I found myself fighting an uphill battle with the poetry recordings tonight. I didn’t expect to get through all of them (I hoped), but realistically anticipated making a significant dent in the pile. Nope. I only managed to get 4 clean recordings. FOUR. There was so very much working against me.
First of all, we’re having an unseasonably hot week. Last week, we were mostly in the 70s, and damp. 70s and 80s is about right for this time of year in my part of the world, and I was still bubbling with glee at all the hiking weather (as you might have noticed from all the pictures of trees – btw, will be posting more of those soon, just felt working on the poetry stuff on my quiet night was far more important. I can upload nature photos regardless of how loud the house is, after all.), but suddenly, this week we hit 90. We went from about 78 to 90 in a day, and got stuck there. At the beginning of the week I was expecting that rain might dash my Saturday hiking plans. As things stand, I’m mostly hoping we don’t all melt into a mass of sweat and gelatinous ooze. (Yes, in fact, I am exaggerating, just in case that was unclear).
Why is the weather relevant to poetry recordings? Well, for starters because it means no fan. Yeah, we do have the air on, but we keep it set pretty high until August BECAUSE we have ceiling fans in all the room (and frankly, that shit gets expensive). So 91 and humid is not really the day I want to be going without my ceiling spinner. No choice, though. I tried the first recording with it, and when I removed the noise, ALL of the bass went with it. This had the overall effect of making me sound like I’m about 7 years old.
So the fan went off. To combat some of the mugginess in the house without it, I decided to crack a window. Most of my development is retirement age or older, so it doesn’t tend to be hugely noisy, certainly not at nearly 8 at night. That got me through the first two recordings.
But, then, someone hops on a motorcycle. Okay, you’re allowed to have a motorcycle. I have literally nothing at all against them. But, if you have one, go, you know NEW places. Don’t just circle the block over and over again. I accept that your noise is going to mess me up for a minute, but not for a quarter of an hour.
And right when that’s done and I think I can get rolling again, the train goes by. Or, to be more specific, three of them. In a row.
Still, with just these ordinary interruptions, I should have been able to make a bigger dent than I did…but…I was also having tech issues. Namely, I was digitizing my DVD library in between. I didn’t consider this at all counterproductive since each disk has to sit and do it’s thing for quite a while before it’s ready for me.
Trouble is, the external DVD drive I use with my laptop was being…well, sufficed to say there was a point in the evening where I legitimately hollered “YOU ARE NOT KIM DAVIS. DO YOUR FUCKING JOB!” …and instantly decided to name my DVD drive Kim, since they seem to be of a similar temperament. There was much button mashing and a strong desire to throw the thing out the window (alas, I’m not high enough off the ground that I could take pleasure in witnessing it smash into a million tiny pieces without assistance from a hammer).
I’d like to say I won the battle in the end. I didn’t. Instead, I pulled out one of the spare laptops that has a built in DVD drive. This one in particular is not very internet friendly, but I don’t need the internet to digitize movies. All I need is a power source and a USB port to have somewhere to stick them once I’m done. (Which, btw, works at about 20x the speed of the external anyway, so really, I should have thought of this sooner).
I did learn some stuff though. At first I thought by putting the mic significantly farther away I could avoid that tricky breath issue. Sure I would have to amplify the volume in post-production, but I figured this was a small price to pay for getting a clean vocal that’s maybe a bit quiet.
The problem with that is the problem I keep having in this process: once I remove the noise via this method, somehow, I lose ALL of the bass. Since I have so little to begin with, when you take it away, I sound like a little kid. It also seems to take all of the depth out of the track, which is the reason I decided to re-record in the first place: the whole thing just ends up sounding really thin.
I’ve basically got to consciously keep the mic close to my mouth, but below it, around chin level, and speak over the top of it to strike a middle ground between depth and not having weird stalkerish breathing noises appearing in the middle of the tracks.
I really wanted to be further along than this tonight, so I’m disappointed, but there’s really not a lot I can do about it but dust myself off, and hope my progress is better next week.
As it stands, I have 8 tracks to go. Then I’ll give them all another listen. I expect at that point I’ll probably find 2 or 3 that I want to re-do due to maybe weird enunciation, or me talking to fast or mumbling and the words being unclear, but I am sincerely hoping it won’t be more than a week or two before I can solidly say that the recording phase is absolutely, definitively finished and can move on with getting the darn thing out into the world and start work on the next one (which…I’ve actually already drawn the cover for. I get bored sitting in front of the TV, but Roomie had me watching the series finally of Castle -which, as an aside, about damn time! That show should have ended at least 2 seasons ago – and so, I was sitting there with my tablet and decided to rough up an idea…which ended up working pretty darn well.)
I’ve also noticed, and you may hear when the album is out in the intro track ‘A Trick of Light’ (which I don’t think I’ve actually posted here yet), that my music study is changing the way I write poetry. I presume because it’s changing the way I hear poetry. So this epic project of poems is interesting, since I find my current poetry, rhythmically, is much closer to some of my oldest poems than more recent work. The flow of some of these pieces is something I might actually not be able to achieve again, so they exist in this sort of weird little vacuum that seems to have no past or future. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with evolving and changing, of course. Not at all. In fact, I think it’s imperative we allow ourselves the freedom to change and not be chained to one specific way of doing things, but I guess working with these pieces while also working on new things makes me feel very much like I’m in a coccoon – just a bunch of primordial sludge and dna that will eventually pull itself together and break free, but for now mostly has no idea how it’s all going to play out.