Hello, good morning, and welcome to another of my weekly blog posts. As usual when these appear, it’s Thursday. Also, we’ve started a new month: March (in case you weren’t aware).
It’s very exciting, I know.
I’ve been mildly active/busy since last week’s rather grumpy blog post. Earlier this week, while riding in to work, I began reciting The Second Coming, by Yeats, out loud to myself, I don’t know why. It’s a cool poem, and it’s short, and it contains some of the most quotable lines ever written. Then, after that, because I had plenty of commute left, I decided to see if I could recall the entirety of The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe. That’s not a short poem, of course, but it’s at least as quotable as TSC. I remembered all but one verse of it (and I at least remembered that I didn’t fully remember that one, if you take my meaning).
Anyway, I decided it would be fun to record a recitation of the poems, so I did. Then I used the same sound program (by which I mean, “program that allows one to manipulate sound”, not “program that is solid, well-made, and stable”, though it is the latter) that I use for audio blogs and for mixing songs, to add a little background noise. I say “noise” because, though the background for Second Coming is certainly an actual piece of music, it’s heavily manipulated and distorted, and the background for The Raven is just a series of weird, otherworldly* sounds of a purely electronic nature.
I released the recordings on Iterations of Zero, and got such a quick, good response that I decided to do a few more of my favorites yesterday morning. I did the poem Alone, also by Poe—which I’ve always felt could have been written just for me—in two takes, because I felt the first time through didn’t quite capture what I wanted to express. Then I thought, “Hey, since this poem is about feeling different from everyone else—feeling alien, if you will—what if I made it sound like something alien?” So, I laid down both the audio tracks in one file, adjusted the many inconsistent spacings between words and sounds so that they lined up (as well as I could), then doubled each track and moved the duplicates either a little forward or a little backward. Basically, it’s four tracks, not quite in sync, made from two recordings that had slight differences in inflection and emphasis.
For a bit of background noise, I quickly sang “Ahhh,” into my cell phone in three different pitches (Separately. I’m an okay singer, but I can’t sing three notes at once!) in a slightly discordant chord, then I lined them all up, stretched the combo out, reduced the pitch, doubled it and reversed the double and combined them again, to make a creepy-creepy sound.
Then, I decided not to use that. Instead I took a well-known piece of music, slowed it, stretched it, reversed it, and changed the pitch, to make what I hope is an equally creepy background track. I’m not sure I made the right decision.
I’ve read a couple of other poems, including Ozymandius, by Shelley, which I’ve already released. I did that one over a background of desert wind noise, because it just seemed so appropriate, if rather obvious. There are still two more Edgar Allan Poe recordings that I’ve yet to release, and I’m sure I can use my weird impromptu sound effect for one or the other of them.
So, that was a lot of fun!
Of course, unfortunately, this all ate into a bit of the time I reserve for editing, so Unanimity experienced a temporary slowdown this week, but it’s very temporary indeed. After all, there are only a few poems that I enjoy enough, and have enjoyed enough for most of my life, to want to make a recorded recitation of them. And I don’t have any songs anything close to ready to begin composing and arranging and recording and performing, etc.**, so the space before me is free and clear for continued editing. This is good, because I really want to get through that book and get it out, so that I can get to work on other writing projects. Had I but world and time***, I might be able to do all of these things, but unless I become independently wealthy—or my books, etc. sell well enough for me to do this sort of thing full time—I’m afraid I’m going to have to work it into the early morning hours, as I’ve done for some time.
That’s not such a bad arrangement for me. I’m a morning person by nature, in that I tend to wake up early and be prepared to do a lot of work when I do, though I am not sociable until well after ten o’clock. Ask anyone who’s tried to engage me in pleasant morning conversations****. Ask my ex-wife! I don’t do social stuff very well at the best of times, and morning is far from the best of times for such things. That’s my opinion, anyway.
Nevertheless, I do enjoy writing to and hearing from any or all of you. I’d be delighted to know what you think of my renditions of the above-mentioned poems. I’d be even more delighted if some of you who have never read these particular poems just go and have a listen. They’re worth your time, I’m sure of that.
**Unless you count that Joker song I mentioned a few weeks ago. But that’s not urgent.
***No, I don’t think I’ll be doing a recording of To His Coy Mistress, though it is very good…the medieval equivalent of Billy Joel’s Only the Good Die Young.
****Of course, part of my grumpiness in dealing with such morning matters is the usual inanity of the interactions. People ask, “How are you?” or some variant thereof, but they don’t want an honest answer. Frankly, I’d rather they just commented about the weather, or said “Good morning, nice to see you,” or something along those lines. I’ve occasionally taken to replying to “How are you?” by saying, “I am that I am,” and wondering if anyone will recognize the quote. So far, no luck.