Three Fingers

If there's one thing I do more slowly than updating blog posts, it's making records. i work so slowly, so slowly, that I surprise myself by how slowly I work.

These days, you hear a lot about how easy it is to make records. Why, with just a laptop and a couple of microphones, you can make an album in your bedroom in one afternoon, at almost no cost.

Yes, but all this wonderful technology does not speed the composition process by a minute. At least not in my case. I take months and months to write a tune. Rather, in the course of a year, I come up with a couple dozen ideas that may or may not work out. As I play around with these ideas, or "germs" of tunes,  I'll try them in different keys, try different rhythms, try combining ideas. And in the course of a year, maybe two or three of these ideas will crystallize into an actual composition that bears repeated listening.

Meanwhile, months have gone by. When I finally have four more tunes, then it's time to phone the usual cohort: Dennis Diken on drums, Paul Page on bass, Lance Doss on guitar, recording engineer Greg Duffin, and now engineer Mario Viele. Just a couple of weeks ago, we convened in Cowboy Technical Services, the studio operated by Eric "Roscoe" Ambel and Tim Hatfield.

Once we got everyone in the same room at the same time, we just started flying. In about five hours, we recorded basic tracks for four songs. Keep in mind that we had never played these tunes together until that evening in the studio.

And let me tell you, I am excited about the results so far. This new stuff will be the most original music I have had the privilege to make. Or the weirdest, depending on your view. I'm excited, I tell you.

Typically, I need three years to make a full-length record. (I still think in terms of albums -- I can't help it, that's how I came up.) During that three-year period, I may need 10 or 12 days in the recording studio to complete the process, from recording basic tracks to adding a few simple overdubs to getting final mixes.

By the way, I tend to do these things in the most difficult, most expensive way possible, recording onto two-inch analog tape and mixing to half-inch tape. Because we use tape, we have limits on how many tracks we can use. And we have to get it right, all in one take, because post-performance editing is more difficult in the analog realm. I do it this way for reasons that I'll explain in a future post.

So my question is, does it take me three years to make a record, or does it take me 12 days? When I put out my last release, Mood Lit, my ha-ha catchy phrase was, "This record was made very quickly, over a long period of time." Maybe I should consult a Zen master.

In the meantime, I'll just say that the as-yet-untitled third album is well under way, and it's already developing its own sound and personality, and I hope you'll stay tuned.

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Audio Playlist

Latest Release: "Pale Afternoon"

 The latest release  from Jim  Duffy is "Pale Afternoon," a  collection of 11  moody and bouncy  instrumental pop tunes. Buy CDs here.

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