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

The Linear Canvas

My Newest Recording – Real

February 7th, 2013 . by Alexander Fisher

I wrote Real in the early 1990’s. I am not sure if I wrote this song about anyone in particular, but I know I had several friends whose marriages were in dire straits at the time.

I played electric guitar on a Fender Stratocaster. The bass was a Rickenbacker 4001. The drum sounds are from Session Drummer 3 software using Roland Octapad MIDI pads.

My Newest Recording – The Papers

January 8th, 2013 . by Alexander Fisher

P1010928I just started writing a song and this just came out. It’s a story about a woman that fell on hard times and breaks the monotony by imbibing in the spirits a little too much. It’s more from point of view of those that can’t appreciate the plight of others. Especially when the tales don’t seem to fit the teller. When I think about the story, it has occurred to be that nearly anything could be in the papers. I just let my imagination run wild with it. I’ve known people like her.

I wrote the song and recorded it with my Takamine G Series acoustic guitar, Rickenbacker 4001 bass, tambourine, and Roland slave keyboard. I used Cakewalk Sonar X1 Producer Edition and Sony Sound Forge v9 software.

My Newest Recording – The Sunniest Day

December 9th, 2012 . by Alexander Fisher

DCP_2070I had recently been recording songs that were very much heavier than I had been creating. Many of the people I have been hanging around for the past year can be at the very least described as hard rockers. Their influence is evident in those last few tracks.

So I was a little surprised at how The Sunniest Day turned out. My wife was describing the music tracks as happy and cheerful. (!!!?) I probably knew I wasn’t going to record an electric song by then, but when she said that I was a taken aback. But once the music was finished, I wasn’t really inspired to write any lyrics. So the music just sat for about a month.

Recently I forced myself to finish one of the four songs I was sitting on, all without lyrics. I had some ideas but nothing that I got very far with. This song was just titled “UNTITLED”. So I had more to do to it than any of the others. After a long listening session and a page full of lyrics,  I finished it. Now more info

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I only need to write lyrics for the three other songs I have.

Just like many times in the past, I used my wife and best friend, Jill,  as a subject for the song. I told my cousin that I probably could release a rock opera soon based on my wife considering how many times she has been a subject in a song.

I wrote the music and lyrics for The Sunniest Day. I also sang all the vocal parts and created the music tracks. I played my Takamine acoustic guitar, Rickenbacker 4001 bass, and a tambourine. The keyboards are all from my Roland MIDI slave keyboard played through the Dimension Pro synthesizer. The sounds are Hammond organ , piano, and strings. I used a Shure SM-27 condenser microphone for most of the vocals. I also used a Shure SM-58 for some of the background vocals. I programmed the drums with Session Drummer 3 using a Roland Octapad MIDI drum pad. I recorded the tracks using Cakewalk Sonar X2 Producer Expanded on my Tascam FW-1804 PC interface. The PC is an AMD 2.7GHz 6 core running on an Asus motherboard with 16 GB of Corsair DDR3 memory and an nVidia video card with 1.5 GB of on board memory.

My Newest Recording – And On And On

November 23rd, 2012 . by Alexander Fisher

267x267-7EBB4902-E5F1-487A-B3698690B9FE6678I wrote And On And On several years ago. I think I took the title from a poem my wife Jill wrote. It was just collecting digital dust among the other files on my computer. I recorded most of the tracks when I lived in Swanton, Ohio, I think. I am not sure I knew what it really was about. After some soul searching and a bit of a re-write, the song has some meaning to me now. It is about people that kid themselves and others about their objective in life. I also think I wrote it about me too.

I originally recorded And On And On on my Yamaha MT-100 II 4 track tape recorder. I really can’t remember when. I think this was recorded using a dbx encoded 2 track cassette as a mix down device. I had one that had severe speed accuracy issues. But that conflicts with my other thought that I recorded it late in my analog recording days.

In any case, the tempo fluctuated all over the place. I had recorded it using my Boss drum machine, so it had to be a mechanical failure in the recording. Most likely a rubber belt slipping. I had tried to rescue this song before, but its problems were too great a task to accomplish at that time. I probably just didn’t know where to start. That and I had other, easier, music files to process.

I knew I had some options when I finally decided to take this project on. One was that I just play a new drum track live and forget about any real tempo fix. It would have sounded OK, but I would still have a tempo that was all over the place. The real fix was to go throughout the song and identify the beginnings of each measure to my Sonar software. One method allows you to pick a point and then set that as the now position to a specific measure and beat. That then creates a tempo map. Usually a live performance or one created with equipment that is not defective will change in tempo somewhat smoothly over the song, or hardly at all. Analog equipment has a natural amount of speed inaccuracy as a rule. But if everything is operational, most times that is imperceptible.

After viewing the extremely erratic tempo map, I decided the best way to accomplish the re-timing was to use the Audiosnap function in Sonar. I went though the tracks only enabling Audiosnap transient markers wherever I determined the beginning of a measure was.  Then I set the whole project to exactly 129 bpm, the original beat timing. Using a combination of quantizing the transients to the measure and dragging the uncooperative ones into place, I succeeded in creating a constant beat in the song. I considered the timing in between the measures, but I believe that the speed changes were over several measures and any tempo issues are corrected every measure. I don’t hear any problems the way it is. The work involved in accurately tracking quarter note or greater changes in tempo would have been unnecessary and time consuming. So I didn’t

I played my Fender Stratocaster electric guitar, Rickenbacker 4001 bass and Session Drummer 3 software using a Roland Octapad MIDI drum pad. The vocals were recorded using a Shure SM-27 studio condenser microphone.

My Newest Recording – After The Thunder

October 25th, 2012 . by Alexander Fisher

IMG_0002I first began writing After The Thunder as a collaboration with an acquaintance. He had brought me a song that he wanted my help with that I turned into “Blind Not Just Yet”. He gave that song to me to me on a Sunday and I had a finished song by the following Wednesday. In turn I put together the music presented here and gave it him so he could help finish the song. We had discussed him writing the lyrics and helping with the arrangement. I suppose him singing lead on it was on the table as well. 
But after several weeks, I decided to abandon the project as my “partner” had made no effort to write the lyrics or anything else. Besides, after my wife Jill heard the music she told me to take it back and write the lyrics myself.

This song which I wrote in 3 parts or "Perils" is about fear being used as a weapon.

I wrote After The Thunder and played all the instruments including  a Fender Stratocaster electric guitar and a Rickenbacker bass guitar. I sang all the vocals. I also programmed the MIDI drums using Session Drummer 3.

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.

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