Thursday, February 04, 2010

Coming back. A new song

It's been nearly three years since I wrote my last post in this blog, and I guess that time has come to resume my work on it. Not having posted anything in such a long time doesn't mean that I haven't been playing and learning new things, and in fact I feel that during this time my playing and my understanding of music has evolved substantially. I have been playing a lot and listening to many new musicians and even some new genres (and, of course, revisiting the old ones), and this has had a profound effect in the music that I play and compose now.

However, I hadn't recorded anything since that last post from two years ago, not because I didn't want to or I wasn't inspired, but simply because I didn't have the need to do it. But a few weeks ago, by the end of last year, I was visiting my parents and felt the need to record a few ideas that I had in my mind, and came up with a new song that I think reflects pretty well my current musical situation. If you want to listen to it, you can visit my Bandcamp website (that's also something new. I created it a few weeks ago and plan to upload there all my music, instead of uploading mp3 files to my personal server, as I was doing before). The song is entitled "Acoustic Lullaby for Celine", and it is the first song (they are chronologically ordered) in my "Victor Olaya" album.

A few comments about this song:

-It is mainly a solo guitar tune (my first one...), but I added the second guitar to add some color and emphasize some harmonical changes.

-I composed it on my flamenco guitar, and I intended to record it with it. But my 5th string broke just as I was about to record the first take and I didn't have a spare one, so I decided to try it with my acoustic guitar. The result was surprisingly good, and now I prefer this version to the one that I recorded a few days later with the flamenco guitar. Playing it, however, is much nicer with a nylon-stringed instrument.

-It is also my first fingerpicked tune. I used a plectrum for playing the solo lines, but the rhythm guitar (which is the most important one in this song) is fingerpicked.

-I recorded it with no tempo cue (also for the first time!). The playing is completely free (in terms of rhythm), and I discovered that not having to follow a defined time gives you a larger array of possibilities for expressing your ideas through rhythm instead of through harmony or melody. In the flamenco jargon this would be a "toque libre" (like in Granainas), but I prefer to understand it as a non-free playing with a lot of "rubato" phrases and a couple of well-defined changes in the tempo.

-I have used a lot of open chords. The first string is almost never fretted, so there is an E note ringing throughout most of the song (E is the tonal center for most of the song, but it shifts temporarily in some passages). I have been experimenting with alternative tunings lately (open and modal tunings mostly) and also playing some songs that needed tunings others than the standard one (including one using the weird Aadd9 tuning!). I guess that this might be the reason behind my current preference for open voicings.

-As I said, I was not at home when I recorded it, so I did not have my usual computer and recording hardware and software. I used my laptop and my Ovation guitar directly plugged to it, and Audacity for audio processing (just compression and a little bit of reverb added). It is definitely not a good recording studio, but I am very happy with the resulting quality (and I firmly believe that audio quality is not as important as most people think. Musical quality is what we musicians should be worried about...)

I have a few more ideas that I want to record, and I will probably record them and upload them within a few weeks. Hopefully it will be less than three years until my next post...;-)


Anonymous said...
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Jorge Gaspar Sanz Salinas (XuRxO) said...

without reading the whole post... welcome back!!

a great surprise to see activity here, this RSS has been silent for soooo long...

volaya said...

Yes, that's the good thing about news feeds...sometimes they bring nice surprises ;-) I am glad to see that there are still some people following this!

Wala said...

Por casualidad me he metido hoy, después de muuuuucho tiempo, a ver si había algo.... (ya estaba hasta el p. de la night at fabrik ;-)). Un gusto. Agur, amigo.