Could this mean that somehow I am becoming more popular? Wow, these are crazy thoughts, and I do not want to get carried away, but numbers don't lie. They only confuse.
Here are my Top Ten Downloaded songs for January:
1 78,720KB heavy_weather.mp3
2 73,788KB imposters_of_memory.mp3
3 71,322KB my_sister's_getting_married.mp3
4 54,507KB your_smile.mp3
5 52,842KB song_to_my_spider.mp3
6 47,051KB from_us_to_me.mp3
7 46,426KB predictable.mp3
8 44,356KB wants.mp3
9 44,233KB hungary_yuck.mp3
10 43,545KB leaf.mp3
I find some of these numbers not at all surprising, and some totally startling.
January 28, 2005
This whole album artwork/packaging design is hard. I am so excited to be able to use some of Tanja Hollander's photographs as I know they will provide a beauty and simplicity that will draw people to the album. This is going to be great, but I decided a long time ago that I wanted to include every single word sung or spoken on the album in the liner notes. For one thing, some of the words are audibly obscured (on purpose, of course!), so I want to afford another way of deciphering them, but more importantly, this album is about words and the musical aspects of words, both spoken and sung. Words are primarily aural and conceptual, but they are also visual. So my challenge is to focus on this latter aspect as a complement to the first two which I explore in the music itself. I did briefly consider having no words at all, I mean NOTHING, as a sort of extreme counterpoint to the music, but rather quickly realized that this could be quite annoying and would probably be a cop-out.
So I have written out all the words - a task which took quite some time - and now I am experimenting with possible arrangements, trying to let them be beautiful and interesting and legible and complementary to Tanja's photographs. I have several ideas and have made some good progress in the past few days, but I have often felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of possibilities that present themselves.
I think that I am more aurally creative than visually creative. Hopefully this is the case, or I would be in the wrong creative endeavor. I do know what I like visually and have had experience with another album design along with my various websites, but this is tricky business. Not only does it all have to look beautiful and professional, but it also has to mesh somehow with my music. This is another reason why I am excited about Tanja's photographs. I think that we both approach our creations similarly in that we look for bits of beauty in the world that might be otherwise overlooked, and highlight them. Simple things; everyday things. I guess, perhaps, we are both looking for aesthetic evidence in this world we live in. I never cease to be amazed at how much there is out there and I want to spend all day every day being with it.
January 26, 2005
January 24, 2005
Tonight, a rock smiled at me.
Jagged and crooked and sloping downwards,
as if the snow cover
gave him the comfort
to reveal his true rockiness
to me, alone.
As I trudged past
he opened up, tectonically, and I swear
I almost saw his eyes too.
I stopped to take notice
my snowy wake suspended,
and he froze, slightly agape,
pretending to not exist.
But I know better.
I know there was a smile -
a dark and halfway formed crevasse -
and I am almost positive
that when I turned to continue,
out of the corner of my eye,
there was wink.
January 20, 2005
ha ha ha
thank god there is other music!
January 19, 2005
about a booth
I added the About the Bring Your Own Voice Booth page to byov.com.
And, I finally updated the entry for the BYOV event at Bernie Toale's. It's got pictures of the voice owners and a brief event summation.
January 18, 2005
a day of mastering
Just in case you guys don't appreciate how cool mastering is...
Jeff has lots of equipment
Jeff uses equipment to perform magic
Halsey doesn't have a clue how to use the equipment, but enjoys posing with it
It takes a lot of effort to hang out with a mastering engineer for an entire day
January 17, 2005
I am totally sick of my music. I swear I never want to hear any of it ever again.
This might be a bit dramatic, I suppose, but that's the way I feel right now after spending 12 hours cooped up in a small (but acoustically ideal) mastering studio yesterday with an odd but talented mastering engineer. Don't get me wrong, the songs sound much better and I am happy with what was accomplished (yes, Jeff, you did a good job - so far), but I feel like I have been stagnating on these ten songs for the past few months, agonizing over small but important details. I appreciate how much positive effect this mixing and mastering has had on my music and would never dream of putting out a cd forgoing these steps, but I am definitely ready to move on. I will welcome the shifted focus to the visual and put the audio for this release behind me. And then I get to work on NEW songs!!
I will give the reference master one day to settle in and then give it the old 'morning after' test tomorrow sometime. I am confident it's going to sound good, but you never know.
January 15, 2005
the voice collector
Do you think that collecting voices is viewed anything like how some native Americans used to feel about photography? Many felt that by having their photograph taken, their soul was somehow stolen, right? Am I doing this by recording voices?
I hope not. I prefer to think of it as extracting some inner beauty from an individual for use and re-use, even a showcasing of sorts, in something else beautiful. But maybe I am kidding myself.
Either way, 'the voice collector' is sort of a cool phrase.
January 12, 2005
I had my 'final' day of mixing last Sunday and have been spending this week listening to the rough cd in different places and on different stereos systems to see how it sounds. It's actually quite amazing how different it can sound from one place to the next to the experienced ear. I must have heard each of the songs on this album several hundred times, so I tend to notice the subtleties.
I am scheduled to get the cd mastered over at Peerless Mastering on this upcoming Sunday. Not only do I need to finalize the mixes, but I need to decide what order I want the songs in on the cd. This is harder than it might sound; segues are important, I think, especially when an album is a work in and of itself, not simply a collection of random songs.
After the mastering, there can be no more changes!! This is both nerve wracking and a relief. Mixing is really a process of compromise and balance. Sometimes I feel I could go on forever making small changes here and there, but without really making the song any better overall. One day I want to hear strings more, the next day I might wish the vocals were more distinct. I just hope that the final product I release next month will sound professional to all and will be something that I am proud of.
Right now, I'm proud, but I'm also a perfectionist.
January 11, 2005
I recorded some saxophone for the album last Friday and had a huge re-realization that real people playing real instruments is an amazing thing. Of course I knew this, but sometimes when I get stuck in my little room out in Bedford thinking I am all self sufficient, I forget how much other musicians can add to what I am doing. Over the course of two hours, Michael was able to improve 'Democracy in America' and 'A Song to My Spider' in very significant ways. And it was totally fun to meet and work with a cool, talented musician.
My favorite part was when I told Michael to 'BE the spider! FEEL the spider!' during a solo for the middle of the song. I think he did the best spider impression via tenor sax that I have ever heard. You all will be able to enjoy the results as well when the album comes out next month (assuming I get my ass in gear and finish everything up soon).
Can you wait?!
January 10, 2005
The weather was probably as non-conducive as possible for my Bring Your Own Voice event at the Bernard Toale Gallery on Saturday, but I did not let it stop me. The booth got a bit wet during transport, but survived intact and was quite happy set up in the middle of the main gallery space surrounded by some gorgeous photographs by Tanja Alexia Hollander.
I am indebted to S. and C. for all your moral support and help with the setup and breakdown as well as to all my friends who braved the slushiness and rawness to donate their voices to this project.
I am happy to report that I was able to record around 15 people, half of whom were complete strangers. The fact that these individuals were willing and interested in participating is very encouraging in that it suggests to me that perhaps this idea isn't all that strange after all.
I now have a lot of work in front of me in the post-event landscape. I will be posting some audio snippets and pictures of the participants, doing some other website rearrangements, sending thank yous to the participants etc. And then I have to listen to everything I recorded and eventually see whether or not I can turn it into a song. I feel some pressure with this now that I am involving the general public. And I can't start this work until I get the Words and Voices album artwork, mixing, mastering, and manufacturing done.
OK, clearly I need to stop blogging and get to work on all this. Don't bother me, BIG YELLOW.
January 04, 2005
The big day is soon arriving and I am getting slightly nervous. Anyone want to help hang up some of these in your local haunts?
If you can help, here is a link to the pdf of the poster:
Right click to download, print, post and thank you!