Sounds: Audio clips from a one-person band
These clips show techniques detailed in other
pages; links following each song's title are directly to those
Musically, this song probably typifies my overall approach as well as any. It's a medium tempo shuffle, with walking bass and strummed guitar. The organlike sound under the intro is triggered by strings 2 and 3 of the MIDI guitar. In most songs, I'd bring this sound back in under the chorus, but in this song, with 24-bar verses and an 8-measure chorus, it felt right to bring it in four measures earlier.
Problem: How do ya rock with no drums and a very slow bass player? This is one of my attempts to solve this problem in a mid-tempo rocker. As the heavy bass sound triggered by the pedal keyboard decays, another sound, somewhat similar to guitar feedback, swells in. This sound is sustained for as much as three and a half measures during the verse, under a minimal guitar part-- just muted, droning eighth notes on the sixth string. The bass gets more active as the verse continues, and walks straight 4/4 under the chorus, which is also accompanied by percussively strummed guitar and an organlike sound, triggered by strings 2 and 3 of the MIDI guitar.
Another mid-tempo rocker, but much softer in feel. My left foot can't play steady eighth-notes at this tempo-- but it can play eighth-notes alternating with eighth-rests. I designed a bass patch that triggers a note an octave higher than the bass when the pedal is released, and voila!-- steady eighth-notes. I layered this with a bell-like sound at an almost subliminally low level. The guitar is simple thumb strumming while I sing, simple finger-style fills while I don't.
Driven to desperate lengths in my attempts to differentiate one mid-tempo rocker from another, I combined the ideas behind the pedal keyboard parts of the two songs above. An edgier version of the "octave-echo" bass approach of "Why Don't You?" is combined with the "emerging sound" concept of "Pissing at the Moon." This rhythmic sound uses a falling sawtooth waveform for slow vibrato. Delayed, detuned, and combined with itself several times, it sounds somewhat like a group of cyborgs chanting "No, no, no..." in half notes. I thought it was appropriate for the song's subject matter.
From a song about rocking and rolling, and I don't mean music. This clip, an excerpt from the guitar solo, combines several elements I'd never used regularly: Heavily regenerated digital delay (from a Digitech GFX-1), partially muted strings, pick scrapes, and harmonics with behind the nut string bends. Underneath it is a complex, slowly changing synthesizer drone triggered by the pedal keyboard, to which the 11khz, 8 bit mono sample does not do justice. Though not evident from this clip, the drone sound "emerges" from a normal bass sound used in other parts of the song.
This is the beginning of a lengthy medley of children's rounds I put together, primarily as an exercise to evaluate the potential of the long delay times available in the Casio VZ synthesizers. The buzzy, somewhat sitar-like sound at the beginning is what I played in realtime on the MIDI guitar. Two bars later, a flutelike sound enters, followed two bars later by a different flutelike sound. They're all from the same VZ-8M... This technique lets you hear each of my mistakes three times!
This is just what the name implies-- noodling at a lazy tempo through four bars of A minor, A minor, F and G, with a hornlike sound from the VZ-8M chasing the guitar sound twelve seconds later. Quarternote echoes from a Lexicon Vortex helped me stay more or less in sync with the synthesizer echo.
Just the guitar-- and the Lexicon Vortex. The clip begins in the B section of what's really just a pleasant-sounding chain of fingerstyle chords, with the Vortex putting out elegantly ducked quarternote echoes; that is, the echoes are only there when I want them. In the last measure of the B section, I play just three notes, the last a muted string slap. I also step on a footswitch, causing the Vortex to morph into a loop configuration. The Vortex generates a much more complex pattern than the three sounds I played, providing a rhythmic accompaniment to the A section.
This is a song about excesses, and everything about the arrangement is pretty excessive, too. The guitar sound is flanged ad nauseum; the organlike sound triggered by the MIDI guitar is four voices, instead of my customary two. The heavy bass is layered with another "emerging sound"-- this one gradually swelling in volume, and designed to sound like, well, a Mad Scientist testing something to destruction. I use this sound twice during the song-- as the only accompaniment to a guitar solo, and underpinning the end, with everything going at once. This clip is THE END...
All songs copyright © John Pollock. All rights reserved.