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Riley Shaper Music 220C Project

Week 1 Deciding on a project

For my project in this class, I want to make three pieces exploring three different styles of music to help find the kind of music I want to make. I want to start by collecting sounds, songs, and inspirations for each piece to be more intention about the sound and style, and then write and create a song.

In addition, I’m hoping to become more proficient using my DAW and recording live.

Week 2 Planning and writing

I was hoping to begin recording this week, but ran into trouble when the battery of my guitar died. I spent this week focusing on finding inspiration from other musicians and beginning writing. For my first composition, I'm centering my acoustic guitar. I'm definitely an amateur guitar player, so the guitar line will be relatively simple. Some of the pieces I'm looking to for inspiration are Big Country by Bela Fleck, End of the Road by Umphrey's McGee, Holland by Sufjan Stevens and a few songs by Freelance Whales.

Week 3 Reorient with ableton, get guitar and recording equipment ready, and writing

I found a new battery for my guitar, and was able to record a sloppy first take at what I wrote last week. Melodically the entire song is now written and a first take has been recorded. Now that I have some of the guitar lines laid out, I am starting to think about structure and what other elements I want to bring in. I'm also working on practicing, because getting clean takes will be challenging. Over the next few days, I'm hoping to get some cleaner takes and start focusing on flow, the production, and other elements.

Week 4 This week I finished my rough version of the first track. Something new I tried was playing guitar with a paintbrush to get a softer, more shimmery sound. I think it worked well, especially when layered over several other guitar tracks. I'm happy with the sound and space created in the track, which was the ultimate goal of my project, but I think overall its a bit repetitive melodically. I also think that with more time, I would like to restructure it a bit more. I also would focus on the synth more, and add in either an intro or outro that primarily features that sound. That said, I'm really happy with what I made! I am still searching for a name for the track. I got some interesting feedback from a friend: I live behind a beautiful hill with tall grasses that are always blowing in the wind, and the squirrels and rabbits are always running by. I played the track for a friend in my room, where I wrote and recorded, and he said it sounds like what it feels like to sit in my room and look out at the hill. I might try to change locations for the next track and see if that change effects the next song.

Week 5 This week I integrated some dynamic changes and some changes to the synth onto track 1. I decided to leave it where it is for now, although I may revisit it later. I also started gathering my thoughts for the next one, and hope to start writing and maybe recording over the weekend.

Week 6 This week, I started working on track 2. I watched some videos breaking down the production of the band Beach House, and spent some time trying to break down the elements I like from The 1975, Cocteau Twins, and TEMPOREX to try and get a synth-y, dream-pop sound. Some of the things I'm hoping to emulate are the busy baselines The 1975 use with simple chord progressions on top, the dreamy duel electric guitar melodies Beach House frequently makes the star of their songs, and the use of arps to round out the space. I want the track to feel very textured, full, and a bit washed out.

Week 7 Over the weekend I was able to record the electric guitar lines. After that piece came in, I had a much better sense of the flow I wanted the piece to have, so I was able to block out most of the song as well. I plan to finish the track this week, and begin my last one next week.

Week 8 I continued working on the second track this week, but I didn't make much progress. I decided to take a break from it and possibly revisit it later, and to start looking at the third track. I have never tried to make hyperpop music before, but I think I am going to try. I spent a lot of this week listening to hyperpop and watching videos breaking down how to produce hyperpop music. I also looked for samples to include, and I think I will likely use samples from the children's show Avatar the Last Airbender, specifically the song "Secret Tunnel."

Week 9 I spend the first half of this week working on making a hyperpop song, but did not have much success. I think this was due to a combination of the style being technically challenging, and because many of the videos I found that break down how to produce a hyperpop song didn't actually help make the exact sound I was going for. I decided to leave the hyperpop song as a summer project, and to spend the rest of this week finishing up the first two tracks.

Week 10 I finished up my first two tracks this week. The link below goes to a google drive with my music. [1]