Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"Pop" Samples

A few months ago I played a bunch of the songs I've created while my pal Duke Lee was visiting. He is a friend who has been making sample based noise music for a long time and we've collaborated several times in the past. He knows me and what I do very well by this point. When we were listening to the songs I remember in particular his reaction to "Spock Sox". He mentioned that this song really showed how he and I treat samples and noise very differently. In that his stuff is more abstract and pure noise. I, on the other hand, tend to do things that have voices in them, things that you can recognize. I make "Pop" noise.

I was thinking about this in anticipation of releasing "Spock Sox" to the world on April 1st. To me, and people like Duke Lee who are used to this sort of stuff, my stuff is "Pop" noise. But what will the other 99% of the world think?! I'm imagining that a lot of people will hear the new song and just hear noise. Or different things that "don't go together".

I spent a big chunk of the day today getting ready for the 1st. I updated all the web pages but haven't uploaded them to the server. I'll do that at midnight on the 31st or something like that. I also spent almost all afternoon mixing the song. It always takes me a long time to get that done. I'm planning on listening to the mix a bunch this afternoon in different places to make sure I like it. I usually check it out on the home stereo and then on a boom box and also in the car. It's gotta sound good in all three places.

While I was listening to the song something struck me. I don't actually play any "real" instruments on this one. Spoon does some fantastic drums and percussion but I never recorded a bass or guitar or keyboard part. It didn't seem necessary. The samples that I put together sounded good enough to me. So in some ways this puts "Spock Sox" on the fringes of music. What is this thing? Is it a song? What genre is it? What do I "play" in this song? Does creating, using, and modifying samples count as creating music?

Monday, March 29, 2010


My daughter got a PS3 for her birthday. Still trying to figure out if we got it for her or me! It's been a time sucker.

and this week is Spring Break for the kids. so I'll be lucky to get much of anything done. Fortunately the song is almost ready to go and I've updated most of the web pages. Just a little more work to do. I have tomorrow off of work so I'm planning on making tomorrow a Pudge day. Going to do a final mix of the song, update the main page, and update the songs page. That should do it.

then I'll go back to MLB The Show and Oblivion IV!

Thursday, March 25, 2010


This whole thing has been among other things a learning experience for me. I've really brushed up on my CSS coding for instance. I would expect that each month as people check in for the new "song of the month" they'll see small improvements of the web site.

One of the things I'm dealing with now are some simple logistical matters. I want to work on updating the site for the April song but I don't want to "reveal" too much too early. I already have a bunch of the April page done and people could probably find it if they really want and even hear a rough mix of the song. But I would also like to work on the "Songs" page and update it as well. Probably the main page also.

So do I do the updates just locally and keep the files on my machine until the 1st? Or do I create "secret" pages with a different url and put them up on the web so I can check them out and make sure they look alright? I would assume this is common knowledge to experienced web designers. But, like usual for me, it's another D.I.Y. experience, so I'm learning as I go along.

In the meantime I've listened to "Spock Sox" a bunch of times and love it. Just need to do a little mixing stuff to get it all done. Basically chop off some noise at the beginning and that's about it.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Spock Sox

So I talked to Spoon today and let him know that I "recovered" his old drums and percussion and he was psyched! I've listened to it about 20 times and I think it sounds great myself. It all came back to me when I listened to it. We spend several "sessions" recording the drums and percussion. Spoon plays on the kit. There's a separate high hat track, and then there's a separate track of him doing his funky Spoon percussion/noise stuff with all of his "toys". I'm so glad I took the time to listen to the old version and the new version with an open mind. I need to do a little cleaning up and mixing stuff but it shouldn't take me too long to have it all done.

I also took the time to put together the April song of the month page. It's pretty much ready to go. Anyone can probably figure it out if the look at the address of the March page. I'm much less stressed about everything than last month! It's really nice that the web page is all done and from month to month all I need to do is build on it. This was a great idea! I'm already beginning to think ahead... why not just keep it going? A song of the month for as long as I can keep it up. I think I'm capable of recording a new song each month. I have a lot of ideas ready to go and a lot of ideas in my head. Perhaps release CDs for each year? hmmm...

The only "worry" that I have is that people might be confused how different this is from "The Hate Song". In many way "Spock Sox" is much more indicative of my work. I really like finding weird/interesting samples and mixing them together to create wonderful music. At least it sounds wonderful to me. I hope people will like it because I think you can tell how much I enjoyed creating it when you listen to it.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Spoon is in the House!

So all this talk about Deck and Garageband was all about this month's song. Or more should I say, the song I'm working on for April at this point. It's called "Spock Sox". I had totally redone the song in Garageband and liked it a lot. But then I listened to the older version I had done in Deck and liked it even more except for the fact that Deck would cut off the first second or two.

So today I spent all morning figuring out how to transfer the original tracks from Deck into Garageband. I ended up doing a crazy roundabout thing of mixing down each track in Deck as a separate .WAV file which I would then import into Garageband. One track at a time. As I said it took me a few hours but it was totally worth it. Now instead of the drum machine tracks I was using in the Garageband version I have a version with real drums courtesy of my man Spoon.

We spent a few days recording his drums tracks awhile back. I love the way they sound. It makes the song sound much more open and gives it more "air". I'm also just glad that Spoon is going to be represented on the April Pudge Song of the Month. I felt sort of bad that he wasn't on the first song I put out there. Sweet!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

if I were a rich man...

If I were a rich man I would use Logic on a nicer machine instead of Garageband. I know Garageband isn't up to snuff as far as "pro" recordings go but for me it's a matter of money. I just don't have the cash to buy a top of the line MacBook Pro. I loaded up Logic on my MacBook and I could barely open it on my machine. So Garageband it is.

But honestly Garageband is way better than Deck which is what I was using. and it's such a huge difference from what I was using when I first started doing home recordings. I still can remember the 4-Track cassette days of long ago. When "mixing" meant a day of sitting down and trying to get just the right sound because you knew you only had one chance. If you made a mixdown, listened back to it, and there was something you didn't like in the first song, you would have to do it all over again. Now you can just go into the digital file, fix the problem, and redo the mix. The whole process is so much easier.

To be honest I still can't believe it all. It still sometimes strikes me as a miracle. That I can have a 12 track digital recording studio that fits inside of my notebook. I can record tracks, mix them down, and burn a CD. I may not be a rich man but I'm certainly not complaining!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Deck and Garageband and ProTools

Almost every "real" band that records in a studio these days uses ProTools. It's the industry standard. The problem with ProTools is it's pretty much a Windows thing and for years I've been a Mac person. So back in the day my pal Stel turned me on to Deck. We used Deck to record almost all of the DragKing stuff we put out. But nobody else used it and they had crappy support and they've pretty much gone out of business from what I can tell.

But all my files were created in Deck. So I still used it. I even spent about $200 about six years ago to upgrade to the latest and greatest version at the time.

I started recording all the songs that will end up as the Pudge Songs of the Month in Deck when I was working them out about five years ago. I wasn't happy with a bunch of the recordings but I had a bunch of songs done in Deck. But then I got a new MacBook about three years ago with a more current version of OS X. For some reason Deck didn't work right on the new machine. Whenever I would mix down a song it would cut off the first second or two and add a second or two of silence at the end. It sucked.

I tried to contact Deck support but they didn't seem to exist any more. The message boards on the support site didn't have anything new for years. There were no patches or anything to download. I felt like I was sort of stuck.

and then I realized that this new Mac that I bought had Garageband installed on it. I started to play around with Garageband and realized that it was WAY better than Deck. So at some point I had a crazy idea. I would re-record all of the songs that I had been working on in Garageband instead of Deck. Since I was starting up this new band, Pudge, why not make a break from the DragKing past and use software that the rest of the world actually used and was supported?!

So I re-recorded almost all of the songs in Garageband. Doing them over again made them better. I changed things here and there. Re-wrote parts that I didn't think worked before. The original Deck version of "The Hate Song" was a disaster. I thought it had so much potential but the guitar parts and vocal parts sucked.

next month's song is a different story however... more on that tomorrow.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Creative Commons

btw... I intend to do some more research and register all of my stuff with the Creative Commons. One of the totally cool things I learned about while in library school. I also found the book I want to re-read and post a few lines from about copyright law. In a funny way a lot of my project is about copyright law because virtually every song uses samples.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Web page updates

Well... I ended up spending most of the day fiddling around with CSS coding and the web page. I think it looks a LOT better now I must say. You can now also write to me at mail@pudgenoise.com.

I'm doing the back end work first before I start working on this month's song more. Although I may very well hang out in the basement late tonight though and start working on it. While it's 99% done in one form I have an inspirational idea to make it even better but it will take some time and effort. I would like to give it a shot though and see how it sounds. If it doesn't work out I know I've already got something that I really love.

Melodica in the header

Sweet... I got the header looking a LOT more like I wanted it to look. Love the pic of the melodica. Those of you who know me and my musical history know I'm all about the melodica. Augustus Pablo is one of my biggest musical influences of all time. In fact "The Hate Song" had melodica at the end originally. I edited it to make it more of a "single" when I put it up on the web. I may well release the extended remix version that goes about a two minutes longer and has a melodica solo at the end.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What is "cool"?

I'll admit it. When I was in my 20's and 30's I used to obsess about if something was "cool" or not. I wanted to be "cool".

I can't tell you how often in DragKing I would want to use some sample and either myself or one of the members of the band would say something like, "you can't use that. it's not cool."

Well, one of the things I decided about my current batch of music is that I could care less about what is "cool" or not. I think "The Hate Song" is a perfect example of that. I really doubt that I would have ever considered bringing to DragKing a song idea based on a loop from an ELO song. ELO is NOT cool! and the funny thing is that I bet DragKing would have done something even more amazing than what I did. I wonder?

The song for April has some very "uncool" samples in it as well. Very cool! :-)

Monday, March 8, 2010


I have to say I got some really great/nice comments from a bunch of my friends. Thanks to everyone who wrote or called! It was nice to re-connect with a few old friends as well that I haven't talked to in awhile.

I wonder that some of these people will think about next month's song?! I'll be hitting everyone with a 180 degree turn and introducing one of my "noise" tracks.


I made a small upgrade to the site this morning. I figured out how to add a favicon.

Until yesterday I had no idea what a favicon was to be honest. I only knew that I wanted the site to have one of those little picture things in the tab and the address bar that you always see. I went to google and typed in "how do you make those little picture things on a web site?" and I found my answer in about one minute! I knew exactly what image I wanted to use so once I got down to it this morning the whole process probably took about 10 minutes at the most. and it looks very groovy in my opinion.

Here is a good site that explains it all and what code to use in your header.


Here is a nice site where you can create your own favicons.


I'm going to spend a fair amount of time this week working on a few things with the site. The header is really bugging me. I have a great image of a melodica I want to use but I just can't get the CSS code to cooperate with me. I have an idea of how to fix it and make it look a lot more how I'd like it to look. Just gotta get a little time on Photoshop. I would also like to put up a contact page with info on how to get in contact with Pudge. I have an email address all set up already. Ultimately I'd like to figure out how to put up a comment field on the song of the month pages as well. We'll see about that.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Day After

I did it. I'm so glad I finally did do it! The sun went down and rose in the morning. nothing much really changed but I did it. I threw myself out there. and personally, I really like "The Hate Song".

I got some really nice emails from some old friends and some great comments. One of the things I'd like to figure out is how to put comment fields in my site so people could just put stuff up.

I already know what I have planned for the April song of the month. and May and June for that matter. I may have to start working on some of the later songs that aren't as done as the ones I have set for the next few months. One of the things this project is showing me is that I really did have a bunch of songs that were 95% done. but some of them are only about half way done...

I really need to post my long "disclaimer" about copyright laws sooner than later. It's gonna be like a term paper discussing one of my fave books of all time which is all about sampling and copyright laws and creativity.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I did it...

I wrote the email and put all the addresses in the BCC field and hit send.

to be honest, just as nerve wracking as a lot of the live shows I did. especially at the end when I got to really enjoy playing live! this was way different. I feel like I'm "exposing" myself in a weird way. What are people going to think about this thing?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I have a LOT of friends!

I really thought I would send out the big email with the links to the site, the song, and the blog tonight. but it took me a LOT longer to put together a document with all the email addresses of all the people I know. I didn't count but I'm guessing it's at least 100 people. I compiled a list of all the addresses so I can pop it in a BCC field and send out a mass mail message. The problem is that I would like to work on that first note/message. I want it to be a nice introduction so I'd like to work on it for a bit. but it's already midnight. damn... another day.

but tomorrow is going to be "the big day".

Monday, March 1, 2010

A sense of perspective...

One of the hardest things about being in a band is having a sense of perspective about your own material and songs. You work on the so hard. Months and months. and you listen to the song over and over and over again. It gets to the point were you get a little sick of the song. You also get to the point where you have trouble being able to tell if a song is "good" or not. I can't tell you how many times I've recorded a song by myself or in a band. When you first listen back to it you hate it. You hear all the mistakes. Then you listen to it six months later and it sounds great! The opposite happens as well. You think a song is great. You listen to it six months later and realize it sucks.

I must admit I still don't know what to think about "The Hate Song". I keep listening to it and I'm thinking it's one of the best songs I've ever done. I think it's great! So what will I think six months or a year from now? and what will all my friends think? all the more reason to get it out there...

Big Day

well today was the day I wanted to debut the web page and the first song.

but I may be a day late.

the reason why? Casimir Pulaski Day. so the kids are off of school. So instead of putting the finishing touches on the web site and putting together my email list, I'm Mr. Mom.

I may try to stay up late tonight and still get it done. although I guess a day or two really wouldn't be the end of the world. I should have spent more time over the weekend getting prepared but once again, the kids... it seemed like a really busy weekend. I also spent a lot of time watching the last weekend of the Olympics so I really can only blame myself.