View Full Version : New song - Casa Batlo

June 26th, 2012, 10:17 AM
Hi Everyone,

I have finally been getting back into writing again this summer, as I've had more time to dedicate to that.
I've been experimenting with Ukulele as an instrument to layer background parts with. Because of the way the Ukulele is tuned, it works great with finger picked parts and it mixes well with classical guitar since it sounds like a capoed classical guitar.

I wrote this song called Casa Batlo using the Ukulele, classical guitar, strings, bass, and tremolo electric.

You can hear it at the following link:

Lately I've been writing songs to capture a moods of different places (like this place in Spain that I saw this year). I've found this to be a good way to focus on writing the music to fit some mood in my head, rather than just trying to come up with songs by randomly experimenting with guitar parts. I'm working on some quirkier sound scapes for other things just for fun. I'll post them as soon as I finish them. Thanks for listening!

--Jim Pfeifer

June 26th, 2012, 07:35 PM
What a wonderful, happy sounding, relaxing tune!

Seriously great work, Jim. Everything coordinates so well, with the electric, classical acoustic, uke, strings and bass.

Consider me in awe of your talent, sir!

June 26th, 2012, 07:44 PM
Thanks so much Katastrophe!! I really appreciate it.

June 26th, 2012, 07:53 PM
Jim, this is terrific. The melody and what follows is simple, but what you do with it is really something special. I love the combination and mix of the instruments, and the piece overall is really joyful-- we can all use some extra of that. Can you elaborate on your recording techniques? Overall what strikes me is how you can take that idea or inspiration with a relatively simple melody line -- no insult meant by that at all -- and weave it into something rich and memorable.

I'm not selling my guitars just yet, and would love to learn something from anything you can share about your great accomplishment here.

June 26th, 2012, 08:54 PM
Thanks so much helliott! You all are way too nice :-)

In terms of the way this came about, I started with that Ukulele part, finger picked. I bought my daughter a Ukulele a couple of years ago and I started experimenting with it to see what kinds of sounds I could get with it. I liked how it had this kind of happy sweet sound to it. I thought it would work well as a background instrument. So I came up with that fingerpicked part first, and put a rough demo of that together on my pocket recorder (this is my tool for experimenting with song ideas). Then I worked out a chord progression and melody to go with that initial idea. I spent a lot of time editing the melody until I was happy with it (this is usually the hardest part to get right) I normally keep editing a song with demo tracks until I'm happy with the arrangement. It helps to work on it (get it in stuck in your head) then go away and forget about it for a while, take a walk, etc. Often this is when you will get other ideas for it to make it better after you get away from it for a while.

Then after I put the melody and chord progression together I started working out string parts that would help to bring out the chord progression better (coming in later in the song to help add some depth to it). Strings are easy to over-do, so you have to try some things with the arrangement (sometimes only playing a couple of notes out of each chord) then listen back to see how they make you feel (how they sound against the guitar part) then edit the sting parts so that they sound natural. I usually edit the midi parts to that the phrases are smooth like a real sting player.

I recorded the bass part going direct using a tube preamp and EQ so that it sounded as much like a bass amp as I could get (this is a common way to record bass. It's not as common to record bass with a real amp as it is for guitar)

I wanted to put an electric guitar part in there to add color. When I was working on this song I kept thinking of that theme from the movie Midnight Cowboy. So I wanted a sound that was kind of western-like with tremolo played in the low register. I think of song arrangements as kind of like a painting. Some parts are kind of like the background scene that help to support the main character in the painting (which is usually the vocal or the melody instrument) The trick is to add these background parts that add some depth to the overall track without taking too much attention away from the main thing going on. Sometimes you have to pan a part to one side or another, or push it further into the background with reverb so that it doesn't compete too much with the main part. It also helps to double a part to emphasize it in the mix. This is what I did with that bass groove in the middle of the song. I just copied the bass part on guitar and double-tracked it (panned each track L/R so that it would stand out).

For me it's an iterative process until I get the painting just the way I want it. Sometimes it's hard to tell when it's done.
I'm still learning things about production, but it's always very rewarding to put a song together and experiment with new sounds.
It's even better when people actually like it :-) Thanks again for listening to the track.