Category Archives: Music and Recording

Music Genres – aaaaaugh!

Mind-boggling. One wouldn’t think so but trying to pigeonhole your music into the proper genre is maddening. There are too many.

 

I grew up listening to Led Zeppelin, Queen, Slade – all the greats, which I considered ‘rock’led-zeppelin bands and, in my ’20’s, after music school,  then went through a huge ‘folk’ phase, listening to mostly Donovan but throwingDonovan at the Hollywood Bowl some Nick Drake, Don McLean, Dave Van Ronk, although he may be considered to be a part of the phase of my life in my ’30’s when I went through a ‘blues’ phase, including such notables as Sonny and Brownie, Sonny Rhodes, (whom I met at the King Eddy in Calgary one night),  and, of course, many others.

 

All along the way, Led Zeppelin was really the soundtrack of my life, (thank God for bootlegs – 9 studio albums gets old pretty quick!), but I always listened to the Raspberries, Rod Stewart, Fleetwood Mac, the old, middle and new formations, (the middle one, with Bob Welch is the one I consider the best – check out the link to their great songs Come A Little Bit Closer and Future Games).  Always listening to rock, folk and blues. I have always thought genres are pretty easy to figure out.

 

So, when it comes time to releasing an album, you must slot yourself into, first, a main and then a secondary, genre. For my second album, Snow Wonder, it was pretty easy – Christmas – done. For my first album, the easy choice was “Instrumental”, however, that doesn’t tell you too much. It could just as easily be instrumental of the 500 violins, (aaaah Summer Place by Percy Faith and his Orchestra – great tune) or of the The Great Gig in the Sky from Dark Side of the Moon.fleet

 

The logo from my first album!
 

I broke down the 12 songs from Slideways into the genres I believe they fall into, excluding the instrumental category:

Downtown – Outta Town – pop, country

Drake/In Flight – adult comtemporary, avant garde, new age

New Horizon – easy listening, blues

Thinking Twice – pop, epic pop, sophisti-pop

Too Bad – blues

Collaboration – pop, adult contemporary

Urban Hop – folk, contemporary

Wyatt Café – blues, ’50’s electric blues

Dey Ha’ T’ Go – blues, blues-rock

Blues Riff in E – blues

Fire – psychedelic rock, stoner

Waterfall – pop, easy listening, folk

 

If this is accurate, I guess the album would be classified as a blues album since that is the majority category. You would have a hard time convincing any bluesman worth his chops, however, that Urban Hop is a blues song.

Starting+Over

Being a spatial, as opposed to a linear, thinker, I find these labels exasperating at best and vexing at worst but I do see the need for them. Some system of organizational flow chart is needed. But, c’mon, how many bloody genres do we need. Check out this link about genres from Wikipedia.

 

 

I counted close to 300 and that only includes folk, rock, pop, blues, easy listening headings, It excludes ska, country, electronic, hip hop, jazz, and R and B. Wow.

 

As I continue to record music, I find myself having an internal debate about what the best way to release the series of songs I am working on. At the moment there are 22 songs in various stages of completion. Some of them are quite clearly blues songs, whether long or short or multi-versioned. Others are nice little pop songs. Some are brooding ballads, (I’ll have a blog about this coming up soon!), while others are more difficult to classify.

 

I suppose I could fit them all onto one album but that solution creates many issues, the least of which is that if a pop song is released onto a blues album, the listener expecting to hear blues will be miffed because there is a non-blues song on the album, and the pop listener will have a shallower life for not having heard the pop song lost on a blues album.

 

The solution? A series of singles? Nah. That would involve too much time spent on marketing.

 

A series of EP’s? This is the direction toward which I am leaning.

 

That way, I can release three to six songs on a blues EP and they all fit the description, just as all the pop songs will fit on the Pop EP.

 

Once the songs are complete, you can spend a little time working on all the various components of marketing and playing the songs and then follow it up with another album in short order.

 

And it is slowly dawning on me that the day of the album is doomed. People will buy songs, usually the hits, and move on so they can create a play-list, the current embodiment of the ’80’s mixed tape. And iTunes even has a “genius’ that will mix it for you so you don’t have to spend too much time bothering with your music. Let a machine do it. Bah!

 

In the spring of 2012, as I watched the hockey play-offs, there was a Lexus commercial thatSMALLL-Watson-K-T-c813398f24v2 had this great song as the background music. I did a little research and found out the song was by a North Carolina singer named Kristina Train. I checked out her website, listened to a bunch of her music and ended up buying the whole damn album. She has a great voice.

 

If this is out of step with modern sensibility, then to Hell with modern sensibility. I bought the whole album of someone who, half an hour previously, I had never heard of and I loved it. And this is what I usually do. I would rather listen to great but obscure music. I suppose that is what I record too. Too bad most people never hear it.

One of the Boys by Roger Daltrey

Barely Audible Music

One of the Boys by Roger Daltrey

A long time ago, a friend and I were driving home after a party out in the country. It was the middle of the night and we were just driving along and chatting. Being good friends, a lapse into silence wasn’t uncomfortable as we drove along.

We drove in silence for a while. The radio was on, at such a level that it was unobtrusive. A song came on, ‘Say it Ain’t So’ by Roger Daltrey’, …  and the most interesting aural phenomenon happened. The music was barely audible at the level we had the radio but the vocals were clear. I listened intently to the vocals trying to pick up what was going on with the music.

Now, of course I realize I could have simply turned it up but I didn’t want to change either the mood of the car or the song.

Not being able to hear the music properly sparked up my imagination as far as the song went. It also was a huge complement to whoever mixed that song. Roger Daltrey’s voice is so clear in the first voice and chorus. I can hear at least three acoustic guitar guitars in that first verse and, bass joins in the second first before the song ramps up. The bridge, with the soaring background singers and the odd lyrics sustains the phenom. It is masterful because the same effect is present even as I listen to it now. It is all capped off in the third and fourth verses as the other background singers come in.

That ‘barely audible music’ phenomenon has stuck with me ever since, although, if you listen to the music I have recorded over the years, you’d never know it.

I grew up in the ’70’s. Zeppelin has always been my favourite band but in my formative years, Queen was a huge influence on me. Anyone who has listened to Queen will know that, at times, their production is just a little over the top. I always loved ridiculously over-produced songs like March of the Black Queen, (II), The Show Must Go On, (Innuendo), Now I’m Here, (Live Killers and Sheer Heart Attack) and others. The way Brian May layered his guitars in that way that defined Queen’s sound was something I wanted to do.  And I did do it on one song in Particular – Thinking Twice from my Slideways album.

What has all this to do with, you ask
I am recording a song right now, working title ‘Little Prairie Town’. I wrote it in Kimberley BC about a place I used to live, High River, Alberta.

The connection to the ‘barely audible music’ idea is that, after letting the song roll around in my head for a few weeks, the recording that is coming together right now is taking on the feel of the barely audible music. There is drums and bass and separate acoustic guitar tracks for the verse and the chorus. The guitar is recorded to be quite minimal. It fits beautifully with the bass to form an unobtrusive backdrop and, because of its minimalism, stands out more prominently than if it was a solid strumming pattern.

Production experiments amaze me.

 

cropped-hitchhike

Recording update

4/20/13 was the release date of the self-titled, ill-fated Duhaney Code album.

Self titled is explanation enough – singer Greg Duhaney and me,  musician Geoffrey Code.

Ill-fated because 2 months after the release of the album, Greg retired from the music business. Unfortunate!

The Duhaney Code album was my third album, the previous two being Slideways,  an eclectic instrumental album, and Snow Wonder, a Christmas album with a number of instrumental covers and two originals – Snow Wonder, an instrumental written to evoke memories of childhood Christmas’ past, and When the Flowers and the Dust Have Gone, an homage to the beginning of winter.

Well, now I am back in the recording  studio. I have 2 albums planned at the moment and have started them both.  I don’t want to give out any secrets so hopefully you will check in in this space to find out what’s happening. I will try to keep you informed as to the progress of the recording and writing and production of the albums.

Stay tuned… Thanks.