First song for the year: Stroke of Midnight

Our first song for 2009, titled:

How the song came about
Adrian emailed me this MP3 on Jan 1, 2009 at 12:42 AM titled simply as “Rift”

Dude, a short prelude. Not complete but can you think of a lead for this. HPYNEWYR! Ad.

Next day, Jan 2, 2009 at 12:43 AM, I listened to it. Right away Adrian’s distortion guitar riff (and his drum loop) sounded all groovy and upbeat. I replied to Adrian:

Nice! I like the chord progression. Starts like a disco beat, then becomes more “Joe Satriani”. The part when the drums kick in, quite solid leh. It’s also fitting that it ends abruptly. That’s how we might end the song. The song needs to be extended. And I know how we can do it. Your guitar playing has a nice touch. I’m humming this melody in my head and it’s quite easy to come up with something cos the raw feel of melody is already captured in your playing. Need to boost your guitar effects. I can think of ways to do some stereo choral + phaser effect. Make it more grungy and give the bass tones more “bite” (I sort of discovered this by accident!) Hey, this is another solid piece from you! Well done man.

I didn’t plan on working on the loop that soon. I was busy editing this actually but decided to de-stress by working on Adrian’s loop.

Two hours after first listening to the loop, I emailed him something I spliced together. No guitar lead. Just arranged the track to give Adrian an idea of the whole sequence. Added additional percussion. The arrangement included a “silent break” for 8 measures (this was eventually cut down in the final version). I tentatively titled it “Take You Down” and emailed the MP3 to Adrian.

Adrian listened to it the next day. Said he liked the arrangement. But not the title:

“Take you down” a bit adverserial… but it does describe the angst of the song. I finished it just about the stroke of midnight, so it might be a song for a challenging year ahead and give people some oomph to face it and overcome it.”

His email reply gave me the inspiration for the title.

I was trying to decide between “stroke OF midnight” and “stroke AT midnight” but felt the latter sounded like you suffered from a burst blood vessel at midnight, heh. It would’ve been clearer if I called it “AT THE stroke of midnight” but left it as it was. The ambiguity could also mean the personification of midnight, and she’s painting the town red with a musical paintbrush…

Inspired by the title, I included the sound of the grandfather clock striking 12 in the “break” portion.

I also worked on the lead quite a bit. Carried out massive edits to make me sound like Joe Satriani.

The Band

The sound engineering for the entire song wasn’t 100% what I wanted. Ideally, I would have adjusted the volume levels of Adrian’s original drums and guitars separately. But I only had his MP3 file so I did what I could by adjusting the EQ settings to the replicated layers.

But everything sounded OK in the end. Adrian gave his approval.

This afternoon, I completed the song by adding a bass layer. And a final round of sound level adjustments (not my best skill, but it’ll do).

So, that’s our first song for the year.

Found this photo to go along with the song (“Strokes”, originally uploaded by Dom Dada).

Adrian’s MP3 loop is also available at ccMixter, here.

The Musicians ~ (L – R) Ivan Chew & Adrian Loo

11 thoughts on “First song for the year: Stroke of Midnight

  1. Pingback: New song: “Stroke Of Midnight (2009)” « My Right Brain

  2. Dude, nice work bringing the basic rift to a higher level with first, the arrangements, then the lead and finally the bass. The bass although almost in the background is probably one of the most fundamental things I listen out to in a song. I was listening out to the bass; nice job there. Not overpowering but still the bass line can be heard, it goes with the beat nicely. Love the new ending of the song.

    I think your take on the personification of midnight is really neat. It makes it a bit more edgy and mysterious. I like it, especially when I was just about done near the stroke of midnight before the new year; I realized it when I clicked on save in Garage Band.

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