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Eatin' Humble Pie

Posted by mudbug on Sunday, December 11, 2011


This week,  my wife told me that a man at her church wanted to sing a hymn with his mother who is failing,  and wondered if I would record a backing track for them.  Her favorite hymn was  "The Haven of Rest",  of which I wasn't familiar,  so I looked up a couple you-tube vids.  The melody seemed familiar,  and I asked my wife if it was a modern hymn,  thinking they might have borrowed the melody from a country song.  Turns out it was written at the turn of the 20th century,  and it finally struck me that the melody was  "The Warm Red Wine" by Cindy Walker.  Cindy was a brilliant songwriter who's now passed on,  and maybe it was a melody she heard as a child and she wasn't aware of it's being "borrowed".  I hate to think someone would purposefully use anouther's work.  Anyway,  it's a beautiful melody,  so I set up my recording gear this morning and went to work.  I did it in the key of C and did it slightly faster than the Southern gospel style that I viewed.  Four verses and chorus',  with an intro and outro tag at the end.  My wife said the man didn't sing a lot,  so I created an intro where there could be no confusion on where to come in,  ending with a strong 3 note walking bass line before the first sung note.  Acoustic guitar track went down smoothly,  as did the bass part.  I thought I would add a simple string part for the intro and outro.  Heck,  I've been working on my fiddle for almost three years now,  putting in mucho hours.  I came up with a part............. and it was a good part.  Unfortunately,  my playing of the part wasn't the quality I was hoping for.  Sure,  C  isn't my strongest key,  so I tried a viola part,  where C falls naturally.  OK,  but still falling short of my expectations.  Oh well.  So,  I dug out my harmonica's,  and was able to add a cool part.  I tried diatonic harps,  but there was a note missing and I didn't want a bent note which would have given a different flavor,  so I used a chromatic harp.  My wife even added a ukelele part,  which kinda sounded like a real harp.   So,  the track came out nice,  but slightly different than I had planned going in.

I know that this instrument takes a long time to get proficient on.  Sometimes it can be frustrating at the slow progress I'm making,  but I guess I just have to be more patient and get back to work.  I can understand why some give up in frustration,  but sometimes I feel like the guy who only wants the girl who wants nothing to do with him.  If nothing else,  it proved to me that recording oneself is good to give yourself a real indication of where you stand.  Sometimes,  listening to yourself in real time,  it's easy to think that you sound better than you are.  Listening back with a critical ear gives one a more real perspective.  Yeah,  maybe it's gonna take 10 years......or so.

21 comments on “Eatin' Humble Pie”

Diane G Says:
Sunday, December 11, 2011 @4:07:50 PM

Steve....I hope you put some whipped cream on that Humble Pie of sounds yummy and what a sweet thing to do at this time of the year...sounds like your a true Santa!!! Fiddle hugs to you. Diane

Ozarkian DL Says:
Sunday, December 11, 2011 @5:53:19 PM

Humble Pie, whipped cream wit a cherry on top Mud. I'm still practin on proficiency.

Ozarkian DL Says:
Sunday, December 11, 2011 @5:54:28 PM

I do'nt spell so gode.

Diane G Says:
Sunday, December 11, 2011 @5:56:40 PM

How cares...I bet you paly wel. Diane

Ozarkian DL Says:
Sunday, December 11, 2011 @5:59:28 PM

I plays much lik I spels.

mudbug Says:
Monday, December 12, 2011 @1:44:08 AM

Thankyou, friends. Yup, whipped cream and a cherry.

Diane G Says:
Monday, December 12, 2011 @8:45:44 AM

Steve, so where can I find the original tune by Cindy Walker?....I'm intrigued.
Will it be a White Christmas up your way? Happy Holidays. Diane

mudbug Says:
Monday, December 12, 2011 @1:13:27 PM

Diane, I have it on a Willie Nelson CD where he does all Cindy Walker songs. I just went on you-tube, and they have versions by Willie, Merle Haggard and George Jones. If it's not white by Christmas, it won't be long coming. Merry Christmas to you also.

boxbow Says:
Monday, December 12, 2011 @1:21:16 PM

What I know about the ins and outs of your sort of project could be written on the back of a dirty envelope with a dull crayon. Still, my ignorance has never stopped me before, so here's exactly two cents worth. Part of the problem has to be that you were trying to lay down a complete recording when, from the git-go, you were never going to have all the tracks. When I play with others I have the advantage of immediate feedback, be it the sound or maybe a dirty look. I'd be totally lost if I had to work without the give and take, kind of like leaning a ladder against nothing so you can build the wall you plan on leaning your ladder against. A worthy project.

eerohero Says:
Monday, December 12, 2011 @1:32:06 PM

Steve, you use to sing a lot ? if you do, this helps you on improvising with fiddle and gives you your very own style, which we others then are trying to copy in vain LOL. We will become envious to your musicianship, because thats what is all about, when it counts , not how many tunes you can play, or how brilliant you are, if you`re original, buddy, then you got it all.

eerohero Says:
Monday, December 12, 2011 @3:13:11 PM

Oh, Original You are already, sorry.....

cardinalwookie Says:
Monday, December 12, 2011 @4:19:12 PM

Al songs I've recorded didn't end up where they started : most songs I've recorded won't end up how they are now. D.

mudbug Says:
Tuesday, December 13, 2011 @1:58:46 AM

Actually, Boxbow, I've done quite a bit of recording, with others and solo. When it's a project where I have some say in the final result as opposed to someone ele's project, I know what I want the final product to sound like, and the role of each part in the mix. Since I play a lot of instruments, I can season each ingrediant in, as I hear it in my mind, as opposed to adding a touch of cinnamon to someone else's cookie recipe. Both fun but two different concepts, and since I know going in, what I want the final product to sound like, it's really not leaning a ladder against nothing, It's more like building a house, where you're the architect and the workman. The problem here came about because the architect and the foreman didn't like the quality of the mason who was working on the patio, so they fired him and got someone else. ;-)

fiddleiphile Says:
Tuesday, December 13, 2011 @4:47:38 AM

Hey Mudbug, when you are listening to yourself with that critical ear remember to give yourself a break We are usually hardest on ourselves, usually way over critical. Try to detatch yourself and listen like someone else did it. What would you think of it if one of your pickin' buddies had recorded it? Would you hear all of the flaws, or just hear the music and be happy for his achievement? I've made myself crazy for years dealing with this issue.

mudbug Says:
Tuesday, December 13, 2011 @12:50:48 PM

That's a good question, Jerry. If I'm putting a band together, I try to play with as good players as I can, but not at the expense of bad attitudes. I don't sweat mistakes live, as mistakes always happen. It's all about how you recover from them. In informal jams, I'll play with anybody from rank beginners on. Yes, I will hear the flaws (how can I not, I'm a musician), but don't pass judgement, just enjoy the fun of sharing music together. Recording, however, is where you're allowed the option of re-doing something until it meets your expectations. Not to say there won't be mistakes, as the right feel trumps all. When I recorded my guitar part, on this particular piece, I first tried a pick, but the feel was too "pointed" for lack of a better word. I was able to listen back to it and judge that it wasn't the "right" sound for the feel that I was after. Next, I tried finger picking, but that wasn't right either. I finally tried strumming with my fingers without a pick, and that gave me the "softer" feel that seemed to fit the feel that I was going for. Critical? Of course. Perfect? Not at all, but perfect feel for the song, as I perceived it. If I'm recording a part for someone else, I'll keep re-doing it until I get what I (or they, who have the final say) are after.

fiddleiphile Says:
Tuesday, December 13, 2011 @6:36:10 PM

Good answer Steve, just making sure you were beating yourself up for the right reason. What are friends for?

mudbug Says:
Wednesday, December 14, 2011 @2:09:30 AM

Thanks, Jerry. Yeah, when listening to playbacks, I tend to put my "producer" hat on, and will keep at a part, if I know I'm capable of better or realise when I'm beating my head against the wall. I look forward to the day when I can lay down a fiddle track and like it. Until then, I'll just keep enjoying the playing and practicing in real time.

fiddlepogo Says:
Wednesday, December 14, 2011 @1:35:41 PM

While you ARE fairly new at fiddling PART of the problem COULD be mic-ing. Fiddles are hard to mic... when I was looking for info on mic-ing them, I even found statements to that effect. Some people said ribbon mics are the way to go with fiddles, because they tend to mellow things out.... but ribbons, even the relatively cheap ones available these days (around $400) are too expensive for me, and they are fragile. I went with a Heil PR35 (a high quality dynamic by the guy that invented the Heil Talkbox) partly because people described it as having a ribbon-like smoothness.
Many mics have some kind of presence peak, some in a range to enhance voices (SM58) and some to add clarity to guitars and mic-ed guitar cabinets. (like my large diaphragm Studio Projects B1 mics). And those presence peaks seem to be in frequencies that violins already have plenty of, maybe too much of.

A recent approach that's worked well is using my Naiant X-Q small diaphragm mics a couple of feet away in front of the fiddle... that seems to get away from the intense treble coming off of the top of the fiddle, but still gets some.

Oh yeah... the richest, fullest sound coming off of the fiddle is from the BACK... or the underside of the fiddle as it's being played. Darol Anger mentioned mic'ing fiddles in stereo with one mic underneath and to the side, and I've done that a lot, and it's helped a lot.
It also has the plus that you can play with the balance afterwards to get the right balance of richness (from the back) and bite (from the top)

Andah1andah2 Says:
Wednesday, December 14, 2011 @4:22:53 PM

Don't sweat it Steve. Dems the ups and downs. You pull a mean bow.

Diane G Says:
Wednesday, December 14, 2011 @6:31:08 PM

Wow Steve....everyone has gobbled up your Humble Pie with whipped cream and a cherry on top...time to make another one!!!!! :>)

mudbug Says:
Thursday, December 15, 2011 @2:13:35 AM

Thanks, Diane.
Stew, you're very kind. Mean would not be the first adjective I would use, but Ido appreciate the support.
Michael, That's some good suggestians. I'll haveto look into that. Maybe I'm NOT as bad as I sound.

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