Continental Transit

Get Out of the Way took a bit longer to finalize than I’d planned, mostly little fiddly bits that nobody care about but me, but by the time I’d posted it, I had to go to the airport to pick Mary up. Then a quick bite to eat, then a bit of chit chat, then the neighbors invited us over to hang out…

I got back to the house in a less sober state than I’d left, watched some TV, played a little Animal Crossing, then got started on today’s song.

  1. Continental Transit Ray Toler 5:00

The reason I wasn’t panicked is that I’d already decided while working on the previous track that today’s would be some electronic thing. Lyrics if they showed up, but I wasn’t going to worry about that. And technically, I wrote this song today instead of a day ahead because I didn’t get started until 12:30 AM.

I had an idea in mind and worked pretty quickly. Working the chords out took a good chunk of time, especially the last three of the pattern. I was trying to play things that I wouldn’t normally come up with, so there was a lot of experimentation and many wrong notes before I figured out how to get my fingers to play what my brain was thinking.

With the chords worked out, I started looking for softer arpeggiated patches (“arps”). After getting the first one dialed in, I realized that I was going to leave the piano in, which changed the end goal slightly, but wasn’t a huge departure.

The actual mechanics of producing this track were pretty easy. Well, it’s pretty easy for me now, because I’ve done a lot of these and have worked out some tricks. For this one, so much was going on with the various arps that I didn’t want to do too much extra with effects, panning, and so on.

Right around 3:00 AM, I decided I was done for the night, even though it was missing something. As I was about to close the project, I realized that I wanted some percussive elements that could keep it from getting overly boring about halfway through. I found a patch, recorded the various bits where I wanted them, then went to bed.

Spy Balloon is On the Move!

A Chinese spy ballon over the United States
“Don’t give Hunter any more money, this camera is so good we can read the documents from here.”

Late yesterday afternoon, Chris Graecen, one of the Song-A-Day ringleaders, threw out a last minute song-prompt challenge to write something for the headline “Spy Balloon is On the Move.” I hadn’t heard anything about this Chinese spy balloon, but did some quick reading.1The old Ray would have gone off on a tangent for about 400-800 words here. Be glad you’re reading the new, concise Ray.

Obviously, I didn’t write that song. Or did I? My brain popped awake at 8:30 with an opening two lines and a melody. I got up and recorded that, and even worked out the full song structure. I hadn’t finalized the electronic thing, so there was still time to write something challenge-related. Sadly it wasn’t to be; Mary tripped on the stairs last night, hurting her foot, and we decided to go to Urgent Care to make sure it wasn’t broken (it wasn’t). That took up a good chunk of the day, though.

While doing my final mix and special touches, I did get a very peaceful sense from this one. Almost like I were a (spy) balloon floating high above the earth. I almost named this one “Grand Stream Transit” after one of my favorite animes, but that didn’t really capture what I was thinking. While I’m not sure Continental Transit does, it’s still better, and puts the track on theme with the challenge, even though I didn’t write it with all that in mind.

This is a piece that I put in my personal “Contractual Obligation” category – it’s not necessarily a stretch for me, but it does meet the point of Song-A-Day: write something. And I’ve also come to find that a lot of these contractual obligation tracks are the ones that I end up listening to the most in the years that follow, so it doesn’t mean they’re bad.

In fact, I might even do another one tonight.


Instruments & Samples

Omnisphere, Falcon, Phobos, Choreographs, Cycles, Piano in Blue

Effects, Mixing, & Mastering

PanMan, Valhalla Vintage Verb, Gullfoss, Pro-L 2


  • 1
    The old Ray would have gone off on a tangent for about 400-800 words here. Be glad you’re reading the new, concise Ray.

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