Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A friend says he can hear when singers are using auto-tune, the pitch correcting program widely used in pop recording in recent years. I have read others saying they can hear it.

I'm not sure that I ever have, but I think I may have on Wednesday.

A delightful, charming, chipper, somewhat familiar riff opened a tune on a pop station. When the singer came in I realized I had heard it a few times -- "Soak Up the Sun," the 2002 hit by Sheryl Crow, with the catchy tune and annoying lyrics -- "I'm gonna tell everyone to lighten up," the least lightening-up of phrases, unless it's said with the lightest and most compassionate of touches, which the song does not manage.

The choirs of overdubbed Sheryls on the song's choruses sound like harmony-on-MSG, flavor-enhanced harmony, solid block of physical harmony. Made me think, hmm, I wonder -- is it auto-tune? And then I noticed the portamentos, the glides from one note to another, and they were perfectly smooth and symmetrical. As if achieved with the twiddle of a nob.

I think I heard auto-tune.

Listen for the portamentos.

* * *

I've been making a list of all my songs, dating back to high school. So far it's up to 184, not counting band-written songs in college to which I contributed treble guitar riffs, but including songs for plays and 9 instrumentals. I co-wrote 29 with friends and family members. An additional 25 are settings of texts by people I don't know.

Topical songs, wedding songs (two played at actual weddings), songs of death and dying, love songs, lust songs, songs about work, party songs, songs of angst, songs of self-doubt and self-loathing, a birth song, family songs, relationship songs, songs of friendship, narrative ballads, non-signifying word salads, walking songs, car songs, a bicycle song, a waiting-for-the-bus song, songs of economic anxiety, animal songs, lullabies, seasonal songs, songs of illness (“Hospital,” “The Headache,”), bathing songs (“Singing in the Shower,” “Why Is Nat Not Washing Himself” [written with my son]), eating and drinking songs. No songs about boats or trains. One song mentions an airport. No hate songs, excluding political songs. A number of not-particularly-good songs. But a lot I’d be happy to play for you some time.

I’m still learning. I didn’t successfully set prose until I was past 40. And now on the horizon of my mind’s ear I’m
faintly hearing different types of song than what I’ve written before. The itch. I’m glad to have it.

* * *

Update, Sunday, May 13. I remembered three more songs today, including one I had been thinking of playing at an upcoming gig. New total, 187.

Update, late Monday night, May 14. Remembered two more, new total 189. But I must confess, this list may be a cheat, as I don't remember a lot of the songs in full. I did, however, write them, and performed the vast majority of them in public at one time, or recorded them. Some of them are very short. I've always loved haiku.

Update, May 18. I remembered two more, one today and one yesterday. New total 191.

Update, June 9. Came across one in the archive of this blog, while looking for something else. 192.

I love that you're so obsessive. It makes me feel almost normal.
Glad to be of service!
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