Mar 132012

Our last song for this SpinTunes is a creepy little number inspired in part by the challenge and in part by the classic Universal Frankenstein movies, with a tongue-in-cheek nod towards Carry On Screaming. The challenge itself was to produce a song that was accompanied using only noises produced by the human body, though some form of processing was acceptable.

This time we started with the lyrics. For a song played on body parts, it seemed logical to write a song ABOUT body parts, and who knows more about body parts than Dr. Frankenstein’s sidekick, Igor? There are a couple of historic references stuck in the midst of the bad puns for those digging a little deeper.
Nodebeat HD
We recorded a whole range of body noises, sampled many of them and created a few common sounds to use. Various short slaps and pops became a rhythm section, clicking teeth formed a xylophone-type sound, a hum became the baseline and a few other recognisable sounds were used as spot effects. Katharina put the rhythm track together using NodebeatHD on the iPad to control the sampler, then I added some bass and vocals.

Here is the finished song, complete with lyrics, which can be downloaded from bandcamp:

Mar 042012

We already have another three Drei Viertel Drei songs in the can.

The second SpinTunes challenge was to write a love song in the form of a valentine’s day card some OTHER than your significant other. Katharina wrote the lyrics and melody to this one, so it seemed only right that she should sing it too. Since all our songs are shadows of the main challenge from this point on, we had no official placing in the rankings, however some of the judges still reviewed our songs. This time around Denise Hudson said of the lyrics:

there was some real poetry in them and they were sweepy and rainy feeling and cold and sad

Round three asked for a song with lyrics having to start with a choice of seven letters. After a little thought we settled on the letters C, A, R, N, I, V & L, having just returned from a visit to the carnival in Venice. Whilst there we saw a sight that could not help but be an inspiration – a gentleman dressed as a viking, but also entirely in pink. I think this was possibly our most successful SpinTunes song so far. Doctor Lindyke said:

Tell me truthfully… you guys get up in the morning and suck down a pint of Weird just to start your day, don’t you?

whilst Denise said of this one

This was perhaps the most creative and arbitrary song of the entire round. Go. Take your place next to Raptor Jesus in the Halls of Asgard. I raise a tankard in your honor

as well as

I have no idea how you even wrote this song so I have to admire it because I just listened to it with my mouth hanging open. The melody and way of being were completely alien to me.

However, the limit imposed by the challenge meant that we had more to say about our pink viking. For a start, we needed to poke some fun at our viking-monikered friend, Odin1Eye. So Katharina wrote another set of lyrics for Odin and we changed the structure and arrangement of the song to arrive at what is really a new song with a common ancestry. See which one you prefer…

You can find the first two of the songs above on the SpinTunes albums for each round, along with a selection of songs that fit the same challenges.

Feb 052012

SpinTunes is back!

After sitting out the last couple, I’m back in the game with twist. As “Drei Viertel Drei”, Katharina and I entered our song “Lollipop Lady” into the first round. The challenge was to write a song about a childhood nightmare that featured rubato, so we worked up a song about a little boy and his fear of his local lollipop lady (or crossing guard for those of you outside the UK). Here it is:

Thirty-four entries were made into the first round, with some really strong competition. My personal favourite was Rebecca Angel’s song “Monster’s Lullaby”, but there were several really good songs and a healthy number of pretty good (if needing work) songs. Our song came in at position 28, which sounds worse than it is, because we suffered badly in the public vote by not really doing too much promotion of the song. It wouldn’t have made that much difference, but it could have been enough to see us into the second round. One of the great things about SpinTunes over Song Fu is that each judge (5 in total, plus ‘Spin’ himself as backup judge) provides a review as well as a score. This, from Denise Hudson, really made me laugh:

This is terribly weird and really interesting. Psychological and troubling. I don’t really like it, but it’s because it BOTHERS me. And it’s not because it’s not well done. It’s because you are creepy.

or this…

As I hate this more and more and swear never to listen to it again, I put it higher in the rankings.

The general consensus amongst the reviewers is that the chorus and pre-chorus are much better than the verses. They were certainly more fun to write the music for, letting loose the creepiness, but they actually didn’t come together like that until the mixing stage. When the song was still being recorded, the verses were actually the strongest part, but that may have been because of some fairly severe tempo changes in the choruses that made them quite tricky to record certain parts for.

We’re out of the official competition now, but can still produce “shadow” entries. We already have lyrics and a little music worked out for the next challenge: a slightly dark and sad love song. Keep an eye on my Twitter feed for more regular updates.

All 34 songs from round one are also available from Bandcamp. You can listen to the songs below or download the whole album – a great way to get hold of some creepy and fun songs without spending a cent/penny.