I was thinking “Enya” as I worked on I-Ling’s ccMixter stems. I wasn’t able to do something with her main vocals. So I toyed with her backing pells instead. I imported the track into my iPad (converted to AIFF) and then mucked around with the iPad’s GarageBand. Experimented with piano, orchestra strings and clean electric guitar layers. Utilised the automatic chords in the GB iPad app (I couldn’t have played them so precisely). Finally exported to my iMac and tweaked the mix with Logic Express.
Instead of sending Christmas or New Year Cards, we thought to send a song to friends and acquaintances. Here’s “Christmas Bells – Classical Version“:
2011 – Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0). Click here for how to give credit and other conditions.
The vocals are from I-Ling. Her vocal samples for this song are available here (preview) and here (zip samples).
There are sounds in the sky when the year grows old, And the winds of the winter blow— When night and the moon are clear and cold, And the stars shine on the snow, Or wild is the blast and the bitter sleet That beats on the window-pane; But blest on the frosty hills are the feet Of the Christmas time again! Chiming sweet when the night wind swells, Christmas Bells!
The owl that sits in the ivy’s shade, Remote from the tower, Shall start from his drowsy watch afraid When the clock shall strike the hour; And over the fields in their frosty rhyme The cheery sounds shall go, And chime shall answer unto chime Across the moonlit snow! How sweet the lingering music dwells,— Christmas Bells.
And the glorified ones from that holy hill Are reaching their helping hands. These be the words our music tells Of solemn joy, O Christmas Bells!
Hope this song brings you cheer at the close of 2011, and the start of 2012.
None of us from Starfish Stories could attend, unfortunately. But still very, very tickled that we three amateurs could actually produce a song (“Open the Door, Smile Again”) that was deemed good enough to be on a compilation with other more established Singapore bands.
The selected song is the first track, from this SFS album produced for the SoundOut campaign.
Listen/ Download at www.archive.org. The track is licensed under a CC-BY license. Feel free to reuse or remix this song (CC license applies). Please credit the music to: Music by Ivan Chew – MyRightBrain.wordpress.com.
The original was composed at a time when I was still new to GarageBand. There wasn’t much of an original lead guitar. More of a tentative attempt at learning how to record an electric guitar “live instrument” into GarageBand. And it was composed after a 12-year break from playing the guitar.
Here’s the original (the volume is mastered too low and uneven; lack of any significant melody):
Four years on, and about four digital albums later, I’ve learned more about recording, mixing and mastering.
I have a better understanding of Compression settings, tricks like applying a Limiter to the final mix, stereo and panning effects. Had help from books like this, this and this.
Maybe it’s the first track that got played. Maybe not. Whatever the reason, that’s a heck of a lot of listens for us. 🙂
Here’s “Stolen Dreams” (a rock instrumental track)
The lead guitar work is by Adrian. When he sent me the raw stems, he explained:
Gave it a shot with the leads for stolen dreams.. the leads tell the story..
There is that oriental twist and a tune to begin with that is repeated.
Then there is a melodious and uplifting part
Then there is the very convoluted part… I tried to put the frustration and agony of some lost hope… I imagine it was a teenage girl in despair
Adrian’s lead guitar stems can be downloaded from ccMixter.
Released by “Starfish Stories :: The Band” (StarfishStories.wordpress.com) for SoundOut.sg
The nights are long and endless
When you’re miles away from home
The truth is so much darker than
Any story ever told
No one you can trust, no hand to hold
But deep inside
Something’s alive within you
That’s called hope
Just open the door
Step into the light
And you will find your way again
Take off those chains
Leave the past behind
The night is over
So smile again
Open your eyes
It’s a brand new start
And there’s a blue sky over your head
Don’t be afraid
Listen to your heart
You have every reason
To smile again
A dream without an ending
Taken away before you said no
Locked behind those dirty walls
You’re just a ragged, broken doll
A living dead
You think the scars are all you have
But deep inside
Your heart beats so strong and fast
So believe in yourself
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It’s a longish instrumental track that makes me think of soft white clouds, blue skies, cool lazy afternoons… then spilling into a sudden equatorial monsoon rain. Then all is groovy again. And I’m floating, floating up and up, not wanting to come back down.
I thought it fitting to contribute to CC7, with a track made possible by the CC movement, and posting on ccMixter. Thanks to this video that led me to jaspertine’s inspirational ambient track.