Wednesday, December 23, 2015

#KateDog Sings!

Every year since 2009, I've recorded a Christmas carol for LibriVox, a community of volunteer audiobook narrators. The first year, I recorded four songs, and each subsequent year, I produced just one every time.


This year's track is a re-imagined "In Dulci Jubilo," with my dog Kate barking out a verse and some bits at the end. I took a solemn, 3/2 hymn and turned it into a swash-buckling 6/8 stomp -- hopefully, at least. The MP3 of the song is in the link above, so click it, or right-click and 'save as' -- whichever you choose. Update, 12/24: I forgot to mention that this was the first Christmas recording using A Little Thunder to record guitar and "bass" simultaneously.

Last year's track (2014) was the "Hallelujah!" chorus, featuring a wire choir and a voice choir. I'm not feeling it this year, to be honest. I should've hurt my vocal chords to reach the soprano range via falsetto, but I didn't. I should have held lots of notes longer, as well. Update, 12/24: I kind of like this recording again, and I might use this recording for a Christmas morning Instagram video or something.

The year before that (2013) was "Joy to the World." I must have been off that year because I can't bear to listen to it. In other words, I'm not feeling it, either. Update, 12/24: The Christmas spirit is turning me around to this pseudo-quasi-jazzy-pop (?) arrangement. I just wish I didn't sound so "pained," vocally.

Three years ago (2012) was "Child in the Manger." I don't know what I was thinking at the time, but I'm not feeling it right now, as well. Update, 12/24: OK, I kind of like this recording again. I kind of remember that I wanted to have that "Hallelujah" -- the 20th century pop song -- vibe.

Four years ago (2011) was "We Three Kings." I may be feeling it, a little, right now. Update, 12/24: I'm feeling it, more and more, as we approach Christmas Day. The feels, man, the feels.

Five years ago (2010) was "O Christmas Tree." I try not to pat myself on the back often, but I have to pat myself on the back for this one. It's my favorite Brian May-influenced wire choir recording I have ever done.

Six years ago (2009) had four songs:

"God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen" had a heavily-Autotuned (Melodyned) vocal and a drum machine pattern. I don't know why I produced it like that one Kanye West album. Update, 12/24: I still find the production amusing. All sounds were made by one processed vocal track, a drum pattern sequence that followed the notes in the melody (a new note in the melody would trigger a different pattern), and some random white noise static.

I was off vocally with "O Holy Night." I still dig the chord progression from an early version of the sheet music, though. Update, 12/24: I still feel that I was quite off vocally. I don't know what I was thinking, pairing a meandering, Thom Yorke-wannabe (but not really), head-voice melody, with a nearly-inaudible octave-lower chest voice melody. I should have just picked a different key than written. The harmony parts during the choruses were all right, I suppose. I can imagine that I was aiming for "epic" in this recording, but I kind of missed the mark. The Christmas spirit is making me like it a little bit, though.

"It Came upon the Midnight Clear" is the only song I recorded for this series that was performed in one take: Vocals and ukulele. I still kind of like this recording. I really want to do another one-take Christmas carol, especially with my current "one man band" setup.

I tried to make "Jingle Bells" some sort of tropical, samba-cool vibe with the original 1800s lyrics. It was good in theory, but in practice ... meh. Update, 12/24: I'm kind of feeling this one now. I might make an Instagram video around "Jingle Bells" for tonight or tomorrow.

It's a little amazing, for me anyway, that I have recorded ten Christmas songs over the years. It's basically an album of stuff -- a hit-or-miss album, but an album nonetheless. Anyway, I try to limit my usage of the phrase "Merry Christmas" until it's actually Christmas Eve (and Christmas Day), but since it is already Christmas Eve for much of the world --


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