Monday, May 31, 2010

Song335_The Spaces Between

Today's song is an instrumental that has two main sections. Each section has its own set of drum rhythms, which I built and arranged first (134bpm). Next, I added bass guitar followed by 2 electric guitars and 2 synth tracks. I worked on this song from 0900 until 1100, then I took a long break. It's Memorial Day, so my wife and I went for a 20-mile bike ride at Legacy Park. I came back to the song around 1820 and finished just before 2000 (about 3.5 hours total).

Tomorrow begins the final month of recording for this project! Every song in June will be free if you're on the Mailing List. Join at


Sunday, May 30, 2010


I wrote today's song on the electric guitar (while recording), and then I added bass guitar, drums, another electric guitar, and 4 synth tracks (in that order). It's Sunday. I worked on this song from 0900 until 1200, took a break for lunch, and completed it around 1330.

Tomorrow's song is the final song of the month. And, next month is the final month of this project. Crazy. All music will be free next month to those on the OTTO mailing list. You can add your name to this list at

On my way to run stairs at the local stadium...


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Song333_Sudden Illumination

I started this instrumental by layering drum sequences (150bpm), and then I added the bass guitar in sections. This was a solid foundation. I decided to add 2 electric guitars before adding any synth tracks. I edited a few versions of this song, but this is the version that was left standing when the music stopped. I started around 1350, but I took a long break for dinner (and I got new running shoes). I completed it around 2320...moments from a new day.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Song332_In The Open

I wasn't able to start today's song until 2000, but I still managed to complete it before midnight. I'm doing some marketing work for an organization that sponsors missionaries in Fiji. We met earlier today, and they needed a few web design features created by tomorrow (for an upcoming event on the island). I am doing a family portrait tomorrow (and recording), so I devoted a good chunk today to this project, which went very well.

Anyway, I started this song by finding some rhythms and chords on the electric guitar. The progression that I found was in 3/4 time, so I recorded it and started searching for percussion, but I wasn't happy with how the tempo, strumming pattern, and drums were combining. The initial tracks are critical (like the foundation is to a house), so I started over. This used up some time, but it was worth it in the long run. I switched to 4/4 timing, changed the tempo (from 80bpm to 100bpm), and got it down in a few takes. Next, I added drums and then bass guitar. The next guitar that I added is featured in the 'Chorus' sections only, and it's a series of octave notes that create a contrasting melody with the other guitars. Next, I added an e-bow part (i.e. "electric bow"), a picking guitar, a string section, and a female synth choir (featured in the 'Bridge' section only). This layout and tune of this song would've worked well with vocals, but I ran out of time. I still like it as an instrumental.


Thursday, May 27, 2010


The music for this song was written in about 3 hours. I started by layering some drum rhythms, and then I created the foundational electric guitar part (that opens the song). Next, I added bass guitar, 2 additional electric guitars, and 2 synth tracks. I took a 2-3 hour break so I could get other work done. When I came back I edited, mixed, and then wrote and recorded the vocals. Before writing the lyrics I sang a variety of melodies into a digital voice-recorder (while the song played in the background). This gave me an idea of how many words I needed. The lyrics were written while eating chicken and peas, and a few of the parts I only sang 1-2 times. I completed the final mix around 1800, so I probably spent around 4.5 hours writing and recording today's (12-track) song.

LYRICS: "Where the wind blows, and things grow in silence. Cut it down low. Kill the tree to save the house. Stranded on the edge of time. Base camp is set, traps are baited, we're transmitting worldwide. As wars go on, nothing is won."


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Song330_Late Inning Rally

Today's song begins a new album, Week48_Worldwide. I wrote this one on the electric guitar, using a clean/gritty hybrid pre-set (so there's clarity and strength in the notes). Once I decided on a tempo (100bpm) and a chord progression I quickly put some 'scratch' drums in place to assist with the timing of the bass guitar. The initial guitar part inspired a bass line, so I recorded that track before finalizing any drum rhythms (which is somewhat backwards). Next, I added: drums, tambourine, and 2 additional electric guitars. I really like the way the 3 guitars harmonize, so I decided not to add anything else (such as synth/keys) that could potentially mask this feature. At this point I went ahead and edited and mixed the song, took a long break for dinner, and returned around 2130 to create lyrics and melodies. I completed this one in the final hour...2335.

LYRICS: "You were never one for superstitions. You had never thought to save your soul. Here they go again around the bases. Here we go again with the same old same old. Late inning rally uprise under lights. See how the champs were taken by surprise. Don't be mistaken. We can't just take this. Fight till you win it. There's too much on the line."


Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Today's song completes another week of recording. The newest album, Week47_Giant Blind Spots, will be available for sale later today at

Today's song is an 8-track instrumental that consists of: drums, percussive tics, bass guitar, an electric guitar strumming chords (First section=Bm-C-G-D, Second section=Em-C-G-D), 3 electric guitars picking solo notes, and one synth part that appears in the center section only. I wrote the chord progression in 10-minutes, recorded the initial guitar in one take, and the rest fell into place within 2 hours. This is good because I still have to create the album cover, update the website, create the weekly email/links, prepare for tomorrow's song (which begins a new album), eat lunch, mow the yard, run, work on a web design project, buy a new drawing pen, feed the rabbits, etc.

Only 5 weeks remaining!


Monday, May 24, 2010


The initial guitar track for this song was captured in one take from start to finish (without much preparation). A few of these changes were written during the recording process...fortunately I remembered to repeat them later in the song. Next, I added bass guitar and then drums. I layered 4 additional guitar tracks and then I edited, mixed, and mastered. I started this song around 1000 and it was completed by 1300.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Song327_Stuck in Motion

Today's song is a 7-track instrumental....drums, bass guitar, and 5 tracks of electric guitar. One of the guitars is being played with an e-bow (i.e. "electronic bow"), which provides some extra volume, intensity, and cohesiveness. I started writing this song around 0900, and I had it completed by 1217. It's Sunday, sunny, and I'm going for a long trail run.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Song326_Feels Like Stereo

Today's song, another instrumental, is a linear progression in the key of 'C.' There are about 18-tracks total, but they were layered and edited to purposefully create different moods, levels of intensity, textures, volumes, etc. I tried to keep it interesting, since there's not much change in the chord progression.

It's Saturday, and it's nice to have the song completed at a reasonable hour (it's 1320). Carly and I are going for a long bike ride.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Song325_Chain Reactions

Today's song is actually two different instrumentals (in the same key) pieced together within the same recording session. There are about 12-tracks per song for a total of about 22-24 tracks. Only 2 of these tracks appear in both songs. I wrote the initial parts using synth and electronic drums, and then I added the synth bass. There are 4 electric guitars and a host of other synth sounds and noises. The main challenge today was mixing two separate songs while trying to maintain a consistent E.Q./level throughout.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Song324_Scratching the Surface

Today's song, another instrumental, in an 8-track recording that I wrote in about 4 hours. I started by playing the initial electric guitar progression with a 'click' track (128bpm), and then I recorded the bass guitar. Next, I added drums, e-bow guitar, and a few synth tracks.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Song323_Giant Blind Spots

Wow...I finished this song with only 2-minutes to spare (uploaded and emailed it at 2358)! I don't like working that close to a deadline, but I had a busy day at work...then I ran far, ate late, fell asleep for an hour, and didn't get started on today's song until 2150.

Today's song begins a new album, Week47_Giant Blind Spots.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Song322_Atoms in Harmony

Today's song completes another week of recording. The newest album, Week46_Atoms in Harmony, will be available later tonight at

The artwork for this week's album design is a freehand ink-drawing that I did a few nights ago. I didn't have a plan...just started making a ball of circles on a blank sheet of paper, and 2 hours later the entire page was inked. I scanned this drawing and added color in Photoshop.

I realized (before staring today's song) that I like the music that I wrote this week more than I like the lyrics/vocals, so I decided to create another instrumental today. This album has been heavy with guitars, and I enjoy building songs with this instrument.

Monday, May 17, 2010


I was able to write and record today's song, an 8-track instrumental, in 2 hours. I got a late start, so I took a simple approach to writing this that worked even better than expected. I started by selecting, editing, and altering 3 different drum sequences. Next, I recorded the bass guitar, which provided a solid foundation for layering guitars. There are 4 separate electric guitar tracks...each with a different pre-set. I like the combination of sounds, notes, textures, I decided not to add any synth tracks.

Even though this song came together quickly, I had some trouble with the final Mastering process (which took an additional 1.5 hours). I made slight adjustments to frequency levels and overall levels multiple times, but I was having trouble getting the overall levels raised without over-emphasizing certain frequencies. The compression plug-ins were doing their job too well, and the clarity was compromised from trying to get a strong overall volume. I think I found a balance. I want each song to be loud, yet 'clipping' (i.e. too much signal which causes an unwanted 'digital distortion') is unacceptable. Also, I try to have variance in the volume. If the entire song is loud then it reduces the dramatic effect of the purposeful 'ups-and-downs.' I like that music is artistic AND scientific. I like that I still have room to grow in both areas.

Tomorrow's song will complete the next album, Week46_Atoms in Harmony. I spent a few hours last night drawing this week's album design, and I should have everything posted by mid-afternoon tomorrow (Tuesday).


Sunday, May 16, 2010


Today's song is similar to yesterday's. It has a dark, low-fidelity sound, but it also has abrupt changes in the progressions as well as the overall mood. I started this session with a series of drum sequences, and then I added the main electric guitar that plays throughout the song. I like the gritty/clean sound of the main guitar. Next, I added bass guitar and 2 additional electric guitars. There are also 4-5 synth tracks and 4 vocal tracks. Today's song took about 5 hours to write and record.

LYRICS: "Brace for the troubles on the rise. Brace for the waters rollin' in high. Brace for the weather, the winds, the fire. Brace for the worst, earth is on the decline. Brace for the impact of your new metal outfit. Brace for the whiplash as reality shakes it. My pants are full of ants. It's time to get things started. But, you're all I want, and you're all I need."

PS: Kroger is having a 7-day "Meat Mania" sale. I guess that's better than an "Expired Meat Give-Away," but it made me laugh when I thought of the graphic artist having to find clip-art to coincide with the 12ft meat-themed banner.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Song319_Future Human

Today's song is a little odd...low-fi, somewhat dissonant, often abrupt, slightly sloppy (in a precise way), and full of interesting nonsense. I started this recording session by layering a series of drum sequences (130bpm), and then I wrote/recorded 3 electric guitar tracks...followed by the bass guitar. There is only one synth track in today's song, and it only appears at the end of the song. I was able to complete the music for this song (8-tracks) in under 3 hours. I spent an additional hour writing lyrics and recording the vocals.

LYRICS: "Here comes the final invasion. Don't show fear to their faces. Ride through the enemy-soaked lines. Howl at the gods past the bloody skies. Here comes the real-life 'Death Star,' (and) The Maker's son to save the whole world. The need grows for robot appendages, and bullet-proof men with invisible outfits. No need to talk things over. Bullets carry out their orders. Break through the enemy-soaked lines. Howl at the gods past the bloody skies. Send in the New World Order. One throne, and no more borders. Lend all your helping hands. Live for the future human. There's not just one, there's everyone. One-in-a-million, just like you."


Friday, May 14, 2010

Song318_A Blind Eye

The chord structuring of today's song was created on the electric guitar...4 individual sections that only appear once each. Next, I created a series of drum sequences (118bpm), and then I added bass guitar. I also added 3 additional guitars and 2 vocal tracks, but there are no keys in today's song. This (10-track) song took about 4 hours to write, record, and mix.

LYRICS: "You started running from your problems, and ended right back where you started. Though everyone else saw it coming, what we don't know is sure to hurt us."


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Song317_Seconds Like Hours

I started today's song by layering 4-5 guitar progressions (100bpm), and then I added drums and bass (in that order). This song has two main sections, 12-14 tracks, and it took about 4.5 hours to write and record.

LYRICS: "You're lashing out. You unfed, rabid animal. Your blood runs hot. Bad genes, standard issue. Take your time before it takes you. You try to talk like a foreign action hero. You'd have better luck pretending to star in a cartoon. Take your time before it takes you. Place your hand on the open flame, and watch seconds become hours. Hold your questions until the very end...when there's no time for answers."

PS: There was a full-grown fox in our front yard this morning...impressive creature.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Song316_The Things We've Lost

I got some great news earlier first sales report for songs (from this project) played on satellite radio stations last month. They told me they have only gone through a portion of the (250+) songs that I sent them, but I had about 15 songs play on stations across the nation (a total of just under 200 plays in about 3 weeks). About 30 of those plays were from subscribers in the Dallas area...some are businesses, which means there's a chance for me to hear my music while at a restaurant or while walking through the mall. That would be interesting.

Today's song was written and recorded with long-time friend, Adam Smith ( We started by creating drum sequences in 3 main sections, then we took turns adding guitar parts until there was a foundation of chord progressions throughout the song. Next, I added bass guitar. We each added a few more guitar parts, then Adam wrote/sang the only vocals in today's song. We started this song around 1330, Adam left around 1730, and I had it completed by 2100. I took a break for dinner, so this (28-track) song took around 6.5 hours to write and record.

By the way, today's song begins a new album, Week46_Atoms in Harmony. Last week's album, Week45_Magnification, is now available at


Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Today's song, Song315_Congratulations, completes another album (Week45_Magnification). The newest album will be available later today ($5) at

I just completed the artwork for this week's album. I decided last week that I'd do some form of freehand artwork for the remaining (8) albums, but I didn't have any specific ideas at that time. This idea came to me a few days ago. In effort to create a relationship between the artwork and this week's title (Magnification), I decided to do an ink drawing of a detailed (yet fictional) bug. The drawing below took about 1-2 erasers, no drawing or photo to mimick, and no "do-overs." I had borrowed a magnifying glass from Carly's parent's, so I set it up about 4-8 inches above the drawing and took a series of photos...experimenting with the depth-of-focus and the framing of the drawing within the enlarged area. It was fun, and I like the results.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Song314_Above the Lights

Today's song, another instrumental, was written primarily on the electric guitar. After adding a few foundational guitar tracks I added 3 separate drum sequences, bass guitar, and one synth sequence (which plays in the background throughout the song).

Tomorrow's song will be the final song on the upcoming album, Week45_Magnification. I've decided to create the remaining (8) album covers using some form of freehand artwork. This week's drawing is still in the early stages, but I'll have it ready before tomorrow evening.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Song313_The Plan

Today's song is an instrumental. I didn't start writing this song until 2030, but I had it completed by 2300 (around 2.5 hrs total). I like how it turned out. I'm not sure that I would've done anything else to this song even if there had been more time to work on it.


Saturday, May 8, 2010


Today's song evolved in an unusual way. I wrote the foundational part on the electric guitar (with a 'click' set to 90bpm). Next, I added 4 additional electric guitars before recording the drums and bass. I also added cymbals, tambourine, and 4-5 synths. I worked on this song in 2-3 sittings, but it took a combined time of about 4 hours to write and record.


Friday, May 7, 2010

Song311_For Forever

I woke up at 0500 today, ate breakfast, played Super Mario Bros until 0630 (on my original Nintendo set), mowed and weedeated commercial properties in Ft. Worth until 1230, slept for 2 hours, and then started writing today's song. I created the foundation by strumming chord progressions on the electric guitar (set to a 'click' at 134bpm). Next, I recorded the second electric guitar which is slightly more distorted. For this part I played the same chords but lower on the neck of the guitar...and sometimes in 'open' or altered formations. Then, I recorded the bass guitar. I liked the rough and gritty sound of these 3 instruments without any drums, keys, vocals, etc. I kept a few sections of the songs without any drums, but I thought about these 3 tracks being the only instruments in the entire song. I wrote and recorded the vocals before adding any keys. I did this by experimenting with melodies while the record button was enabled. From there, I wrote a few lyrics and gave each part a few tries (by now it was after 2200). Carly, my wife, sings in the 'chorus' sections. I added 3-4 synth tracks to add texture and contrast to each of the sections.

I completed today's song at 2348.

LYRICS: "I know that the future is just seconds away, but you're that habit I just can't break. Come on, be mine. From the depths, hold on. For forever."


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Song310_You Keep My Heart

I woke up today at 0530, shoveled and spread mulch (at a 2.5 million-dollar home in Vaquero) from 0730 until 1300, slept for an hour, and then I started writing today's song. I took a similar approach to yesterday's song...sat with the acoustic for 20-30 minutes constructing chord progressions and melodies before doing any recording. This song has about 24 tracks (written, recorded and mixed in about 6.5hrs)...including 2 of my wife singing on the 'Chorus' sections. Once again, I didn't have my vocals completed until late in the day (around 2230), so she only had 30-minutes to learn and sing her part. Once she had a few takes that we liked (after only 5-6 tries) I got busy editing and mixing. I was able to mix the entire song in about 30-minutes...completing it around 2350! I'm up at 0500 tomorrow...better sleep fast.

LYRICS: "Don't miss it this time. Keep your eyes open wide. It's moving fast...always changing. Let's keep up this time around. You keep my heart on its toes."


Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Today's song begins a new album, Week45_Magnification. This week's album will have singing on every song (unlike last week...all instrumentals).

I started the day by changing the strings on my acoustic guitar, and then I spent about 20-minutes trying out different chord progressions, rhythms, and tempos. I had a general sound in mind for today's song, so I had a good idea of what instruments I wanted to use, but the chord progression was the missing link. Once I found a few things that I liked, I actually spent 15-20 minutes writing some lyrics. This approach is uncommon for me in this project. For about 80% of the songs I start by turning on the computer, and I write as I record. It works both ways, but I felt like I had solid direction before beginning this song, which helps in certain ways. This song contains: drums, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, distorted electric guitar, keys, slide guitar, electric guitar picking solo notes, and vocals...recorded in that order. Additionally, there are 4 tracks of vocals (18-20 total tracks in this song). Carly, my wife, sang on today's song. She had never done any formal recording until a few hundred songs ago, but we'll be experimenting with her voice all week...should be fun. Today was a challenge because she got home at 2000, I completed my vocals at 2010, and I had to leave at 2030. She sang her part about 6 times, and I kept the best 2 (for a natural stereo effect). I got home around 2245, and I completed the song at 2344. Close one. There are a few other things that I would've liked to do to this song, but I ran out of time.

LYRICS: "Who would've thought, it's not the act it's about the heart. The weakest opponent could win. The enemy hides out within. I've been waiting my whole life for someone like you. Now it's not mine, it's our life...since we said 'we do.' All the time...all the while. It's more of a feeling than a storybook formula. Two lovers falling fast in love, for sure."


Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Today's song (Song308_Chosen) completes another week of recording. The newest album, Week44_Future Eras, will be available in a few hours at

I wrote today's song by layering a series of drum sequences, and then I recorded the bass guitar (first section=A-C-E, second section=A-G-F#m-F). Next, I added a few electric distorted, one using an e-bow, and one picking solo notes. Finally, I added 6-8 synth tracks.

Thanks, Carly, for designing this week's album cover!


Monday, May 3, 2010


Today's song is another instrumental, but I started this song in reverse order. First, I created the drum sequences, and then I wrote the bass guitar progressions (in the key of 'C' @ 80bpm). There are two other guitars in this clean picking electric, and one electric e-bow (with delay). It's the 6-8 tracks of synth that give this song depth and texture. This song is 14-16 tracks and it took about 3.5 hours to write, record, and mix.

Tomorrow's song will complete another album, Week44_Future Eras.


Sunday, May 2, 2010


Today's song is another instrumental that I wrote (primarily) on the electric guitar. I structured a few chord progressions (first section=D-G-D, second section=A-C-E-A, center section=C-A...C-D-A), and then I layered a variety of rhythms. Next, I added bass guitar followed by 5-6 synth tracks. I like the mood and progression of this song.

I didn't get much sleep last week, so I slept today until 1300...been a while since I've done that. I wrote this song in two separate sittings...1430-1630, and 1830-2030...about 4 hours total.


Saturday, May 1, 2010


Today's song was recorded in a unique and uncommon way (for me). I did not use a 'click' track (i.e. metronome) to record or edit this instrumental. (There's a synth sequence that has rhythm. It didn't line up with the click, but it was helpful to cue off this instrument.) Back when I recorded music using a 4-track cassette-tape machine this was standard. In fact, I had never used a 'click' track until I entered digital/computer-based recording. Of course, it has been a standard process since then, and it has it's benefits...particularly for an overdubbing, solo-recording-artist like me. Another thing that made today's recording process unique was the number of instruments that I was able to track in only one take (4 out of 7). So, I was able to write and record this instrumental in under 2 hours...including mixing and mastering. (For this project, it has typically taken 5-7 hours to write, record, and mix one song).

Earlier today I rode the North Shore trails at GV Lake (12 miles in 1:56:35). It's been a long week, so I'm going to celebrate the early completion of this song by taking a nap before the fight starts (Mayweather vs. Mosley).