I changed up the Make Music DAMNIT assignment a little, and instead of talking about the first song I ever learned to play (that was probably something random from a kid’s music book on the piano), here I talk a little bit about the first song I ever made up on the guitar.
OH HEY LOOK A WRITEUP:
This assignment was super low-tech. “Haley Unplugged.” Kinda.
I just sat down in front of my digital recorder with my guitar, switched it on and started talking about my Mom and how she inspired me to learn guitar. I’d thought about what I wanted to say prior to doing the recording, but didn’t have anything scripted or prepared beyond that. I actually had one bad take when I stumbled over a few words, but the second one came out just about perfect.
Using the guitar to supply a bit of background noise seemed natural as I was recording this piece, and as I kept talking I realized that I could use the guitar to subtly enhance the story I was telling as well. When I’m talking about my mother playing guitar I strum a few chords that more or less match up to the styles of song I’m discussing, and each chord is clear and true. Around the bit where I mention how learning to play was more difficult than I’d anticipated, the guitar gets a little more dissonant—not enough to distract from what I’m saying, but I felt like it enhanced the message at least a little. If I recorded this piece again, I think I might try to play something even more dissonant there just to make the message that much clearer for the listener.
Once I’d finished recording I downloaded the file onto my laptop, converted it to a .WAV file with the superbly useful Online Convert.com and then uploaded it into Audacity to reduce the noise and cut it down a little.
While this project wasn’t much of a stretch in terms of my technical knowledge or sound editing skills, I think it serves to highlight the importance of decent source material. I’m not saying my song or my storytelling is anything to write home about, but it’s pretty clear and concise, and it’s got obvious narrative flow. Because of that, I could get away with posting a more or less unedited clip as a finished piece. It’s like Ira Glass said; his team spends most of their week hunting for good stories, because when you start with solid raw materials, it’s a lot easier to create something worth listening to.