Archive for August, 2009

Song 21: “untitled 3”

by on Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

Here is Song #21 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 21 untitled 3

21 ShakersThis was another case of me having a bit too much fun with my old Casio keyboard – I played some chords and a little melody on top…and that was it. Once I had a basic rhythm track recorded, I played the melody over it with the Casio, and then banged on some drums to fatten it up. Ultimately however, I opted to leave the drums out of the mix (it was a bit too much!) and just used shakers instead.

I finished it up with a little toy piano interlude in the middle, and a vocal track that just popped out!

Instruments used:
Casio keyboard (80’s thing)
Shakers
Toy Piano
Vocals

Lyrics:
GIBBERISH!

Song 20: “I’ve Got Things, Girl”

by on Friday, August 21st, 2009

Here is Song #20 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 20 I've Got Things, Girl

20 GuitarsMy main inspiration for this song came from my special lady-friend. Yesterday, she told me that she’d like to hear me sing in some different styles than I’m prone to; I explained that years of shitty singing have taught me what I can and cannot do, and that I adhere to the former as much as possible.

All explanations aside, it kinda stuck in my mind that perhaps I should try some things that I haven’t tried in years. I mean, I’m no Pavarotti but I have a style that I do well enough and people seem to like it…so I haven’t branched out lately as perhaps I should have. So when it came time to write this tune, I picked a key that would be a challenge for me to sing in (C minor), and I’ll admit that I struggled with it for a little while. Then I took the radical (for me anyway) step of switching to singing in falsetto. Whoa…I was not i my normal comfort zone anymore!

Once I committed to singing this way, the melodies came rather quickly and I was able to record guitar, ukulele, and vocals in less than 30 minutes. For lyrics, I decided to write about my lovely lady since she did, after all, inspire this tune to be written.

Instruments used:
Acoustic guitar (1940’s Stella)
Baritone Ukulele
Vocals

Lyrics:
You should start believin’ what I say is the truth
That I love you more than you could know
And I will always be here
Let’s start living like there is nobody else
I’ve got things girl, that I have to do
But I can do them and still be there for you
There have been times when you’ve doubted my word
But girl I can tell you that I’ll always be yours
No matter how long the roads may be
I will always be coming home to you

Song 19: “Too Easy”

by on Thursday, August 20th, 2009

Here is Song #19 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 19 Too Easy

19 BassThis song was inspired by a conversation I had with a couple of buddies last week about how if you are a shitty/mediocre musician, all you have to do to get fans is:
1. Play loudly
2. Jump around and/or do something “crazy” or “outrageous”
3. Create semi-catchy but ultimately forgettable “hooks” in your songs
4. Most important: have a schtick

I will never down a band for being successful and building a strong fanbase by doing something they enjoy, regardless of how I feel about their music – that’s great! But, I do get a bit tired of the bottom-feeding hipsters that will flock to bands with very little skill or talent who just happen to scream into a mic and pull their balls out onstage. I wonder if maybe I had no self-respect or pride in my artistry, maybe I could behave “outrageously” and people would appreciate my music more. I guess I’d just rather be Dean Martin than Johnny Rotten.

Related: If I decided to form a cult based on bullshit that I completely make up, I can guarantee that I could have a dozen followers by the end of the week. And you could too. There are always people out there who are willing to follow, so long as you have some sore of schtick. See what I’m getting at?

Enough about all that – let’s talk about the song here. I tried to put myself in the mindset of someone who just plays simple, loud music with no substance and pseudo-social-commentary lyrics. With that in mind, I picked up my Telecaster and just banged out the first 3 chords that were in the same key – I think I went with B, Em, and maybe F#. I just played each of those chords in different orders and I had this song written in my head in literally 4 minutes. It’s that easy to write this crap, folks. I recorded the electric guitar really loudly, then overdubbed a simple electric bass line (I played it with a quarter instead of a guitar pick for extra “punk rock attitude”), and then beat on a couple of drums with the most simple rhythm I could possibly do. Oh, and then I also played the crappiest intentionally-bad guitar solo I could do.

I couldn’t force myself to give any thought at all to writing “real” lyrics for this song, so I just pushed the record button and sang along like I didn’t care (I figured that was appropriate). I made up the lyrics on the spot and it’s pretty much just about wanting to be the singer in a shitty band just so I can get on stage and dance around with my pants down. Once that was recorded, I threw some “edgy” distortion on the vocals; this is a common trick used to blur the line between talent and attitude. Ever heard a song and wondered if the “crazy” or “wild” singer can actually sing or not? 🙂

This is not a good song – it is an easy song that took 4 minuted to write and about 40 minutes to record and finish. I did it to prove a point to myself, and kinda just to be an ass. All I need now is a band full of guys willing to wear hot pink jumpsuits and pee on each other onstage and I’ll be a hit!

Instruments used:
Electric guitar (Fender ’75 Thinline Tele reissue)
Snare drum & floor tom
Electric bass (Fender Jazz Bass)
Vocals

Lyrics:
I can’t even make myself write them out…

Song 18: “Ukuleles in A minor”

by on Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Here is Song #18 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 18 Ukuleles in A minor

18 Ukulele stringsOK, I’ll admit it – I love this tune. I know that in yesterday’s post I promised that today’s song would be longer….and it is…if only by a small amount! This one clocks in at only slightly more than 2 minutes, but as is sometimes the case…I didn’t want to unnecessarily clutter up the song just in the interest of making it last longer.

The inspiration for this song came when I was shuffling some gear around in my gear room. I had a pile with all three of my ukuleles and my mandolin, and decided I should do an all-uke song. I sat down with the baritone ukulele first, and played a traditional mediterranean chord progression (in Am); I put 2 minutes-worth of that onto the recorder, and set about creating some melody on top.

Originally I imagined the tune to be instrumental – just to showcase my different ukulele tones. However, as I was composing the uke parts a vocal melody kept springing to mind. Once I had four ukulele parts recorded (two baritone, one tenor, one standard) and a couple of simple percussion parts, I just sang the melody (with gibberish lyrics) into the microphone. For some reason, I think it generally sound stupid to sing grand eastern melodies in English – I’d rather just make up my own language for a song than sing about trees and shit in English. I finished the track with some backing vocals, and that was it!

Instruments used:
Ukuleles (baritone, tenor, standard/concert)
Snare drum
Tambourine
Vocals

Lyrics:
GIBBERISH!

Song 17: “untitled 2”

by on Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

Here is Song #17 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 17 untitled 2

17 Toy PianoI am certainly not going to ramble on about this one – it really is the simplest of these tracks so far. I sat down with the toy piano and came up with a very simple part that I couldn’t envision becoming a full song. So, rather than force some other parts into it I just decided to treat it as an “interlude.”

So, its only a bit over a minute long and only contains toy piano, a snare drum, and a tambourine.

Maybe I’m getting lazy? Nah…the next song will be longer! 😀

Instruments used:
Toy Piano (old wooden thing)
Snare drum
Tambourine

Lyrics:
NONE!

Song 16: “Ho-Hum”

by on Monday, August 17th, 2009

Here is Song #16 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 16 Ho Hum

16 XylophoneThe first thing I came up with for this song was the vocal melody – I was kinda humming it a bit while I made some dinner, and put some simple acoustic guitar parts underneath it later on. I recorded the guitar part first, and then the primary vocal melody.

I felt that the chorus parts should be rich and full of vocals, so I overdubbed three more vocal harmony parts underneath the lead. After that was done, I filled in a little instrumental gap with some xylophone and called it done!

The lyrics were inspired by how sometimes I get all poo-poo about my music ‘career’ and actually add up how much cash I could raise if I sold off all my expensive gear…and how much free time I’d have to hang with my girl and my dog and all that if I wasn’t always writing and promoting my music. Inevitably, I regret having these thoughts soon thereafter – and I chastise myself for being a whiner. 🙂

Instruments used:
Acoustic guitar (1940s Stella)
Xylophone
Vocals

Lyrics:
I think it is fair
To say today was just another day
The sun rose and it looked right down on me
Then just as quick it set – oh futility
I will stop whining so much
And make up what I can with what I have
Ho-Hum!

Song 15: “She Talks in Her Sleep”

by on Sunday, August 16th, 2009

Here is Song #15 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 15 She Talks in Her Sleep

15 DrumsThis song originated with two chords – E and A minor – played with a very simple progression…kinda boring now that I think about it. I shoehorned a drawn-out D minor chord in there too, and recorded it. Once the acoustic guitar part was done, I played along on a couple of drum pieces, followed by some ukulele plucking. I rounded it out with some tambourine, and called it done.

I will freely admit that while I had some lyrics in mind (based around some of the crazy things my special lady says in her sleep), I had absolutely no vocal melody at all. So, once the lyrics were sketched out, I just pushed the record button and freestyled the melody. The results are…mixed, but not terrible.

Instruments used:
Acoustic guitar (1940s Stella)
Baritone ukulele
Drums (Tom and snare)
Tambourine
Vocals

Lyrics:
I hope what you say in your sleep
Is not really what you mean
You’ve said some crazy things
That might make me afraid of you
When you wake you’re smiling
Do you even know what you’ve said
I smile right back nervously
Should I fear what you said is for real
In time I get used to it
I won’t even listen anymore
Is that when you will strike
And I will then know the truth

Song 14: “Boredom Sets In”

by on Saturday, August 15th, 2009

Here is Song #14 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 14 Boredom Sets In

14 CasioThere’s not nearly as much to say about the process of writing this song as there has been about the others – it really took about 5 minutes of screwing around with my 80’s Casio keyboard’s arpeggio feature for this one to pop out. Basically, I just played a few chords and the Casio did the rest! The only funky thing is that the output jack of the Casio has long since stopped working – so I had to put it in front of a microphone to record it.

I then layered some ukulele picking on top, and then some shakers, and then finished it off with a pretty simple vocal part.

Honestly, this song was totally just a fun excuse to do music more like I used to back in the late 90’s. I think I’m going to use that as inspiration to get nostalgic with the next couple of songs; maybe I’ll try to revisit some more of my previous styles of songwriting….

Instruments used:
Casio keyboard
Baritone ukulele
Shakers & sticks
Vocals

Lyrics:
Boredom is setting in
And I can hardly stay awake
Fools are here to entertain me
But time crawls…you might have to detain me
I thought this was supposed to be the place to be
But I can’t find my way out fast enough
Blank stares come back at me
Empty smiles and laughter

Song 13: “Crappy Band”

by on Friday, August 14th, 2009

Here is Song #13 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 13 Crappy Band

13 ChimChimI can honestly say that this song just kind popped out of nowhere. I sat down with my baritone ukulele to noodle around for ideas, and the two main chords from this tune just fell together; I think it was a D and some G derivative. The vocal melody practically wrote itself shortly thereafter.

So, I just recorded the ukulele part (along with a simple 2-chord change at the end), and then some percussion (drums and shakers). At that point, I wrote out some lyrics about how it sucks to be onstage in a poorly-chosen venue; you are up there singing your songs and nobody gives a shit because you’re not playing covers. When I sang the lyrics, I also added some deliberately random whistling at the end to imply a lack of caring.

After the vocals, I noodled together a xylophone interlude for the middle – I ended up with two tracks blending together, playing thirds. As I was sitting on the floor recording the xylophone parts, one of our cats was all up in my business – she thought that the little xylophone mallets were her playthings. It is a miracle that she allowed me to even got those two short parts done. So, I stuck a microphone in her face and she sang along at the end of the song (and you can even hear her clawing at the mic’s shock mount too around the 2:50 mark).

Also, as was the case in a few of the earlier songs, you can hear my clothes dryer running in the next room…and the ukulele mic picked up my mouthbreathing as well. In ‘real’ recordings, I’d edit this crap out – but not here!

Instruments used:
Xylophone
Baritone ukulele
Floor tom & Snare (small Yamaha thing)
Shakers
Cat
Vocals

Lyrics:
Give up
Stop trying
Shut up
Stop talking
No one wants to hear your song
Because it is crap
Watch the room clear out
Go home
Stop singing
Get lost
Stop playing

Song 12: “Fears of Nightmares”

by on Thursday, August 13th, 2009

Here is Song #12 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 12 Fears of Nightmares

12 GretchThis song began in a rather traditional way – with just a couple of parts I wrote on the acoustic guitar. I recorded a pretty simple verse-chorus-verse-chorus progression with the guitar, and I had no idea where to go from there. To get my creative juices going, I cracked open a beer and then just picked along to the guitar track with my baritone ukulele…and when that didn’t really do it, I banged out a simple drum part with just one floor tom.

At that point I got a little frustrated – I didn’t have a vocal melody or any lyrics at all. I overdubbed a lead electric guitar part with my Gretsch, and only then did a vocal melody come to mind. From there, the total melody and the lyrics actually came pretty quick; I was hugely relieved!

Instruments used:
Acoustic guitar (1990’s Seagull)
Baritone ukulele
Floor tom (small Yamaha thing)
Vocals

Lyrics:
She went to bed last night with fears of nightmares
Held her eyelids up as long as she could
Beneath the blankets and wool, she clung to her bible
And prayed that she’d find a way to keep them at bay
Oh, they come in her sleep now
To tug and pull her away
Each time they come closer
Hold on, hold on, hold on little girl
When she jerks awake in the morning
she finds him next to her, holding her tightly
And in some little way, she knows that he helped her
To hang on through one more night without going under