Inspiration: If you’ve ever seen San Francisco’s City Hall you know it’s pretty nice. Also pretty golden. No surprise it became of object of interest for my daughter. She made a habit of spotting it from our car as we drove around the city.
A trip to city hall was in order. She was about 3 at the time. I had her all day back then.
She loved City Hall. It’s gorgeous inside. At the time there was a huge Hindu looking sculpture in the plaza. 4 huge arms reaching out across the grounds. As the song says we ran down the marble halls, saw the major (Gavin Newsom), and looked off the balconies.
Rhythm: After playing with it a bit I decided this finger-ish style pattern worked best. Not strumming. Not individually fingered notes. Just a few strings at a time. Getting the rhythm right was key. Again, I’m surprised how little things can transform a song.
A Click? This is played with a metronome. I have mixed feeling about clicks. More and more music is being recorded to a click. In a way I think it’s just lazy. It does make some things easier. But people don’t do anything to a perfect click. Not run, walk, speak, sleep. Natural human variation makes things interesting. You might be excited as a chorus starts and speed up. You may slow down for an anthem style chorus. A click track takes that away. My broader complaint is; It makes music sound industrialized… like it rolled off an assembly line. It’s a product of industry not humans.
I’ve spent a good amount of time tempo mapping performances. It always takes longer. So in the interest of recording ideas quickly I decided to record to a click. I do think, if you work with a click, it’s important to nail the tempo best you can. If there is one tempo make sure it works for most of the song.
The Rest: I’m not convinced this song needs drums. Maybe. Maybe not. I will likely add some bass, some more acoustic guitar, and vocals. I was listening to Kurt Viles new album (good call Joe) and liking the use of delay on guitars. This version actually does have a 1/8 note delay on the guitar. It’s one of those “you miss it when it’s gone” things.
Like all of this, I’ll know when it’s done. Sometimes, most of the time, you need to hear it to know. Picking songs to record? Pretty easy. Producing them so they shine? A little harder.