Bernstein—Maria (From West Side Story)

[And now for your regularly scheduled interruption from the 14 Songs in 14 Days blog series, er…something]

I’m not super happy with how it turned out, so I’m not adding it to my normal Recordings Page and inevitably it can get buried into all the other blog posts here…but, inspired by so many others on all my social medias who have been cranking out music and artistry in the absence of normality during the COVID-19 pandemic isolation period, I’ve recorded a (new-to-me) song: “Maria” from West Side Story.

Like I say, I’m not super pleased with it, but I’m at least done editing/messing with it so instead of just trashing it, I’m putting it out there into the void for you to maybe enjoy!

Here’s what I learned from this process:

1) Attempting to make music during a quarantine, even if you’re not fully satisfied with it, is still a useful process and a good way to distract yourself from everything else going on. Good for mental health, good to keep honing your craft, good that we turn to art in times of trouble. So if you’re reading this and have the ability to—go make some music. If not, at least go listen to some!
2) It’s not impossible to sing and make recordings without live accompaniment of any kind, but it’s a heck of a lot harder. Trying to synchronize the vocal recording takes (there were at least four or five) with the piano accompaniment was not at all easy without the pianist in the room! For this project—inspired by the ways that our EMU voice studios been adapting voice lessons to Facetime and Skype with recordings of our accompaniment recorded on cell phones by our usual collaborative pianists—I went on YouTube and searched for piano accompaniment to “Maria” from Bernstein’s West Side Story….and because I’m terrible, I’ve forgotten to give that person attribution in the MP3! Dang. Well, for those of you reading here, I found it from an Italian pianist, composer and YouTuber named Marco Velocci. Go check him out!
3) All that to say: you’ll be able to tell on the recording that syncing the voice with the piano was troublesome. There’s nothing like not being able to have voice lessons or rehearsals in person to make you all the more grateful for when they DO happen—so thanks to my regular collaborative pianist, Mark Loring, and voice professor, Dr. MeeAe Nam!
4) I made some weird vowel choices [in my native language of ENGLISH, mind you…] that didn’t even occur to me until I thought I was ready to start editing, and after I heard them I was mad but didn’t really want to record yet another take.
4.5) Relatedly, it’s really difficult for me to record at home in the office when you have to compete with dogs and Karen (and even the wind chime…good grief!) for background noise. I got most of these takes in while Karen was outside cutting wood for a garden bed or something. I can’t imagine how torturous this whole process must be for other voice students such as those at EMU who are having to (or will have to soon) record themselves at home singing along with the piano backing tracks in lieu of their final jury. Blah.
5) Attempting to edit sound files with my usual method of using Audacity (which I’ve used to edit sound files for Karen to use with auditions for several years now) is increasingly obnoxious… The program crashed more than a handful of times while working on editing this all together, which shouldn’t be that hard for a relatively small, ~3:00 minute song with an imported MP3 track and a few recording tracks using a YETI USB microphone. Fortunately, I didn’t lose much each time it crashed, except for pieces of my sanity and soul…
6) … and finally—when this process was nearly complete, as in yesterday during editing, I remembered that I have EMU Faculty access to the entire Adobe Creative Cloud including Adobe Access, one of the top sound/music editing software programs on the market…brilliant. So I have it downloaded now. Sorry Audacity, but… there’s only so much I take with you!

Finally: here ya go! Here’s hoping you don’t completely hate it!

One thought on “Bernstein—Maria (From West Side Story)”

  1. I thought it sounded wonderful! Good job with lots of good, dogged effort…and that, in itself, is a good learning experience.

    Like

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