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Ron's artistic endeavor

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Sun May 02 2010, 05:47PMQuote
Registered Member #378
Joined: Sun Jun 14 2009, 09:02PM
Posts: 431
This grows out of a discussion in the chatbox. I posted a video link of me doing my own acoustical arrangement of "Sweet Child of Mine" by Guns and Roses, a band I have admired and followed since their breakout album "Appetite for Destruction" debuted in 1987, the year that I got married to my first wife. That song inspired me to expand my singing range. Needless to say, the recording I put up on youtube and linked here is not the best representation of how I actually sound. I have tried to explain the limitations of the equipment I am using. It doesn't matter if I record first on the 4-track analog that I have and then record to digital camera or just record to the camera. The camera has a condenser mic that is less than 5 mm across. A condenser mic is a membrane that causes modulation in the sine wave of a signal when it vibrates. It is severely limited in frequency response to input. I've recorded my dog barking with it and it doesn't do justice to what he really sounds like, so I I'm not surprised that it doesn't do me justice, either. When the membrane reaches the physical limit of how fast it can vibrate in response to an input, input frequencies are lost or "flattened", causing them to sound off key, usually a little flat, rather than a little sharp.

But that hasn't stopped me from doing it, anyway. Comments on my recording include the notion that I sound like a wounded animal, am tone-deaf, need singing lessons, need to clean up the audio on what is the recording equivalent of singing into a soup can with a string attached to anothe soup can.

So, taking today's critique to heart, I did a different arrangement and played it for my wife, who hasn't heard me working on this before. Hearing me in person, live, right there. Without mentioning today's discussion or even the fact that I have recorded this and received criticism, I simply asked of it sounded all right, not off key or off pitch, or anything. She thought it sounded fine. And she is quite an avid music listener. She once compared me to David Byron. For those of you who don't know, he was the singer for "Uriah Heep," back in the day.

More later, dinner is ready at 6:47 CST (DST).
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Mon May 03 2010, 04:23AMQuote
Registered Member #378
Joined: Sun Jun 14 2009, 09:02PM
Posts: 431
In the case of microphones, size and type is everything. At a certain size, condenser is no longer managable or will provide a true rendition of the input. For most high quality sound recordings, one wants to use mics that have voice coils. A membrane is still used but it moves a magnet through a coil of wire. This produces perturbations in the sine wave and has a larger frequency response range and volume response range. It can accurately interpret higher and louder notes. Professional recording mics can be nearly 2 inches across. That's bigger than 5 mm or less. Not only does it pick up higher, louder notes better, it also picks up the low notes better, as well.

It involves the science of acoustics, or what sound waves do. The science of acoustics is why a guitar or piano works, it's why you can even talk and make a sound. Well, the act of singing is to make those sounds effectively. Low notes require slow virbration in a space large enough to resonate the note. High notes require more vibration in a space small enough to resonate the note..

WCK brought in the excellent recording of his friend. A professionally engineered piece. Pro mics, back up singers, multi-track digital recorders, mixing, filters for noise and range, pitch correction. Nearly all recording today is digital on a computer and all software has pitch correction software in it. Even for accomplished singers. And the software can balance the inputs as well, so that not one track overpowers another unless you decide for it to do so. That recording quality is so good that both times I played it, my dog jumped. He thought someone else was in the room. It really was like having WCK's friend here.

The other factor that makes WCK's friend's recording so good is the sample rate. Simplistically, the higher the sample rate, the more information gets into the digital signal, and conversely, the more gets played back. The moment you get over more than conversational volume or pitch on my digital camera, you have overloaded the mic and it's going to shriek and distort. Even the conversational tones don't sound truly like me.That being said, I'm surprised that I can do what I can with a camera small enough to hold in one hand. A professional singing mic is bigger than my camera.

So, here I am, singing into the equivalent of a tomato paste can (the little ones) through a string. With no monitor feedback. Every singer has feedback monitors. Either cabinet speakers in front of them, ear buds in their ears, or full headphones in the studio.

I can, indeed, hear myself and I sound different, even to me, in person than what it sounds like on the digital camera. It was suggested that I clean up the audio. I can't past what it is done. The 4 track was used when I bought it. It's nearly 20 years old, itself. The casette tape in it is not quite that old but I did buy it in the 90's. With a recording mic that is a larger condenser mic with no voice coil but at least the membrane is about 1 inch across. And headphones. And I don't have a way to convert it to digital, though I've tried with my computer. I need a pro set up. Maybe after I pay off a year's worth of bills.
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Mon May 03 2010, 06:48PMQuote
Registered Member #378
Joined: Sun Jun 14 2009, 09:02PM
Posts: 431
As for my experience in public performance. I have sang at clubs. As a pre-warm up for a local band I know, the Blues Tones. Not one complaint in the crowd. One Karaoke event. I sang "Brandy" at that one and the lady bartender went absolutely nuts for it. And I was deemed the best singer that night. Which may not be saying a lot. But it generally means I can carry a tune. In fact, my recent submission in the chatbox is the only time I have ever received criticism, ever. And I'm not exaggerating. And all based on one lousy recording with a mic that could barely do justice to a fly. So, perhaps, I was stupid to offer that recording, first. My initial intention was not for accolades and I expected criticism from at least one, who hates me with a purple passion.

I have performed at a New Year's party, in conjunction with a local jazz legend. We did the only version I know of "Freebird" by Lynrd Skynrd while having a tenor sax do the solo. And I did the piece d' Resistance, "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin. And completely wowed everyone. I'm not bragging, it was a hit. As well as my rendition of "Down Under" by Men at Work.

I used to play in a college band called, of all things, Translucent Blue Plexiglass (not my idea for a band name.) At a gathering of musicians, I performed an acoustical version of "Dream On" by Aerosmith and received compliments afterward that others had relayed to me, as I had gone to do something else and wasn't around to hear. And when I do that song, I actually sing the high note, rather than scream, like Steven Tyler.

This all sounds like justification and defense. It is not meant to be. Simply to say that I actually can sing and that's not just my opinion. It is the opinion of several people, including those that don't know me. Including those who more often than not, disagree with me on other things, However, they can render an objective opinion regardless of other disagreements. You know, adults.
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Tue May 04 2010, 03:59AMQuote
Registered Member #378
Joined: Sun Jun 14 2009, 09:02PM
Posts: 431
On of my favorite critic stories is from Dee Snider of the band Twisted Sister. In one of their early shows the audience was throwing things and some of it looked odd. His roadie, a big scotsman said, "They're throwing $%@#& at ya, man!" That's five characters because it's the scottish version. Anyway, As Mr. Snider asks, how mad do you have to be at a performance to drop your pants in public, squat, defecate, then pick up a handful of what you have done and throw it at someone? How mad do you have to be? I don't guess I've inspired that reaction, just yet. But evidently, I am close. At least here. I really don't inspire that reaction anywhere else, including another forum of musicians who seem to understand the limititations as they try to do the same things, themselves. And those are people who disagree with me on a number of things.
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Tue May 04 2010, 07:50PMQuote
Registered Member #378
Joined: Sun Jun 14 2009, 09:02PM
Posts: 431
I have deleted SCOM4 and the second version, SCOM2, and have kept SCOM1. It's actually the better version, in spite of the guitar changes I had in it. I was trying on the other two versions to following phrasing and arrangement suggestions and it didn't work out. Even I don't like the SCOM4 version and stuck with my natural inclinations, which turned out better in the long run.

Here is the SCOM1 version.

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Sat May 08 2010, 08:08AMQuote
Registered Member #378
Joined: Sun Jun 14 2009, 09:02PM
Posts: 431
I thought I would cover more of my musical background and interests and experiences. I have auditioned for a few professional bands who ended up not keeping me on but it had nothing to do with my singing quality. One band I worked with for a short while was called XLR8 (pronounced "accelerate"). The founder was a nephew of Harry Chapin (who wrote "Cat's in the Cradle") and I did the impossible. I learned his 5 main songs from the demo tape in 3 days. He was going to replace his original singer who was giving attitude problems. But he eventually went back to his original singer because the guy had recording equipment they desparately wanted.

Another band I auditioned for was Raizin Cain, founded by local guitar legend, John Hiatt. I had good tone and volume but my range wasn't as high, at the time, as they were looking for. That is, I sounded somewhat like Paul Rodgers from Bad Company and their drummer, who sang the demos, had a cleaner tone, like Freddie Mercury or Brad Delp (Boston). Later, I would develope my range higher but this was after the fact.

Another band I worked with for a short bit was a band called Parachute. But they were more interested in smoking marijuana than really working at things. The drummer was good but the "lead" guitar player insisted on playing over everyone. But they did like my version of "She's some kind of wonderful" during my Paul Rodgers phase.

When I was in the college band, Translucent Blue Plexiglass, I had a pretty good blues tone and people liked my rendition of "Born to be Wild" by Steppenwolf. Granted, it's baritone and most anyone can sing baritone but singing is not soley about range. It is about having an identifiable sound. My friend, Jeff, later went on to form the band, Trident, and renamed it later as Magenta and competed in two local heavy metal festivals. His sound then was most often compared to RUSH and he sounds like Geddy Lee and plays guitar like a mix of Alex Lifeson and Joe Satriani.

Example. Mick Jagger. He is not the best singer in the world and his tone sounds like he has a permanent cold. But it is identifiable and he only sings songs that he wrote or were written for him. And that's another key thing, as a singer, to remember. You cannot sing as another person did. You have to sing as if you wrote the song. Sometimes, that means a different arrangement or vocalisation. Some singers are better at gutteral stops while others do better with labial phrasing.

Recently, at home, I tried another vocal arrangement of "Sweet Child of Mine" where the thing I changed was note transitions at high pitch. This allowed me to maintain easier the proper pitch by not stopping the vocal chords for a gutteral stop and transition. So, even though another person here said I needed voice lessons, I modified the advice and taught myself to vocalize differently, a problematic section. Also, by doing that, I don't change the way I am breathing or the volume, maintaining an even volume, which is less likely to cause splatter and distortion.

While all of these things are important, so is the equipment that you use. Some fellow fans are critical of Guns and Roses newest album, Chinese Democracy (Nov. 2008). In it, you can tell there is some pitch correction, which is part of all digital recording software. In fact, each section is essentially recorded as a loop and digitally integrated during the editing process of a final recording (mastering). Even Axl hits a wrong note, now and then, and the equipment evens it out. Plus, even in concert, the mic can have different equalization pre-mixes keyed in at different times. In a high part of the song, the bass frequencies are turned down leaving a piercing high. In the bass parts of the song, vice versa, making it sound really low. In edition, the final cut, whether in live performance or studio recording, is mixed by a bona fide sound engineer. He has an ear for balance. In live performance, the guy is call the front-of-house engineer. And he is usually a different person than the studio recording engineer. GnR uses one guy who has heard their sound in all the venues of the world and has the experience to adjust things on the spot. As opposed to a studio engineer, who is used to hearing polished recording product and knows how to adjust that.

The difference between studio and live venue is worlds apart. In an interview, Steve Miller said that he often does not want to play live because you simply cannot recreate live the sound you have in the studio. Especially a venue that is not designed acoustically. The new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas hosted its first official event with a concert by Sir Paul McCartney. He was an astounding performer, of course. But, according to local fans, it was a sonic disaster because the construction of the place is not designed for accurate sound effects for music. It is designed for football. It appears my problem is the reverse. I can't get what I sound like live to come out right in a recording. Primarily due to equipment.
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Sat May 08 2010, 11:17AMQuote
Registered Member #378
Joined: Sun Jun 14 2009, 09:02PM
Posts: 431
double post.
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Sun May 16 2010, 06:00PMQuote
Registered Member #378
Joined: Sun Jun 14 2009, 09:02PM
Posts: 431
My latest version of "Down Under" by Men at Work. This what a difference a mic makes.

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Tue May 18 2010, 11:58PMQuote
Registered Member #533
Joined: Sat May 15 2010, 06:47PM
Posts: 1
I only got to listen to about the first minute of the song. the internet where i'm at presently is super slow and it took me over 45 min to down load that first min. It sounded OK, probably would sound better live though.
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Wed May 19 2010, 03:55AMQuote
Registered Member #378
Joined: Sun Jun 14 2009, 09:02PM
Posts: 431
Thanks for the ok rating. Trust me, it sounds better live.

Anyway, that was the point I was trying to make, that I sound better live than through the limitations of the equipment we have and that, more importantly than what anything thinks of me, the artistic pursuit is worthy, even from scientific people and perspectives.

And, actually, I've posted other songs before and no one comments on them, usually, I think, because they don't think to or, like you, the technical capability of where they are or what equipment they have to listen to it is extremely limited. I've had a thread on "Whiskey" by Luke Kelley and the Dubliners forever and not one comment, good or bad.

By the way, which song did you listen to? SCOM1 or "Down Under"?
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Sat May 22 2010, 08:24AMQuote
Registered Member #378
Joined: Sun Jun 14 2009, 09:02PM
Posts: 431
Here's a newer version of "Brandy (You're a fine girl)" by Looking Glass. This was their only hit, recorded and published in 1972. I recorded the guitar on one track and then processed it with the wah-wah function.

I recorded the vocal on another track and the only effect on it is the compressor, which brings up the low volumes and limits the high volumes, making a more even vocal volume, overall. But no eq.

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Fri May 28 2010, 03:45PMQuote
Registered Member #378
Joined: Sun Jun 14 2009, 09:02PM
Posts: 431
Here is my version of "Holy Diver" by the late Ronnie James Dio (1942 - 2010).

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Sat Nov 20 2010, 05:16PMQuote
Registered Member #378
Joined: Sun Jun 14 2009, 09:02PM
Posts: 431
Here's my version of "Rainbow in the dark" by Dio.

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