Last week, I bought a microphone. Picked up a Shure SM57, a mic stand and a cable for a bill and a half. I intended to take my new toy home and immediately start playing with it, but after hooking it up, crafting a pop screen out of a bent coat hanger and a nylon stocking, giving it a test shout, and taking pictures, I kinda let it sit.
Until friday night. I’d already spent some time doing some work at the coffeeshop before I left to see a movie, so after the movie I went back to see who was there to chat with. But the people I knew were busy with their own thing. So I went home just after midnight, and something inside pulled me to my music gear. I decided I’d had enough with the “buying expensive gear and letting it collect dust” kick I’ve been on for the past year, so I turned it all on and started pecking.
It’s all babysteps at this point, but I’m learning my tools. I have Sonar loaded on a laptop with a few VSTs and effects installed. I have my outboard USB audio interface, flat-panel display, a MIDI controller, and my drum machine. And now I have my mic. So I powered it all on and started learning. Learned how to drag an mp3 into the project and lay down some vocal tracks on top. Learned that my mic really needs a preamp because it’s way too quiet for the audio interface. Learned that my interface is hissy if you turn the levels up. Learned that it’s easy enough to lay down multiple vocal takes in Sonar, and that using compressor -> light chorus -> reverb sounds incredible on vocals. Babysteps.
My ultimate goal is to hammer out this song that’s been haunting me for the past few months. I wrote a poem some time back that just spilled out into a rhythmic flow, and the more I worked on it, the more I could hear a melody, a rhythm, bassline, vocal harmonies. It’s stuck in my head, and I gotta get it out and down on track. I usually forget melodies, but this one is holding on. I’m afraid of it dropping away, but with as much mindshare as it’s taken up, I doubt it’s going away anytime soon.
I do worry about that, but I also worry about spending so much time and effort and hope and hype on this song that I don’t notice if it sounds awful until it’s too late. I’ve been told time and again to never fall in love with my own work; the lesson of Pygmalion is one that I forget often. But as long as I know and understand that I don’t have a modern music production studio, that I don’t have technical expertise, that I don’t have the years of musical experience to pull it all together with a professional radio-ready polish, and that I shouldn’t worry if it doesn’t sound like that, I should be ok. It’s only a demo; demos are important, but they’re not the final product. It’s my baby, and I should love it as I should love all my other babies, but babies grow up and move on.