For the last 4 weeks now, I’ve been taking a free online course in songwriting through Berklee Music via Coursera. Berklee is one of the world’s preeminent music schools and Coursera is an independent social entrepreneurship company that makes free short courses available from 33 of the world’s top universities. The course is presented by Pat Pattison (who also taught John Mayer) in a series of interactive video lectures, quizzes and weekly assignments.
The course coincided with the purchase of my first studio microphone, the Rode NT1A – the world’s quietest studio microphone.
When I discovered that students were expected to submit samples of their recorded work for assessment, I once again realised what a great investment purchasing this mic was. To further that end, the mic itself came bundled with a bunch of free goodies that included a studio grade pop shield (which impedes sharp and plosive sounds), a shock mount (which keeps the mic from picking up unnecessary vibrations), a XLR cable and an instructional CD containing video examples of how to use the mic.
The course itself has really changed the way I think about writing songs, it really is a science and not just some iffey pie in the sky type of discipline, as many think it is. As with all things; practice/hard work and focus is required – and those are a few of the things I haven’t been able to muster lately – since I’ve been so busy with my 9 – 5 job, its overtime (unpaid) requirements and my extra curricular activities.
The song you’re about to hear was written last week, recorded this past Saturday and was inspired by my girlfriend – although she’s quite over all my songs already! I submitted it as part of my 4th assignment, as it was an exercise in retaining the stressed syllables of normal language in songwriting.
I’m still trying to get the hang of mixing vocals and mastering. I’ve always had it in mind to do everything myself when it comes to music. With the addition of this mic to my arsenal, I can now experiment as much as I want on getting the right sound; provided I have the time.
There’s nothing worse than going into a pro studio, singing your heart out or spending hours on pre-production – only for the “producer” or engineer to go in and change things that you never intended to be changed. For example, engineers these days – apply autotune vocal processing (think Akon, Neyo, Usher or any current Top 40 artist) to every singer unless expressly stated otherwise! That’s what happened with my band’s single, we received the first mix back and it was drenched in autotune!
Now, I know I probably knew less about singing 2 years ago than what I do now – but these days they don’t even listen to the singer before they create a bus for the autotune on the desk. The last engineer we worked with claimed that the autotune was just to smooth the vocals out. And if the vocals weren’t changed, we still would’ve had to deal with the honky tonk sounding piano patch that the engineer applied.
So when I do it all myself, for starters; it’s only because it’s validated.
I hope you enjoy the song. It’s still a work in progress, so your feedback will be much appreciated.