[First blogged at Rambling Librarian]
LISTEN HERE >>> Happiness Is (2007)
(Playing time: 3min 16secs)
An attempt at a piano piece, with additional instrumentals to make it sound Enya-like. For a self-taught pianist who still cannot read notes, I think it’s a passable composition. At first I tried playing to a fixed tempo (i.e. BPS) but decided it worked better if I just let it hang loose and played it with *ahem* feelings. I deliberately sped up the tempo at the middle part and slowed down again at the last part. It’s not perfect but as the farmer said to Babe the Pig, “That’ll Do”, LOL.
How it’s done
For the piano tracks, I played and recorded the Intro (layer 1, beginning part), Middle part (layer 4), and the Ending (layer 1, last part) separately. All were software instrument tracks; no ‘live’ instruments this time. I used a MIDI keyboard in this case (previously, I only relied on the computer keyboard which was severely limited in range). I spent maybe three to four hours in a single sitting, rehearsing and recording the piano pieces and initial Orchestral String arrangements.
After that it was mainly editing and engineering the sounds. This was spread over a few hours over the week. From the screenshot, you can see quite extensive adjustments to the individual track volumes.
I experimented with some effects, like adding duplicate tracks and additional equalisation settings. Also added different string arrangements. I had about three different versions and in the end, I decided the 2nd version sounded cleaner and better. So I went back to version 2 and worked from there by redoing the orchestral string section.
I tried to give the song that “Enya” style by added choral effects at the Intro and Ending (i.e. layer 2). I don’t have a choral effect in GarageBand, so the closest was the “Bondi Breath” synth effect.
Because the piano was the main instrument, and my playing wasn’t that hot, I decided to break the monotony after the Intro part by duplicating the middle piano piece as two layers and panning them left and right (layers 1 and 3 in the next screen shot):
[Click on image to see larger sizes]