Monday, January 31, 2011

Tw1tter Band Project - The Trial

Last Friday was a pretty manic evening, but very rewarding. Old @WH1SKS had decided to escape from the harsh realities of his working life, or lack thereof, by diving head first into a cyber-music project. He details these events here, but I felt like writing a few words on the subject.

Mr WH1SKS came up with the idea of seeing if a number of relative strangers could create a piece of music together over the Internet. So on Friday he decided to run a trial... he called for musicians, vocalists, and sound engineers, and the idea was to see if, by 9pm, we could have a not too horrible version of a song recorded.

A lot of people got involved... we had a producer, a bassist, a drummer, a guitarist, a lead guitarist, a man on the keys, a mandolinist (mandoliner?) and, the crowning glory, an extremely talented, and modest, lead singer (me).

When WH1SKS was asking if I would sing on his Maggie May cover, at around 3pm as I was getting ready to leave work, I nearly declined. He wanted this to be completed in 6 hours, I had never used my recording equipment or the website we were using to upload our tracks, and I was barely familiar with the song. Actually, if I'm honest, I knew the first 2 lines of the song by heart, but had never listened any further than that. He used a combination of guilt, pressure, and the word 'prick' to get me to agree. He also promised me fame and fortune.

So I downloaded the song and listened to it on repeat all the way home. I blew the dust off my laptop and mic, and set up a nice little recording area in the flat.

I spent most of the evening practicing the vocals and getting to know the song while everyone else was putting the many elements of the song together. Recording my part was actually a fairly simple process, once I had figured out what the hell I was doing.

The producer uploaded a click track, a bass line was recorded and mixed with this. The guitarist used this to record his part, and was then added to the mix. I whacked my headphones on, and sang a long to this bass/drum/guitar track, listened to it back, was fairly happy, and clicked "upload". I thought about doing a few takes, but by this point I had sung through Maggie May about 20 times and think the people in the flat upstairs were ready to overflow their bath just to get back at me. So it was one take, done.

We had a rough track put together at the 9pm deadline, but it was a bit choppy, so I will link instead to the version that was finished 12 hours later once the keyboard, lead guitar and live drum track were added. I was quite proud of the result:

Maggie twitband mix-with organ by PaulBlackburnCompositions

Even though I didn't eat for 9 hours, got a pounding headache, and stood up a group of friends in the pub, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience on Friday night. My friends are pricks anyway, so that didn't really bother me... The lack of food was the real sacrifice that WH1SKS is going to have to repay. It also gave me the kick up the arse I needed to finally use all that recording equipment I had bought on impulse exactly a year before.

But what I really gained from the experience is a child-like sense of wonder at what can be achieved, relatively easily, using modern technologies and human talent. I find it incredible that a small group of strangers can put together a song while sat in their living rooms many hundreds of miles apart.

The next stage of this "Tw1tter Band Project" is for everyone to practice their parts, re-record, tighten everything up, and get it sounding as perfect as possible. I'm not sure what will be done with it then, but I know I will keep the track for ever, proud of what we have accomplished.

Once we know how to do it, and the results are good, I imagine that WH1SKS has plans for us to release a song, go on Top of the Tops, get Number 1 after Number 1, take over the world, record Spice Girls: The Movie Part 2, become addicted to drugs, enter rehab, enter Katie Price, split up, re-form, and die. You've got to have dreams.

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