There was something about me that bothered me for years. Something I had tried to surmount, with only inadequate fragments of success - until this week.
That something was my infuriating inability to record a good-sounding song.
This was especially frustrating when it came to songs like the topic of today's blog post. Decretum is a beautiful instrumental by Yuki Kajiura, for the amazing and heart-wrenching anime Puella Magi Madoka Magica.
I wanted to give words to Sayaka's poignant journey, so I sat down one day to write down lyrics that captured her desires, hopes and mistakes.
But the first several times I went to record my beautiful lyrics, darned if I could get my voice to cooperate. Notes that had sounded good as they vibrated through my jaw came out flat, dull and grainy when I played them on the computer.
It happened every single time I tried to record a song. And it bothered me for ages.
Why?! Why did my voice sound right when I sang, but not when I recorded it?
Then, one day, the penny finally dropped. I'll pause for a moment to let you enjoy the results (that's why you're here, right?) before elaborating.
So, what was this fallen penny of which I speak? There were a few of them, mostly in the form of questions I hadn't thought to ask myself before. Questions like...
What if I just couldn't sing while listening to music?
What if my reflex not to talk over things and people was causing me to instinctively mute myself?
What if my untrained control over my voice required more concentration than I could give it while half of my focus was on the music?
What if my computer's sound system just plain couldn't handle playing audio and recording it at the same time?
And what if I tried recording the vocals while the music WASN'T playing?
Obviously, the timing of the lyrics could become an issue, but at that point, it was worth a shot.
So I plugged in my headset, activated my sound recorder, and went for it. I sang my heart out. I focused on hitting the right notes, and expressing the emotion of the song, instead of on matching the timing of the instrumentals.
Then, with high hopes, I saved the recording and hit "play"...
And discovered that, while my voice will probably never be as good as KiyumiArashi's, and my microphone definitely leaves something to be desired, the sound quality was better than anything I'd ever recorded before.
For the first time ever, I could record a lyrical adaptation, and sincerely enjoy the results.
Unfortunately, as predicted, the timing was a bit off... so I decided to try another tactic.
This time, instead of playing the instrumentals on the computer, I played Decretum on my iPod while I recorded the song, and cranked the volume up high enough that I wouldn't reflexively sing softly in order to be able to hear the notes.
Sure enough, it worked - I got the timing right this time, AND the computer recorded the audio properly. Needless to say, I was pretty freaking happy, and I hope you enjoy the fruits of my little revelation.