So, it seems like ages since I have had the opportunity to play live…
I have some time off at present, so apart from working on my next album, I thought I would take the opportunity to try to shape up my live playing a bit, and do some live acoustic versions of the songs from my last album to boot. I’ve mostly been a “band guy”, so the solo acoustic thing is something I’ve rarely done…
Here’s my first attempt: The ballad “Damage” from “Meandersaur”. It was recorded with a single condenser mic, with some of the Macbook Pro’s on board mic mixed in. The main camera is the MacBook’s, with the secondary camera my iPhone. All the video and audio was put together in Reaper:
Very nice. It’s easy to like this acoustic rendition for me since I already knew the song well. The parts that sound best to me are when you start a bar with two muted strums on the higher strings (lower notes), I kind of wish you did that more often because I feel it keeps the groove consistent, which is nice in a song that has so many chord changes.
Unreal the talent there bud. Those high notes so easy. Didn’t even have to reach for my melodyne.
Fantastic playing. some of those minors remided me of the beatles. For all those quick chord changes, very little squeaks?? Where is the mic? I tried postin one of mine but it said my file was too big etc.
That was not your normal three chord progression. Went off flawless. Ahh to be young…congrats
Great stuff Andrew! Agree on the Beatles-esque sound, also a good dose of the brothers Finn in there…
How on Earth do you keep your nails strong enough to use them like a flatpick like that?! My nails have gotten so thin and brittle as I’ve gotten older, I can barely fingerpick steel strings anymore, let alone whale away like that… I use Alaska Piks for my steel string fingerpickin’, it’s the only way.
I’ve been doing some solo acoustic numbers lately too (all covers though)… very fun! Keep 'em coming!
Reaper is actually pretty amazing for video. Jon Tidy at Reaper Blog has a lot very handy tutorials that go into it in quite a bit of depth.
Thanks mate! You can hear the full band version here. The interesting thing with the original band version is that the drums were recorded click-free as a band live, so the timing moves around quite a bit, but I really like the way it ebbs and flows.
Yeah, I can appreciate that - it’s a fair point. I originally experimented with a simpler arrangement. However, what I noticed was that chunking away on a solid rhythm all the way through the song doesn’t really allow for any development of the arrangement, and I wanted to capture some of the “ebb and flow” from the recorded version.
Thanks Ingo - good to know it translates well! Yeah, this is really how most of my songs start out, with just guitar and vocal.
I learned classical (and some flamenco) guitar as a child, and that thumb-and three fingers technique comes directly from there. I didn’t really start playing with a pick regularly until I bought my first electric guitar at around 16. Prior to that it was pretty much all acoustic.
I always lost my picks as a kid, so if I needed to strum, I would hold my thumb and index finger together (as if holding an imaginary pick) like you see here and use the nail surface on my index finger and thumb alternately as a sort of giant surrogate pick to get a bright percussive strumming sound when I needed it. I’m comfortable playing either with or without a pick these days, but I just seem to naturally dispense with the pick when playing acoustic.
Thanks Dave! Yes, the major to minor changes are very Beatles, and I don’t mind a bit of Fin Bros at all! Actually, this was my attempt at a kind of soul-ballad, particularly with the C - E7 cadence at the top of the verse… That was very much inspired by songs like “Dock of the Bay”, “Georgia” and “Many Rivers to Cross” etc… It ended up being its own thing, of course!
I don’t actually use my nails to fingerpick - I use the fleshy pads of my fingers. They get a little sore if I’m out of practice, but that is pretty much what I have always done. Although I do use my index fingernail and thumbnail when strumming, as I described above to Ingo, its never the underneath of the nail overhanging the finger (as would a classical player), it is always the face of those two nails being used alternately.
That said, my nails are really strong - annoyingly so! They grow super-fast, and I’m always having to clip them on my left hand, because they impede my fretting when they get long.
I just finished listening and watching yours and Dave’s videos and I’m really enjoying this format. You guys might be starting a trend around here. If I was brave enough I’d put up a video and I’d join in too.
I haven’t heard this song before but now I’m interest in hearing the full band version.
Last summer I filmed myself playing covers and originals, playing acoustic and singing. I was unable to load the files into Reaper, because apparently, the video files that I had recorded were incompatible with that DAW. I used a Canon G16 camera. Not sure if the files wouldn’t load because I’m still using Reaper 5.14 (or something like that). So, I’ll have to figure out how to eventually get my video files working in Reaper…I’m really interested in doing that, though!
But, anyway, keep them coming. I want to hear more!
Thanks mate! That would be cool if you could get the video happening.
Firstly, update Reaper!!! I’ve been using it for years, and updating it regularly. It has never been a problem. I can pretty much guarantee you won’t break anything, and it takes no time at all. Reaper just keeps getting better, with more functionality with each update.
Secondly, I’m sure there is a workaround to convert your video files from your camera. Most of the time, it’s just a matter of Googling the problem, and somewhere, somehow there will be a free online converter, or a free program that will do it.
This was really nice. Thank you for posting Andrew.
I never used to, but these days I really appreciate the simple elegance of a raw non-perfect (in a good way) song that doesn’t lean on glamorous production to be meaningful. I remember Bruno Mars talking about how the best songs (in his opinion) were songs that could hold their own with just a single instrument and a vocal. Just something pleasant in listening to that stuff these days.
And nice job handling those high A’s and that Bb… I could never sing worth a crap. I was pretty much done at a high G, and that was on a good day lol.
Paul, you can’t post a video direct to this forum by uploading a file. With videos, you have to first upload to a video sharing platform like YouTube, Vimeo, or even Facebook or Instagram, and then link the video here
Haha…”young” is almost always a relative term… In my case, I’m 52 years young