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xkcd Internet Band--Now Organizing (newcomers still welcome)

Posted: Sat Nov 07, 2009 4:11 am UTC
by sillybear25
I remember reading an article by Jonathan Coulton about how to become an internet rock star. Paraphrasing the article, he basically said that the recording equipment built into most modern (even really cheap) computers combined with free software is more powerful than what the Beatles had when they recorded Sgt. Pepper's, so just about anyone can record their own music if they want to.

Personally, I play the trombone quite well (I'd say I'm at the upper level of intermediate), play the guitar quite badly (a couple chords, a few songs, and that's about it), and can't sing at all. Considering there are quite a few musicians here, I was wondering if anyone would care to form a band. Considering my interests in music (pretty much anything rock) and the fact that my best instrument is the trombone, it would probably be either a ska/ska-inspired or alternative/experimental type band. Personally, I'm leaning more towards the latter option; in my opinion, a rock band with atypical rock instruments would be hella fun.

That said, if this goes through, I'm cool with pretty much any instrumentation: brass, woodwinds, electric, acoustic, "other" (beatboxing? That might be interesting...).

Also, I'm not really that creative, so if anyone would like to step in as songwriter or composer, that'd be cool, too.

Auxiliary Threads:

Tentative Roster:
Winds:
  • sillybear25: Trombone
  • nyeguy: Clarinet/Alto Saxophone
  • chocolate.razorblades: Native American Flute
  • Bassoon: Bassoon
  • thicknavyrain: C Harmonica
  • Allium Cepa: Eb Harmonica/Baritone Saxophone
  • PJ the Epic: Various instruments
  • bbq: Trumpet/Tuba
  • kinigget: Alto Saxophone
  • howardh: Flute/C Harmonica
Strings:
  • Mighty Jalapeno: Bass Guitar (Metal/Funk)
  • Midnight: Bass (Jazzy/Whatever/Pizzicato Double Bass)
  • King of Frogs: Bass Guitar (Distorted/Treble)
  • luvnotwar: Guitar
  • Ledah: Guitar
  • PJ the Epic: Ukulele/Piano
  • frogman: Backup Guitar
  • Chavroux: Guitar
  • Mr Cow: Cello
Percussion:
  • Vohu Manah
  • Midnight: Drums
  • Phrozt: Drums
Electronics:
  • scrt_rbt_agnt: Mixing/Mastering/MIDI
  • Smiling Hobo: Keyboards/Synthesizers
  • icelizzard: Audio Effects
  • poxic: Keyboards
  • frogman: Keyboards
Vocals:
  • tin (Soul-ish)
  • luvnotwar
  • Bassoon (Bass)
  • King of Frogs (Backing Vocals)
  • poxic (Backing Vocals)
Miscellaneous:
  • Blinke: Organizational Assistance (Manager?)
  • icelizzard: Songwriting/Composition
  • thicknavyrain: Lyrics
  • kinigget: Songwriting (maybe?)

EDIT: it seems BBCode doesn't get along well with lists... :x

Re: xkcd Internet Band?

Posted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 7:19 pm UTC
by Blinke
This sounds like a pretty cool idea if you could work it out. Sadly, I have no musical talent whatsoever and thus nothing to contribute :(

Re: xkcd Internet Band?

Posted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 10:35 pm UTC
by nyeguy
I'm not a great songwriter, but I would love to contribute clarinet or alto sax parts. I've played clarinet for 7 years and alto for 5, and would say I play at a lower college (non-music major) level.

Re: xkcd Internet Band?

Posted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 10:37 pm UTC
by Mighty Jalapeno
I can throw in some heavy-metal / funk bass.

Re: xkcd Internet Band?

Posted: Thu Nov 12, 2009 7:03 am UTC
by Vohu Manah
I don't think I'll have much time, but I could add in percussion. I was once voted the best triangle player in the entire school. It was the proudest moment of my life.

Re: xkcd Internet Band?

Posted: Fri Nov 13, 2009 1:52 am UTC
by Midnight
i'll dig in some bass with jalepeno. jazzy bass if need be. cause really, who DOESN'T want a band with 2+ basses.

Re: xkcd Internet Band?

Posted: Fri Nov 13, 2009 3:03 am UTC
by sillybear25
It's neat that there's so much interest in this sort of thing. I'll add a list of potential members (don't worry; it's not an official commitment or anything) to the first post, just so we sort of have a running roster.

Re: xkcd Internet Band?

Posted: Fri Nov 13, 2009 3:30 am UTC
by scrt_rbt_agnt
sillybear25 wrote:I remember reading an article by Jonathan Coulton about how to become an internet rock star. Paraphrasing the article, he basically said that the recording equipment built into most modern (even really cheap) computers combined with free software is more powerful than what the Beatles had when they recorded Sgt. Pepper's, so just about anyone can record their own music if they want to.


hahaha.

ok ok. see this is a misconception. "more powerful" recording doesn't mean anything. the beatles had access to professional tape-style recording equipment along with good microphones and multi-track mixers. now that i'm done with that, i think this is a great idea. i highly recommend garageband if any of you have a mac (although importing and exporting sort of sucks). i have heard audacity is a pretty good multi-platform program but i have never had any success with it myself.

on my end of things, if you guys want to try recording things, i can mix and master* tracks that you want to layer over one another since i have protools. i also own a variety of instruments and can make a variety of instrument sounds via MIDI controllers.

*mastering tracks would include trying to get the best sound out of the recording using eq and hi/low cut filters along with maybe some reverb or delay or anything that might sound cool.

Re: xkcd Internet Band?

Posted: Fri Nov 13, 2009 4:08 am UTC
by Smiling Hobo
If this thing works out, I'd be down with contributing keyboard/synth parts. I can play at an upper-intermediate level.

*Nibbles on kitten*

Re: xkcd Internet Band?

Posted: Fri Nov 13, 2009 6:43 am UTC
by sillybear25
scrt_rbt_agnt wrote:ok ok. see this is a misconception. "more powerful" recording doesn't mean anything.


Again, paraphrasing. My words, not his. Though he did imply that it's a lot less expensive now to get similar quality to what was then professional quality. Either way, it's not like we're professionals. We're like-minded amateur musicians getting together to have fun and maybe make some good music.


Also, anyone have any idea how to make this come together? I had the idea of having one person record, passing the recording on to the next person to add on to, etc., but that could have issues. Anyone have any better ideas?

Also also, MJ and Midnight: Based on the context of your posts, I assume you meant bass guitar and not upright bass. I'm only bothering to note the difference because I did say any instrument. An upright bass along with two bass guitars would certainly be unique...

Re: xkcd Internet Band?

Posted: Fri Nov 13, 2009 10:06 am UTC
by Phill
sillybear25 wrote:Also, anyone have any idea how to make this come together? I had the idea of having one person record, passing the recording on to the next person to add on to, etc., but that could have issues. Anyone have any better ideas?


My suggestion would be to lay down a 'base' track with basic guitar, vocals, maybe metronome. That can then be distributed and people will all record to that track. Then that can all be mixed together separately. Obviously it would have to be an iterative process as ideas tend to develop over time, but still... I have no idea how these things work so take my ideas with a pinch of salt :p

In principle I might be able to lay down a little bit of piano or guitar (piano is easy as it has a record output) but in practice I don't think I'm going to have the time :(

Re: xkcd Internet Band?

Posted: Fri Nov 13, 2009 12:13 pm UTC
by tin
If you need a vocalist, i'd be sorta interested in doing something. I'm not sure how to describe my voice. Soul-ish? I'm not much of a songwriter but have done a little bit in the past.

Re: xkcd Internet Band?

Posted: Fri Nov 13, 2009 12:16 pm UTC
by King of Frogs
This may be a bit late, but if you want a third bassist I can add a hard distorted bassline with added wah pedal (I tend to play with lots of treble, so I often just sound like a deep, heavy normal guitar).

With a lineup like this we're either a drone metal band or King Crimson :P.

Re: xkcd Internet Band?

Posted: Fri Nov 13, 2009 2:20 pm UTC
by Blinke
Come to think of it, since I've got so much free time these days I guess I can volunteer to aid with organizing this thing should it be needed.

Re: xkcd Internet Band--Seeking any (and I mean ANY) instruments

Posted: Fri Nov 13, 2009 7:38 pm UTC
by luvnotwar
I can sing or play guitar.

Re: xkcd Internet Band--Seeking any (and I mean ANY) instruments

Posted: Fri Nov 13, 2009 8:59 pm UTC
by chocolate.razorblades
I can add a Native American flute. HOW AWESOME WOULD THAT BE IN A ROCK BAND. It might work.

Re: xkcd Internet Band--Seeking any (and I mean ANY) instruments

Posted: Sat Nov 14, 2009 6:04 am UTC
by Bassoon
I'd be down for this. I'm in it for bassoon, but I can sing pretty well, too. I sing as a bass.

Re: xkcd Internet Band--Seeking any (and I mean ANY) instruments

Posted: Sat Nov 14, 2009 11:07 am UTC
by icelizarrd
(I'm actually another xkcd member who is silly and doesn't want to use his other username. See intro thread for slightly more explanation.)

I could contribute songwriting/composition ideas and notation, if needed. Building up a song track by track, with people just playing a riff or whatever they want is a fine way to do things. But, I don't know, in case someone isn't comfortable making up her own part, for example, I could give suggestions. (Not that they would have to be taken, obviously.) If we want lyrics, though, I tend to get very stuck when trying to write them, so someone else probably ought to do text.

I also do creative audio effects - messing with other people's recordings, chopping them up, adding delays, sample reduction, ring modulation, etc. to suit particular moments in the piece - if desired.

How do people feel about making a project at some kind of music collaboration site? I haven't found one that seems free and appropriate yet, but it might be a help to have uploaded tracks centralized and viewable somewhere. (Or we could just use something like Mediafire?)

Re: xkcd Internet Band--Seeking any (and I mean ANY) instruments

Posted: Sat Nov 14, 2009 11:30 am UTC
by thicknavyrain
I could do harmonica (although I only have a C harmonica right now, so it'd be fairly melodic stuff) and I wouldn't mind giving the lyricist role a go. I do like writing lyrics about things.

Re: xkcd Internet Band--Seeking any (and I mean ANY) instruments

Posted: Sat Nov 14, 2009 1:20 pm UTC
by King of Frogs
I have to say the line-up currently is looking like this is going to be one awesome band. :D

Since we are (hypothetically, as the band doesn't really exist yet so to speak) a band that met on the xkcd fora, it would be cool to have an xkcd related name. My vote would go with "Angular Momentum" as apart from it being one of the more famous xkcd comics, its also a damn cool phrase. If we're wanting something a bit more silly, then I suppose another option would be to call ourselves "The Classholes" or something :P.

In terms of songs to play, again on the xkcd theme (though not wanting to make this an xkcd tribute band) we could use Randall's file sharing related lyrics played to "My Generation" (http://xkcd.com/274/). It's a fairly good song to start off with as well because the chord structure is about as simple as it gets and there's lots of room for people adding their own personal touch (I think it would sound incredible with a wind section).

Though I have to say, as a bassist and a massive Who fan, I may be a little biased... :roll:

Edit: I would also like to offer my services as a backing vocalist, I'm not a great singer, but I can harmonise with others if need be.

Re: xkcd Internet Band--Seeking any (and I mean ANY) instruments

Posted: Sat Nov 14, 2009 3:09 pm UTC
by Blinke
King of Frogs wrote:I have to say the line-up currently is looking like this is going to be one awesome band. :D
Absolutely! Will be interesting to see what kind of stuff you can come up with. Oh, and Angular Momentum has my vote. :P

icelizarrd wrote:How do people feel about making a project at some kind of music collaboration site? I haven't found one that seems free and appropriate yet, but it might be a help to have uploaded tracks centralized and viewable somewhere. (Or we could just use something like Mediafire?)
It would definately make things easier to have things uploaded somewhere instead of having to send files constantly. I don't really know anything any music collaboration sites but I suppose Mediafire would suffice, unless anyone has a better suggestion? I wouldn't mind setting up and maintaining an account on whatever site we decide to stick to.

Re: xkcd Internet Band--Seeking any (and I mean ANY) instruments

Posted: Sat Nov 14, 2009 7:26 pm UTC
by Allium Cepa
I can play Eb harmonica (I don't know how useful that would be) and I can also play either alto or bari sax. Since nyeguy said he'd already play alto, I can cover bari which I'd like to think I'm pretty good at.

Re: xkcd Internet Band--Seeking any (and I mean ANY) instruments

Posted: Sun Nov 15, 2009 12:28 am UTC
by sillybear25
King of Frogs wrote:Since we are (hypothetically, as the band doesn't really exist yet so to speak) a band that met on the xkcd fora, it would be cool to have an xkcd related name. My vote would go with "Angular Momentum" as apart from it being one of the more famous xkcd comics, its also a damn cool phrase. If we're wanting something a bit more silly, then I suppose another option would be to call ourselves "The Classholes" or something :P.


Alternatively, we could be completely uncreative and call ourselves "Hedgeclipper" =P.

Also, it's nice to see that our instrumentation is filling out a little bit more (assuming this is the actual lineup, that is...). For a while, it looked like we were getting nothing but bassists =/

Re: xkcd Internet Band--Seeking any (and I mean ANY) instruments

Posted: Sun Nov 15, 2009 4:10 am UTC
by Bassoon
I rather like Angular Momentum. It's got that mystical, cool feeling about it.

Re: xkcd Internet Band--Seeking any (and I mean ANY) instruments

Posted: Sun Nov 15, 2009 4:18 am UTC
by Mighty Jalapeno
We prefer to be called 'basstards', thank you.

Re: xkcd Internet Band--Seeking any (and I mean ANY) instruments

Posted: Sun Nov 15, 2009 7:36 am UTC
by icelizarrd
I'm a fan of "Angular Momentum".

Blinke wrote:I don't really know anything any music collaboration sites but I suppose Mediafire would suffice, unless anyone has a better suggestion? I wouldn't mind setting up and maintaining an account on whatever site we decide to stick to.
Looks like kompoz.com could be an option, but they do charge a one-time fee of $10 USD to set up a private project. Not terribly unreasonably, but we must be able to do better.

I've looked at a few other collaboration sites like Indaba and Thounds, which might be good for people who aren't familiar with recording software, but it doesn't look like there's any convenient way for other people to download separate tracks once they've been uploaded. I think you just get to download whatever you end up with for the mix. MyBlogBand and MyOnlineBand might have potential, haven't really experimented with them yet though.

Mediafire might just be the easiest way to go--we'd, what, make an account and share the password on this thread?

Re: xkcd Internet Band--Seeking any (and I mean ANY) instruments

Posted: Sun Nov 15, 2009 8:27 am UTC
by poxic
I rather like Hedgeclippers, myself. Rock on, garden implements.

I confess that, for all I've learned about music and recording over the five-year life (to date) of our jam band, I'm ignorant of web-based stuff. We've always used physical media -- cassette tapes while the old four-track was alive, CDs for the year or two that we used the 8-track digibeast, and now hard drives with the new up-to-24-track digidemon. (We're using 14 tracks right now, plus the last two (making 16) for the mixdown. I think four or five tracks are used by the drums alone during recording. Our engineer is a bit of a sound nazi.)

FWIW, I play keyboard most of the time. I can sing a bit, though I'm better at backup vocals than lead. I do some lyrics now and then. I have a Roland GW-7 keyboard and just took the Hammond XK1 off of our engineer as well. (I owe him something like C$800 for it. Ow ow ow, but it's a wonderful instrument.) (The one he's not selling is the Alesis Andromeda A6, a gorgeous alien beast that I still get to play sometimes. :mrgreen: )

One common problem with projects like this, as with the jam band, is that people go "cool! I can do whatever I want!" and they noodle along for their entire track. Sixteen tracks of people noodling along constantly ... adds up to a lot of mess. Drums and bass should be present all the time, as a rule, and vocalists can do as they please, but everyone else can benefit from listening hard to all that's going on and finding a small corner to inhabit. That often means doing nothing for several bars, then blatting one or two big notes at the start of the chorus, for example. It's a hard discipline to learn, but the music benefits.

Re: xkcd Internet Band--Seeking any (and I mean ANY) instruments

Posted: Sun Nov 15, 2009 11:01 am UTC
by Blinke
icelizarrd wrote:I'm a fan of "Angular Momentum".

Blinke wrote:I don't really know anything any music collaboration sites but I suppose Mediafire would suffice, unless anyone has a better suggestion? I wouldn't mind setting up and maintaining an account on whatever site we decide to stick to.
MyBlogBand and MyOnlineBand might have potential, haven't really experimented with them yet though.

Mediafire might just be the easiest way to go--we'd, what, make an account and share the password on this thread?
MyOnlineBand looks like it could be an option, being free is always a plus. Kompoz seems nice as well, we'd have to be 100% sure this happening before we start putting money in it though.

It looks like the free version of Mediafire has a size limit of 200 MB per file on your uploads. I have absolutely no experience with sound recording, is there any risk of a track exceeding that?

Re: xkcd Internet Band--Seeking any (and I mean ANY) instruments

Posted: Sun Nov 15, 2009 7:27 pm UTC
by Ledah
I can join with the good old electric guitar. Lately I've been going through a somewhat more prog rock phase, probably related to going to a Porcupine Tree concert next weekend.

Re: xkcd Internet Band--Seeking any (and I mean ANY) instruments

Posted: Sun Nov 15, 2009 7:32 pm UTC
by thicknavyrain
Personally I think,"Hedgeclipper" rules,
No better name than a garden tool,
Incidentally would someone orchestrate the whole thing,
Or would we thread our bits together like a piece of string?[1]

Re: xkcd Internet Band--Seeking any (and I mean ANY) instruments

Posted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 2:41 am UTC
by Smiling Hobo
Blinke wrote:It looks like the free version of Mediafire has a size limit of 200 MB per file on your uploads. I have absolutely no experience with sound recording, is there any risk of a track exceeding that?
"Echoes" by Pink Floyd only takes up ~20 MB in M4A format, so I think the chances of an MP3 or M4A file exceeding 200 MB in size are quite unlikely...unless the track is a couple hours long or something.

I also am a fan of Hedgeclippers.

*Nibbles on kitten*

Re: xkcd Internet Band--Seeking any (and I mean ANY) instruments

Posted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 4:50 am UTC
by icelizarrd
Well, ideally we wouldn't be using a lossy format like MP3/MP4 -- but then, ideally we wouldn't be recording from microphones built into laptops and such ;P

Nonetheless, even for wav and AIFF, it's still not likely to be over 200, I think. For 24-bit stereo at 44100hz, it comes out to about 15 megs per minute, and for 16 bit, ~10 megs per minute. So we should be good for something under 13 minutes or 20 minutes, depending on bit depth; and for most (all?) individual instrument tracks, we should be fine with just mono anyway, which I believe halves the MB required, thus doubling our maximum time.


*Ahem* Edited because I misremembered it as a "250mb" limit, not 200.

Ooh, further edit to suggest a compromise name: Angular Hedgeclipper Momentum!

Re: xkcd Internet Band--Seeking any (and I mean ANY) instruments

Posted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 1:11 pm UTC
by Blinke
That's what I thought, but I figured I'd ask anyway :P Looks like Mediafire is viable then.

Also, Angular Hedgeclipper Momentum is an awesome name.

Re: xkcd Internet Band--Seeking any (and I mean ANY) instruments

Posted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 10:48 pm UTC
by PJ the Epic
I play the basson, clarinet, tuner (pretty dang well thank you), and my PVC flute I made. Maybe piano, maybe ukelele, maybe panpipes. I don't really know, as there is no spot in a regular band for these instruments.

Re: xkcd Internet Band?

Posted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 5:19 am UTC
by Midnight
sillybear25 wrote:
scrt_rbt_agnt wrote:Also also, MJ and Midnight: Based on the context of your posts, I assume you meant bass guitar and not upright bass. I'm only bothering to note the difference because I did say any instrument. An upright bass along with two bass guitars would certainly be unique...


I don't OWN one. I can get access to and play one, however. They're pretty ludicrously expensive to own and I don't use one enough that renting would really be viable. I can't do arco (with a bow) very well, but going back to the jazz thing, I can slap it fine.

and I only say jazzy because MJ locked down funk and stuff. I can do whatever. I'm trinna fill in the cracks not step on toes.

Re: xkcd Internet Band--Seeking any (and I mean ANY) instruments

Posted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 6:01 am UTC
by frogman
Hey this sounds awesome! I could do keyboards and maybe a bit of backup guitar if needed.

Re: xkcd Internet Band--Seeking any (and I mean ANY) instruments

Posted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 8:47 am UTC
by Chavroux
If you should need an extra guitar you may always ask me.

I've been playing classical guitar for 17 years now (12 years at the music academy) and electric guitar for 13 years. (I've had 7 years of Jazz-guitar education.)

I used to play lots and lots of metal, but nowadays I tend to play more weird-scale jazzy drones and Zappa-like improvisation; I can also play Malmsteen and Morbid Angel-like stuff as well as flamenco, though it's a bit rusty at the moment.

Re: xkcd Internet Band--Seeking any (and I mean ANY) instruments

Posted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 9:49 am UTC
by Blinke
Looks like this is coming together quite nicely. Was a bit worried about the lack of guitars before but I think we've got enough now. Is it time to start this thing up for real soon?

Re: xkcd Internet Band--Seeking any (and I mean ANY) instruments

Posted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 10:45 am UTC
by icelizarrd
Sounds good to me. We need to take it out of the "just planning" phase fairly soon before people lose interest or get their time drained by other endeavors, I suspect.


Okay, so how are we gonna get started? Since I've (foolishly?) volunteered for composition duty, should I start sketching out some rough plans or ideas? Or does someone want to step forward and give the others a riff/melody/chord progression for others to play against?

Should also mention structure. As far as overall structure goes, a number of ways occur to me.
First, we don't pay any attention to it and all, and just slap things together as we go along.
Second, we do a typical verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus kinda deal.
Third, we have a chaotic jam session over the same chords/riffs for the entire duration of the piece.
Fourth, we, um, do a pseudo-prog-rock kind of thing where we have lots of fairly distinct sections but without any real pattern behind them, giving us some arbitrary form like AABCDEEFBCG...
Fifth, jazz style, with a "head" (chorus) at the beginning and end (possibly in the middle once or twice, depending on the tune length), and improvisation in between, possibly with certain (a) specific instrument(s) soloing while the others are silent or play supportively.
Sixth, techno/trance style, with repetitive 4 to 16 bar parts that play over and over again for particular instruments, and we take away parts and add them back in at other places so the music builds and falls.
Seventh, something I haven't suggested here.
Eighth, ??????
Ninth, PROFIT!

Anyone have strong feelings one way or another?

Ooh, also, I notice we don't have any drummers. Do we want drums? We could use drum machines or samples instead, if no one pops up before long. Or we could be hip and avant-garde and skip out on drums altogether. EDIT: Oh, wait, we do have a percussionist. That works too, although you didn't mention whether that includes a traditional kit?

Midnight wrote:I don't OWN one [an upright bass]. I can get access to and play one, however.
Excellent, can you? Pretty pretty please? I loves me some double bass sounds.

Re: xkcd Internet Band--Seeking any (and I mean ANY) instruments

Posted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 1:59 pm UTC
by King of Frogs
I dunno about everyone else, but I think a good old drumkit would be very useful indeed, I find I play a lot better if there is a drummer involved. Not sure what specifically is meant by "percussion" by the person who volunteered for it, but I certainly think a lot of interesting percussive sounds as well as a drumkit would be hella awesome.

Personally I like the idea of the sixth option, I like fairly repetitive music, and it should be fairly easy to compose. Also, repeating patterns does not necessitate being really basic, or overly simple with your instument, so it's actually fairly free in style individually.