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Conclusion

To finally conclude the project, I would first like to address how the role of “project leader” eventually became almost irrelevant. It simply came down everyone wanting to create and release a high quality product or at least the highest quality we could produce within the deadline and with the tools we had available.

To summarise my role within the team I do believe that I contributed with conviction and enthusiasm. There were times where the project felt tedious and frustrating but the challenges helped me grow in areas where I needed developing e.g. being recorded in a studio.

I played all guitar parts for “Walk like a Robot”. I sang chorus vocals, was a co-writer of lyrics and played lead guitar in “Electric Animals” and sang vocal harmonies in the second chorus of “Distant” and was the primary liaison that helped organise the filming for its music video. I firmly believe I have made a contribution to the team and helped to the best of my ability in producing a high quality product.

I also believe I have learnt more about myself as a songwriter and learnt a new approach in writing lyrics based around Bowie’s Cut up Technique.

There are certain aspects I would like to improve on or at least make more of a contribution with, especially mixing and I aim to become far more engaged in the sound engineering aspects of a project and I definitely need to improve and develop these skills to become more confident and competent in a studio which will be of paramount importance in professional scenarios that revolve around producing a product.

Our free three track E.P is available to listen to on our website: http://aubreypark.weebly.com/

 

Songwriting Proccess: Running Gun Blues and Letter the Hermoine

David Bowie’s lyrics in Running Gun Blues were incredibly influential and increasingly intriguing. “I’ll slash them cold, I’ll kill them dead” was a catalyst in writing my own rendition of war in the first person.

In a blog I had come across, it was claimed that “in “Running Gun Blues,” his powerful 1970 song about Vietnam, Bowie got very angry and very political” (McDonald 2013).

I took a lot of influence in such lines as “I slash them cold, I kill them dead” and a particular verse: “it seems the peacefuls stopped the war
Left generals squashed and stifled
But I’ll slip out again tonight
‘Cause they haven’t taken back my rifle
For I promote oblivion
And I’ll plug a few civilians”

Lyrics taken from :http://songmeanings.com/songs/view/3458764513820562800/

I would say what stood out for me personally was how much more direct Bowie was with his lyrics compared to other songs I had been influenced by. The lyrics in my opinion were not dissociated. I pondered on what a song based round the concept of war would sound like with less direct lyrics and possibly more dissociated.

“I see them dead,

as we glide across the trenches.

I see their stead,

I see them destitute

A crow it flies

A swift command to break,

Its wings they scream

and the devil flies awake.”

These lyrics are arguably still slightly more direct than other songs I’d written for this project, yet I still feel I had written some metaphorical content, such as “the devil flies awake”. This was written to symbolise the concept of the evil of man being awoken by the actions of war. “A crow it flies” was somewhat a problematic lyric for me. I really intended to combine two dissociated ideas. I experimented with words such as “replies” and “responds”, alas this were to no avail as I came to a decision that not only did this words not work with the song, but they also weren’t that dissociated. In the end I had to make a decision that was for the best of the song, rather than trying to replicate a Bowie technique as much as possible. Simply put “it flies” worked far better in my opinion.

Letter to Hermione was another song that peaked my interest. As a result I had written wild frost. I was more influenced by how I felt listening to the song rather the lyrics in particular.

 

According to an article by Jo Tweed for the Daily Mail:

  • Hermione Frankel, 66, inspired string of Bowie songs after dating the singer in the late Sixties…and leaving him heartbroken
  • Frankel was Bowie’s first real love and inspired Life On Mars, Letter To Hermione and An Occasional Dream amongst other songs
  • The pair dated but Frankel left him to concentrate on her own career
  • Yoga teacher now lives in Bristol and called her time with Bowie ‘precious’.

I had written “Wild Frost” based around the relationship between two fictional characters in the video game “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt”. This may seem somewhat irrelevant, but on the contrary the concepts and key words surrounding this particular game, would be considered dissociated from someone who hadn’t experienced the game before. I had mentally cut up these concepts and found this worked together when combined.

“Lets wipe the slate clean,                                                                                                                     with walls as thick with ice.                                                                                                                  Swamp lands are everywhere,                                                                                                                no swallow can suffice.                                                                                                                                When the hunt comes endlessly                                                                                                                the wolf and moon collide                                                                                                                      wild, this frost is effortless without your sacrifice.

Wonder if she sees my pain,                                                                                                                     because I don’t feel anything”.

I was satisfied with the combination of “wipe the slate clean”, “walls thick with ice” and “swamp lands and everywhere”, which in my opinion created a verse that could be interpreted as about reconciliation or redemption, with “swamp lands” symbolising unclean actions and the “ice” symbolising the covering of these actions. “Wild, this frost is effortless without your sacrifice” was intended to use the symbolism I had already given to “ice” and mix it with the concept of sacrifice. Subjectively I had written this part of the song to mean that reconciliation is only truly valid with action. While fusing the fragments of concepts taking from “The Witcher 3”, I created an overall narrative to the song. To paraphrase, I used the idea of the “Cut up Technique” but applied it to moving stimuli rather than newspaper articles or diary entries.

What I would say influenced the most about “Letter to Hermione” is the lyrical meaning behind the song, and the concept of a song being written by one person addressing another. Except with “Wild Frost” it was a character addressing another rather than it personally being from me.

 

Reference List

http://www.beggarscanbechoosers.com

http://www.beggarscanbechoosers.com/2013/08/progressive-music-classics-running-gun.html

MARC McDONALD

Publish August 18 2013

Last Viewed 22/5/2016

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3397027/Girl-mousy-hair-inspired-David-Bowie-s-Life-Mars-broke-singer-s-heart-66-year-old-pilates-teacher-living-Bristol.html-

Jo Tweedy

Published: 10:18, 13 January 2016 | Updated: 16:03, 13 January 2016

Last Viewed on 22/5/2016

David Bowie-Letter To Hermione, Posted by mourna (2007) , Last Viewed on 23/5/2016

 

 

David Bowie-Running Gun Blues, Posted by David Bowie (2009), Last Viewed on 23/5/2016

 

  Bowie, D. (1969). Letter to Hermione. [Online] London: Philip Records.
Bowie, D. (1970). Running Gun Blues. [Online] London: Mercury.

 

More professional sounding demos 

In a previous blog I had mentioned how in future I will find a more effective way of pitching songs rather than via voice memos from an Iphone. Even though at home I had limited facilities I had managed to spend an evening re-recording my demos onto Cubase.

Not only did I find the quality much better (despite them being rough demos), it gave me the opportunity to experiment with some effects briefly.

Below are pictures of me experimenting with reverb and EQ. Subsequent to this experimentation, I came to the notion that using a digital audio workstation to record demos can help be a catalyst for ideas in regards to effects or mixing or arrangement. For instance, while playing back “I See Them Dead” which I had put reverb on the vocals and lowered the mids and lower ranges, I began to play lead riff ideas in D Mixolydian and D Major and began to envision what a finished product of that song would sound like. This suggests to me that despite this songs not being picked, there is every possibility of them being used in the future, whether it in another professional scenario revolving around a brief or for my own endeavours.

Finally I believe that having the demos stored on multiple storage devices I.e. hard drives, CD and a memory stick etc is a far more tangible and useful way to carry around demos compared to a voice memo which is on only one storage device.

To conclude I shall be definitely using a digital audio workstation to record demos that will be pitched.

Please Note: My Word press account unfortunately will not let me post audio tracks onto my blogs.

Electric Animals: Lyrics 

In a previous blog I mentioned how in future I will find a more effective way of pitching songs rather than via voice memos from an Iphone. Even though at home I had limited facilities I had managed to spend an evening re-recording my demos onto Cubase.

Not only did I find the quality much better (despite them being rough demos), it gave me the opportunity to experiment with some effects briefly.

I was involved in the lyrics for the chorus of “Electric Animals”. It was an interesting experience to work round lyrics that had already been written as I had to reciprocate the meaning already given to the song,

At first I had written a chorus that appeared initially to work well with the song, however when it came to recording it for a demo to be given to the media students it occurred to both me and another songwriter that it didn’t work. We recorded the melody as “la’s” as a draft although in the end this melody was discarded. It was interesting to see how some lyrics can at first appear to work and then later be simply inadequate. This could have been because the first chorus lyrics may have been written in an atmosphere of “let’s write lyrics because we need to write lyrics”. Obviously the overall outcome is to produce quality lyrics, but the first lyrics were too orientated towards to end game rather than for the objective of writing high quality lyrics for the song.

I and another writer had separately written parts for the chorus. My lyrics below are as follows:

“The dark, the light,                                                                                                                                collide, reveal.                                                                                                                                                A surge, tonight,                                                                                                                                          electric, I feel.”

These were arguably the most spontaneous lyrics I have ever written. I didn’t necessarily write them as a consequence of experimenting with any techniques. They just simply emerged. I’d like to assert that this was not out of apathy. After several listens to the demo the lyrics just came to me. I came in to present my lyrics to my fellow songwriter and producer of the song. The other songwriter had recorded a take of lyrics he had written separately and we all agreed to experiment with how both lyrics would sound together. This was an important moment for the songs creation as it definitely transformed it to something far more vibrant. We all came to a decision to have both chorus parts running parallel with each other.

I further reinforced my involvement with the project with a contribution that was recognised with approval from the team, making me really feel that I was doing my part.

Liaison Reflection and Filming “Distant” 

 

What was most interesting about working as Liaison between us and the media students is how quick liaison turned into “middle man”. Some of the negatives were very close to fully shadowing the positives. Firstly it became very apparent that both we and the groups we were collaborating with had very different ideas on how to achieve their goals. Some people who I had contact with (no names mentioned) didn’t necessarily seem indifferent but almost a lack of conviction and charisma. Let’s suggest that to achieve the goals of both groups we should follow this simple direction: we provide the music, they provide the video. However there were occasions where we asked if we wanted to be in the video or not, but we were told if not it would be fine. I feel as if the group I was representing would have been more responsive if it was changed to “we want you in our video” (provided the question of who was or wasn’t comfortable to be filmed).

One thing I would have definitely done differently would have been to fully brief the media students ourselves as a group. The media students had already heard the demos and groups had already made decisions on where the video was heading. That’s absolutely fine, but I feel we were not able to establish a common goal together. There were plenty of moments where it felt as if they were doing music videos….it just so happened they were using our music. What would have maybe made the transition smoother would have been to sit down with each group and go through exactly what was happening more thoroughly.

What I found to be incredibly problematic is trying to meet the needs of everyone. This was an obstacle especially when arranging the afternoon that we filmed the video for “Distant”. It was on a day where we (as a group) were not necessarily required to be at college/university at all. There was certainly reluctance in individuals to have to put in extra work especially on our “day off”; admittedly I did feel some reluctance also. I had to put into consideration when other members of the group had work commitments and also travel arrangements as some lived outside of our location (I’d like to mention that this was a day suggested by the media students so I am to assume they had no issues with the day we had agreed). Having a deadline to meet and time running out it eventually came down to just three of us being willing to be filmed on this day…..what I should also mention is that one member of the team was the vocalist and guitars, one individual was the lead guitarist and then you had myself who was actually only captured on vocal harmonies of the second chorus. Subsequently we had no drummer to even mime in sync with the music. As a result I had to stand in as drummer. I am in no way a competent percussionist. It was difficult to mime in sync with a track on an instrument that I simply don’t fully know although, being truly honest I was more than happy to put myself forward to do what was needed for the benefit of the group. It obviously would have been ideal if we had an actual drummer to fill the role but they are circumstances where you have to the best with what you have.

Despite these negatives, one positive outshines everything else. Sometimes it just so happens you reciprocate and mix well with someone else in regards to getting a product done. This particular group led by one individual approached me with charisma, a clear direction and knew that he wanted to film us. He was grounded and acted with conviction and charisma. The end result was a more Than satisfactory video for the time we had and the deadline we had to meet.

I will finish by saying being a liaison was a frustrating and tedious role, but it was a necessary one and at the end of it, it was fulfilling and satisfying when you see a product at the end of the process.

 

 

Distant- Aubrey Park, Posted by BrandonMossMedia (2016), Last viewed on 23/5/2016

Avaiable also to view on our website : http://aubreypark.weebly.com/

Criticisms of Ourselves: What We Could Have Done Better

There were times where we simply weren’t working at an optimum level and on this occasions we were challenged, rightly so too. There were sometimes a feeling of reluctance at the obstacles ahead of us and this reluctance sometimes affected the atmosphere of our work environment. At the beginning this affected attendance, and with a low attendance it’s difficult to work cohesively as a group.

One example of how we failed in an objective is when we asked to bring stem files of all three demos. When it came to the time when we were meant to present them, there was actually only one song we had had stem files for. We had missed a deadline and in a professional environment, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we were dismissed. Subsequently by the next week we had managed to not only present stem files to our tutor. At this point we are already a week behind.

During the capturing process, we were presenting our progress to our tutor and he had occurred to us that not everyone knew the outputs of each instrument on the mixing disk as coherently as they should have (me included); this was a result of living things to only a select few individuals. Working as individuals rather than as a group will obviously become problematic in GROUP projects and it resulted in us presenting our progress quite in cohesively. Once again, in a professional scenario this would not only cause a lack of confidence to our clients regarding our competence (not to say that anyone on the team is incompetent).  Secondly if something is assigned and fully left to one individual, and circumstances such as illness emerge, then that will impair progress and the success rate of any project as the role won’t able to be filled while the other member is ill.

These are definitely moments of our experiences we as a group should all reflect on if we are to learn and grow. I firmly believe that it was unacceptable and in future scenarios it is more than likely won’t be tolerates by clients. Nonetheless an important learning curves. Even if it’s one we shouldn’t need.

Electric Animals: Guitars

 

All songwriters involved with electric animals agreed that lead guitars had the potential to be an excellent addition to the song. We had initially recorded a short and simple riff on the B string consisting of F# and G#. This was used as draft to help feed ideas. The draft on its own was mundane and I personally did not think it worked. We then agreed further to develop these guitars into something more vibrant.

I turned to “Lets Dance” by David Bowie for influence. The overdriven guitar sound on the lead riff was an objective I set at first, not to simply imitate but as a foundation of what sound should be achieved. At 1:41 in the music video I’ve posted is the sound I’m referring to.

We experimented with the tone settings on the amp and at first we tried lows, mids and highs at all the setting at five. There was clearly not enough mids and highs so we moved the mids up to eight and the highs up to around seven. We then lowered the mid by just one and lowered the highs down to six. We made an executive decision that these were the tone settings we were going to keep. It didn’t sound exactly like the tone of “Let’s Dance” as we decided to keep it at a clean tone rather than slightly overdriven but it definitely had the sound we all believed worked best with the song, considering the tools we had as an overdrive pedal wasn’t available.

The lead guitars are played in a G# blues scale with an added G. Upon Evaluating the recording my colleagues who were present felt that the lead part was played with precision. Reflecting back on an earlier blog where I was addressing becoming stressed in a recording environment, and how becoming calm in this environment boosted productivity, I feel this experience validated what I suggesting. I remained calm during the recording as I had begun to become use to the environment and therefore produced a piece of guitar played with precision. The producer of the track had also said that he was incredibly happy with what I had composed. This suggests to me that I was providing a solid contribution to the project.

I had researched different tools that could have been used to help achieve a 1980’s sound on the guitar. Reflecting on the guitars we had recorded, although more than satisfactory, I would have certainly liked to have experimented with certain pedals and amps etc. For example, it would have been interesting to hear how an Ibanez Tube Screamer would have sounded on what I had played. According to an internet article on http://www.guitarworld.com titled “Totally Gnarly: Five Modern Effect Pedals That Recreate Gritty ’80s Sounds” The Ibanez Tube Screamer “dishes out some truly warm overdrive, sounding very much like a gloriously overdriven tube amp, even when you’re not playing at eardrum-splitting volumes, providing strong sustain and mids along the way.”  Hearing the tone at 3:29 in the review I’ve posted below, I would have certainly liked to have heard what that tone could possibly add to the guitars.

 

 

 

Reference List:

http://www.guitarworld.com

http://www.guitarworld.com/totally-gnarly-five-modern-effect-pedals-recreate-gritty-80s-sounds

Damian Fanelli

Posted 02/13/2013

David Bowie-Lets Dance

Posted by emimusic (2009)

last viewed on 22/5/2016

Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini Review

Posted by Best Guitar Effects (2015)

Last viewed on 22/5/2016