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Phase 4: Lyrics

Well hell. Somewhere in working on this obsessively day in and day out i’ve actually started to come to the end. The finish line is near. I’m even ready to send tracks off to Lauren. I’m arranging for the cover art, getting a track to Matthew Broyles for guitar… i’m actually going to finish this in a couple weeks.

Don’t worry, announcements about the box set are coming. Just hang on.

So… lyrics.

What is there for me to say? Most people at some point in their life dabble with writing a song. Or at least poetry. A carefully worded essay is the same thing, except for the whole rhyming part. Everyone has their own way, and every songwriter their own method.

Most of my lyrics writing comes at the end, but not all. For the 3rd song for instance i stopped one afternoon early on in the music writing to write the lyrics (BA S3 Alice) since i was really feeling a mood and word ideas were coming.

It is harder for me to get in a zone where words flow as easily as music because i’m more practiced at music. I sit down every single day, rain or shine to make music, so there is no warming up necessary. I need to be very focused to work on the lyrics.

The toughest part is getting the angle of the song right. There’s a larger story to keep in mind, but being to into story telling about it makes for bad lyrics. It’s very easy to make shitty lyrics by focusing too much on the fact that you’re telling a story. A character singing, telling you what’s happening to them can be disastrous done wrong. I need to be on constant alert.

I will make bad bits and not worry that i’m making something shitty if i know it’s in the interest of getting the first draft down. It’s far easier to go and turn bad bits into good ones than it is to stare at a blank page, so getting down a first draft is essential. We can rework it tomorrow. There are times i will make several completely different sets of lyrics for an entire song because it can take up until version 3 that good stuff starts really being there.

Another challenge is making some character’s song into a universal expression. A character is singing about a specific set of circumstances, but i want a listener to be able to sing the song some afternoon and feel like it describes some aspect of them. This is done by making sure the song concentrates at appropriate times on a key aspect of the human condition, of which their particular circumstance is only one example. For instance, Connor may be singing about his plight, but the essence of his plight is loss. Loss is universal. If i do it correctly, the listener can internalize it, not just view it as some shmoe’s problem they’re bitching about.

As far as my particular style of wordplay, i have little to say. I like alliteration, i like clever rhyme schemes and i struggle, a LOT, to find clever ways to get across the endless information songs involving an operatic story demand be conveyed. But my style is based on years of making songs and i can’t really sum certain things up.

My favorite lyricist is hands down Bob Dylan. Number two is Roger Waters. Between the two of them i can get enough inspiration to last several lifetimes.

I often open an online rhyming dictionary, which is a bit of a personal joke with me since i almost never get a damn word from it. I particularly like writing lyrics outside, but i will sit in my studio chair and scribble away when i’m really motivated and can’t be bothered to go somewhere all special just to scribble in my book.

I write longhand in a notebook. There are a few times i’ve written lyrics on my computer, but the vast, vast majority of the time it’s actual writing on paper.

So i guess that’s it. Phase 5 will be vocals and Phase 6 mixing. I can mix for years. I was mixing the Atompunk up until the very hour before i released the last act.

So the Bonus Album is coming. It’s not really an Act, it’s over 50 minutes long. It’s an entire album, full production, all the bells and whistles.

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

RIP Jack Bruce, Bassist Extraordinaire For Cream.

Jack Bruce was the bassist for Cream. He is one of the most influential bass players of all time and Cream’s mark on music history is impossible to overstate. They were together for 2 years. That’s it, 2 years, from 1966 to 1968 and yet in that brief flash they utterly blew away and transformed the musical landscape.

They were the first true jamming band, the first to achieve that balls out electric rock sound that would directly influence Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Rush. Listen to rock music before them in 65. Now listen after them. It’s like… almost everything after sounds like it came from them. Well… it did.

In tribute here is a video of the final concert back in ’68.

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Folding Ideas: #gamergate

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Let’s Talk About The Upcoming Box Set

Hi all.

Sorry i’ve been silent on the blog here lately, but that’s because i have been working like a monster on the Bonus Act. I mean BUSTIN’ ass. And the end is starting to appear in sight. I’m not quite there yet, but it’s getting close. I’ve probably only two more songs to compose and very soon i’ll start sending tracks off to Lauren to record.

Which means we need to start discussing the physical box set.

I cannot give a specific date at this point, but late November, early December. Perfect for Christmas presents!

I am pricing the package as we speak. It is a 7 CD set. Each opera takes 2 CDs and the bonus act, a full length album in its own right, takes a CD. So, 7 CDs.

I’m trying to keep the price nice and friendly but make sure the set is reeeeeal perty and special.

After i get the pricing worked out i’ll announce and here’s where it’s important: i will take pre-orders. In fact, i HAVE to take pre orders. As a lowly musician i cannot possibly afford to have a whole bunch of box sets made without pre-orders. I’ll have a couple extra made for any last minute purchases, but in general, if you want one you have GOT to pre-order.

I’ll announce when it’s time.

Also, i’ll say once again: if you already have the operas digitally, do not want the entire CD box set but DO want the Bonus Act (which is likely to be titled The Room Beneath New Albion) the album WILL be available online on Bandcamp and iTunes and Amazon, etc. You will NOT need to buy the box set just to have it.

So, keep tuned for more info. I’ll be picking up blog writing here so this site will be active again.

Now if you’ll pardon me, i have to finish writing Lauren’s big near end of album aria. I mean let’s be honest, we all know near the end of every piece Lauren will sing a big song, and this is her giant wailing epic for the new album. It’s a cross between the band Low and Total Eclipse Of The Heart. Which admittedly, is either utterly dumb or utterly awesome. I’m going for awesome.

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

The New Albion Instrumental Tracks Album Is Out

The New Albion Instrumental Tracks by Paul Shapera

People asked for it.

In a million years it would never, ever have occurred to me to ever release an album of instrumental “highlights” from the New Albion Trilogy. Seriously. But i keep getting emails asking for instrumental versions of different tracks, most often from folks looking to use it as an audition song or various other sing along reasons.

So okay then. Here is a buttload of instrumental versions from the trilogy.

I picked stuff with a definite focus on singing along to. That;s the real purpose here, not to showcase the songs without vocals. So the picks heavily lean towards solo numbers, the big aria stuff and of course the most requested ones.

In answer to a question i’ve been getting also: can you make videos or recordings of yourself singing these songs and post them online? Yes, you certainly may. Go nuts. What you cannot do is charge money for it. Otherwise you may absolutely record and post on youtube or soundcloud or whatever or wherever. Credit me and my works of course, no selling it (if you wish to sell it you must speak with me), but posting it it you have my blessing.

And uh… well, there you go. All for you, my pretties.

The Bonus Act is coming along splendidly. Release date is almost certainly November, I wanted end of Oct but i cannot rush these things. I figure you want quality as do i.

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

The New Albion Instrumental Tracks

I get asked on a very regular basis for instrumental versions of tracks from the operas, mostly the steampunk opera. So, tomorrow i am going to release an album that is nothing but instrumental versions of various songs from the trilogy.

I am NOT going to release entire albums sans vocals, but i will release any and all songs people are interested in up to a reasonable point. Songs from the Steampunk Opera are pretty obvious. I know what i get asked for consistently and so i know that i’m going to release these at the very least:

New Albion 1
Annabelle Raises The Dead
Annabelle’s Lament
Edgar Gets His Heart Broken
The Old Trunk In The Attic
Edgar Builds A Business
Elysian Night
Priscilla Considers
Bring You Down

Daddy Left
The Soiree
The Wasteland

Rachael
The Show No One Saw

Are there any other tracks you would particularly like? Anything from the other operas? The tracks will all come with lyrics, although you can get those obviously from here on the blog, but of course i’ll include them anyway.

This way, you can get any song you want for a dollar, or buy the whole shebang for 5 bucks.

Tell me if you want something, i’ll put it on.

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Phase 3

Phase 3 is where i actually make the damn thing. You know, what i’m doing right now.

I am pretty much exactly halfway through creating the Bonus Act. I have 4 songs basically done (24 minutes), although i might go back and rework orchestrations if i see fit. Lyrics for 3 of them are done (barring corrections). I’m well on the way.

Phase 3 is where i sit down in the studio every day for as long as i can or as long as concentration holds, and in song order create and record the music. (See it records while i play everything. So i just play different instrument sounds together until it sound like a song.)

When i sit down to begin a new song i may have a melody (recorded into my phone at 1 in the morning or while walking down a street most likely) for the vocal section. If this is true i will decide on a key for the song based around who is singing the melody. If i don’t have a melody, i’ll just guess a decent key based on who is supposed to be singing it. Then i just… start picking a bunch of sounds and putting them together until i like it. I pick a bunch of chords and wing it. My chord choices are usually very pedestrian. I’m never going to win an award for creative chord choices and i really should work on this one day.  I know my stuff is banal in this regard, but i like my simple catchy melodies too, and they work without a lot of fuss. Perhaps the next project i’ll start spending more time developing more complex chords and melodies (i always say) but for this one i’m going with my usual.

I don’t work out music beforehand other than maybe the sung melody, but remember, i know exactly i want the song to do. Song 2 for instance… big bombastic intro.. then get quiet with a finger snapping feel for the male vocal section which will build. That’s plenty of a song blueprint.

Working out the orchestration is the big thing and i spend a lot of time on it. Often, after the first day or so, the song is there, but sounds strangely like shit. At the end of the following day it’s amazing the difference.

Sometimes i might suddenly stop work altogether and go write lyrics. I never used to do this, but these days i do. I get really into the mood and the melody is going round my head and my ears need a break, and boom, i’m upstairs writing the words.

A song takes on average 3 days to make. After that i can fiddle and fuss with it for the rest of my natural life.

Phase 3 takes weeks.. months, but the work goes best in big stretches. A big 3 week stretch, then back off a bit, then another big stretch. As i mentioned earlier, the are many plot holes going into this and this is good. While working on Phase 3 ideas come of their own accord AND you may realize where you need to go based on the music. You suddenly KNOW that after this song ends the mood of the next one NEEDS to go over here or there. This process is extremely immersive and ideas come now very steadily. You’re not going about your day trying to think of a story or of music ideas, you ARE making.

A song starts off soft. Okay let’s pull up a soft sound. Piano? Not air enough? Are belly thingsd appropriate? Sure why not. Here’s a belly sound. Eh, too synthy. Another one. Too Christmassy. Another one. Oh this is nice. Play a pattern. Nice pattern. We need something to go with it. Since the belly sound is high we need something lower. Cello-y? Sure. FInd sound you like. Cello doesn’t work but weirder cello like sound odes. Now play a part that sound good with bell-y sound. Good.

Rinse and repeat. Eventually you have a song.

Obviously every part of a song has a specific mood or emotion it’s going for and one must make sure that is being served. You can work on something for hours, walk away and come back to find you ended up totally missing the ball. Erase everything to back where you last had it nailed. Begin again.

If you are not prepared to throw away weeks worth of work in a single instant because it’s not up to snuff than BEGONE with you! Don’t be too proud of your shit. It keeps you realizing it’s shit and should be flushed. Seeing that anyway is tough enough. There is no album i have ever made that’s not full of stuff i could have and should have done better, but couldn’t see it at the time. (LooOOOOOOTS of dumb mixing choices. Holy crap i specialize in dumb mixing choices. But that’s Phase 5. We’ll get to that in about a month.)

Anyway, there you have it. Phase 3, sit and play and are record away until you can listen to in multiple states of mind and not be offended.

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

 
 
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