I Learned a New Song

I didn’t really set out for this to be my weekend project. I was looking for a place to put my hymnal and casually thumbed through it. I noticed a signature with one sharp and knew that the key of G was one I could play. So, I counted out the 1 (G), 4 (C), and 5 (D/D7) chords and thought I would give it a go. I muddled around for a bit with some success but I’m getting old and was having trouble remembering from one verse to the next what I had figured out playing through the previous time.

So, I used the Office Lens app on my phone to take a picture of the song in the hymnal (Revive Us Again) which I then imported into OneDrive as a PDF. Then I opened the PDF on my iMac in the Preview app and simply annotated it with the chords as I worked them out. Looking back, I should probably have made the first two D chords D7 chords since they had the F# in the alto line.

marked up hymnal page

Next, I went to my Casio WK6500 keyboard and tapped out the beat. By holding down the Fn key while tapping the beat on the down Tempo key, I could read the beats per minute on the display, 94 bpm. (If you don’t have a keyboard, you can do the same thing in GarageBand.) The hymn is in 3/4 time so I then went through all the rhythms on the keyboard that are in 3/4 time and picked the one I liked best with this song (Pasillo).

As I continued more deeply down the rabbit hole (remember this all started with casually thumbing through the hymnal), I decided to import the rhythm from the keyboard into GarageBand on my iMac by playing into my Blue Snowflake microphone. I know I would have been better off to play this directly into my iPad GarageBand app and then import it, but I was just a tad bit lazy here.

Next, I made a rhythm guitar track by strumming through the newly discovered chords. Sadly, I am rhythmically challenged so getting the beat to sync up with the beat from the keyboard took quite a while. But when it was done, it created a nice bedrock on which to build the other tracks.

I then went through and played first the melody and then the alto parts on my guitar for the next two tracks. To wrap up the instrumental part, I even added a very low key bass line, mostly just marking the chord changes.

Finally, I added my vocals as both lead and alto. A wee bit of volume adjustments on the tracks got me to a point where listening wasn’t too terribly painful. Finally, I added GarageBand’s pitch correction to the lead vocal. It turned out that some pretty savage correction was needed there before the mix started to sound fairly pleasant.

When all was said and done, I had worked from never having played that song to a seven track mix that wasn’t quite the most awful version of Revive Us Again that has ever been heard. (Okay, maybe it is the worst, but . . .) All-in-all, it was a very satisfying learning experience.

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