We're back, and with a new tune

matthew's picture

I apologize for loyal readers that barnson.org was down from Friday through Sunday morning. I had some strange database weirdness that I still haven't entirely corrected; I've just worked around the problem for the time being, disabling the "top posts" block on the right-hand side. Some of the issues should go away when I upgrade Drupal.

My wife, Christy, is in Nashville, Tennessee attending a conference this week, so I get the two youngest children. My mother-in-law has the older two. It's all right hanging out with these guys, and a Sunday afternoon is quiet enough that I can get some recording done. The noise of my PC has really increased over the last few months, though, and I've found it's fairly loud in recordings. I can deal with the noise by using a noise reduction tool, but what I've found is that doing so leaves a "hole" in instrumental sounds that I can hear clearly when I compare to the original source track. It's just a little bit of aliasing, but it causes guitars to sound just a little more tinny, and voices to lose some high harmonics. I've gotta come up with a better solution for a quiet studio, that includes somehow getting the PC behind a wall, away from my microphones.

I also finally played with making a "pop filter" to help eliminate the harsh sound of "P" and "T" in my vocal recordings. On a tip from a fellow musician, I drafted an old metal coat hanger to the cause. And, whaddya' know, it works! You pull an old stocking (yes, panty hose) over the coat hanger, shape it into a rough resemblance of an oval or circle, and then figure out some way to strap it between your mouth and your microphone.

Oh. Christy. In case you're reading this, umm, I hope you didn't want that old knee-high in the bottom drawer anymore?

I have to kind of work to forget that I'm singing into something that until recently frequently did duty hugging my wife's legs, but I'll manage.

Anyway, it's made a really nice difference. I can get closer to the microphone without popping all over the place, and I don't need the massive chunk of foam inside the mic that resulted in muffled recordings. Small, cheap, and helpful.

The two kids are now quietly in bed for their afternoon naps, and I'm torn: do some more recording, or go take a nap? JJ, our six-month-old, is teething, and, as is the usual with teething, is experiencing an ugly runny nose, fever, crabbiness, etc. He seemed to develop a cough along with it, though, so instead of heading to my mother's house for dinner this Sunday, I'll be hanging out at my house, just chilling with the kids, making music, updating my web site, and making sure they get enough snuggles, particularly the little sick one.

Being a dad is fun.

Oh, right, anyway, I've made it a habit of posting "rough draft" songs on the web site. Here's the latest. Like most of them, there are still glaring errors; when I realize a finished version, they'll be corrected. Notably, I missed several notes both on the guitar and with my voice, knocked the guitar case a couple of times in ways that stand out, and a terrible entrance on "Remember". For those interested, this was a tune I wrote while on a mission for the LDS church some time between 1992 and 1994. Though my religious philosophies have changed a lot in the intervening years, I still think it's kind of a pretty tune.

For those interested in the technical details, for this recording I used a cheap pair of OSM 800 condenser mics spaced about two feet apart, positioned over the twelfth fret and nut of the guitar, at about 24 inches from the mics. I had to yank a lot of noise out using a noise reduction plugin, which made the guitar and vocals a little harsher than I'd like, but I was able to soften them up with a light reverb afterwards.

Here it is (as always, you'll need an ogg-vorbis compatible player, like the free WinAMP to play this tune):

You can download prayer.ogg (ogg vorbis format), download prayer.mp3 (mp3 format), or stream the mp3.


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Timpane's picture


I always loved that song. It must be strange to sing it again. Like singing a song for an old girlfriend.

That said, WIth a couple tweaks, it could be near perfect. very nice.

NVZ: NINJAS VS ZOMBIES - THE MOVIE - www.nvzmovie.com

paul@murphymaphia.com's picture

you know...

I'm all for the latest, nerdiest file formats and all... but what's wrong with mp3 or wav in this situation?

*This signature is an experiment in Google Bombing
mot propre

Timpane's picture


Hear, hear.

I know DVD is the accepted format, and the most important format for music to exist since the CD, but perhaps the DIVX is better. Sure its less compatible and fewer people have it, but we should use it because it might be a better idea.

Waid, did I day dvd and divx, I meant...

NVZ: NINJAS VS ZOMBIES - THE MOVIE - www.nvzmovie.com

matthew's picture


Well, I have good reasons for choosing Ogg Vorbis as my audio encoder (including patent-free format, better sound quality at lower bitrate, and more), but in response to popular demand you can download prayer.mp3 or, if you prefer, stream it. (128kbps variable bitrate, broadband required)

Matthew P. Barnson

Matthew P. Barnson

Timpane's picture


Now give us your lunch money.


NVZ: NINJAS VS ZOMBIES - THE MOVIE - www.nvzmovie.com

emilt's picture



I like this song. It has a nice tune. Also, I like the words because to me the words reflect a love toward God and love toward another special person.

I'm curious about a couple of the comments you posted in connection with this song:

- "I'd discovered, even then, that a road to personal spirituality isn't paved with obedience to church authority, ..."

- "Though my religious philosophies have changed a lot in the intervening years, ..."

If it's okay to ask, I'm curious what road you did discover to "personal spirituality" and also what did your religious philosophies change to?

I hope I'm not being too nosey.
Have a good day.


matthew's picture

Easy answer...

If it's okay to ask, I'm curious what road you did discover to "personal spirituality" and also what did your religious philosophies change to?

I'm an atheist. To be more precise and head off misunderstanding, more precisely I am "atheous", which is a word no longer in common English usage indicating that I attempt to have no position regarding God or gods.

As Justin will tell you, I often fail in that attempt, and for a while I was really rather belligerent about religion being the major cause of evil in the world. These days, questions about religion I can address, but questions about God? Who knows?

Anyway, after several years of wrestling with it, I came to the conclusion that just because I don't believe now, doesn't invalidate the strength of my belief before. Attempting to reject my heritage, history, and culture in an attempt to distance myself from my upbringing doesn't seem to work really well. So I'm exploring other options.

So this year, at Christmas-time, I am enjoying singing traditional Christmas tunes and decorating in the traditional fashion. I'm "into" the season, playing holiday tunes on the radio. That enjoyment is tempered with the understanding that I am celebrating cultural tradition and mythology, not some literal miraculous event.

I find spirituality in contemplation. I'm no Einstein; I don't draw awe an inspiration as much from the stars. But the mystery of self-awareness often draws me, as does coming to an understanding of history, and discovering evolutionary tie-ins for various stuff. I have a passion for reading and debate, though I do much better at written debate than spoken. I think slowly :)

There are days I miss the collegiality of church meetings, or participating in family scripture study and prayer. But the fact is that I simply don't believe, and no amount of pretending or attempting to persuade myself has changed that fact. So I do something else, and enjoy it.

I still don't think one's religion has very much to do with one's personal sense of peace and place in the world. I eschew church meetings expressly because it's so obvious what a tremendous mind-job people -- particularly youth -- undergo in that sort of coercive group-think environment. It hurts most those who believe strongest.

I was a "stalwart". I loved the church. When I began to realize that it was not what it represented itself to be, I was heartsick, and avoided thinking about anything non-faith-promoting for years. But eventually, putting doubts on a shelf in the back of my mind caused the shelf to collapse from the weight, and when I couldn't in good conscience continue to ignore and lie to myself about what the facts meant, I left.

So these days, I'm a godless infidel. To the Moslems, I am kaffir. To the Mormons, I'm apostate. To the Christians, I am an atheist.

To me, I'm happy.

Yet not content. That is actually a good thing. I like this quote from Richard Dawkins:

I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.

In conclusion, please take what I say in light of the following quote from Michel Eyguem de Montaigne:

All I say is by way of discourse, and nothing by way of advice. I would not speak so boldly if it were your obligation to believe me.

Matthew P. Barnson

Matthew P. Barnson

emilt's picture

More comments

I appreciate your openness and honesty in your comments. I hope anything I say here isn't taken wrong. I'm just telling things as I see them based on my experience and understanding.

Matthew quote: "...I attempt to have no position regarding God or gods."
Matthew quote: "... but questions about God? Who knows?"

Would you choose not to have a position regarding God if you found that he could grant you great things, greater even than you could imagine? That's the God I have discovered.

I was raised in the LDS church all my life. Somewhere in my late 20s, I started questioning things and found reason not to believe. I even wanted to believe that there was no God. I reasoned that if I could