365 Days of the Unoriginal, Day 4: Too Much Learning!

I know that I’ve said that the point of this cover exercise is to learn more music, but that’s only partially true. I am also doing this in order to learn about music and video recording technology. These are things about which I have only the most rudimentary knowledge, so (as I learn best by doing), my little cover project gives me the perfect opportunity to force myself to try to learn about them.

Today’s offering, accordingly, represents several “firsts” or new things for me:

1) This is the first song recorded specifically for my cover challenge — the previous offerings were all recorded months ago.

2) I learned several new chords on my 6-string guitar, and finally more-or-less successfully managed a song with something like a bar chord or two in it.

I LOATHE bar chords.

3) I figured out a few different ways to mess about with text over a slideshow in iMovie.

4) I learned that there are some things that do not work particularly well re: (3)

5) This is the first time I ever tried to replicate a song fairly closely, arrangement-wise. It wasn’t entirely successful, but it wasn’t too horribly bad.

The song is Neil Finn‘s “Last to Know”, from his 2001/2002 solo album One Nil (or One All, if you bought it in the US, as I did). It’s one of several really neat tunes on that album (be warned — I’ve got plans to mess with at least one other). I chose it to be the first new tune for the challenge  because a) it forced me to learn the aforementioned new things on the 6-string, and b) it gave me an excuse to mess around with recording a violin part. The violin is, after all, my first instrumental love, and I wanted to see how this might work. I didn’t do the guitar part quite right — it’s sort of an approximation of what Neil actually plays, because I haven’t got the skills yet. It’s not too awful, though.

There were a few other difficulties, of course. I tried the thing in several different keys, and I just couldn’t find one that let my voice do what I wanted while also preserving the sense of the song, so I just octaved up in the original key on the verse and let the chips fall where they may. There’s a sort of bridge bit that’s kind of hard to count, and I just never could get it work properly. I decided against adding bass and percussion (although the bass part is kind of neat), because I wanted something to be different, at least, from the original arrangement. It was kind of a struggle, to be honest, although I ended up quite liking the violin bits, anyway.

I recorded this one in my front foyer (nice and echo-y on its own, makes the fiddle sound good even if I don’t do anything to the mix), using my H2 as an external mic straight into Garage Band on the Mac. All of the instrument and vocal tracks were recorded separately. I went a bit nuts with the reverb to cover some of the vocal failures (with variable success). ;) The sound even without the reverb, though, wasn’t too bad. I’m slowly figuring this stuff out…

It was, to be sure, educational!


About L. M. Bernhardt

For a good long while (15 years or so), I taught philosophy at a little private university in northwest IA, and occasionally branched out into playing music, dabbling in photography, experimenting with food, and writing nonsense on my blog. The philosophy teaching part ended in 2017 (program elimination via prioritization), but never fear! I've just finished my MLIS at San Jose State University, and I'm currently on the market looking for new adventures in either philosophy or LIS. For now, I labor at a fairly interesting administrative job in order to support my dogs in the lavish manner to which they've become accustomed.
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