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Blog: Unemployment At Last

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Now that my degree is OVER I am, I guess, technically UNEMPLOYED! Or, as I like to say "A Freelance Writer". Who is unemployed.

I only realised that this situation had finally come about towards the end of Tuesday, as I had decided to award myself the day OFF. Lucky for me I'm not signing on as yet (I thought I'd wait and see how things go for a few weeks before putting myself through all that) otherwise THE DOLE OFFICE would doubtless have been knocking on the door, demanding to know why I wasn't out ON MY BIKE looking for work.

The day off was meant to feature a lot of watching TELLY, and I did manage to watch a bit, including the first episode of season two of "Under The Dome", the SILLIEST programme that has ever been on TV and yet strangely COMPELLING watching. I kept thinking "Is this a clue to the mystery? Or just appalling acting and horrendous writing?" The first episode was even more RIDICULOUS that the first series had been, and yet it was written by Steven King. Is it MEANT to be like this terrible? WOT is going ON? I shall have to watch Episode 2 to find out - CURSES!

As it happened I didn't get to watch episode two because I became busy RECORDING. As stated previously, I've done a fair bit of demo recording recently - INDEED, on Monday I'd added to the demo tally with versions of "Back For Good" (for a thing) and our NEW CHRISTMAS SONG which we'll hopefully be recording in a couple of months - but that had been done using the Live Recording function, wich is PEASY. On Tuesday I had to do some "proper" recording with the actual four-track.

The reason for this activity was that John The Publisher had asked if I had some cheesy instrumentals he could send off for a BRIEF for a TV programme. I suggested a couple of tunes from a while back when I'd done LOADS of such things (mostly collected on Hibbett's Superstore) but had had an idea for ANOTHER. I thought it would be a fun way to spend an hour or so, but it ended up taking AGES, largely because I'd written it in a DIFFERENT KEY to usual. My songs are almost always in G or C or occasionally A, but this one turned out to be in D#! I'd WHISTLED it into this new app I've got which tells you what NOTES you're playing, which I thought was TERRIBLY clever, until I had to sit down at the keyboard and work out how on earth to play it. Those black notes are CONFUSING! It took me SO LONG to work it out, and even LONGER to be able to play the bloody thing, that it did make me wonder if it might have saved me time, overall, to have actually sat down and LEARNED THE PIANO at some point. I mean, I only spend a few hours a YEAR trying to play keyboards, but surely by now it must have added up to at LEAST the length of a week long intensive piano BOOTCAMP?

Once the keyboards were FINALLY done it was a blessed relief to sit down and record the guitar part, as a CAPO makes ALL chords into easy chords, regardless of KEY. However, I was a little distressed when I'd finished to find out that this had made the KEYBOARD part WRONG, and I had to go and do it ALL OVER AGAIN. In the long run this was GOOD, as the final version of the tune was MUCH better, but GOOD LORD it was frustrating! And THEN, after that, I had to do a really difficult BASS LINE and THEN work out some difficult keyboard CHORDS. If you ever wonder why people still form bands these days when they can easily record everything alone, THIS IS WHY!

Once it was all done I did a mix, which sounded AWFUL, so I went off to the shops in DISGUST. Once I'd returned, lunched, and got some more vital telly watching done, I returned to the track and remembered the first rule of home mixing: "if everything sounds awful, take all of the effects off and try again". I took all the effects off and it sounded MUCH MUCH BETTER already. PHEW! The second rule is "once you've made it sound nice you probably don't need the fifteen extra tracks of nonsense you stuck on top to try and make it sound better the first time" and this too proved to be true. The only thing the song still needed was some kind of vocal hook - John The Publisher had asked for an INSTRUMENTAL, but it sounded like SOMETHING needed to be there.

The song has a bit in it that goes "Da-da da DA" at the end of every verse, and I'd thought I could call it "Alam Kazam" as that kind of fitted, but the more I thought about it the more it sounded like "Alan Alan". I VERY BRIEFLY considered calling it "Local Area Network" (A LAN, a LAN) but even I didn't think it was very funny, so thought I'd try and see if I could find a sample of people shouting "Alan!" I guessed a good place to start would be to see if I could find any evidence of people calling for someone called Alan, and thought a festival might be somewhere that this happened, but little did I know that Shouting Alan At Festivals is totally a REAL THING! Hoorah! It's got facebook pages and everything!

Sampling done I finished off the track and sent it to John The Publisher, just in time for The Not Just The Bands At My Festival to come home so we could head off to HULA HOOPING CLASS, what we do every week. I thus spent my first day UNEMPLOYED writing a song called "Alan!" and dancing around with a hula hoop. What do you say to THAT, Norman Tebbit? HA!

posted 5/9/2014 by MJ Hibbett

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Question arises as to why you didn't just whistle it a semi-tone lower, so it was easy and in D?
posted 5/9/2014 by Frankie "Common Sense" Machine

Transposing ftw. If you record the keyboard bit into a sequencer it can even do that automatically for you :) ... and D# is a horrible key to have to play anything in on a keyboard, whilst D is relatively nice. Interesting to see all the "behind the music" stuff, particularly in the real-world domain (I've seen a bit more of it on the purely electronic side thru certain facebook groups of late). Think I was maybe wise to ditch the idea myself whilst still at school (and discovering that I'm 107% rubbish at composition), sounds like a heck of a grind. At least when you're done with that something worthy drops out the other end! And I'll have to have a look for that whistle-a-note app, I've got a few things I'd like to transcribe that way... not exactly my own, but pretty difficult to get hold of any other way than via what's still lurking in my memory. Might also be able to use it to finally work out what it the annoying tune is one of my colleagues keeps whistling (and even he can't name, when challenged about it). Never going back to databasing then? Or keeping it as a fill-in?
posted 5/9/2014 by MarkP

Hmm, I coulda sworn I'd put paragraphs into that! Webforms, they'll get you in the end.
posted 5/9/2014 by MarkP

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