Original Song: Kind of Amazing

This is a song I wrote with my wife Colleen for our friends Joe and Lauren. They got married in March, and didn’t have a song they really felt was “their” song for their first dance. When Joe told me this, I offered to write something for them if they couldn’t find a song.

Neither Joe nor I thought it was all that likely – the wedding was only a few months away, and I have written very little original music. Furthermore, I find writing a song about something so specific is usually much more difficult than when the topic is more open-ended.

Two weeks before the wedding, I felt like I had something I’d be willing to offer. I told Joe what I had, let him hear the tune and see a draft of the lyrics (not hear the final product). Joe then told Lauren “I’ve got the first dance song… it’s a surprise.” Amazingly, Lauren was OK with having no idea what their first dance would be.

The story is written from Joe’s perspective. It’s the story of them meeting, getting engaged, and then married. “Kind of Amazing” is a phrase Joe often said (as an extreme understatement) about Lauren, and it became a bit of an inside joke between Joe, Lauren, me and Colleen.
Kind Of Amazing (Acoustic) by pjboudrx

I’ll not forget / about you I barely knew more than a name
And then we met / from that moment on, I’d never be the same
I sang a lonely melody / I heard your perfect harmony
Right from the very start / you opened up your gentle heart
giving love unselfishly

Now I have the chance to tell the world: You’re the only one for me
You are some kind of amazing / Your love is all I need

With each sunrise / I find more and more it’s you I’m in awe of
my soul, it smiles / you are altogether beautiful, my love
I walk with you along the shore / The seagulls call, the waves, they roar
A message on the tide / how I ask you to be my bride
the day, it fades; our spirits soar

Here I am today to tell the world: You’re the only one for me
You are some kind of amazing / Your love is all I need

Today we make a promise until death do us part
a bond that’s stronger than the words that we say
Not long ago, together the journey we did start
Our life as one begins today

Here I am today to tell the world: You’re the only one for me
You are some kind of amazing / Your love is all I need
I’ll not forget / from this moment on, I’ll never be the same

Rick Tanner’s in Cumming on 06/11/11

Rick Tanner’s in Cumming on 05/21/11

Rick Tanner’s in Cumming on 04/16/11

“PROJECT MF: JAPAN RISES” in Atlanta on 04/06/11

Update: I just heard the final tally, and the event raised over $50,000 for Habitat for Humanity in Japan! Thank you! I’m glad to have been a part of such an outpouring of support!

PROJECT MF: JAPAN RISES” is a special fundraising event hosted by MF Buckhead restaurant, in coordination with Habitat for Humanity to benefit the earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan.

For more information, visit the event website.

I will be one of a few artists contributing entertainment for the evening.

Rick Tanner’s in Cumming on 04/02/11

Sorry about the cancellation last time, y’all! This is a make-up show from March 19th.

Newsboys Remix, Step 1: Prep

At this point, I’ve downloaded the stems and loaded them into Ableton Live. What follows is my description of that experience, and it gets pretty technical.   Apologies if you don’t understand the terms – many of them are general to recording, but many are specific to the Live application.

To bring the stems in, I created a track for each one, and dragged each file from Windows Explorer into the lane in Session View. Perhaps dragging into Arrangement view would have been more efficient?

The first thing I had to deal with is the fact that Live wanted to apply warping to many of the clips, because by default, Warp is enabled.   However, what struck me as odd is that not all of the clips actually had warp markers moved, and I didn’t see a pattern.   It didn’t really matter, because I disabled warp for all the clips (somewhat tedious), because my intent is to make the tempo match the stems.   Again, maybe there’s a more efficient way to bring stems in for remix.

Now, I listen to them for the first time, and take inventory:

  • Mix (aiff) – full mix
  • TV (aiff) – everything but lead vocals
  • All vocals down (aiff) – sounds like a full mix
  • All vocals up (aiff) – sounds like a full mix
  • Lead Vocals Up (aiff) – sounds like a full mix
  • BGV A Capella (aiff) – all background vocals
  • LV A Capella (aiff) – lead vocals
  • Instrumental (aiff)
  • Lead Vocal (wav)
  • Bass (wav)
  • Chank EG (wav)
  • Drums (wav)
  • Female BGVs (wav)
  • Lead EG (wav)
  • Main Synths (wav)
  • Male BGVs (wav)
  • Rhythm EG (wav)
  • Synth FX (wav)

So it looks like the stems I want are all wav, not the aiffs, which are all various sub-mixes. This is fine, as the aiffs are all 44.1/16, whereas the wavs are all 88.2/24.  So from here out, I’m going to work exclusively with the wavs (these are the real stems).

The wav stems are already sub-mixed, panned and processed a bit, anyway, so there is already a limit to how much change they can take. For example, the guitar tracks are all stereo, with the ‘chank’ and ‘rhythm’ guitars already heavily panned to one side.

So when I bring the faders up, I pretty much have the original mix.  Not what I envisioned – I figured they would be a little more “raw” – but they’re good sounding tracks, at any rate.

The next preparation step I took was to adjust Lives tempo to match the song.  This way, I can add programmed parts and manipulate the timing of the song as a whole.  To do this, I turned warp back on for only the “Mix” track, and made it the warp master.  To begin with, I assume the stems all start at 1.1.1 (they do, in this case), and that the tempo is constant (true again, in this case).  I dragged the nearest warp marker to the nearest down-beat, and listened to the metronome.

Pretty close, so in order to be sure, I scroll ahead until about halfway through the song and listen there.  Not surprisingly, the metronome has drifted by this point in the song (it was slow).  I can see the transient that a down-beat marker is supposed to line up with, so I just drag the marker to match.  I jump to the last few bars of the song, and repeat the process.  At this point, I see the metronome at 135.99 bpm.  This tells me that the real tempo must be 136, so I drag the last downbeat backward (increasing the tempo) until I get the even number.  Now it sounds perfectly in-line.

Couldn’t I have just typed in numbers until the beats matched?  Probably, but it would have been more trial-and-error, and I wasn’t sure the pre-roll started on a down-beat.  By systematically lining up the warp markers with down beats, I truly scaled the tempo map to match the song.  This process would have worked with a less straight-forward song, or one with a varying tempo.

Next: strip the track bare, so I can build it back up.  Stay tuned…

Newsboys Remix Contest

Using SoundCloud and watching Indaba, I’ve seen several remix contests fly by, but I’ve not been interested enough to bother entering. When SoundCloud announced the Newsboys Remix Contest though, I had to at least download the stems and listen.

Aside: how did I miss the announcement that Michael Tait is the new lead vocalist? I have to say I’m excited to hear the combination of Newsboys’ tuneage and Taits pipes.

So after listening, I decided to start working on a remix. Actually, I’ve got at least 2 ideas for treatments to give the song, so I may end up with a few remixes, when I’m done. I’ll capture the process here, so you can follow along at home :).