New section

A question nobody asked

"New and improved..." 

The four or five of you on my mailing lists may have seen a "new song" announcement from me.

It's not actually new.

Here's the deal: I learn a bunch every time I work up a new song. I cranked out Dutchman first and learned a lot about mixing and tracking. I then took on Christine and learned even more. I wanted to revisit Dutchman afterward, mostly because I'd made a mistake with the drum track, so I went back and realized that Dutchman was a mess. "My first song! Isn't it great?" Not so much.

So I took what I'd learned from Christine and applied it to Dutchman, getting a much better version out of the process.

After that I took on 12:47 and learned even more. I decided to apply that knowledge to Christine, which resulted in the version that is my "new song."

I wasn't happy with how things blended in the first two songs. I figured out a way to process things separately, which gave each instrument a chance to speak more clearly. I could bury my readers in details, but I won't. Suffice it to say that I have more control over individual voices.

I also figured out how to add processing to groups of tracks. Rather than overload my CPU by loading, for instance, the same reverb on four trombone tracks, I loaded it once on its own track and send all four 'bones to it.

Again, I took what 12:47 taught me and applied it to Christine. I'm much happier with it, but for those who may have been told that I released something "new," I'm afraid it ain't so.

Just so you know, Dutchman is next.

Thanks for reading.

- MK

Here we go... 

So I can post a blog as part of this site. Yay. Here we go...

I'm going to answer the question "What inspired you to write Christine?" which has been asked by nobody, ever. (I figure that's what a blog is for.)

In the early '80s I was living in Austin, TX, and went through a big Stephen King phase. In case you don't know me, I read a lot. I mean, A LOT. Back then it was Stephen King, among many other authors. I liked what books of his I'd read at that point, and then I read "Christine." More than once. Really liked that one.

I liked it so much, in fact, that it wormed its way into my imagination and gave me very little peace until I wrote the song. If you're not familiar with the story, it's mostly told from the perspective of the best high school friend of the kid who actually owned the car. My imagination wondered what the kid himself, Arnie, would have to say about owning a possessed '58 Plymouth Fury, and lo, my lyrics began to flow.

This version is my reimagining of the original composition which was realized by Shelli Miller, Don Fawn, and Colton Smith who, along with yours truly, made up the Austin-based band Paramour. And now you know about as much as you did before you started reading. Thanks for that.

See you next time.

Tunnel vision...

Tunnel vision and the art of music production 


"Tunnel vision" is what I call the phenomenon of only seeing one or two alternatives to solving a problem. Case in point is a chord progression I wanted to use in one of the songs I am currently piecing together.

I've been writing lately by creating the lyrics I want, then reciting them to myself to see what phrasing and melody they suggest. I no longer listen to music in my car, where I seem to live these days, in order to avoid cluttering my imagination up with other people's ideas. This gives me a lot of time and space to run the songs through my head. A lot. In truth, enough to drive me nuts sometimes.

The song's lyrics suggested a particular melody to me that didn't match the chord I wanted to use in one spot. The melody would work, but I wanted to see if I could write something with a "better" chord in that spot. Being me, I came up with something decidedly NOT blues-related, as most of the song is.

Great! I thought my way around the problem. That solution, however, led to another problem. I had built an ending around the original chords that I really liked. The new chords would not work for the ending, though, which didn't occur to me until I ran the song through my head with the new chords.

Oops. I found myself spinning in circles. The old chords, or the new chords? Old or new? We're talking about three chords here, folks. Not the end of the world, but I was stuck...until one time I ran the song through my head, used the first two of the old chords, and added the last of the new chords to it.

Ta-daa! The old chords worked well enough with the melody for me to live with them, and the new chord at the end added the semi-jazz feel I like to toss into the mix here and there. Either-or wasn't working, so I (finally) came up with a fix that was a bit of both.

Hence, tunnel-vision. Situation rectified. In fact, I brought back the original chord progression for the ending I wanted, simply because it was the ending I wanted. A drummer I knew in the 90s used to say "there are no rules" with regard to creation in the studio. Billy Sheehan, a bassist of some repute, has said "you have to know the rules before you break them." In my case, the rules are there if I was aiming for a particular market. I'm not doing that. The songs are coming out as they suggest to me, not the other way around.

I'm finding my way out of the tunnel, or digging new tunnels, or something. The end result is what matters.

Thanks for reading. See you next time!