Songwriting Series: #8

Sadly, relationships may be destroyed by a simple misunderstanding or a perception of existing inadequacy. Pain, deterioration of personal respect, and reduction of perceived self-worth are common results of relationship failure. The destructive process does not even have to be consciously conducted. Perhaps even without being aware one is doing so, tiny perceived imperfections may encourage latent, hidden anger which is eventually brought to the fore, often repeatedly. “RETRY” exists as a sentiment that relationships require work to succeed. Retrying, and trying again, despite previous issue, difficulties, or problems.

RETRY posed one major challenge: auto-tune. Logic Pro’s workstation environment continuously did not allow me to properly chain audio recordings to MIDI notes. Other programs such as Cubase (a program I do not own) provide a more intuitive working process for autotune. Logic Pro’s ‘auto-tune’ is more of a pitch correction, and rather than being able to map a waveform to a programmed MIDI entry, it merely locks the recorded audio to closest perceived pitch. While this results in a track that sounds like T-Pain, I wanted more finesse and control over my ultimate result. Since my singing was by default not very accurate, the pitch correction tool lined my voice with the notes closest, rather than the correct notes I intended for. After hours of toil, I surrendered in frustration, compensating by mixing the pitch-correction plugin with the vocoder plugin (which also proved to not provide the effects I wanted).

I had no prior experience in vocal editing (disregarding adding reverb and slight compression), so that was the main challenge for this part of the project. The instrumentation, however, was quite enjoyable to implement. I discovered that square wave instruments, muted guitars, and flanger instruments provided a clear, sharp, and more easily discernible sound as compared to acoustic instruments. Balancing instruments were less of an issue in this song, as it felt like the instruments didn’t need expert mixing. The sounds already mixed together pretty well. Whether this is due to the fact that the instruments are nearly all electric, I can’t be too sure. Acoustic instruments seemed to have specific timbres that pair together with greater specificity and selectivity.

This particular song’s style was born from the fact that I wanted to show for my final portfolio that I could write songs in a large range of genres. This definitely stretched my writing/instrumentation chops, but I stuck to my three strengths and types of songs that I listen to the most: anime J-POP, cute/moe/happy/children-like songs, and acoustic guitar/piano ballads. Hopefully Songwriting Series #8, #9, and #10 show this breadth. Inspiration for RETRY mainly derives from all the VOCALOID songs that I listen to, particularly Hatsune Miku (this song more cute, but perhaps obnoxious, xD), who’s probably the most popular VOCALOID at the moment. Initially, I spent a lot of time attempting to figure out how to implement my own voice in a VOCALOID-like manner, but Logic Pro proved to be unhelpful with this endeavor. Regardless, the end result is more bombastic and loud than any of my other previous other songs. If I had to change anything, I would re-record my singing, as well as pump up the volume on the vocal tracks. You might also notice that during the song, my voice travels back and forth within sound space; the Marantz recorder I was using records dual-stero audio and I was rocking back and forth while singing trying to sing on rhythm. Normally, voice recordings are done with mono-recording equipment, but I didn’t realize until I listened to the final product. Ah well.

Two interesting things I wanted to point out include that the extra counter point voice you hear during the chorus that strangely sounds like a female is actually my vocoded voice. If you listen closely, you’ll notice it’s near impossible to decipher what I’m trying to say, which was one of reasons why the vocoder failed miserably. The second thing is that in the phrase line “Even if I hold back these words they won’t change anything,” I accidentally change “anything” to “a damn thing.” Just a sneak peak of my recording frustrations, haha. xD

RETRY (2012) Lyrics

RETRY (2012)
By Christopher Hsing 

Surely such a great height terrifies me
Surely the sky above will distract me

All along I was still just focusing on
The feelings that are so old they’ve faded black and white
However surely now the ocean of the deepest part of my heart is drowning itself
What will I do?

Now no longer holding on, my suffocating grasp is gone
You’re watching me and I know
That I was always just a chain tied tightly round your two bare feet
This road goes on ahead

All the pain I have inflicted shows up on your face
So beautiful so beautiful
Just how many times is that I’ve hurt you?
Can I apologize?

Tell me, I’m listening, can you understand how things ended up exactly like this?
Please tell me, right here and right now, I can take it
Even if I hold back these words won’t they change anything?
What can I do?

Now you’re holding on to me I get back to my feet once more
You’re watching me and I know
You always help me to fight on, and even when I’m crying tears
You help wipe them off my wet cheeks

One more time one more time, I hold my breath in
You reach out for my hand to pull me back to you over again
One more time, this time, I’ll stand up by myself
And I’ll be the someone that you can always depend on

We’re still trying to hold on, but for the first time I’m relieved
You and I now understand
That though once upon a time we were dazzled by our blinding lights
We have outgrown that

Now maybe the new me can see, can live, exist, and stay that way
Rather it’s certain
So I’ll say it, thanks to you, I continue to grow, my love
Just watch, this is forever

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