First Blood

So I showed the blog to my friend Phil the other day, and this is what he had to say:

“this is interesting. but, i mean… all this theory is sorta meaningless until you start recording”

And I thought, Wow. Spot on, Phil. Spot on.

So, as it went, I decided that it was time to sit down and record my first attempt at blackgrass, or bluemetal, or… whatever we’re doing here. I strapped on my electric guitar, and plugged it into one of these:

the Line6 POD X2. it's for people who can't afford amps.

and out to a macbook with garageband.  This is not the best setup, as you will plainly hear.  The tone is awful and there are all sorts of static and crackling.  I will be looking into other options, and soon.

Anyhow, here is the progression I started with:

It’s almost kind of bluesy/jazzy, but then again, bluegrass was influenced by jazz.  There are indeed many similarities between the genres.  Please keep in mind that this is also recorded on electric guitar.  I’ll definitely be doing this on acoustic guitar when we get closer to a final version. Needless to say, it wasn’t bluegrass enough for me, so I added some ukulele.  I know, I know, that’s not bluegrass either.  However, if you play the ukulele with a pick (usually a no-no) it almost sounds like a mandolin.  I strummed away on the 2’s and 4’s, and this is what I got:

Ok…better. We’re definitely getting there, but something is missing.  The guitar and uke put out plenty of highs, but we need to balance them out with a strong low end.  Andrew is the bluegrass bass player here, but for right now, I just used a midi keyboard to play what I thought was a bluegrassy bassline.  I’m no expert, so you’ll have to let me know what you think.

The player below will take you through the three tracks in succession, which is pretty neat.  The last one has the bass line added (use headphones.)

I think that makes all the difference!  We have a full spectrum of sound and a fun little progression to work with, good deal. It clearly needs percussion too, but this recording is way off tempo and thus unusable for recording drums.

"Always use a metronome, kids!"

Anyhow, I added an intro to create some tension/build up (this may also allow for some dialogue.)  Distorted electric guitar was also necessary in the middle so we can bring in the black metal. To spice things up a bit, I also sprinkled in some uke here and there. Our new friend atleastimhousebroken mentioned on this blog that he liked the tremolo guitar in our experimental track. Just for him, I brought that back in ukulele form at minute 1:21!  Finally, I added some more uke picking at the end… I think we really need a mandolin player

Without further ado, here is the first official Blood and Banjos rough draft (whatever that means.)  My apologies for the abrupt ending…I still have to figure out where to take this song!

continue to next post


5 thoughts on “First Blood

  1. Mark/Angel says:

    Hey, cool final track!

    The opening ‘metal riff’ sounds closer to a death metal one for now, but I like the way it slowly morphs into something a bit more black metal. Also, that ukulele bit was awesome, reminded me of something in the vein of post-rock!

    I know you’ve already had them recommended to you, but I think Agalloch and Burzum would be good reference points if you want to try and blend the two styles, I was thinking of the latter one as I was listening to the track. I’ll update the post I have going with that one.

    • blood and banjos says:

      Thanks! I agree with you on the genres. I think death metal will probably find its way into my music quite a bit, so we’ll see how that pans out. It tends to be a bit more energetic which may mesh with the bluegrass better.

      Thanks again for the input!

  2. The progression is sounding nice, it works great with both the metal and bluegrass aspects. Of course I like the tremolo ;), I think it adds great atmosphere to the song, and the atmosphere is probably the biggest drawing point for me when it comes to black metal.
    The intro is good too. Like you said, some voice-over/dialogue would sound nice there.
    I’m sure you’re already working on it, but the only negative thing I would have to say is the transitions would need to be smoother and less jarring. But with a rough draft, stuff like that isn’t expected.
    Awesome work dudes!!!!!!!!

  3. blood and banjos says:

    Thanks for the input! I’m sure this song will evolve should we continue to develop it. Transitions are very much a challenge that I see for us. Anytime you go acoustic -> electric or electric -> acoustic, it needs to be smoothed over and well thought out. Better sound mixing in general is one fix. The other things that will help blend the changes are the vocals and the percussion, but those are down the road a bit…

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