Song Sketch #1
2023 begins with a very simple song demo and guitar improvisation.
The best musical ideas are never predictable, though you need do a lot work to get there, work that you will ultimately discard. The direction of a song changes right at the last moment, as you near completion of a finished recording. Music can morph into an entirely new song by simply re-arranging chords or trying other instruments.
I’d had a song idea hanging around for about a year, had tried many alternative arrangements, then I just parked it in my archive. Last weekend I dusted it off and had renewed hope that I can get the music to work. I spent two or three days double tracking acoustic guitars and re-recording the bass. The lead guitar parts just needed tightening up and the notes tweaked. While this new version sounded great, what was really missing was a vocal. So, once again I have shelved it for later. In fact I have a stack of music suitable for singers, some of it has potential. In the meantime, I will continue working on instrumentals, which means the guitar needs more feel, like a vocal.
Though I’ve discarded the aforementioned track, today (Sunday) I adapted the basic rhythm style and bass line, wrote new chords and overdubbed a looser guitar improvisation. That’s what you can hear in the attached audio, with a few misplaced notes here and there. The recording took half a day to arrange with the guitars roughed out in a couple of takes. The result is what I call a song sketch. I will use it as a guide to develop the finished recording. This time I’ve used a synthesised bass, rather than bass guitar. Piano keys are perfect for songwriting, it’s what I always start with because it forces me to play interesting things on the guitar. I actually like the heartbeat, pulse effect, so I might retain that element in the final version.
The lead guitar featured on the demo is a Gibson Les Paul played finger-style, or with no plectrum. This way of playing is best recorded with lots of gain so you register all the subtle inflections and harmonics created naturally, which adds to the feel. It’s a technique inspired by Jeff Beck, except in my case there is no whammy bar. The second rhythm guitar used in the demo is a Fender Telecaster (played with a plectrum), with lots of Hendrix style phaser treatment. I am also playing an electric piano part, another sound I will definitely keep in the final recording.
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