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A Collection of Home Recordings by Brian Smith

This is a collection of home recordings I made between the ages of 21 and, I think 26 (1991 to 1997). It's mostly instrumental and very simple stuff, not particularly well played or recorded, but I find it interesting to listen to and thought perhaps other kind listeners might agree.

I learned to play the guitar by having learned some music theory at high school and by playing along with my Church records. I bought a Fender Stratocaster and a 20 watt practice amplifier when I was 19, a Roland GS-6 effects processor (Chorus, delay, reverb, various distortion levels) about a year later and finally a Tascam Portastudio 424 about 6 months after that. I also picked up a Boss drum machine in there somewhere, but there's no bass guitar in there because I didn't own one till many years later. The keyboard you hear is one I borrowed from my cousin Sean - I don't remember the manufacturer, but I do remember it was touch-sensitive and that made ALL the difference. I also used an Amiga 500 "mod file" writing program that made it terrifically easy to write and repeat a simple bass line. Lastly, I used Goldwave to edit the final files. I used a noise reduction filter on one or two, but they're mostly unfiltered and a bit hissy.

Most of the music you'll hear on this page was intended to be rough sketches that I'd one day go back and re-record on a grander scale; that is why the pieces are mostly short and some played a little sloppily. As with many of life's grand plans, I never got back to doing this as well as I planned to, but I actually quite liked the sound of these original recordings. A lot are two-chord wonders: I'd sit with the guitar and find two chords that sounded nice in sequence, pick a nice effect on the GS-6, press record on Der Machine, record for a minute or so, then go back and add a bass line (turn down the treble on the four-track's input and just play my guitar's bottom string), and call it done! Next song please!

Being quite a shy kind of guy I recorded very few vocals and rarely wrote lyrics because (a) people might hear me sing and (b) people might hear what I thought about things. Yes, I know those two things are the purpose of singing and being creative, but I was stuck between wanting to be creative and wanting to keep it all close to my chest so that...erm...well, I'm sure there was a good reason at the time, but I can't imagine what it may have been. I'm more confident about singing now, having sung several times with a community band back in Melbourne and even done karaoke a few times. Still not doing much on the song-writing front though.

The process of getting this music out for others to hear has been geologically slow! They were recorded ten years ago, mixed down onto regular cassettes about 4 years ago because I wanted to give copies to each member of The Church and also Donnette Thayer and Margot Smith - I think Peter said he quite liked it, which was very generous of him, and Donnette said my voice sounded great considering it was recorded totally dry, meaning what you hear on the tapes has no effects on it (reverb, delay, compression etc. In October 2003 I finally decided I'd better get on with mp3'ing these things before the tapes crumbled!

I've released them under a Creative Commons license so that in case Brian Eno wants to use my ideas, he has to ask first ;) But for you, kind listener, I'm sure you'll find a piece or two that you'll enjoy in here. If you feel the urge to write to me, please do so, but only if you've got nice things to say! Telling me I suck would be redundant and bad karma :)

Brian Smith

PS I've never actually been in a band, so if I sound a bit too pleased to have "discovered" something that everyone knows anyway, its because I found it on my own :) Also, I think I should've found out how to record a click-track before I did some of these !

Download all as a .zip file or get them one at a time.

Actually none of these had names until yesterday, so most of these are just the first phrase that came to mind when I listened to them again. It's odd, but naming them has the effect of "crystallizing" my impression of them.

Please right-click and choose "Save Target As..." to download each file.

These are mostly instrumental and about one minute long each

The Sea Took Him
I actually MIXED this track ! The keyboard and bass (which is actually an Amiga 500 mod file sequencer) get faded in and out during the piece, but were recorded with all tracks blazing. I like this piece a lot, and I think the lovely cathedral-organ chords in the background are my inner-Peter Koppes coming out (except he can play the guitar properly).

Now this was fun! I had broken my high-E string and while fiddling around with a C-shaped chord, I found this lovely chord sequence that I played over and over. I even got brave enough to record some vocals, though I drenched it in reverb.

Middle of Nowhere
Another cool keyboard piece with rambling guitar line over it. Loads of reverb for atmospherics and I like the hopeful but non-committal little ending.

Odd Waltz
I *love* creepy waltzes - I think this is the music you'd hear when the carousel horses came to life and ate you! The lead "flute" part was improvised and done in one pass - I was very pleased with it at the time.

Another Long Drink
One of many slow, quiet pieces I did, greatly enhanced by the whooshy keyboard sound.

We're Not Arguing
Two guitars shouting loudly over a third to try and drown out the drum pads in the background. But only one can have the last word.

A Good Beginning
A nice plinky-plonky one; I think I was listening to early REM a lot.

A Walk Together
Another simple double guitar harmony.

Angry March
I found a harsh keyboard sound that I liked and whipped up this suitably militaristic little ditty.

Did She See Me
Another little two guitar thingo, but I seem to have found more than two chords this time ! Hooray for progress !

Double Sneak
A nice three-guitar (one pretending to be a bass) that moved nicely from repetition to random harmonies.

I can just picture the Partridge family singing something sweet and cheesy to this.

I found the pitch wheel on the keyboard and messed around with spooooky sounds (and a meow !)

A smiley piece with a good beat, underlying bass line and basic melody.

Just Add Words

This one is actually long enough to be a song! The guitar that fades in on each note was me being "Marty in Destination".

Leading The Blind
The title comes from the idea that in almost all these pieces I seemed to always record a rambling "lead guitar" line, usually recorded in one pass, maybe two. They were meant to be throwaway tracks, but some sounded nice enough to stay for the final mix. This one is the one I like most out of my "play it loud" lead guitar tracks, but when I listened to the track yesterday my first thought was "Me being a lead guitarist would be like the blind leading the blind." But it still sounds alright to me :)

Long Delay Harmonics
When I first bought my Roland GS-6 I was so pleased that it had a delay (echo) feature and would harmonize little scale and stuff for hours - it can be quite trippy! This is one of a few little bits I recorded and I like the start and the end (it's only 30 seconds long, but has three phases :) )

My Simple Lullaby
One of the simplest pieces I recorded, but I just love how the two melodies fit together, and that I had the good sense to drop one out for the middle part. I think this is just two tracks.

My humble version of a fantastic Steve Kilbey song. I get the lyrics a little wrong, but I hope you like it - the quick little guitar run near the beginning was fun to do, and I like singing harmony so adding those was cool too.

Odd Waltz 2
Another creepy waltz that runs a slower than the first.

I tried being more minimal in this piece - the guitar plays mostly long notes and lets the pizzicato keyboard sounds carry the rhythm.

Sweet Look Back
Going back to the "two guitars plus pretend bass" over a softly plucked chord. I've found MANY chords to play this time...I should've repeated the first section after the change though. I like this one a lot.

Take Me To You
I wrote this after breaking up with my first girlfriend. Well, the first verse was me trying to be Pinky Floydy and sing about flowers and light and other non-commital weird things, but then I found myself singing about walking around our old house and wondering who would be my next girlfriend and if she could please hurry up and come get me :) It's pretty angsty and more than a little embarrassing, but I figure if I'm going to write songs I have to let people hear them, yes ?

The Last Time
A creepy little piece was needed let me record the wacky noises you get when you scrape your plectrum along your low-E string. The fade-in notes are done with the old "hit the string hard with the volume down and then raise the volume" trick. It's a good thing my guitar was relatively clean, or the crackling static would have been it is now :( My poor guitar needs a makeover!

Another "two guitar plucky" backing with a weird sound for the lead part - I like the melody I found here.

Watch from Green Shadows
A slow "noir" thing. I remember find these cool Em7+9 demolished chords and like how they transisted from one to the other and how adding a pinky finger here and there sounded quite musical.

Watch from Red Shadows
I liked the above chords so much, I did it again with a stronger drum track and a bit more guitar playing this time. Compare and contrast. Use diagrams where appropriate.

Where Sun and Wind Played
One of the first tunes I picked out that actually resembled a song I knew followed the melody to "where sun and wind play, on a ring of bright water", so I recorded it, harmonized all over it and here it is.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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