Sunday, January 11, 2009 (1:12PM)

For about a year I have had it in my heart to write this song. But
all I had was the idea of a song about The Eyes Of A Child that would
begin with the external beauty of a child's eyes, then survey the
beauty seen from within such eyes, then lament the loss of such
vision, and conclude with a prayer for sight restored. I had no
music or even lyrics. On the morning of November 16 I awoke from a
dream hearing a few notes and soon knew it was the seed of this song.
A couple nights later I recorded the inspiration memo. It is a 
glimpse into not only the chaos of creating a new song but also the 
overwhelming emotions that often accompany the process. 

Lyrics:

            no beauty has a man ever seen
            as the eyes of a child
            so wonderfully perfect and clean
            are the eyes of a child
            reminding me of places I've been
            with you as my king
            wondering if I'll see again
            thru the eyes of a child

            everyone i see looks like you
            through the eyes of a child
            every living moment brand new
            for the eyes of a child
            see every color poignant and true
            with light shining through
            and in everything I see you
            through the eyes of a child

            the bruises & sorrows of life 
                leave their mark on my mind
            much that I regarded as growth & time 
                left me weary & blind

            of all the things that I've left behind
            the eyes of a child
            is the thing I most want to find
            for the eyes of a child
            still reflect your highest design
            lord make them mine
            if it costs my last dime
            to receive a gift so divine
            as the eyes of a child



+   Lay down a scratch track. 
    
    *   Setup. 
        -   I want to play the 414 and sing and capture the song's
            feel with as little hindrance as possible. Thus, no 
            metronome. I will try generating the tempo map later. 
        -   Sing through Beta 87->Aphex 207D->S/PDIF input. Use the
            audio output to monitor with compression and reverb.
        -   Play the 414-CE-L3 through the GSP1101 with patch
            "414_300ms.gsp1101p" (a 300-ms delay). This patch uses
            the DBX266XL in the effects loop. Then route through mixer
            out balanced output to the Delta1010LT input 1. 
        -   I spend too much time setting up a project from the 
            Normal template. Set this up and save a copy as a template.
            Name it "WillSongs Guitar and Vocal Startup". Store it
            with other templates in 
                ...\My Documents\Cakewalk\SONAR 7 Producer Edition
                \Sample Content
            This way it shows up in the template list when creating
            a new project. 

    *   I goofed the end of the bridge and just restarted the
        last verse. Easy: split both vocal and guitar clips at the
        edit point, then choose edit|cut, and tell it to delete
        the gap. Then overlap the clips with automatic crossfading.
        Perfect...for a scratch track. 

    *   I still do not have bars or tempo defined. Research. 
        -   Try the AudioSnap approach. Nope, it says the required
            tempo is outside the allowable range (must be a really
            big number), and adjusting the sensitivity and 
            threshold controls do not help. I don't think the guitar
            part has the transient quality needed for this.
        -   I just noticed that three bars into the song I deleted
            a half a beat! I expect there are numerous goofs
            like this in the song. Do I want to edit them all? No.
            And, the second performance of the tag did something
            similar (but not the same)! 

    *   Phooey! Use the metronome! The tempo is 100 BPM. 

    *   Go back and lay a take for each track without playing the
        other. Punch in the guitar for the bridge. Done. 
        -   Render the_eyes_of_a_child_scratch_a.mp3

                                    Sunday, January 25, 2009 (7:27PM)
    *   I am increasingly feeling that this song needs a piano 
        accompaniment. I have been able to play the verse, though
        haltingly, enough to tell that is the appropriate instrument,
        especially with the new pianos that came with Native Instruments
        Komplete Classics. But I don't play piano, so I called in a
        favor from Rob. He had some questions about what I was
        playing after I sent him the file, so I laid down a quick piano 
        line with the mouse to communicate notes for Rob.  Email the 
        new project file to him, and keep the ball rolling. 

                                    Sunday, February 1, 2009 (5:05PM)
    *   Rob emailed me a new project file with a piano line in it.
        It played with no hiccups. I wrote back, "The piano line is 
        absolutely gorgeous!  The song officially has a new direction. 
        You are right; I will now attempt to fit a new guitar part in.  
        Thank you so much." Remarkable days we live in for 
        collaboration!

                                    Saturday, February 7, 2009 (6:30PM)
+   Track the 414.

    *   Setup: 414-CE-L3, Drop-D tuning, through AKG C414-XL-II, 
        cardioid, 60Hz through Aphex 207D, MicLim, S/PDIF.
        -   I tried changing the way the Reflexion Filter mounts to
            give it better balance, but it won't work with the C414,
            because the post has to sit back in the cavity.
        -   I am going with a closer miking technique. It sounds
            better in the headphones--perhaps less room reflections,
            perhaps less bass, not sure. The mic is about 8" from
            the 15th fret. 
        -   See record_414.jpg.

    *   I have to change the arrangement, and I'm not sure what I
        am going to play. Fiddle for a couple hours. Frustrated. Walk 
        away and let the gears turn.
                                    Sunday, February 8, 2009 (8:20AM)
        Yes, the next day I am much more inspired and feeling 
        comfortable interleaving with Rob's piano line. I remember
        Lou Tice speaking to Caterpillar about allowing the 
        subconscious to take over a problem so that its solution
        feels spontaneous. I think I am learning to let this
        principle work for me as a musician. 

    *   7:53 PM. Got a scratch take in--not a serious take, but the
        purpose is to break me in to the feel of recording as well
        as capture today's ideas before saying good night...good night.

                                    Tuesday, February 10, 2009 (4:39PM)
    *   Let's go for it. 
        -   Three full takes plus a couple punch-ins.
        -   Comp the takes. clone the track, bounce to clip. That way
            only one wav file is needed. 

    *   Mix a bit.
        -   Try the vintage channel. I found a great-sounding preset,
            "Press the Guitar". I backed off on the EQ and compression,
            and I love the sound. See 414_vintage_channel.png. 

    *   email to Rob for the final piano line.

                                    Friday, February 20, 2009 (6:41PM)
    *   While I'm at it, time to improve the acoustics in here. 
        -   I ordered an Auralex ATOM-12 kit (bass trapping for four 
            corners) along with the Auralex Roominator D36 kit (36 
            square feet of surface treatment). 
        -   Before installing any treatment, measure a swept-sine
            response at the listening position. 
            >   AKG C414-XL-II, no filter, wide cardioid (flat response
                with rear rejection, like ears), Aphex 207D->S/PDIF. 
                Position slightly off-center...right ear. 
            >   The tone is an exponentially swept sine wave generated
                from an algorithm I wrote for Cat. 
            >   See swept_sine_test_a.jpg
        -   I gave myself a stiff neck. Working above shoulders, not
            stretching, using my head to apply force (that is, not
            thinking!)...
                                Saturday, February 21, 2009 (6:19PM)
                Rob was here today. He thought the best way forward
                would be to sit down together and play and brainstorm
                together. He was right. We are playing the intro and
                first verse in a varying tempo, and a few takes 
                show that the song is still evolving. Kudos to him
                for having the courage and initiative to tell me
                what needs to be done! 
        -   Wow, this stuff is HARD to squeeze out of the tube--even
            for guitar fingers! And I am using a full tube per trap
            --twice as much as expected. But, through trial and error,
            I am learning techniques to optimize. It would be nice if
            those that follow don't have to learn the hard way. Tips:
            >   Bevel the edges that meet wall-to-wall or 
                wall-to-ceiling corners since those corners are not
                perfect. 
                See bevel_lenrd_corner.jpg
            >   Work the cube or LENRD with hands until I feel that
                all or both surfaces are mating tightly. Rely on the
                slow hardening of the compound. 
            >   Find a way to brace the cube or LENRD for as long as
                possible after setting.
                See brace_lenrd_a.jpg and brace_lenrd_b.jpg
            >   Using these methods, a single perimeter plus an
                'X' is sufficient to secure it. 
                See goop_on_lenrd.jpg
        -   Try an experiment with the 2-inch tiles: immitate the
            Auralex TEMP-Tabs. 
            >   Drill out a 2-inch circle ("coin") of plastic sheet.
                See cut_plastic_coins.jpg
            >   Attach the plastic coins to a tile with TubeTak and 
                let harden overnight.
                See goop_on_coins.jpg
            >   Stick a piece of Velcro on the plastic, expose the
                adhesive on the mating piece, and place on wall. 
                                    Sunday, February 22, 2009 (8:48AM)
                Lesson: the plastic has a smooth side and a rough side.
                The goop sticks to the rough side, and not the other.
            >   How much stuff do I need? If I use four tacks per tile,
                I need 4*36 = 144 tacks. With 1" velcro per tack, 
                that's 12 ft of Velcro. Assuming a 3" square of plastic, 
                that's 16 tacks per square foot, so I need 
                144/16 = 9 square feet of plastic. 
            >   A trip to Menard's results in some new features:
                See tile_production_line.jpg
                :   Two corrugated plastic sheets stacked together
                    allow two coins to be drilled at once.
                :   Sand paper and an awl are used to score and
                    puncture the surface for the dinosaur snot. Since 
                    the sheet is hollow, a hole allows dinosaur snot to 
                    flow in and hold the coin better. Place a bead of 
                    dinosaur snot between two coins, and rub them 
                    together to spread and penetrate.
                :   An assembly line allows a half hour of drying by
                    the time the sixth tile is coined.
                :   When a tile is pulled from the wall, the velcro
                    comes off the wall, so no permanent damage is
                    done. 
                :   A 12-foot roll of Velcro cost $15. The plastic
                    sheets cost $15. So I have spent $30 on what
                    Auralex would have charged me $100 for. 
                                    Monday, February 23, 2009 (9:26PM)
        -   Done. After 15 hours of labor, I now have 22 cubic feet of
            foam on my walls. 
            >   Pics:
                    left_front.jpg
                    upper_front.jpg
                    right_front.jpg
                    rear_wall.jpg
                                    Tuesday, February 24, 2009 (7:34PM)
        -   Run the swept-sine test. Get with and without subwoofer
            to quantify the effect. There is a definite gap at
            100 Hz. The subwoofer cuts off before the mains cut in.
            See swept_sine_waveforms_a.png
                                    Thursday, February 26, 2009 (6:00PM)
            >   Analyzed the data. See before_after_gain_a.png. So,
                what did I get for my money? As I wrote Rob,
                # A great learning experience. 
                # Lots of aches and pains. 
                # A big mess to clean up. 
                # The boys think the studio looks cool. 
                # Now I think the studio looks cool. 
                # Someday a client might think the studio looks cool. 
                # A couple slightly less severe nodes (location of 
                    minimum response), as you noted. 
                # Generally slightly smoother behavior. 
                # A little damping in midrange. 
                # The knowledge that I need a better subwoofer 
                    and crossover (The hump at 80 Hz is all subwoofer; 
                    The hump at 120 Hz is all mains; Neither sub nor 
                    mains produces 100 Hz).
                As for sound, after a lot of listening, the only thing I 
                really believe I could detect was a louder bass guitar 
                on Seeking Rivendell.  All other impressions are within 
                the margin of psychosomatic phenomena.  Nevertheless, I 
                am sure Paul White would say the stereo imaging has 
                improved.  I thought I perceived the stereo field of the 
                T5 better in Rivendell (the delay proceeds from right to 
                left, and this stood out at me for the first time). 
                As for the 40-Hz response, I remember the Behringer 
                B2031A woofers really moving in this zone.  Also, the 
                peak looks too broadband to be a resonance related to 
                standing waves.  But it is interesting that they 
                peter-out from 90 to 120 Hz.   
                It is interesting that Behringer claims the B2092A 
                sub is matched to the Truth monitors. It crosses over 
                at 85 Hz at 24 db/octave...the Grand Canyon at 100 Hz 
                would remain intact! 
                http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/B2092A.aspx 
                I wonder if some wavelength calculations could tell me 
                that centering the system would alleviate the Grand 
                Canyon. It would be a lot of work and would compromise 
                other functions of the music room. Curious. 
                The node at 220 Hz explains a fault I found in Nothing 
                But The Call: In the intro the open B string is 
                obnoxious in my car but not in the studio. 
                                Saturday, February 28, 2009 (11:06AM)
        -   Before I try to attack the Grand Canyon with transducers,
            assess the role of standing waves.
            >   Play a constant 100-Hz tone (G4 with a sine synth in
                sinesweep.cwp). Move the db meter (C-weighting) around.
                :   Vertically at listener position:
                    listening height:                91
                    max (7 feet--1' below ceiling)  102
                    1 foot above floor               94
                :   Left-to-right thru listening:
                    max (left speaker)               99
                    right speaker                    96
                    min (3' from right wall)         82
                :   Front to back:
                    speaker line                     96
                    2' back from listener            85
                    4' from back wall                80
                :   others
                    RR trap (near cube corner)       97
                    LF trap                          97
                    RF trap                         104
                Wow! Plus or minus 12 db! By contrast, B4 (120 Hz)
                produces 106 db at the listening position. Moving
                around with this tone. this is the peak left to right,
                where it produces 97-106 db. It is also a peak up-down,
                where it ranges from 94-106 db. So the peak (120 Hz)
                and the valley (100 Hz) are both roughly 6 db. 
                I could realistically expect proper acoustics to raise 
                the valley by 6 db and drop the peak by 6 db. Looking
                at before_after_gain_a.png, this would bring the peak
                and valley within 2db of each other. 
            >   So the Grand Canyon is essentially acoustic in 
                nature--a spacial node. A new subwoofer will only go
                so far toward fixing it. However, several features will
                help:
                :   the ability to control the crossover frequency.
                :   a phase switch
                :   a mute function that passes full bandwidth to
                    the mains. 
                These may alleviate it, but they won't fix it. Still,
                a new subwoofer would enhance the cool factor.
            >   Note the high levels at the traps indicate that they at
                least have the opportunity to improve things.
            >   Note the low level near floor and high level near 
                ceiling. I wonder if the ceiling is resonating. 

                                        Sunday, April 26, 2009, 3:11PM
    *   Wow! Two months with no WillSongs activity! But it is nice to
        be out of exile (back on a worship team) again. At any rate,
        Rob doesn't feel like he can create the right piano line unless
        he tracks live with me.  So we will try tracking the 414, 
        vocal, and piano live. 
        -   Plan setup. 
            >   Use the 414 on the 414 (i.e., the C414B-XLII
                on the acoustic) with a figure-eight polar pattern to 
                reject my voice as much as possible. Use the Beta 87A
                on my vocal (proximity will isolate from the 414). Then
                Rob will be playing keys silently. 
            >   We will need two independent headphone mixes. How 
                to accomplish? Each mix will need the piano; I suppose
                I can use the audio from the keyboard for a monitoring
                piano. 
                                        Saturday, May 02, 2009, 9:30AM
        -   Rob is here. Let's go for it. Got four takes in. 
            >   Created new project. Free-form (no metronome).
            >   We were surprised at how well the miking technique
                worked--that is, it achieved excellent isolation between 
                the vocal and guitar. 
            >   Pics:
                    will_track_a.jpg
                    will_track_b.jpg
                    will_track_c.jpg
                    rob_track_a.jpg
                    rob_track_b.jpg
                    rob_track_c.jpg
                                        Saturday, May 16, 2009, 3:15PM
    *   Rob submitted a wonderful piano line. Now I have to visit the
        arrangement for the 414 again and final-track it. Mute the
        guitar and render a practice track. 
        -   I am making much more room for Rob's piano than I did
            for the scratch track.
                                        Saturday, May 16, 2009, 9:32PM
        -   As I near final-tracking, I thought it prudent to follow
            the advice given by two friends, who, upon hearing about
            the theme of this song, recommended I watch a certain
            movie. I suppose I will be up weeping all night. 
                                        Sunday, May 17, 2009, 8:50AM
        -   A confluence of Cub Scouts, weather, and Rob's timing
            has fated this morning to track. For I have a brief respite
            from the normal Sunday-morning responsibilities (and the
            time and effort needed to prepare). And, yes, I was up
            half the night weeping. 
            >   I took a tip from May issue of Sound on Sound magazine 
                by which the Reflexion Filter has a more stable mounting 
                that gets the center of gravity over the center of the 
                mic stand. This allows me to raise the mic high enough
                to stand while recording, eliminating lower-back 
                discomfort and chair squeaks. see filter_balance.jpg.
            >   Oops, I got two beautiful takes in only to realize I
                hadn't tuned and was 10 cents flat. 
            >   Four takes. Composite them into a fifth layer (split
                clips, shift-ctrl-drag, auto-crossfades).
            >   Create the final track by copying the track and the
                comped layer. Then join the clips together via
                Edit | Bounce to Clip. Archive the original track, 
                and bury in a folder. 


+   Track the vocal. No pause. Doom is upon this day. OK, go mow the
    lawn, but that's it. 

    *   So far Rob's piano is routed through a cheap sample that
        is common to both our systems (TTS-1 that comes with Sonar).
        Let's try improving on it with the Acoustik Piano that came
        with Native Instruments Komplete Classics. 
        -   The Steinway Concert Grand D does well enough--for now. 
            I will let Rob perfect it later. 
        -   Get some exercise to pump some endorphins. Grab a pic 
            with three days of fuzz and scum and workouts: 
            See whatabum.jpg.
        -   Go for it. 
            >   Images come to mind as I sing: 
                :   Step three under a tree at dawn 24 years ago.
                :   Luke, age 4, on a hike in Farmdale, exclaiming,
                    "It feels like we're INSIDE a movie!"
                :   The wonder of being a baby believer.
                :   Candace, age 3, at the zoo with an ice-cream cone.
                :   A sled in the snow.
                :   Aaron grinning and singing his new song at age 2.
                The trick is, of course, to feel enough to sing
                with authenticity but without losing composure. Take
                four was over-emotional. Take five was no-nonsense,
                hit-the-notes, git-'er-dun accuracy. Five ought to be
                enough. 

    *   Try some different pianos before rendering a scratch. 
        Definately not the Steingraeber. Nor the Boesendorfer.
        Hmmm...the Bechstein D 280 adds some magic. 

    *   Render the_eyes_of_a_child_scratch_c.mp3.

                                        Monday, May 18, 2009, 6:42PM
+   Mix

    *   Mix A
        -   Ken pointed out that I am singing off-key a lot. I didn't 
            hear it, but I have noticed that in past songs I fail to 
            notice this until later. Clean it up with a few minutes in 
            V-Vocal. Manual. Not much editing needed--even the hard view 
            of mathematics says I actually did pretty well. And, the 
            word "pure" was dead-on. See vocal_tune_a.png. 
        -   I heard some guitar notes in the bridge that should have 
            been stronger. Is there a better take there?
            >   Simply mute the main track, un-archive the composite
                track, and revisit.
            >   Yes, take one finally makes a contribution. 
            >   This illustrates the utility of this approach. 
                See comp_guitar_a.png The bottom layer in track 2 is not 
                an original take--it is the pasting board for the 
                composite. Changing it is easy. Then select all the 
                clips in this layer, and paste them into the final 
                track, and join them. 
        -   Adjust piano. 
            >   Move the piano's note-off at the end to get the sound of 
                the notes being released. 
                :   Oops, strange phenomenon: audio glitches in the 
                    piano synth when frozen coinciding with guitar 
                    transients. Slow bounce (realtime) gives a good 
                    result. I did an audible bounce, and the audio was 
                    overdriving, but that is not present in the final 
                    result. 
            >   The piano needs a little compression in the bridge. The
                notes feel like they are pounding at my ears. Tweak a 
                preset named "Vintage: UREI 1176." Just take the edges 
                off the transients. Strange, but I can't add a 
                compressor to a frozen synth track. Fine! Route it to a 
                bus. It adds a nice timbral effect. See 
                piano_compressor_a.png.
            >   Render 
                    eyes_of_a_child_mix_a.wav
                    eyes_of_a_child_mix_a.mp3 (192kbps)
                Email to Rob and see what he wants to do with the piano.
        -   Comments:
            >   General: 
                :   Raise piano about 1 db most places (possibly 
                    excepting the bridge).
                :   Fix the timing of the first guitar note.
                :   Rob plays a gorgeous G-sharp at the end of the
                    bridge, and I slaughter it with a G-natural.
                    Fix it.
            >   HD280 phones: sounds good.
            >   stereo: piano low.
            >   DX4's: piano low.
            >   Car: flip stereo field. piano low.
            >   Shure E2's: piano low. vocal may need automation (loud
                notes loud), but raising piano may fix this.

                                        Tuesday, May 19, 2009, 6:05PM
    *   Mix B.
        -   Fix the guitar. 
            >   Restore the comp track. 
            >   I would like to stretch the clip for the first note
                so that I do not introduce a silence gap when I
                move it. Can't remember how. Couldn't find it in the
                help file, but it is the book ("Sonar 7 Power!" by
                Garrigus, p312): Hold the control key down while
                slip-editing the clip. This causes the "Enable
                Time Stretching" box to be checked in the clip
                properties dialog.
            >   Turn my G-natural into a G-sharp with V-Vocal.
                Split the clip to process only a small segment.
                See make_g_sharp.png. Now that is remarkable!
            >   Copy and joint the clips. Aural surgery: open 'em up,
                fix the problem, zip 'em back up.
        -   Fix the piano.
            >   Listen on the DX4's, which illumine the problem.
            >   Bump piano 1db. Drop vocal 1 db.
            >   Automate vocal. Drop loud portions about 1 db.
        -   Render
                eyes_of_a_child_mix_b.wav
                eyes_of_a_child_mix_b.mp3       (192kbps)
                eyes_of_a_child_mix_b_128k.mp3  (128kbps)
        -   Oops, found a cross-fade boo-boo in the guitar. Fix and
            re-render...and I had burned the CD and everything!

                                        Sunday, May 24, 2009, 2:55PM
    *   Mix C (Rob).
        -   Rob switched to the Steinway piano, edited some notes,
            and played a completely new outro. 
        -   He tried an impulse-response reverb, "Jazz Hall," but
            it lacks a nice "tail" that is needed. 
        -   Rob pointed out an issue with the first vocal line:
            the four words before "man" are sung forcefully whereas
            "man" has the "breathiness" required for the moment. He
            liked take-two best for this line. However, recomping
            would mean going through manual tuning all over again.
                                        Monday, May 25, 2009, 10:43AM
        -   Rob tried a lot of things that were later abandoned
            (like the reverb), and some settings were lost (he 
            accidentally deleted a couple tracks with their send 
            settings. So, instead of continuing with the file as he left 
            it, revert to the Mix B state (eyes_of_a_child_mix_b.cwp), 
            and import specific contributions. 
            >   Load the Steinway into Akoustik Piano (dry). 
            >   Copy the piano line from Rob's last take into a 
                blank, cloned MIDI track. Fast-bounce freeze appears
                to work this time. Rob said he wanted me to do a 
                "track bounce" because the freeze is not machine
                portable, but this produced no audio. 
                :   Simple solution: New audio track, import audio, 
                    import the WAV file resulting from the freeze. Clone 
                    settings. Wah-lah.
                :   I think I heard an artifact at 0:20:00. Yes, it
                    was quite subtle, but it is there. Do a realtime
                    freeze. 
            >   Save as a new file, delete all unused tracks, and
                zip to eyes_of_a_child_torob.zip.
                                        Saturday, May 30, 2009, 3:58PM
        -   Some adjustments
            >   The 414 needs something in the DX4's. I think the 
                B2031A's are too clear at really high frequencies, and 
                the guitar gets lost without that clarity. Set EQ 
                post-effects (after the Vintage Channel), and boost 4db 
                at 3 kHz. 
            >   About 1db more reverb on guitar and less on vocal. 
            >   Rob's new ending is just gorgeous! I especially love
                the way those high notes on the Steinway kick the
                compressor. 
        -   Screen shots
                eyes_of_a_child_mix_c_console.png
                eyes_of_a_child_mix_c_tracks.png
        -   Render
                eyes_of_a_child_mix_c.wav
                eyes_of_a_child_mix_c.mp3       (192kbps)
                eyes_of_a_child_mix_c_128k.mp3  (128kbps)
                                           
Total Production Hours: 37