This week was a lot of fun! The challenge was to take a poem and put it to song. I went to poetryfoundation.org to try to find some lyrical poets with a strong rhythmic meter and I discovered Maya Angelou. The poem that spoke to me most was “Caged Bird.” In this week’s time I was only able to put half of it to song, but I’m looking forward to returning to this one day. Let me share with you what I came up with and then I’ll talk some more about it:
Logic Pro X
The story and imagery inspired me to work with some new sounds so I finally got around to messing with Logic Pro X! I bought a Midi Controller to try out some of the different synth sounds. I spent more time getting to know this program and learning how to create tracks than working on the song, but tonight I managed to put some of it together. I took a guitar solo at the end using some cool reverse effect in Logic to try to emulate a “Caged Bird”.
The hard thing about home recording when multi-tracking is hearing a delay when you are listening to yourself. I don’t know how to get around this yet. I had to record my vocals with no monitor in my headphones and it was throwing me off. I couldn’t really hear the tone of my voice as a result – only the resonance in my head. I’m looking forward to researching how to deal with this during the week.
The opening lines describe a descending bird so I went with some descending chords in a D minor and a descending melody to follow it. Then I went back up at the end of the first stanza for the word “Sky”. This is called word painting. I listened to examples of this in classical music back in my college days and this is the first time I’m actually using it!
It’s undeniable that this idea is very David Bowie influenced. It was not intentional but I’ve been listening to his new album Darkstar and have been reflecting on his life and music since his passing.
Phrasing and Harmony
I wanted to have the chords serve the melody instead of the other way around, so I tried to make the last note or word of each melodic phrase suggest a chord change, and then I found the right chord after! This is kind of a new thing for me too. I usually come up with some cool chords and then write something over them.
The phrasing on this one really challenged my singing. I have terrible breath control. Since starting this blog I started taking singing lessons and I’ve been sharing my ideas with my teacher. He gave me some tips on breathing with my diaphragm and I got that down, but I’m having trouble breathing through my nose between phrases. I automatically prefer to use my mouth. I managed to make it work by slowing the tempo and taking out a couple of words like “the”. Sorry Miss Angelou!