June 2, 2013 6:41 PM

"Christmas," written by Florence Dore, and also recorded by Fuzzy and the Posies. It's not a Christmas song -- or if it is, it's one of the bleakest. This cover is by me and my iPad.

I recorded this this weekend for a song challenge in a group on Facebook -- one-word songs starting with "C." This week is the first time I've done any new music from scratch in more than a decade. Pushing 15 years, actually.

Three chords, all recorded using GarageBand on the iPad and its built in instruments.

I made a video for it with my iPhone (edited it on the Mac in iMovie). I used an app called 8mm to get the home movie look.

I think the song could have been sped up just the tiniest bit, and I am still learning about the capabilities of the equipment I'm using, but I'm relatively happy with this. Some stuff is a little wonky because I am not yet sure how to get exactly what I want from GarageBand. But I got closer than I expected.

posted by litlnemo (6 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Dude this is weird - it's like the total opposite to a LOT of amateur recordings, in that the backing is the weak point and your vocal is LOVELY. You are already at a huge advantage as that is often the hardest problem to fix.

So, I don't mean to put a total downer on that, but the backing track is thrown into sharp relief by your sweet vocal!

The piano is nice, the drums are ok, but the bass is way too loud, and the over-distorted guitar takes it veering dangerously towards a pastiche of an 80s power-ballad. I don't think it needs speeding up at all - it could be a really sweet and tender song, but if I were you I would make it top priority to get some real instruments onto the recording, it will sound 100 times better, and your voice deserves a proper backing.

tl;dr - my recommendation: dump the drums and bass, record piano or keep the midi if you must, but sack off the electric guitar and get a friend to play some lovely acoustic or tasteful electric over it for you :)
posted by greenish at 8:02 AM on June 24, 2013


It's not supposed to be sweet and tender, though -- it's supposed to be kinda bitter, I think. ;) Though I have trouble singing that way.

Real instruments would be nice, at some point. (Incidentally, there is no midi on the track at all. It's just GarageBand smart instruments -- if I recall correctly now, I played the "piano" live directly on the iPad.) There are some timing issues that I didn't bother fixing then because I would have had to keep redoing it. Since then I have learned about editing tracks in GarageBand, which I can use to fix those timing problems without having to keep rerecording the smart instruments.

I agree the guitar is too distorted, but that is one of the GarageBand limitations that bugs me. You have acoustic, "clean", hard rock, and roots rock guitar sounds, and usually none of them are what I want. I usually want something in between, and I can't get it, so I end up using something that's just not right. In this case I didn't want sweetness, I wanted anger. But the guitar is a little too "hard rock."

The group I did this for has a new theme every week, so I don't worry about making something perfect. The point is to do something during that week, and the perfection level isn't what's important. This has been good for me, actually. Getting me to just put stuff out there without fiddling with it for weeks. I hadn't really done new music in 15 years, so anything that gets done is a positive. It's gotten me excited about music again. But if I decide to redo a version, and I might, I will want an actual band.

Thank you again!
posted by litlnemo at 6:55 PM on June 24, 2013

This is excellent. It'd be great to hear recorded with actual instruments because the limitations of the software really are holding you back here. There's an issue with lag that's one of the hardest things to work out of home recording. But nevertheless, it's great work.
posted by Miko at 7:45 PM on December 5, 2013

Thank you so much! I would love to rerecord it one of these days.

I've continued recording new stuff and making videos for the last few months -- this is one from this week, and it has real instruments played by a great group of musicians. I might give it its own post here one of these days.
posted by litlnemo at 11:35 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nice! You should post it.
posted by Miko at 5:51 AM on December 6, 2013

I did. Thanks!
posted by litlnemo at 1:59 AM on December 7, 2013

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