Backwards Rock: Tripper Day

It’s about time I get to The Beatles, isn’t it? They’re only one of the most important pop bands of all time. Of course they should get the Backwards Rock treatment! And what better bit to play backwards than their classic / cliche-guitar lesson riff – the beginning to “Day Tripper”.

Tripper Day

This one was pretty easy to put together, all told. The most difficult part was the bass, since Sir Paul matched the pitch instead of playing the riff in his own octave. The weird panning scheme – Drums on the left? Really? – is my best attempt at matching the original stereo mix of the song. Enjoy, let me know what you think, and I’ll see you next time.

Backwards Rock: Spirit Teen Like Smells

When I came up with Backwards Rock, the idea was simple. Let’s take some classic rock riffs and play ’em in reverse! Some would be far easier to do than others – like, say, a classic heavy metal riff that’s coming soon – and some would turn out a little bizarre. I’m pretty sure today’s segment falls into the “bizarre” category. I give you the main riff from the iconic early-90s song “Smells Like Teen Spirit”… backwards.

Spirit Teen Like Smells

The thing that saved this riff from turning boring – and also helped keep everything in line – is the generous helping of muted string hits. That open string chord in the middle (it’s in the original, you just don’t really notice it) feels incredibly out of place when you play the riff backwards… which is what happens when you take a thing you don’t think about on the “and” of 4 and place it on beat 1… Also, I kept the drums close to the original, which included the opening fill. Enjoy, let me know what you think, and I’ll see you next time.

The Hockey Project: Eight Remain

Well, that was quick. Feels like Round Two just started and it could be ending in the next few days. Guess it’s time to post the next Hockey Project tune, huh? This is a song with a simple lyrical idea to compliment music that’s anything but simple.

Eight Remain

Lyrically, I wrote about reaching the second round of the playoffs and otherwise just kinda threw words together and pretended to be serious. The part I was unsure about until my friend Adam heard it and burst out laughing was the “well, congratulations” background vocal line. The doubling, combined with the lower register, makes it sound incredibly sarcastic which I like a lot.

Musically, this is another case of “Ed Likes Progressive Rock, Part X”. At the time I wrote this song, I had recently seen The Safety Fire live and was in a massive kick with that band (If you’ve never heard them and like super-intricate guitar work, then definitely check them out). That kick helped me write the first distorted riff – one of the more difficult riffs in my catalog. Position changes and string jumps give it an extremely high margin for error. The song is also mostly in seven, because I like using seven and it had been a while. Enjoy, let me know what you think, and I’ll see you next time.

4th and Goal Theme Song

Believe it or not, I tend to enjoy musical commissions. Earlier this year, I was asked by a friend of mine to make opening and closing theme music for a podcast he co-hosts, called “4th and Goal“. He told me what it’s about – FOOTBALL, of course – and gave me a good blueprint for the voiceovers. Other than that, I was left to my own devices. So hmm… what should I do? Naturally, I settled on what I tend to do best – heavy. I give you the 4th and Goal opening theme, with no voiceover.

4th and Goal Open

I set up a typical-ish podcast intro, adding some sound effects and a commentator… and then we crash into a 90s groove metal vibe. For those of you keeping score, that’s five of me yelling “FOOTBALL” before the metal kicks in.

For the closing theme, I just went straight for the 90s groove metal vibe and took the “theme and variations” route. The two riffs sound similar, but they’re not the same. I also put them in reverse order to keep things interesting. Here’s the closing theme, also with no voiceover.

4th and Goal Close

I know it’s not very “90s groove metal” of me to throw in a guitar lead, but my gut told me something needed to be there so I did it anyway. Enjoy, let me know what you think, and I’ll see you next time.

The Hockey Project: Outraged By The Outrageous Outrage

Ah yes, nothing like some good ol’ unfinished business. For those of you who don’t know, I occasionally enjoy writing music about sports. Typically, it’s been either baseball or football, but last season I finally decided to undergo a hockey project. The idea was to write a song every two weeks for the regular season and one for each playoff round, giving me eighteen total tracks. For some odd reason, I wrote and recorded the four playoff tunes (except for the vocals on the last one, which I’ll get to in the coming week or so) and shelved them. Well, now that it’s hockey playoff time again, I’m going to finish those tracks and release them this year! Starting… NOW.

Outraged By The Outrageous Outrage

This tune is about the thing I dislike the most in sports – they’re taken WAY too seriously. Everything is SUPER IMPORTANT and if something even remotely controversial happens, well, look out ’cause there’s a storm a-brewin’ – especially online. This song is written from the perspective of one of those dudes.

Musically, this one is driven by my love for both djent and speed metal. The song’s arc from “driving double kick” to “groove first, chops later” to “syncopated” really helped the lyrics out in this case. Also, the guitar tone changes here because this is when I started double-miking my amplifier. If you have a condenser microphone that can handle high sound pressure levels, I highly recommend it. Finally, if you listen not too closely, you’ll hear a callback to “Anatomy of a Match Penalty”. Enjoy, let me know what you think, and I’ll see you in the next round.

Backwards Rock: Water on The Smoke

As most of you may know, I have been teaching music lessons for a number of years. Since I started teaching guitar, I’ve learned a ton of rock riffs, forgotten them, and picked them up again. For older beginners, starting them off with a few easy riffs to ease them into playing but still sound cool tends to work well. Of those, the most common is likely “Smoke on The Water” by Deep Purple.

So how would that riff sound backwards? Well, wonder no more!

Water on the Smoke

Surprisingly, this one was pretty tricky to map out. If I had ignored the rests, this would’ve sounded much different… and decidedly less interesting. As a former boss of mine said: “Rests are people too.” Enjoy, let me know what you think, and I’ll see you soon.

Backwards Rock: Puppets of Master

So what’s better than backwards rock? Backwards metal. And what better metal band to throw backwards than Metallica?! That was all I needed to put this one together. I present: The opening riff to “Master of Puppets”… backwards!

Puppets of Master

In the backwards rock catalog, this one falls under the category “easy to learn, hard to master”. I cheated on the performance – I used alternate picking instead of nothing but downstrokes – because James Hetfield is possibly not human. And, of course, I kept the bass and drums similar to the original. Enjoy, let me know what you think, and I’ll see you soon.

Backwards Rock: Enemy Worst Own My

Sometimes I get ideas while watching TV. Some ideas are great, others are dumb. I’m not sure where this one falls, but I guess that’s for you to decide. But anyway, I was watching That Big Football Thing when Lit’s “My Own Worst Enemy” was used as bumper music to cut to commercial. After I mentioned it on Twitter, I got an idea: How would that main riff sound when played backwards? So, now I present the first in a series I’ll call Backwards Rock.

Enemy Worst Own My

A word on the process: I mapped out the original riff (on graph paper, no less) then wrote it in reverse – i.e. beat four in measure four is now beat one in measure one. The bass and drums were not mapped out, but I played them with the original track in mind. Please enjoy, let me know what you think, and I have a few more of these that I’ll be posting soon. See you next time!

Microphone Shootout – Snare Drum Edition

Over the Christmas/New Years break, my friend Brandon and I got together on two separate days and put a whole bunch of microphones to a test. Previously, I posted the guitar amp version of this test. Today, I present The Snare Drum Microphone Shootout.

Before I present the results, I must talk about the process. We tested ten different microphones during the course of this day. In order to eliminate as many variables as we could, the microphones were set up in as close to the same spot as we could get and I played every test the same way: Center hit, off-center hit, flam, nine-stroke roll. Also, I used the same drum (Mapex Pro M series) and the same pair of sticks (Vic Firth 5A, wood tip) throughout the whole process.

We had two of almost all of these microphones, so the snare drum is double-miked for all but a few tests (which I’ll disclose when we get to them) – one microphone on the top head, the other on the bottom placed right around the snares themselves. No EQ is placed on any microphone, but the phase is flipped on every microphone on the bottom head and some levels are adjusted for a more balanced sound. I also edited some takes to ensure that they don’t overlap.

Without further ado: Here are the results! Ten microphones, presented two at a time. The first microphone listed is panned hard left and the second is hard right.

Our first matchup is the ol’ standby facing one of its many challengers – Shure SM57 – vs. Blue EnCore 100i.

Snare Mic Shootout 1

Next is probably the least fair matchup – Audio Technica Brand X XM3 (discontinued) vs. Electro-Voice N/D478.

Snare Mic Shootout 2

Next we have the Audio Technica battle – ATM29 (discontinued) vs. ATM63 (also discontinued).

Snare Mic Shootout 3

Next is the oddball matchup – Samson Q3 (discontinued) vs. Groove Tubes Convertible.

Snare Mic Shootout 4

Lastly, we have the single-microphone matchup – Audio Technica ATM650 vs. Electro-Voice N/D168 (discontinued).

Snare Mic Shootout 5

The interesting thing to me is the frequency responses of these microphones – clearly, some microphones picked up the shell of the drum better than others.

So, there you go. What do you think? Personally, I think I found my new snare drum microphone within my own collection thanks to this.

Microphone Shootout – Guitar Edition

IMG_0650At this point in my life, it’s fair to say that I’m a gear head. As a musician, I like having gear around – it’s good to have options. When you have other gear head friends, things like the results of this post happen!

During our holiday break, my friend Brandon and I convened on two separate days to test some microphones. One day was for snare drums (I’ll post that later) and the other was for guitar amps (We had also done this a few years ago for kick drums, but I have to find those files again before I can post them.). In order to eliminate as many variables as possible, I played the same riff through the same guitar amp (pictured above) with the same settings and we placed each microphone as close to the same spot and distance as possible. In addition, the only EQ placed on the guitar tracks after recording is a high pass filter at 80 Hz and no mastering effects were used. I compressed and EQ’d the bass track… well… because. Besides, the guitars are the important part here.

I now present our results – eight microphones, two at a time. The first microphone listed is panned hard left and the second is hard right. And before you ask: Yes, it’s the same riff as the Guitar Amp Test, just slowed down a bit.

Our first matchup is the ol’ standby facing one of its many challengers – Shure SM57 – vs. Blue EnCore 100i.

SM57 vs 100i

Next is probably the least fair matchup – Audio Technica Brand X XM3 (discontinued) vs. Electro-Voice N/D478.

X3 vs. 478

Next we have the Audio Technica Battle – ATM63 (discontinued) vs. ATM650.

ATM63 vs ATM650

Lastly is the matchup of the microphones that need phantom power – Blue Ball (discontinued) vs. Groove Tubes Convertible.

Ball vs Convertible

The interesting thing to me was the difference in microphone input levels. We set the input level on my interface at the same spot for each microphone, but some mics were much quieter than others. Not surprisingly, the Ball and Convertible were by far the loudest – we were so close to clipping on the Convertible track…

So there you go. What do you think? Personally, I’m pretty sure this is the last time I record guitar amps with just a 57.