Wednesday, April 15, 2009

When Life Hands You a Lemon ... Om ....

I have a cold.

Yeah, yeah, no big deal. I used to go ages without catching one, but nowadays, I seem to enjoy at least one every year. 'T'is the job of grandchildren, to bring home the bugs with which to lay grampa low ...

For those of you who have never had such an affliction, fie upon you and your progeny unto the seventh generation.

Western medicine offers this remedy: If you go to the doctor and take the antihistamines and decongestants and ibuprofen she offers, along with plenty of clear liquids and lots of rest, you probably will recover within seven to ten days. If you don't do these things, why, in that case it will take you at least a week, week-and-a-half, to get well.

Symptoms they can treat, the cause, not so much. Read: Not at all.

Those of you who have endured the minor, but annoying, misery of viral upper respiratory infection know the symptoms of the malady and there is no need to minutely detail them here: runny-this, stopped-up that, fever, body aches, and a voice that has gone from my usual sturdy baritone/tenor to basso profondo. I can sing Leonard Cohen's Tower of Song, but pretty much anything beyond a four-note range, my voice cracks like a choir full of twelve-year-old boys trying to sing The Star Spangled Banner. Reach higher than that, the vox vanishes entirely. No Frankie Valli skying into falsetto today.

No, today, I could om with the Tibetan monks and make them sound like sopranos.

Understand, this doesn't put me into the same category as my sometime-collaborator Michael, who had almost completely lost his ability to speak coherently as part of his Parkinson's Disease. He's better, by the by; they discovered that they can improve his voice by injecting collagen directly into his vocal cords.

Think about how pleasant that must feel.

Now and again, I plug in the Samson mike, light up GarageBand, and record myself singing and playing. It really helps your practice when you can hear and see how you sound and look. Most of the time, this is a single-track, i.e., I sing/play and it goes into the program together. The nature of recording today no longer requires such a wholistic process. If the band isn't getting along, they can go into the studio one at a time -- or can get off-the-shelf software like Pro Tools, and hardware, build their own studios in the spare bedroom, record, then email the tracks in, where an engineer can mix them.

They never have to see each other. This is how much of the last couple of Beatle albums were recorded. Sad.

This seems vaguely obscene to me, and no matter how cleanly it is done, has to lose a certain je ne sais qua that a band playing together and having fun will create.

There are good reasons for multi-tracking with the whole gang together in the studio or live on stage, not the least of which is the ability to balance the instruments, so the fiddle doesn't overwhelm the guitar, or the drummer drown everybody out; each track's volume and tone can be dialed up or down, to balance things. Still not the same as a totally-organic live performance, but at least all the guys are doing their thing in the same room at the same time.

Because my voice today is a croak, singing into a mike won't be something I want recorded for posterity. I might, however, be able to lay down some guitar tracks, and later, when Mr. Vox returns to his normal state, which is serviceable, if not inspiring, add another track. And it would be a good skill to have,

Of course, I don't feel like practicing the guitar. Maybe I'll go sit in the hot tub and then go back to bed.

Or, maybe, I'll just record that om I was talking about. Yeah. Here you go ...


video

4 comments:

Bobbe Edmonds said...

Okay, I've lost my appetite for about a month...

Steve Perry said...

Good. Wouldn't hurt you to lose a few pounds ...

Chavo said...

One mic, one track. It's not the only way, but it's a good one!

Dojo Rat said...

Perhaps if you weren't sitting in damp caves meditating and chanting, you wouldn't catch colds!