muted tones

october 06

our voices lost the words recovered

VJ Hyde is a musician and music therapist in the DC area. He plays in Go Home Robot and the Notes and Scratches.

curator log:

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Our Voices Lost the Words Recovered

october 31st, 2006

It may be the ghosts talking to me, but I feel a different kind of awake as I sit here and listen to the final mix. My initial urge is to listen for the problems, real or invented; cringe at the flubs and blips when the string bends just the wrong way, sitting right out front for everyone to hear. I have to remind myself that anyone who happens to sit through ten minutes of this will hear it with completely different ears. My own perception of this song is still not tangible and even seems like it’s removed from me. I guess that’s exactly what it is.
The main two motifs have been in my head for a few years now. I haven’t been able to commit them to a real structure in all that time because I’ve been afraid to let that bit of me go. I’ve suffered some losses recently, and that particular music helped sustain me on the level that Music works to sustain us all. Letting go of it has been a surprisingly emotional challenge. It dawned on me that through the process of extrapolating a ten minute whole from those two lines of music, I was returning to confront issues which that same music had once provided me solace from. Go figure!
I actually had some intense moments throughout the composing and recording of this piece. I started off this log pontificating about the Moment being derivative of both experience and potential and tried connecting that idea with the ephemeral qualities of Music. I now find myself a month later, looking back while firmly planted in the moment, seeing just how much my future-present self has been impacted by this project. The experiences have created a reserve of potential. Even though I don’t feel a sense of closure with this recording just yet, I do feel that the process of making it has brought me some amount of closure in other aspects of my life, and that’s always a good thing.
As far as the music itself goes, I’m relatively happy with it and glad I used this chance to work out those ideas into a semi-coherent product. Man! 10 minutes is a serious marathon. The actual process of filling ten whole minutes with sound is a challenging request. To do it in the span of a month and then release it immediately is taxing in a peculiarly liberating kind of way. Regardless, I’m very happy to have done it and super grateful for the opportunity!
So in the end, I hope those of you who listen: enjoy; read: forgive; Live: Love.

Thanks Be To Rich

october 31st, 2006

I want to thank Rich Bernett for not freaking out and killing me during this past month. His help, insight and patience were crucial to making this happen. Please watch his films and listen to his music!!!!

Happy Halloween

october 31st, 2006

Okey Dokes

october 30th, 2006

Like the month of October I’m almost done. I went over to Rich’s house (by the way, I don’t know if I ever explained this: I’ve been going over to Rich Bernett’s home to record on his equipment. Our band, Go Home Robot, practices there so he’s used to me taking over his living space and playing loud music into the night) over the weekend and spent several hours adding overdubs to the 2nd half of the piece. That rambling guitar part I was crying about last week is still pretty rambling but now it’s coated with some layers so it’s not quite as jank-town. I had been worried about the not-so-super-computer telling me there was no more room for tracks and my fears were eventually confirmed. Luckily I was able to get what I most needed on to the session before it cut me off. In all honesty it was good that it did, otherwise I might have gone overboard. As it stands, there are acoustic and electric guitars, bass, drums, piano, organ, pedal steel, noise and voices. On Sunday, I awoke to find a bell set that I ordered had arrived!! So that may make it’s way on to the piece tonight…but only if it works. I caught myself trying to add another drum track last-minute on Saturday and quickly realized that I was being ridiculous. So tonight, if I add anything at all it’ll be some voice-over and super-sparse bells. Aside from that junk, it needs to be mixed and sent out.

I’ve had a lot on my mind regarding this whole process, but I’ll save it for my next post because I want to get this thing totally put to bed first.


october 27th, 2006

I’m kind of frustrated and a little nervous. I had to work late last night and then run over to Rich’s house to record since we couldn’t get together on Wednesday. My plan was to put the drum tracks on the rest of the song (just in case the computer wouldn’t let me add anymore tracks), then add some acoustic guitar and keys/ organ. I got the drums down but hit a wall. The part of the song that starts to ramble really threw me off. It’s way too disjointed. What really sucks is that it’s only under two minutes and it leads into some good stuff. I would just totally redo the whole thing if it weren’t so crucial to the rest of the piece. So anyway, I wound up completely wasting precious time trying to cover it up with noise that just doesn’t fit the overall mood. In the end I’m kind of at a loss. I still don’t have the other instruments down and this part is nagging at me. At the end of the night I felt totally empty, yet I couldn’t stop trying to wrap my head around the problem like there was some easy way out. I felt like a fly trying to get through a window, eventually dying from exhaustion and drying out in the sun.
So this morning I was lamenting to my better half and she totally put in into perspective. She said, “You didn’t waste time. You have a new perspective now. It’s the creative process; it can’t be easy every time….Isn’t that what Muted Tones is all about?” What a lady!!! I immediately felt like last night wasn’t a total loss. I still feel some serious pressure but at least I found a crack in the window.
Here’s the plan. I’ve got band practice tonight…I’m hoping it doesn’t happen so I can record but that’s selfish and dumb because playing with the band will help in many ways. Saturday there is going to be a party at the house I record/ practice at so Rich and I are gonna get together before hand and put some stuff down. This is what I’m going to do to keep myself focused and productive:
1.plot out what needs to go where around the rambling section and come back to it once I’ve got everything else filled in
3.see about adding a new guitar line that has a structure to superimpose over the line without structure
4.put on a silly hat and get drunk
5.keep telling myself: “October isn’t over just yet”

doors open on the left

october 22nd, 2006

Last night I recorded the remaining 5-ish minutes of guitar and bass tracks. Starting from the first chord change and filling out the rest of the piece from where I had left off I improvised for about six or seven minutes. I feel OK about the whole thing so far. Not great-just OK. I brought in all the ideas I wanted to incorporate save for one or two, and I even introduced a new part that seems to fit in nicely. I don’t know how I feel about some of it just yet because everything feels pretty empty without drums and keys. I’ll get around to those things during the week.
It gets a little bit disjointed around the eighth minute or so, then has a anticlimatic crescendo because I thought I was near the end of the 10 minutes. I looked up from the guitar to see Rich shaking his head and pointing at the time counter…I still had a while to go! So I reigned it back in and brought everything to a very quiet, atmospheric kind of filler. Eventually the main two motives recapitulate to mark the end of the ten minutes. Rich and I had fun adding some noise and found-sound to a portion of the piece. We stereo mic’d an old cassette recorder/ player he had recently found. It still had a tape of some random things in it and the batteries were running way low. He spun it around on a string to get a faux-Leslie effect while I played around with two cell phones receiving each other to get some cellular feedback and delay. I want to add some more sound/noise/ambience to some other parts later in the piece. I work close to the Library of Congress so I might go over there on my lunch break and try to get some old wax cylinder recordings. Josh has some really cool old audio recordings of his family members…I may ask him if he can send me some of those too.
So I basically need to fill in all the cracks and crevices from here. Then mix and master and send it out. It’s so close yet no where near completion. Hopefully I’ll get some good stuff done on Wednesday.

. . .

october 21st, 2006

I’m gonna go to Rich’s house later today to add more to the recording. Time’s closing in and I’ve still got a lot to do with this thing!


october 20th, 2006

I’ve been trying to figure out a way for the 2nd Major motif to fit in after the first section branches out from the chord change. I think this may be a way to bridge the modal, atmospheric section of the middle, to the major (dominant) tonal shift of the penultimate section. That was a very wordy sentence…sorry. Anyway, I’m starting to see an overall picture of this piece in my head. I dreamed about it last night. I got very little sleep at all, and the one time I actually hit REM I dreamt about travelling across California with my fiancee, and two strangers in a taxicab. We were driving through the desert when all of sudden I noticed a cougar climbing down a hill in the near distance. Just as I told everyone to look it took flight and disappeared over the mountains. No one believed me… Next thing I know, I put a CD in the cab’s stereo and it happens to be the Muted Tones piece. In the dream it has its merits but no one pays attention and it soon starts to devolve into a big mess of noise. I felt embarrassed and tried to explain it away. Maybe I still am.

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