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Rosie Louise Mountjoy

Music Blog

MD5311 – The Production Project

Starting back at uni comes with excitement but also dread due to the preempting thoughts of how much harder and challenging it is going to be now we are into second year, the year where everything starts to really count!

The first session back in the studio was more exciting as we got to go into the shiny new studio which we could only gaze at through the window in first year; its funny how much a new studio to work in gives you a boost of motivation that you need to get back into the swing of things.

 

Setting up the studio…

Mains unit – Press two big red buttons (with force or they won’t switch on/off)

Desk – Button behind the screen of the desk

Mac – Silver button (gentle) box bottom left

Desk – ‘Set up’ click on box screen and then press top right button on desk twice\

Speakers – Light switch at the back of the room

PMC speakers – Remote control 0db – press circle button

——–     Save in ‘Prompt for location’     ———

Headphone – Mono – Audio aux —– Do output first, ‘Headphone (HP) 16’   —- Input ‘Talkback’

 

 

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MD5314 – Thinking out loud

Protest song.

V1- Just a stones throw away from your bed
Just a small step from the door
in this town that you have been living
doesn’t feel safe, to live in no more

V2- Its not the place we once knew
not the roads that we remember
now they are full of despair and tears
not the place that screams life anymore

chorus-

These streets oh there going to stay empty
x2
If we dont change if we don’t change
oh there empty
Empty streets empty heart empty lives x2

V3- That saturday night, oh where the streets turned grey
And the life oh the life it got ripped away
Innocence being dragged into a war

chorus

MD5313 – Songwriting & Context – Protest song research

Ghost town – The Specials

This song reflects events that happened throughout London/Britain in the 1980s as it was released during the times of riots that have gone down in British history. In 1981 Brixton housed a significant riot, a confrontation between rioters and the metropolitan police. The main riot being on Sunday the 11th of April also known as ‘Bloody Sunday’. The song touches on many issues that Britain faced during this period, unemployment, deindustrialization and violence. This violence related theme coincides with the events happening at the time.

The video is even shot in London, it shows the band driving through the streets of London.

The lyrics focus on the phrase ‘This town, is coming like a ghost town’

MD5319 – Music in communities

Polyphonic Me Sm2 – Evaluation

Creating a non conventional song was always the idea behind this track, we wanted it to be abstract and quite simply really spooky which I feel we managed to capture in some ways but I feel that nerves took over the final performance. The theme of this track was schizophrenia, this topic is something that is a little taboo especially when it comes to writing songs about it, so the intentions for this song was for it to never be too obvious but we wanted listeners to feel unease when watching and listening to the performance. The concept being schizophrenia grew many ideas for us as a group and from the start we all could imagine many voices with reverb and echo creating a confusing sound bubble of words.

Chloe – Vocals, Looper and Push.

Ophelia – Vocals, Piano Preset and looper.

Rosie (myself) – Vocals and Roland drum pad.

We used reverb and delay on each vocal track and used the looper to add layers for the harmonies. The piano was captured as pre set audio which we could start via the pedal as this was also on a looper. We used the Abelton Push with a sample pad sound through called ‘siren voices’ and the Roland Pad was used as a midi with a drum sound preset on Abletons sample library.

The final performance didn’t really go as well as it did during rehearsals but definitely went better than we thought considering how bad the technical rehearsal went. We had a lot of problems during the tech rehearsal due to the pedal board not working, the siren sound sample ended up mapped over each midi instrument which took a while to sort out, leaving us with little time to have a run through of the track.

Final performance:

The overall performance I felt managed to portray the confused, spooky vibe we were going for but it wasn’t the best we have performed the track. When the preset piano track was started it also started the looper vocal tracks which weren’t cleared after the practice run before the actual performance, so everything came in at once and we didn’t have the gradual build of voices; This gradual build of harmonies and voices was one of the main parts of the track so this mishap really affected the overall feel of the performance. The space bar we mapped to stop the piano track but it ended up stopping the vocal loopers as well so this meant instead of a gradual delayering to bring us to the end of the piece it all abruptly stopped, this shortened the track and created a messy ending which is really disappointing considering how well the rehearsals went. If we were to perform the song again we would definitely make sure the loopers are cleared before starting and map the piano to something other than the space bar as I think this was our main issue, this due to Ableton’s start and stop controls being preset to the space bar beforehand.

To develop this track further I think first of all more practice is definitely needed as things can always go wrong in a live situation, so being prepared for these things would help a lot. I want to experiment with the Push more as it was in a different key to the piano track so the song changed key when the piano was introduced, this at the time created a creepy, eerie sound so it did fit in with the track but, I feel it would be better if it matched keys. More time is the overall thing that was needed for this song, we were very ambitious which worked in our favour at some points but for the final performance I feel it disappointed us.

PolyPhonic Me Sm2 – Developmental performance

Task 4 – Developmental performance

Group – Ophelia Neville, Chloe Wood and Rosie Mountjoy (myself)

After creating the playlist for the last task it really spurred on ideas of what we can create using loopers and being able to layer harmonies. We were all inspired by the Alt J’esque idea and decided that we wanted to create something that wasn’t a conventional song but something that was attention grabbing and haunting like Alt J’s interludes. We came up with the idea of ‘Haunting’ we wanted to take inspiration from this word in all aspects of the piece, the instrumentation, vocals, harmonies and lyrics. Following on from this we stumbled across the idea of through having many voices with the harmonies creating confusion, this could reference schizophrenia; After researching a little into schizophrenia we found a definition that mentioned three parts that it affects, the thoughts, feelings and actions so we chose to each take one of these categories and inject that into the individual performances with in the group track.

The track we were creating was going to heavily rely on the looper as this would carry the haunting harmonies that mainly define the track, so getting used to using a looper was the main thing to focus on when we rehearsed. We also had a pre set piano loop which we recorded with a click to make sure it was in time as this was the base of the song. The Roland pad I used to create a simple beat to add some texture to the track.

This was what we created during the first rehearsals…

During the next rehearsal we decided to add the Ableton push, this was too add more sounds and layer to the track. We also needed more lyrical content for the track so this is when we made a small spider diagram which is shown below, writing down words associated with schizophrenia. We took some of these words and repeated the same one over and over again to create this eerie sound. I chose the phrase ‘Help me’ as through the rehearsal process we decided on the idea that as I was providing the beat, this beat could mimic the heartbeat so I was the person suffering with schizophrenia and Chloe and Ophelia were the voices in my head.

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After implementing these final ideas we recorded the outcome, here it is below:

Making sure the fade outs and stopping of the loopers at the right time will be the trickiest part about our performance so this is what we need to practice the most to make sure it runs smoothly on the day.

Below is a photo of our set up – Chloe on the right in front of the mac with mic and pedal board, Ophelia in the middle with Mic, piano and pedal board, and myself on the Left with mic and Roland pad.

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We made sure we booked in early as we knew that we needed lots of practice to make sure everything is being triggered at the right time and to develop the song ideas further. Below are screenshots of email bookings, 3 made by me and then Ophelia booked two slots later on when we needed some extra practice time.

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Plug and Play Sm2 – Reflect

Set task 5 – Write a 500 word reflection on the composition and production of your track, focusing on the creative and technical aspects of your production methodology.

Throughout this whole process I felt like I never stopped learning as there were constant  questions that I had to ask; I made mistakes which led to being corrected and I researched methods. I always had an idea in my head of how I wanted my music to sound, but always thought it was too straight forward and minimal, in fact mixing just a piano and vocal track was truly gruelling, as the levels had to be perfect as theres nothing to hide behind.

Booking the amount of sessions I did gave me time to find my way around protools and also the way in which each microphone can be used, thus giving me valuable knowledge that I went on to use in my final track.

I resulted in using the following sets ups in my final recording:

Upright Piano

  • A B set up – Rode NT3

This being positioned more to the left (Players perspective) of the piano as I didn’t use the higher range so I felt that this placement was preferred.

  • X Y set up – Neumann KM 184
  • Mid Side – AKG C414 (one cardioid and the other figure of 8)

These Set ups shown in pictures here – Plug and Play Sm2; Practice in the Studio

I found during my practice sessions that these two microphone set ups gave me a realistic, natural, rounded sound, where as the Mid Side sounded to close and created to much bass which was not the sound I wanted.

For the vocals I found that the U87 captured the rawness in my voice as it carried a clean stripped back tone where as the others I tried had a more synthetic sound to them.

This stripped back authentic sound was what I was striving for when creating the track, this all being reflected through the instrumentation, structure and even then lyrics. The emotion in the song was my main focus, I wanted the listener to feel the pain and confusion in the mind of someone experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Using the object writing technique created many starting points and ideas for the lyrics, this resulted in me settling on the Sea being my object and this theme carried throughout. The sea and suicide gelled together well for obvious reasons, this allowing me to create sense filled but not to obvious lyrics. These lyrics, my own accompaniment and harmonies helped with the personal feeling of the track, creating this vulnerable, exposed sound that I was aiming for.

When it came to the mix and master I had the same intentions, I didn’t want it to take this natural, raw sound away, ‘less is more’ was the phrase I referred to. Touches of compression, a little EQ and a splash of reverb was all that the track needed; The reverb bringing the vocals to life and gave the song that overall pop.

On reflection I am very happy with how my track turned out but the whole process had opened my eyes to what is possible for future tracks. I will definitely carry on experimenting with mic set ups and possibly do something more out of my comfort zone.

Plug and Play Sm2 – ‘Drowning’ – Final master and lyrics

 

 

 

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