The Linear Canvas
This journal is about the wrongs and rights of the world, as I see them.

The Linear Canvas

My Newest Recording – Blind Not Just Yet

October 24th, 2012 . by Alexander Fisher

IMGSam McKinney brought me this song made up of samples and loops. At first he just wanted me to add a couple of guitars and that would be the end of my involvement. But after about three days I had a complete song including original lyrics.

The song is about not allowing oneself to be fooled, intentionally. And recognizing when it is happening.

Sam arranged the samples and loops using his Roland GrooveBox. He also sang the background vocals in the chorus’. I played all the guitars on my Fender Stratocaster and wrote the lyrics. I also sang lead vocals and added some percussion.

My Newest Recording – (By the Banks of Old) Swan Creek

August 31st, 2012 . by Alexander Fisher

MVC-186SI never meant to watch the AMC series “Breaking Bad”. But my wife Jill kept telling me that I would like it. When I did start watching it, I would sit and view the episodes, playing my guitar. While watching it, I began playing the main chords that later became (By the Banks of Old) Swan Creek. I began hearing the lyrics in my head and started writing the song watching Walter and Jesse cook meth.

I am not sure I knew what the song would be initially. But sometime around then I also contacted Tammy Parshall Daily (now Balas) on Facebook. She was previously married to my friend Ernie Daily, who I had known since childhood. Ernie had passed away about ten years ago and Tammy and I somehow have lived in several areas at the same or different times. Even the same house once in my hometown of London, Ohio (at different times). Tammy is in Swanton now. A place where I lived for six years.

After talking to Tammy online, I got to thinking about Swanton, and Ada. Ada, east of Lima, Ohio in Hardin County, is a place I lived for ten years, and was Tammy’s hometown. I moved to Swanton from there. Swanton was close enough to Toledo that it felt like a suburb. There was only the airport separating the two areas. Jill worked in Toledo and I did too. I have a lot of good memories from living there. I know that there are some things about moving back to central Ohio that made it worth it. But in some ways, still I regret moving from Swanton. Or even moving away from Ada to begin with. The flow of my life just took me away from those places. Sometimes due to events beyond my control. But sometimes I had full control of it, for better or worse.

When I hear this song, I think of Ada, Swanton, Ernie and Tammy, ATI, Sprint, Loma Linda’s, Tony Packo’s, etc. I am also waiting for that e-mail from Tammy telling me she lives in Galloway some day. Or maybe I’ll move back to Swanton, by the banks of the old Swan Creek.

I played my Takamine acoustic guitar. One track is finger picked and the other I used a Fender medium pick. I used D’Addario EJ-15 ultra light strings on the Takamine. I played my Fender Stratocaster electric guitar and my Rickenbacker 4001 bass. The drums are patches from Session Drummer 3. I did MIDI programming and editing of the patches. I played Tambourine and added clips from my Ludwig drums. The piano is my Roland MIDI slave and True Piano. I used my Shure SM-58 microphone for most vocals. But I did use my Shure SM-27 for some.

My Newest Recording – Like Something Out Of A Movie

July 13th, 2012 . by Alexander Fisher

Image_00027Like Something Out Of A Movie was inspired by a trip to the movies. Specifically the coming attractions. I just thought the action vs. chick flick assault was a bit alarming. I had the guitar riff for several years and had only saved it because my wife Jill liked it.

My sudden hard rock turn is from hanging around with Steve DeMatteo and Sam McKinney lately. While visiting Sam one day, I watched him work on a few of his recordings. Sam has fronted several metal/hard rock bands in the Columbus area and produces music and does beats for hip-hop. He uses a Roland GrooveBox to produce his beats and songs. I knew my Sonar software which is actually owned by Roland, has synthesizers and loop players that certainly rivaled the GrooveBox.  How many more songs I will produce like this is an unknown. I just build what I feel sometimes.

I played all the instruments and sang all the vocals. I played my Stratocaster and Rick bass on this track. I used Sonar plugins Session drummer 3 and Beatscape for the drums and beats. I played and triggered the MIDI devices with a Roland Octapad. I used a Roland slave keyboard and TruePianos for the piano sounds. This was recorded with the 64 bit version of Sonar X1 Production Suite. I also added a woman’s voice saying French words/phrases: No, I Love You, Leave Me Alone.

I was hating X1 about a week ago, but I am over it now. It worked very well. Using the Pro Channel Concrete Limiter allowed me to skip using Sony Sound Forge 9 for anything but a few minor tasks.

My Newest Recording – Playground Days (remix)

June 24th, 2012 . by Alexander Fisher

Alex1When I wrote Playground Days I was thinking about being in third grade in London, Ohio. Playing on the big old slide with the hump in the middle of it. Throughout the years afterwards, I have found myself coming back to that playground. Discovering a few more of the memories I had in those care free times. Other than my third grade teacher Miss Littler, (see my post  I Survived…Miss Littler) I didn’t have a worry in the world.

 

 

I can’t remember when I wrote this. I can’t tell you if any of the tracks were originally analog or not. If there were any, the analog tracks were originally recorded on a Yamaha MT-100 II 4 track cassette recorder using high speed (3.75 IPS) and dbx noise reduction. I know some were recorded on my Fostex VF-16 digital multi-track. I’d suspect they are all digital.

I think the acoustic guitar I played was a Takamine. I played electric guitar on a Fender Stratocaster and maybe an Ibanez Les Paul (?). The bass was a Rickenbacker 4001. The drums were created using the transients from the original analog recordings. I used Sonar AudioSnap to convert the transients into MIDI events. The drum sounds are from Session Drummer 3 software.

My Newest Recordings – Mean and Cruel (remix)

June 15th, 2012 . by Alexander Fisher

Alex FisherMean and Cruel is not a new song or a new recording. I really didn’t even redo the drum tracks on the one version. I can’t even tell you for sure when I wrote it, recorded it, or what my real motivation was. I also copied and pasted some text from the last blog entry when I first posted it. Lazy?

I haven’t ever written too many “story” songs. In addition, this is the only one I can think of that I’ve ever written that is about a fictional character. This song is about a man from a different time, maybe the American southwest around 1900, that was just always out of control. That no one wanted to try to control. That no one could control. A really bully kind of a guy.

Go back east young man…

I had also recorded a hard rock version of Mean and Cruel at about the same time as the previous version. I completely redid the drum track and had to fix the bass tracks. I was afraid I’d have to redo the whole bass line, but luckily I didn’t have to. I know why I recorded it. I was uncomfortable with the country folk feel of the previous version. I have learned to live with it in my old age.

I also posted an extended cut of the hard rock version. The difference is I let the guitars play on and I end the song about a minute later.

Mean and Cruel (electric) – extended jam

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Like I said, I had posted this song previously. I can’t remember what I did to it before, but I know I was a little under whelmed by the drum sounds. My intention was to re-time the song and insert a drum loop with me playing accents and fills on a Roland Octapad. I did manage to get it re-timed and was battling with inserting drum loops. My friend Sam McKinney came over and heard the mix as is, and said “What’s wrong with that?”. I thought, nothing really. So I tuned that up a little and here it is.

I got into this situation with the metronome trying to impress another person, who really doesn’t pay any attention to my music. Way back then I thought a real musician would record these songs without a click track or metronome. Who needs that? The short answer is everyone. I get pretty close to the beat and stay on it, but now I wish I’d used a metronome when I recorded the first version. It would have made editing it much easier.

The analog tracks were originally recorded in the 1990’s on a Yamaha MT-100 II 4 track cassette recorder using high speed (3.75 IPS) and dbx noise reduction.

I think the acoustic guitar I played was a Yamaha on the first version. I played electric guitar on a Fender Stratocaster and the bass was a Rickenbacker 4001 on both. The drums originally were played on Yamaha MIDI controller pads connected to a Boss Dr. Rhythm drum machine. On the hard rock version, I replaced the drums with Session Drummer 3 and using the Octapad. I must have used a metronome on this version as editing the time/beat was much easier. I also added a Yamaha church organ and a Casio CX-101 synthesizer on that track.

I played the analog tracks into my Tascam FW-1804 connected to my computer. I processed the audio with Cakewalk Sonar X1 Producer and Sony Sound Forge v9.

My Newest Recording – Does It Matter (remix)

June 3rd, 2012 . by Alexander Fisher

 

timlar1Does It Matter was at one time, my favorite of all my originals. It was early in my recording history and I thought it was well written and recorded. With each new recording though, it became just another of the many projects I had completed. Somewhere along the way I had let it fade off into my distant memories.

The song is about a lot of things. Apathy mainly, but also religion, fear, politics, societal pressures, corporate lies, repression, and propaganda. It’s about the slow motion coup d’état that the corporatists have engaged in, in earnest, since the early 1980’s. Subverting our society so slowly no one notices their rights, jobs, and lives being drained away. Kind of a giant sucking sound, but not just from down Mexico way. From all directions.

Recently I realized that I hear an echo of a quotation by Martin Niemöller, a German pastor and theologian of the early 20th century in this song, I wrote the song long after Mr. Niemöller wrote his piece, but years before I actually read it. I just seem to be stating the same thing, only with more lead guitar.

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

The analog tracks on Does It Matter were originally recorded on a Yamaha MT-100 II 4 track cassette recorder using high speed (3.75 IPS) and dbx noise reduction. It was recorded some time around 1995. I tried to capture the analog audio digitally as 24 bit at 48 kHz. I ended up with 32 bit and 44.1 kHz. When I realized that, I was half way done with the project. The reasons are, I had a cold and I started to do this on my new Cakewalk Sonar X1 installation. I have only had it a week and only got a book for it today. I soon figured out that the time stretching property sheet was hidden somewhere or not a part of the audio workstation software in the way it was before. I had been having trouble with the X1 envelope tool as it had changed as well. But the main reason I finished the mix on Sonar v8.5 was that the project wouldn’t open in X1 anymore. Because of the time base issues I was going to have to do it on v8.5 anyway.

I re-mixed this song once before back in 2010. But I wanted to change the drums to something a little more current sounding, though they really didn’t sound that bad. The original drums tracks were played on a cheap Yamaha MIDI drum pad using my Boss Dr. Rhythm drum machine. I used a click track to establish the beat and came back over and played the cymbal and drums sounds separately.  No sequencer was used. The tempo ended up at 127.84 beats per minute. I would guess the original drum track was probably 128 bpm. I would also guess the variance is mostly mechanical issues with the tape recorder. But the drum machine clock could have been off some too.

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My Newest Recording – Bridge To Cross (remix)

May 30th, 2012 . by Alexander Fisher

CONNEY JOANN KELLY FISHERAfter my mother, Conney (or JoAnn), passed away just about a year ago, I already knew the song I was going to write. I saw the lyrics and melody unfolding right in front of me during that last year with her. I was going to post this song on the date of mom’s death, June 2. But a) I thought that was being too dramatic and b) I couldn’t wait that long.

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since she passed away. I know I just went around for a couple of months wondering “How this could be?” It’s easier now, but at times I still think about something only mom could explain and/or even know anything about at all. I still have my aunt Helen Brown. I can ask her, for the time being.

This is the first audio project I have completed with Cakewalk Sonar X1. It is a lot different than the previous versions of Sonar. Even the previous release. I don’t get the numbering system, the last version was v8.5. The envelope tool change has me freaking out a bit. But otherwise I mostly like the new interface. When I start time stretching and synchronizing on this software, we’ll see what I think then.

My Newest Recording – Pray For The Sun (remix)

May 27th, 2012 . by Alexander Fisher

MVC-269FI wrote Pray For The Sun during the winter of 2001.  I was flying to and from Kansas City when I worked at Sprint. It was an especially bad winter or the Missouri and Kansas highway departments really stunk. I can remember driving to and from the airport in KC sliding from side to side on unplowed snow and a layer of ice underneath. That and the constant flying was getting to me. It was a hard time , but in retrospect that whole time was mostly a good time.

My Newest Recordings – This Place Is Not Your Home (remix)

May 24th, 2012 . by Alexander Fisher

dean10I decided to work on This Place Is Not Your Home because it had been awhile since I had done anything to it. I have made some big changes recently in the way I record and I figured I could do the song some good revisiting the mixing process, etc.

This Place Is Not Your Home  was written about leaving home. Regardless of where you go and how long you stay, you can never be home once you’ve left the only home you ever had.

As I said, many things have changed since the last version of the mix. One thing, I have a sub-woofer on my studio monitors now. The difference is that I can hear the low frequencies better and I don’t need to take a ride in my truck, which has a sub woofer, to hear whether I need to turn down the bass any. Another change is that I probably was using Cakewalk Sonar 7 when I did the last recording. Since then I have upgraded twice. I now have Sonar X1. I just installed it and I just made use of the Pro Channel plug in for the first time. There’s a lot I need to learn about Sonar X1.

The other thing is I am much more experienced using a Digital Audio Workstation than I was even a year ago. Using Sonar X1 may improve my recordings and hopefully will challenge me to learn more about it. All the "Pros" seem to prefer Pro Tools. I am a Cakewalk guy. That’s not changing any time soon. The price of Pro Tools alone is a good reason to stick to Sonar.

My Newest Recording – Sorry It Came To This (remix)

May 15th, 2012 . by Alexander Fisher

GUITAR1I recorded Sorry It Came To This many years ago on my 4 track tape recorder. I had worked on it a couple of years ago, but I thought it was in need of a remix. It was mainly that the vocals were too low, but there were other problems as well. Originally I had to sync all the tracks, replace live drum tracks with near exact MIDI performances and lined up the song to a timeline. Not an easy job for the way I recorded back then. It must have been one of the first I edited in such a way. I put a lot of work in just the timings alone. The beat on a second look is near perfect. It’s hard to tell when you are still working on it. It takes some time to cool down from it.

I wrote Sorry It Came To This about a time when I just couldn’t get it together while others were conspiring to overthrow my regime. Or something like that.

 

 

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