Posts Tagged ‘stella’

Song 29: “Then and Only Then”

by on Sunday, August 30th, 2009

Here is Song #29 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 29 Then and Only Then

29 CapoToday’s song is deliberately quiet. In fact, you might have to turn up your speakers if you care to hear all the details…you might even hear my cat and dog wrestling in the background. Poor cat.

There are only 3 chords in this whole song, and it weighs in at just over 2 minutes long. I decided to let the vocal melody and they lyrics drive this one, rather than instrumentation.

The lyrics are about how everyone should semi-regularly test their own boundaries, and shout in the face of their worst fears (literally or figuratively) as a way of overcoming them and removing oneself from all the bullshit out there. I’m not always as good about this as I should be, but I do try to shift my paradigm as often as possible without totally wrecking my life.

Instruments used:
Acoustic guitar (Stella)

Forget all that you grew up with
Give up everything you own
You’ll be a better person for it
Embrace the change you have made
Walk out onto the ledge and scream your name
Stare into the death and curse your pain
Then, and only the will you be free
You won’t ever miss who you were

Song 27: “All”

by on Friday, August 28th, 2009

Here is Song #27 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 27 All

27 drum2This track is much less of a song and more or an experiment. I know, that sounds scary and suggests that this will be crappy noise; its not noise, but it was definitely less of a structured ‘song’ than usual.

Basically, I wanted to see if I could play a chord for every note of the scale, in a row, and make the transitions as such that it wouldn’t seem too jarring as I switched keys. So, I arranged all of the chords in a certain order, played them each for 16 beats, ending on A flat; then, I repeated the same progression backwards to make kind of a musical palindrome if you will. The song starts with A major, peaks with A flat major in the middle, and then ends back at A major.

Once I had recorded this progression on the guitar, I made a duplicate track and reversed the audio. The result is a kinda eerie mix – much like that little person that David Lynch had talking backwards in Twin Peaks. Anyway, I the recorded some banging sounds and mixed it down. When it was done, I noticed that you can hear my ladyfriend talking on the phone in the next room in some spots…I left that in there too.

Instruments used:
Acoustic guitar (Stella)


Song 26: “All Right Here”

by on Thursday, August 27th, 2009

Here is Song #26 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 26 All Right Here

26 Blue2Holy crap, I couldn’t come up with anything decent last night. I was drawing a complete blank – no lyrics, no melodies, nothing! I really didn’t have any idea how I was going to pull out a new song, and was actually afraid I might have to miss a day for lack of inspiration.

After staring at my instruments for about 30 minutes, I decided to grab a beer and go out back with the dog. I sat down on the back deck, and immediately noticed 2 things: 1) the cicadas were making a ton of noise, ans 2) there was a near-constant series of fast lightning flashes in the sky. The lightning continued – with no thunder or rain – for about 30-45 minutes, during which time I was struck with inspiration. I went inside, grabbed one of my parlour guitars, and wrote some guitar parts outside under the lightning. The lyrics were descriptive of the scene, and they came quickly!

I went back inside and recorded the guitar parts, then overdubbed some little guitar jangles on top. I must say that the rhythm guitar part is a bit uneven, especially in the first verse; but I knew I was working with a potentially brief bit of inspiration and didn’t want to lose momentum by rerecording it. After that, I laid down three separate vocal tracks (one lead and two harmony), and finished it all off with a nice little melodica part.

I can’t believe how pleased I am with this song considering how uninspired I was an hour before I finished recording it! I’m chalking this one up to luck and a bit of mother nature’s influence.

Instruments used:
Acoustic guitar (Seagull)

I could not be less inspired
Than I am tonight
My mind is as blank as a sheet
Not an idea in sight
I go outside for inspiration
Perhaps some mosquito bites
I see lightning in the distance
Lighting up the sky
And then it hits me like a punch in the face
Ideas are all around me now in the ether
All I have to do is reach out and take
What I need from what I have – it’s all right here

Song 23: “Dressed in Rags”

by on Monday, August 24th, 2009

Here is Song #23 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 23 Dressed in Rags

23 Stella fretThis song is the result of me really wanting to finally use a little guitar part that I’ve had in my head for a while now. I’ve never been able to make a full-length song out of it, so I figured that this was the perfect opportunity to clear it out of my idea pool.  Not much to say about this one except that I used my Stella acoustic guitar for the primary track, and then all I added after that was vocals and percussion; I used metal sticks and slapped my hands on my jeans for the rhythm (special thanks to the Campbell sisters for that little idea).

Instruments used:
Acoustic guitar (Stella)
Metal sticks

Down the road is a man
Whose face I can’t stand
His sadness is evident
He dresses in rags
And his wife is a hag
He has nothing to live for now
But he wakes every day
Just why he can’t say
I guess he just feels compelled
To sit on the street
Depress the people he meets
By telling how down he is

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

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 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)

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

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)

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 09: “In/Out”

by on Monday, August 10th, 2009

Here is Song #9 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 09 In/Out

09 Stella guitarThis song is one of my favorites so far – it turned out almost exactly as I heard it in my head. Perhaps not entirely coincidentally, this song is also one of the simplest I’ve done for the project!

I was humming a melody as I made breakfast, and decided to set it to music when I finished eating (that particular melody ended up as the ‘chorus’ portion of the finished song). The song only has four total chords in it, and would be pretty repetitive without the vocal melody – I also felt it was important to keep it under 3 minutes for that same reason.

Once I recorded a simple acoustic guitar part, I sang the lead vocal melody using free-form gibberish rather than lyrics. I’m of the mind that I shouldn’t try to force lyrics – if a story is there, it will come out. If not, I’d rather just sing the emotions of the moment wordlessly, using my voice as a raw instrument rather than a narration vehicle. I think that approach worked particularly well in this case, especially with the three tracks of background harmony vocals I added.

Instruments used:
Acoustic guitar (1940’s Stella)


Song 06: “Everyone Sees You”

by on Friday, August 7th, 2009

Here is Song #6 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 06 Everyone Sees You

06 PC KeyboardOK, this song began as just a little acoustic guitar and vocals jam, and I even recorded it first as just a live single-track song. But, I sat on it for an hour or so and it just didn’t seem right. So, I went back and rerecorded it properly – with a single mic on the guitar and then overdubbed the vocals.

I’m much happier with it this way!

Anyway, this vocal melody has been bouncing around in my head for a couple of weeks and I just hadn’t had time to put anything under it. So, I’m thankful to have finally been able to use it for something. Once I recorded the acoustic guitar part, I wrote out some lyrics and sang the vocals. The song is about someone who is full of shit and knows it; everyone else knows it too but nobody wants to be the jerk to point it out.

I think my next song will be about bunny rabbits and rainbows. Yeah.

Anyway, I rounded out the recording with some handclaps, a tambourine, and some mouth-noises to simulate a kickdrum. The final missing piece was something to fill up the instrumental middle section – I didn’t care to do a guitar or ukulele solo part. So, on a whim I grabbed my old PC’s keyboard, put a mic in front of it, and recorded myself typing the lyrics to the first half of the song. Silly, but kinda fun.

Instruments used:
Acoustic guitar (1940’s Stella)
Tambourine (a tiny wooden thing I bought from a toy bin at a flea market)
Mouth noises
Computer keyboard

Fall on your face
Everyone sees you but no one believes a word that you’ve ever said, my dear
Crash and burn
Your face will betray you and everything that you have done, its guaranteed
Nothing that you say can redeem you to me
Force a smile
Your efforts are wasted on the population of your little world
Forsake all others as you’re told
Your face is red, and mine is also red
Thank you
Cry all night
No one can see you but they can deceive you all day, without a word
Exploding with fury, its so absurd

Song 02: “Coffee Mug”

by on Monday, August 3rd, 2009

Here is Song #2 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 02 Coffee Mug

02 Coffee ThermosEvery weekday, I carry a coffee thermos thing with me to work. I have developed a silly little habit of banging on the thermos as I walk to and from the parking deck; each day I try to make a new rhythm by smacking different parts of the thermos. As I was about to start work on yesterday’s song, I went to the kitchen to make coffee…and I saw the thermos on the counter and was instantly reminded of my weekday habit. I grabbed it, headed into my home studio, and a new song began life with a thermos rhythm as the foundation.

First, I banged around on the thermos until I found a nice simple rhythm I liked. I set a click track at a good speed (my sense of timing kinda stinks when it comes to percussion – just ask my bandmates!) so I could maintain a consistent tempo, and just recorded that rhythm for as long as I could before my hand got sore from hitting the aluminum. That turned out to just be a couple of minutes. Once that was done, I picked up a couple of metal rods (leftovers from some shelves I built a few months ago) and banged on those in a slightly different rhythm.

Now I needed some melody. I picked up my Stella parlor acoustic and luckily an idea came pretty quickly – I think it ended up being in B minor or F minor…I can’t remember right now. Anyway, once I had the two alternating acoustic guitar parts (one strumming, one picking on low strings), I started to hear a higher complimentary melody that might sound good on a ukulele. I fiddled around until I came up with the high ukulele part, and recorded it.

The vocals were kinda an afterthought – I had one more melody in mind, but no lyrics at all…so I just sang gibberish and mixed it to sound as though it was coming through an old AM radio. Also worth noting: any stray rhythmic sounds in the background are likely due to the laundry I had running in the next room…my dryer is kinda loud.

Instruments used:
Baritone ukulele (1950’s, no name)
Metal sticks (from old shelving unit)
Coffee thermos
Acoustic guitar (1940’s Stella parlor)