We finally have all the Sam Shade songs “in the can”!
It has taken longer than we thought, and our battle to conquer our innovative delivery system (innovative for this industry!) has finally been won (we’re pretty sure). We have vocal tracks (for rehearsal, the “here’s how it goes” tracks) and instrumental accompaniment tracks for those who just aren’t able to muster their own musicians.
Here you see our wonderful sound engineer, Doug Raney, clowning a bit with Zach and “the girls.” From left to right, you see Shannon furthest from the camera, then Aly and Sable. This particular session featured Zach as Sam Shade with Aly in her role as Sylvia Songbird, together singing “the blues” in their version of It Looks Like Christmas. Later, the girls recorded the full version of It Looks Like Christmas, in the roles of Thelma Typefast, Kitty Kindly, and Sallie Socialite.
Zach took on the role of gangster Bugsy Bigtime and helped the girls record the swinging Out on the Town Tonight. Next came the girls doing an entertaining job on Broadway Wannabes. Then the girls “lamented” the bluesy, jazzy That Man of Mine.
Our younger “Down Yonder Gang” managed to lay down We’re Orphans in one take! Then they made remarkably quick work of Jesus is Christmas.
The grand finale is the upbeat The True Meaning of Christmas which brought all 7 girls together. With me on guitar and Susan Merritt on keyboard, poor Doug was outnumbered 9 to 1 in his little studio! But he just grinned and held up very well!
“Vic the Stick” Cleaver put the finishing touches on the recordings with a cool combo of his regular trap set and his electronic drums. Now we’re really bluesy and really swingin’!
Our good friend Victor Cleaver is a popular instructor of piano, guitar, drums, and percussion in the Denton, Texas, area. Find him at vcleaver (at) verizon.net (use the “at” sign).
Doug Raney is a really cool guitar teacher, songwriter, and performer in the Denton area. Find him at dougsguitar.com.
Now, to finally finish prepping the materials and get all three Sam Shades up and running!
We decided we just had to share several of the songs from A Shakespearean Tale!
So your director came up with some storyboard ideas and one of our cast members (my artsy photographer daughter) shot the video. We did a quick immersion-style, teach-ourselves tour of iMovie and produced our very first music videos.
We did A Mother’s Song and A Good Word or Two. See them on our FamilyFriendlyPro channel on YouTube. Type the name of the song followed by Family Friendly Productions in the search bar and they will pop up.
You’ll also notice that we now have a Video Tab and both videos are available there.
Everything is original — the songs and the video footage. Even the sunrise is out our back door and so is the horse — his name is Red. Isn’t he quite the star?
Go Down Yonder is next. It should be a lot fun. Look for it soon!
We have a lot of marketing ideas for A Shakespearean Tale! and they all need a CD recording of the seven-song score. So,…we gathered up the “Down Yonder” girls from our summer cast and headed for the recording studio of a great friend, singer/songwriter Doug Raney.
With remarkable optimism, we scheduled two afternoons of recording. Aly, Jillian, Mikayla, Kelsey, and Jessi are all fairly young (Aly is the oldest) and new to the discipline of performing for microphones and a digital recorder. “Oops, do it again,” (and again and again) is the order of most recording sessions, as anyone familiar with the tedious task is well aware.
However, these kids work so well together and have such great attitudes (and fun) that we captured three songs on our first day in a minimum of “takes” and finished the last four songs the next afternoon with remarkable efficiency. Even so, it’s a bit of a tense, testing, and tiring challenge for everyone, including the musicians, though our smiling sound man seemed to sail through it with ease. Actually, we all had fun and enjoyed both sessions.
Now we’re working on scheduling our fiddler and mandolin player (and possibly bass and snare), George Merritt, to lay down some final tracks for several songs, and our “singing mom,” Angela Geis, to do the lead track for “Mother’s Song.” Angie had three kids in the summer cast. Her wonderful voice was too tempting not to ask her to play the role of Granma Gertie Lear and provide the maturity we were looking for in the song dedicated to “every mother who gets her strength from above.”
When it’s finished, the CD will allow us to put song samples on the website, provide a rehearsal/demo CD for licensed scripts, and produce three planned YouTubes! We already have a children’s book version of A Shakespearean Tale! which awaits illustrations and publishing and which will include the CD in the back.
We want to thank the Selwyn College Preparatory School for helping us with this recording project, as well as Doug Raney. Besides teaching guitar, Doug is a local performer at Denton’s Banter and other venues. George is well-known in the area for his performing and for his banjo and guitar teaching. Catch him at HowtoBuyaBanjo.com.
As Will Surrey says, “Keep up with our blog!” We’ll keep you posted on all these projects.
That is music to a writer’s ears! When people — adults, kids — can sing a song, remember a song, and be unable to forget a song (!), that’s when you know you’ve written a catchy or pleasant melody, with solid, tight structure, good rhythm and rhyme, and meaningful (or catchy, or clever, or memorable) words.
And if the song is singable, it almost always means it is playable — that any reasonably accomplished guitarist or pianist can sit down and play the song, many times by ear.
At FFP, we love music. Music is fun. We love to play it, and to sing it, and to teach others — especially young people — how to sing good songs. We like to write songs that represent a wide variety of genres. And we don’t “write down” to kids. We don’t do “kid music.” We do music. Young people, from kindergarten to high school and up, have remarkably sophisticated tastes in music and an ability to appreciate well-constructed songs in a variety of popular styles.
The young people we work with also enjoy jumping into “good styles gone by,” such as jazz, Big Band, soul, 50′s/60′s rock, 60′s surf, folk and folk rock, 40′s/50′s Broadway, Western, Appalachian, and so on. That kind of cultural literacy is a good thing! And it’s fun.
Another thing that can be fun is some outlandish juxtaposition — a James Brown-style song in Old Testament Egypt, sung by a silent-movie era character.
Look for some scripts and CDs to begin to appear soon. Our first recordings are scheduled!
Part of getting our scripts packaged for sale — and we’re working on it — is recording the music for the demo CD — the CD that shows you how each song sounds, while you get the melody (sometimes harmony), chords, and words on a “lead sheet.”
The CD helps the musician(s) learn the songs and can be duplicated for the cast members to use to learn and practice the music.
Being in launch mode and not flush with all sorts of funds on hand, we have to start small and save money on initial production. (That also saves you money.) Your writer/director used to sit down with the guitar and a cheap cassette recorder and make a quick tape of that play’s songs for the cast. One of the regular cast members happened to have a cassette duplicating machine. Now we have digital recording, very fast computers, and very affordable CDs. What a world!
Not being grooved in of late to the music-recording scene, I happened to be perusing the website of one of DFW’s leading camera stores — Competitive Cameras (they are wonderful!) — and saw a small digital recorder for an affordable price. It was a Zoom H4n Handy Recorder, the latest and greatest version of an amazing piece of technology. Yep, went right down and bought it.
This baby4-channels and multi-tracks. It has a built-in, XY configured, stereo microphone set-up that will allow you to get eyebrow-raising quality with a simple point-and-click recording of a live session. Being a “noob” (that’s a newbie who knows virtually nothing), I’ve been studying and watching YouTube videos and other tutorials to learn how to put this incredible little tool through its paces. The basic point-and-click stereo recording is fairly easy to learn. The rest requires knowledge and experience or a pursuit of education and experimentation.
We have one song of the seven in A Shakespearean Tale recorded. (Point and click.) We’re working on getting the rest done. (Multi-track!) Then it will be on to the songs for A Pirates’ Tale, and so forth.
We’ll be blogging more on what we learn for any of you other newbies who want to do some of your own audio recording of songs, plays, rehearsals, speech-and-debate tournies, interviews, YouTube tracks, whatever. Stay tuned!