Saturday, March 16, 2013

Auto tune article

Just read a wonderful article (shout out to Craig Havighurst for tweeting it).

"@chavighurst: In case you missed it, the best article about auto-tune ever:"

First, I must say that going into the article I was dead set against auto tune. I'm a fan of live music and the little "misses" and ad-libs just give music & singing character. Yes you want it to be pleasing to the ear, but natural pleasing is always better than fake pleasing to me.

There were several things in the article worth quoting - "As humans, we crave connection, not perfection." I couldn't agree more, which is one reason I prefer live acoustic music - from both sides of the microphone.

"“It’s makin’ me money, so I ain’t about to stop!” T-Pain told DJ Skee in 2008."

This reminds me that it's the music BUSINESS and profit drives it, so it comes as no surprise. Like other things in modern music though, *I* don't have to like it. :-)

There's an analogy that the creator of auto tune uses when asks is it evil - “My wife wears makeup, does that make her evil?”

That's a great analogy. I prefer women with less makeup - more natural and less fake, but a little eye shadow never hurt. :-) But makeup caked on like a clown face... Nope.

He also says - “I just make the car. I don’t drive it down the wrong side of the road.”

This next quote really sums up the main problem I have with auto tune - "Neil Young, Bob Dylan, many of the classic artists whose voices are less than pitch perfect – they probably would be pitch corrected if they started out today."

This next quote is kind of long, but you need the entire paragraph to see it in context...

“"I was listening to some young people in a studio a few years ago, and they were like, ‘I don’t think The Beatles were so good,’” says producer Eric Drew Feldman. They were discussing the song “Paperback Writer.” “They’re going, ‘They were so sloppy! The harmonies are so flat!”"

Now ANY technology that makes people think the Beatles were "[not] so good" should raise a red flag. Okay, maybe not the technology, but the overuse of it at least.

Again, I'm a fan of live music. I like it organic. I play with a gospel group most weekends and they still use a lot of live music but they also use more and more tracks. They are doing something I've started seeing a trend of - using tracks for part of the music and playing along using the live instruments.

Now don't get me wrong - I'm not knocking it! It has allowed more and more people to experience singing in public, and that's a good thing. But given my druthers... Well - it's live music all the way. :-)

The article's author ends with an example of letting a friend use auto tune to let four of them sing in good harmony. It made something mediocre into something they were proud of, and that's okay.

By the end of the article I had changed my mind about auto tune. I don't hate it anymore, but I do hate the overuse of it. :-)

Here's the last quote, and I think it's a great summation of her thoughts as well as mine...

"The Auto-Tune or not Auto-Tune debate always seems to turn into a moralistic one, like somehow you have more integrity if you don’t use it, or only use it occasionally. But seeing how really innocuous-yet-lovely it could be, made me rethink. If I were a professional musician, would I reject the opportunity to sound, what I consider to be, “my best,” out of principle?

The answer to that is probably no. But then it gets you wondering. How many insecure artists with “annoying” voices will retune themselves before you ever have a chance to fall in love?"

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


I attended the meeting of MSA last night - Memphis Songwriters Association. I was encouraged.

This may not be what you think, so keep reading...

Yes, I did a song (Hometown Proud - Vanessa has the video on her phone) and received GREAT feedback, so that was an encouragement, but the bigger encouragement I felt was just being around music and other songwriters for a change!

The guest speaker plugged in his guitar and started talking about himself and his career in music. This was interesting, but then he popped on a capo and started playing a chord progression.

Next thing I know I'm hearing REAL music played by a live person singing words that he wrote and I was surrounded by other people that were LISTENING. It was NOT just background noise - it was the reason we were all there.

Why is this an encouragement? Since Music Highway Crossroads closed for winter renovation, there has been no "listening room" place for me to go. It was a refreshing change and it was encouragement to me to continue licking this dream.

Last week we had our Relay for Life fund raiser and it was fun and a great cause, but the music was more background static for MOST people there. Not me, of course. Even when I wasn't in front of the mic I was taking it all in, but it just wasn't the same.

Thus also encourages me to be more diligent about finding a place in Dyersburg to have a singer/songwriter event. The venue I had in mind and was working on using fell through for now. The owner still WANTS to, but the logistics are not working out. Before last night I was thinking "oh well - maybe someday." Not now... I WILL find a place to have it (I have a particular venue in mind - just have to follow up). I will let you know...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Another Twitter Response

I have another twitter post I'd like to respond to, but this will take more than 140 characters, so I'm posting here...

Here's the tweet -

@SongwritersCafe: If you believe you never write bad songs, it might be that you need someone with a more objective opinion. #songwriting

My response - bad? That's a strong word. Maybe not every song is an instant radio hit, but I dare say that each and every song that's rolls off the tongue or guitar or keyboard can have a PURPOSE.

They may not be "golden words," but they might be a self-therapy. They might be something emotional to one person or family. They might be something the songwriter has never done before and it's an attempt to stretch out in a new style or rhyming scheme.

So a "bad" song? No. You might write what I would call a bad song but Britt is in the eye of the beholder...

Keep writing - I know I will. :-)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Walking it...

This is a response to a tweet by my social media friend Adam Levy... He linked to a tumbler post and my reply would have been more than 140 characters, so I thought I'd just post it here...

First - the original tweet -

@stringjuggler: Guitar Tip: Walk it like you talk it. - When I improvise, I'm not looking to impress anyone, or to outplay...

Be sure to follow the link - I will wait. :-)

Okay - done? I have actually noticed this phenomena when working on lead instrumentals. The arrangement fits so well that you think you are hearing the lead Instrament play more than they really are.

This tip encourages me to NOT try and fill all the spaces. I played rhythm guitar and then bass guitar so much that I think I have to "hit every note" or "fill every gap" when really I don't have to.

Thanks Adam! All your tips are great but this one hits home a little closer... ;-)

Friday, March 1, 2013

response to a podcast

There's a podcast I listen to called Commercial Suicide Songwriting Podcast. It's a couple of folks in Nashville that are doing interviews, spotlights, song evals, etc. Really great show, and one of the podcasts that I eagerly look forward to new episodes from.

I'm listening today while at work and I get to the segment called - LEGENDARY SONGWRITER SALUTE. Marie Perry, one of the hosts, talks about the time she saw him at an event in Nashville. It really brought back memories to me, Marie, because I was there as well! The local radio station had a giveaway of two tickets to see the Johnny Cash Memorial Tribute. You had to submit an essay about your favorite Johnny Cash memory and I wrote to the effect of there wasn't just one but many. Cash's songs were a part of my "lessons," so to speak, when I was learning to play guitar. I would sit for hours and play along with Luther Perkins learning the licks.

Then when my dad's brother started teaching me things on the guitar you couldn't find on the radio of that time, we would sit and play and pick and sing every Cash song we knew, and he made sure I learned them all. :-)

So my essay concluded with the desire to take my dad with me to the tribute show, and those chose my essay. We sat on the East side, just under the balcony. When we got there they were going through some sound checks and this tall man with a long coat came out on stage and the presence he had in the room... WOW! There was no doubt this man was a legend, and he carried himself as such. Not cocky in the least, but he was all professional and all there.

There was a point that he looked out over the audience (there were just a handful at the time) and we made eye contact. What I saw there really touched me and for that split second it was as if *I* were on stage with him. He gave off that kind of aura - that, "anyone can do this" vibe.

Now at the time I had not starting writing songs yet... I was still exploring and enjoying everyone else's music too, but I still think back to that...

Of course it was special sitting there with my dad beside me, and I wouldn't take anything for that memory and that experience. He passed away from cancer several months before I started writing, but I know he would be proud of me today.

One other thing... There were stars after stars there but they all had a reverence for the family and the memory. It was a good "show," of course, but beyond that it was a bonding experience. But of all the "stars" that were there that night (George Jones, Willie Nelson, Travis Tritt, Brooks & Dunn, the list goes on), there was one that chilled me to the bone... When Willie, Kris & George came on stage to do Highwayman, Willie & Kris did their verses, then George was supposed to do Waylon's but he didn't sing... I don't know to this day what happened, but of course that wasn't on TV because the song was incomplete, but the person who did Cash's verse FLOORED me...

Hank Williams, Jr was standing there with a smile on his face and a microphone in his hand. He had his shades on and I think a cowboy hat, but when he opened his mouth to sing... "I fly a starship..." I had chills. And when he continued with "across the universe divide" he had more power on that stage than the other three put together. It was like he was reaching down into his soul and pouring it all out to do the best he could for Cash's memory and family.

Thanks for reading...