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New Single “This Old Friend” by Chris McIntyre

Hello Friends,

I’m happy to announce the release of my new single titled, “This Old Friend.” It is the first single in a series of monthly releases I’m planning to do. The song is an upbeat tune with a bluesy feel featuring slide guitar. The inspiration behind the song came from thinking about how music has been a big part of my life for so long. I started playing guitar around age nine, and music has been a part of my life since then. I’ve always found that picking up the guitar and playing, or creating something in the studio can make time evaporate and take my mind off whatever might be troubling me at any given time. Through good times and hard times, music is a constant companion that is always there. Though it may sound cliche, like many other musicians, I often have an easier time expressing thoughts and emotions through music than any other means. Life is a lot like music, at times we simply make it up as we go along, improvising our way through the years. The great thing about music is that most people can continue to make it until late in their lives. For me, I hope that is the case, and I hope I have many more stories to write about in song. While making a living and supporting a family as a musician can be a challenge at times, I am thankful that so far in my life I have been able to continue to pursue this career and pass music on to others via my performances, recordings, and through teaching others. This track is currently for sale on CDbaby, and will soon be available at all major digital outlets such as iTunes. If you like it, head on over to CD baby purchase it for 99 cents and help me keep passing on the joy of music to others!  Or if you prefer iTunes, it will be posted there soon. I’m also making the track available on my Youtube channel and my Soundcloud account, for those who may wish to stream it. I had a lot of fun creating and recording this song and I hope you enjoy it. I’d like thank Steve O’Dell for playing a great bass track on this tune!

Update: Now available on iTunes here!

Credits:

Vocals, Guitars, drums, keys – Chris McIntyre

Bass – Steve O’Dell

Engineered, mixed and mastered by Chris McIntyre.

Creating The Song “Finding A Way Not To Hurt”

Here at the studio I often get a lot of singer songwriter types who play an instrument and sing. These clients often ask me about the process involved in creating an arrangement and recording of their song. I thought why not make a post about the process involved in a recent recording made by a local artist,Trinity Potratz, here at the studio. Trinity is a songwriter who sings and plays acoustic guitar, and writes his own chord progressions, melodies and lyrics for his songs. The song he recently recorded here is titled “Finding A Way Not To Hurt.,” and will be the subject of this post.

Sometimes clients choose to make a simple voice and say guitar recording, with both parts recorded simultaneously as in a live off the floor recording, or sometimes they choose to overdub the parts if we choose to have more isolation between the guitar and vocal tracks. For “Finding A Way Not To Hurt,” Trinity came in and first laid down an acoustic guitar track to a click track to outline the basic arrangement of the song. We actually tracked guitar parts for a few songs that day since the mics were set up and ready to go. Then we had him lay a quick sketch vocal so he could take this basic recording home to practice some melody ideas. A few days later he came back and laid down a solidified vocal track.

For this tune, Trin asked me to fill out the arrangement with other instruments. Some clients choose to be part of this process. For example for a couple of Trin’s pervious tracks, he helped me create some drum and bass guitar tracks. Other clients may choose to bring in other musicians to create other parts. But for “Finding A Way Not To Hurt,” since Trin and I had worked together before on previous tunes, he trusted my judgment, and had me fill out the arrangement on my own. He didn’t give me whole lot of direction, just that he wanted drums, bass and some electric guitar, which is a pretty typical instrumentation you might find in a country act.  I had a pretty good feel for the kind of parts he liked so I went to work!

First I created a custom basic drum track in MIDI using a virtual kit. This is pretty critical as it really establishes what the groove of the song will be. I came up with a basic groove for the verse and chorus. As this was a ballad, it didn’t need to be too busy. Once the basic grooves were outlined, I added a few fills at transitional sections of the song, which is pretty typical. I started with the drums first because the kick drum pattern often establishes the groove for what the bass will play in country music.

Next I added a simple bass part that fit the drums and his previous guitar and voice recording using a Fender Precision special bass. Again since this was a ballad, the part was pretty simple, not too busy.

Next up were guitar tracks to be overdubbed. I started with some simple padding parts, basically outlining the progressions already established with a clean tone. Once that was done, I wanted to add a bit more of a country feel to the tune, so I added some steel guitar like licks using my trusty Strat with a slide. I used a slightly different tuning to accomplish this, but it sounded good so I went for it. It was really more padding, with a few fills sprinkled in for variety. Once the “steel” parts were tracked, I went back and decided to add an opening motive with the electric guitar to kick the tune off since the vocal didn’t come straight in. The motive is repeated a few times throughout the song, and helps establish that there is a lead guitar for the solo later. Next I tracked the solo. So all in all there was an electric rhythm, electric steel, and electric lead track. These were all done with a Fender Strat and a Vox AC30 through a Celestion greenback.

The tune was starting to come along nicely, but I decided I’d try a few other little things to spice up the arrangement. I added a bit of piano, playing similar chords to the acoustic, with a few nice suspended chords for a bit of flavour. I really liked the piano during the breakdown and the end of the song to bring things to a close. I also added a basic organ part doing some more padding to fill out the track. I love the modulation of a leslie cabinet spinning to give the mix a bit of motion. I used virtual instruments for these.

Finally, Trin asked me if I could add some background vocals to the track. Basically I added an upper and a lower harmony around his melody, with each part double tracked for some nice stereo width.

It’s common in ballads for a tambourine to be used on the same beat as the snare, often soaked in a good bit of reverb, so as a final touch I grabbed the tambourine and played that in.

Having done all this, Trin previewed the tracks for final approval . He could have chose to use or not use any of the parts I created. Sometimes less parts are better, but in this case he chose to keep them all! Once the parts were approved, I went on to editing, and then the final mix. Often I will edit and mix with the client present so they can see the process, and contribute, particularly to the mix. But in this case, Trin was quite busy at the time and just asked me to mix it. Once the mix was completed, he came by the studio for a preview in case we wanted to make any final tweaks to the mix. I could create a whole separate post on how the mix was created, but I digress. He was happy with the mix, so from there I did a little sweetening with some mastering processing, and then delivered the tracks electronically. Mastering is usually done in the context of an album, but for these one off projects, I like to add a little bit of polish, which can be removed and redone later in the context of an album master.

There are many ways to go about making a recording, and there are many variables involved in choosing how to proceed. In this case, Trin didn’t have a band ready to just play the tune live off the floor, so we chose to build it in overdubs. Ultimately it comes down to how one prefers to work, the tools available to them, budget etc. This workflow has worked pretty well for a number of my singer songwriter type clients, but I’m always open to new ideas and methods! So for anyone curious about the process here at my studio, this is one way we can work together. Now enjoy Trin’s tune, “Finding A Way Not To Hurt!”

Music cues from the short film “Leaving Sid”

Often when composers work on short films, the music created gets shared during screenings and while the film is on the festival circuit, but then is never shared again if the film is not widely distributed or made available online. With permission from the directors of films I work on, I always try to upload the music to my soundlcoud as examples for other directors to listen to when considering me for the role of composer on their films. Of course video is even better to really show how the cues fit the picture, but the actual films are not always available online. Here are a few cues from the short film “Leaving Sid”, directed by Monty Simo. Most of the scores I work on rarely feature guitar, so it was cool that Monty was open to the idea of using it in his film. For this film we played with the idea of acoustic vs electric guitar representing a couple different locations/characters. It was nice to be able to feature the guitar as the instrument is one of my strengths, plus I enjoy recording real instruments along with the the virtual instruments that get used in many scores today. Enjoy!

Chris McIntyre accepting guitar students for September 2016-June 2017

Greetings! As the last couple weeks of August are upon us, many are starting to consider extra curricular activities for their kids for the upcoming school year. Or perhaps some of you who have long past grade school are looking for a rewarding new indoor hobby to keep you busy during the cold winter months. I’m happy to announce I will again be accepting students of all ages and skill levels for the upcoming school season. I will be primarily focusing on recruiting students into regular weekly time slots. I’ve updated the teaching page on this site with an online enrolment form which includes all the rates and details pertaining to signing up for lessons with me. Students will use this enrolment form to sign up for lessons. Now perhaps you are an adult learner with a busy schedule and can’t always commit to a regular time slot, but maybe you have a time earlier in the day weekdays that can occasionally work. I will also accept a few casual students providing they are not booked into the prime time in demand slots that could be filled with regular weekly students. 

I will also accept students who are interested in learning about music technology, engineering and recording. All music lessons happen in my home studio which is conveniently set up as a recording studio. It is possible for those students interested in the production side of things to learn how to create their own music.

I look forward to seeing some returning faces and some new faces as well! If you wish to discuss lessons prior to filling out the online form, feel free to contact me and I can answer any questions you may have. See you in the fall!

Chris.

 

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