Ross School - Senior Project 2013
Mentor: Adam Judd
Domains: Performing Arts
Faculty Grader: Kenneth Sacks
Documentation of Product
Title: Out of the Blues
Catalog Entry: For my senior project I composed and recorded an instrumental blues rock EP. This EP consists of three songs in which I composed and recorded all guitar parts. I also collaborated with Johnny Blood in creating the bass and drum parts of each song. All of the songs were recorded in a studio, where I learned how to use all of the recording equipment.
Exhibition & Presentation Summary
á For my senior project, I composed and recorded an instrumental Blues Rock EP focused on guitar.
o For those who donÕt know, EP stands for Extended Play. An EP is too short to be considered a studio album, but it more than just a single.
á All of the guitar parts were written and recorded by me, the drums were created digitally using EZ drums by my guitar teacher and I as a collaborative effort, and the bass was recorded by my guitar teacher.
Coming up with my idea
á Coming up with my idea was definitely a challenge. After getting assigned the senior project proposal at the end of junior year, I went into complete panic mode.
á I had no idea what I wanted to do. I could do virtually anything, and I wasnÕt sure of what I wanted to spend 8 months devoting my time to.
á After thinking a lot about what I wanted to do, I decided that I wanted to do something that involved music. Music has been something I have been passionate about since I can remember.
á My grandma always tells me that she knew I was going to be musical when I grew up because I would always dance and sing along to my favorite TV shows.
á The first idea I came up with was building an electric guitar. I thought that it would be cool to build a guitar exactly the way I wanted. Having the perfect guitar is every guitarists
á After discussing the idea with my guitar teacher and researching the cost and process of building a guitar, I came to the conclusion that building a guitar would not be a good senior project for me.
á A thought suddenly came to me: why not make an album? I had never written any music before, but it has always been something I have wanted to do.
á I finally decided to compose and record an instrumental album for my senior project. This album would be centered around guitar.
á Of course, being a teenager, I procrastinated and did not start my project until late August.
á At the end of August, I spent a week at Berklee College of Music taking part in the guitar session. Before I left, I decided that I would start writing while at Berklee.
á I hoped that when I got there, I would be so inspired being surrounded by all of this music. Of course, I ended up hanging out and jamming with friends instead.
á The day I got back from Berklee, I wrote the main riff to my first song, CatchinÕ Up. I was so inspired not only by the other guitarists, but the songs I learned for the final concert at Berklee.
Writing and Recording
á After writing my first song, I just kept writing. I ended up writing 5 or 6 songs before I even started recording.
á The recording process was very tedious. Going into the project I planned on writing and recording 7 to 10 songs for my album, but I ended up only being able to actually record 4 songs.
á I hadnÕt realized how truly difficult and time-consuming recording in a studio would be.
á I would go into the studio and lay out the drum track with my guitar teacher. Once this was done, I would record the rhythm guitar part while my guitar teacher recorded the bass. Most of the rhythm parts you hear on my album were recorded only once, live with the bass.
á Doing all of that would usually take 2 hours. The next time I went to the studio, I would start recording the lead guitar part over that.
á After I recorded the lead, I would record the solo. The lead and solo parts would be rerecorded and edited.
á Before winter break, I had almost finished all 3 songs I was planning to have for my final product. All I had left to do was go in and fix some little mistakes.
á Most of these mistakes no one else noticed except for me, but I didnÕt want to submit something that I wasnÕt 100% proud of.
á I ended up being able to fix these mistakes in 1 hour, and decided that I would record one more song for my EP. I thought that having 4 songs would look better than having only 3.
á The problem was, I didnÕt have any song that I thought fit in with the other songs. I wanted my EP to be consistently blues-rock and none of my other songs fit this genre.
á My guitar teacher and I were brainstorming and throwing ideas at each other about my fourth song. I knew I wanted to take something traditional and make it my own, so when he said Òwhy not a 12 bar blues?Ó I knew that that was going to be my fourth song.
12 Bar Blues
á For those who donÕt know, a 12 bar blues is a traditional blues progression. It traditionally follows a 1 – 4 – 5 chord progression. This means that the progression starts with the 1 chord which in the key of G would be G, then goes to the 4 chord which would be C, then goes back to the 1 chord, G, then goes to the 5 chord, D, then goes to the 4 chord, C, and then finally goes back to the 1 chord, G. This sounds super confusing, I know, but it isnÕt THAT confusing.
á After deciding that I was going to do a 12 bar blues, I worked on making it more rocky, but I also wanted it to stay somewhat traditional.
á To become a better guitarist, and overall musician
á To become an avid composer
á To have music I am proud of
á Being able to use the songs for colleges
o I was able to send my songs to the colleges I applied to using soundcloud.
o This added a lot to my application and gave some insight into who I am.
á Learning how to record in a recording studio
o This was something I had never done before, in fact I had never even written a song before.
o It was an amazing experience and was great to do with someone who I am comfortable with, my guitar teacher.
o If it was with someone who I did not know very well, I might have been less open about my work.
á Having the experience of recording in a studio
o Since I want to be a musician in the future, it was truly a great experience to record in a studio.
o I had the chance to learn how to use all of the recording technology, as well having my own songs recorded for other people to listen to.
o It was great to, at such a young age, be able to record my own music in a recording studio. Most people do not get this chance, especially at the age of 17.
á Time constraint with recording studio
o I only had 2 hours a week to record in the recording studio. This meant that I had to perfect everything every week before I went in for my 2 hour recording sessions.
á Having to go to the studio to work on songs
o In order to get the project done, I had to go to the studio to record anything. This meant that I had to have things done and perfected by certain dates.
o Although this was annoying, it really helped me get things done in a timely manner and not save everything until the last week.
o I had to stay focused and not waste any time, since recording music in a studio is very costly.
¥ Becoming a better guitarist
¥ Discovering my musical writing ability
¥ Learning how to record in a studio
¥ Learning how to communicate how I want my music to sound
á I am very proud of the work I have accomplished. I was worried that with the time restrictions I would not be completely happy with my EP.
á I plan to go to college and major in something other than music. Although I do not plan to major in music, I am always going to play and pursue music.
á I hope that in the future, I can inspire and influence kids to pick up the guitar, especially girls, since there is a lack of female guitarists.
á I would also like to have loyal fans. I donÕt need to sell out madison square garden or sell millions of records. It would be nice, but I really want loyal fans who will always support me.
á Every year my uncle comes to America and does a small tour. There is this couple that comes from france, where my uncle lives, to follow the tour.
á This is what I want. I want those fans that travel thousands of miles to come see you perform because your music means that much to them.
á Adam Judd
o Thank you Adam Judd for being my mentor and helping me stay focused. You pointed out things you liked, and didnÕt like about my songs, and pointed out things they could use. Without you, this project wouldnÕt be as great as it is.
á Dale Scott
o Thank you Dale for you wonderful emails reminding me of deadlines that I had forgotten. Without you, I would have probably missed every deadline.
á Kenneth Sacks
o Thank you Sacks for being my faculty grader and for just being an awesome teacher.
á Johnny Blood
o Thank you to Johnny Blood, my guitar teacher, for spending hours upon hours helping me get this project done. Thanks for opening up your studio to me, teaching me how to use all of the fancy, confusing studio stuff, and letting me bounce ideas off of you. I literally would have not been able to function and do this without you.
á My parents
o Thank you to my parents for funding my project and my expensive music stuff. You guys are the best.
á My friends
o Thank you to all of my friends, especially, Graylen, Hayley, Renee, Annie, Andrew, and Oco, for being there for me while I am freaking out about senior project, and keeping me sane. Love you guys!
á The Ross School
o Thank you to the Ross School for providing me with this amazing experience, and all of the experiences I have had over the past 8 years.
Presentation summary: Before my presentation, I was very nervous because I do not like public speaking. I wrote out my entire script ahead of time so that I would not freeze and forget everything. At first I thought this was a silly idea but turned out to be very helpful for me. When I was presenting I was pretty nervous, but my nerves eased up a little once I started presenting. Having all of my friends come helped me feel more at ease when I was presenting! After my presentation was over, I was worried it was not very good, but everyone told me I did great and congratulated me! Overall, my presentation was a success, as was my whole senior project experience!
Artistic Inspirations: Jimi Hendrix, The Strokes, Cream, and Eric Johnson.
Cream. The Very Best of Cream. Polydor, 1995. CD.
Eric Johnson. Live from Austin, TX. New West Records, 2005. CD.
Jimi Hendrix. Experience Hendrix: The Best of Jimi Hendrix. Sony Music Australia, 1997. CD.
The Strokes. Is This It. RCA, 2001. CD.