Monday, September 9, 2013

New Music for your Dancing and Dining Pleasure

I thought I'd give Audacity another try.  The last time I tried it was about five years ago, and the sound quality was hopeless.  The laptop I was using at the time may have had something to do with it, but recordings using other software on the same machine sounded much better.

This time the sound is pretty good, if you can overcome the latency problems that cause tracks to be shifted out of sync with each other.  I've decided to blame all the problems and mistakes in these two numbers on that issue.  However, once again the hardware has a lot to do with it.

On my older XP machine I could play the keyboard instrument straight through the soundcard and out the speakers.  With this newer, larger and more expensive computer running Win7, the latency is so bad that I cannot even play a few notes: the delay between playing a note and hearing the note drove me bonkers.  The issue was so bad that I bought a second pair of speakers just to avoid ever experiencing it again.  When I play the Nord (which being a stage performance instrument has no built-in speakers) into the computer, I must disable the computer speakers and monitor myself through the second pair.

And so, when Audacity is playing and recording at the same time, the resulting tracks are so far out of sync it sounds like there are two different songs playing over each other.  I had to manually, meticulously nudge them back and forth until they matched.  Of course that was impossible, because my playing never matches from one track to the next, so the best a mathematically-minded musician can to is to minimize the error in the least-squares sense.

Or just keep fiddling with it until it sounds OK.  Yeah, that's actually easier.  It helped to magnify the waveforms and line them up visually.

In any case, the first song takes advantage of the fantastic backing accompaniment available on the Roland FP-80 instrument.  The three piano parts you can hear are me in live performance.  Just not performed all at the same time.

This is a Gospel-style blues that makes abundant use of 6, 9 and 11 chords.

The second, conceived and recorded all about a half an hour after finishing the previous track, was meant to be a showcase for the amazing and deeply satisfying Nord electric stage piano sounds that I have been enjoying privately for some months now.  There are three piano parts, no drum or backing track, and it's all me.

I've known since about 1986 that simply dashing off a musical number and committing it to a recording in multiple tracks is not as easy as it sounds, particularly when it's being improvised on the spur of the moment.  And if your sense of rhythm and tempo are as abysmal as mine.  Virtually non-existent.  Plus, each time you rewind and lay on another track, you have to remember exactly what you did previously and when exactly you did it.

I didn't accomplish that perfectly this time, but I really enjoyed giving it a go!

Let me know what you think.