Runs on food and music, will sing for chips and pasta.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Workout diary: Session #24, July 16th

a) warm up @ 7 min jogging

b) Pull down @ 18kg @ 15 reps x 5 sets
Bicep curl @ 14 lbs @ 15 reps x 5 sets

c) chest press @ 18kg + triceps dips x 4 sets @ 15 reps

d) dead lift @ 18kg @ 12 reps + squats @ 15 lbs @ 15 reps x 4 sets

e) walking lunges @ 14 lbs x 4 sets

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Workout diary: Session #23, July 9th

a) warm up - jogging @ 6min

b) squats @ 15 reps @ 15 lbs x 5 sets

c) calf raise @ 8 lbs @ 30 reps x 5 sets

d) walking lunges with shoulder press x 18 lbs x 4 sets

e) side plank @ 20 reps x 4 sets

superman plank @ 6 lbs @ 20 reps x 4 sets

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Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Workout diary: Session #22, July 8th

a) warm up @ jogging @ 6min

b) pulldown @ 18kg @ 15 reps x 4 sets
rowing @ 16 lbs @ 15 reps x 4 sets

c) lateral raise @ 16 lbs @ 15 reps x 4 sets
reverse fly @ 8 lbs @ 15 reps x 4 sets

d) push up - variations: diamond / normal / wide @ 10 reps x 4 sets

e) ankle reach (oblique) left and right @ 10 reps x 3 sets

f) twist sit up - left and right @ 10 reps x 3 sets

g) sit-up @ 20 reps x 3 sets

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Monday, July 07, 2014

Starting out - debut album making diary #1 (July 5th)

Remember taking notes in class, at lectures?  Only you yourself understand your own handwriting and notes, scribbles and symbols, codes and anecdotes... I want to record whatever I can remember from the session yesterday so that I could remember what I need to execute now, as well as providing a diary of this journey so I could look back to this day in future.

So these notes may not be cohesive or anything close to it...just my scribbles :)

July 5th, Saturday 3-6pm.

So here we a bag of emotions, all mixed up.  There's going to be lots of growing up to do in the next few months, or should I say, there's no better way to grow up than to give yourself a decision to make an album, produce it yourself - that is certainly an express lane to growing up - fast.

Song-fan gave me a call few weeks ago to chat about a potential music project that he is hoping to embark on soon, with me :) being the people we are, one topic leads swiftly to others and came my album making topic... "You didn't tell me it's going to be this soon!?" He exclaimed over the phone.  I told him it's going to be just me and my vocal coaches - for the album - to nail the singing parts.  He offered to vocal produce for me.  "Really?!!  Nobody has been interested to produce my singing for this and I thought my repertoire too odd and the project too `shiok-sendiri' to approach anyone else, besides...I can't afford it I suppose.." I confessed.

Anyway, we are going to see things go before he and I make a deal on this one.  He told me to start some studio hours now to get myself comfortable singing in a recording booth.  So we had our first session yesterday.  It went better than I thought :) I was as clueless as anything but now I know, I need a vocal producer.

Song-fan started singing from a young age, trained and worked as audio engineer, more than a decade  of voice-over works and 9 years in performing arts and now, TV.  His understanding of studio recording and his talent in coaching are now looking to be quite indispensable for my recording...ya, really.

We worked on two songs yesterday - Carmen and Restless Heart.  Carmen was selected as an exercise piece because it has a good range of dynamics, quite wordy (hence good for working on my Mandarin diction) and big tessitura.  Restless Heart (composition by Cher Siang with my lyrics) was chosen because a) I have the minus one track, b) stark difference of style from Carmen, c) it's going to be in the album.

Notes to self, tips for studio recording:  (credits to Song-fan's coaching)

1) Volume of singing in the booth: calculated and controlled - often a lower volume of singing in the recording booth helps achieve much more expressions and finesse.  Volume and projection used on a live stage for live audience may not work at recording.  Key words: focus, intimate, close range projection, "subtle intensity"...

2) Projection of audience in the booth: without any audience inside the booth, to help the performer/singer connect closer to the future audience - people who are going to pop the CD into the car stereo or a CD player - imagine the distance of the listener/audience from the mouth or face of the singer.  As close as the microphone?  An arm's reach away?  Once you have decided, you can gage the volume and intensity that should be applied onto your delivery.

We did the session in the recording room downstairs of StarMount Studio where the newly open little cafe is.  This soundproof room has a live feel and it was rather easy to sing in.  We tried my singing without any reverb on my mic (AKG condenser) - SF said that zero reverb setting is wonderful for hearing one own's pitching and flaws.  It was surprisingly...not as impossible as I thought it would be.

I started by singing through Carmen in one take, then all of us listened to the recording in the control room with Alex.  We heard the raw recording, void of effects and without the music too.  SF said the mic may have given my voice a rounder and warmer quality than my `normal voice'.

Tackling the first note of the song was a bitch that day.  The key was C#.  Ever since I started listening to myself more, singing my starting note for Carmen has often been a `hit-or-miss' affair...really annoying.  After many takes and working on my nerves, the C# got slightly better...I am reminded again that many a times, a problem in singing is greatly affected by our fears - a mental condition.  Your head could well ruin your music if you don't do something about it.

Volume.  I enjoyed singing in a much lower volume, singing close to the mic filter..and biting into the little nuances and expressions that could be heard crystal clear in my headphones.  I've done enough jingles to know the thrill of hearing everything amplified on studio condenser mics it's been a long time since my last recording of any song in full length.

We focused on the song's opening and up to the "L'amour" bits just before the main chorus of the song.  That went on for about an hour and then we moved on to Restless Heart.

I did a one take sing-through of the song.  After which SF gave me a rather gravely expression :) haha, there's much work - treatment and talk-through that was needed for this song.

Halfway through Alex needed to leave the control room for a bit to settle his piano-tuner business upstairs so we were left alone to work on the treatment, experimenting and discussion on the song.  Before Alex went upstairs I did another sing-through, with a much more gentle, subtle volume, varied dynamics.

"Don't just give the song attacks everywhere, volumes, and belt all through the song. "

What we covered / what SF requested/suggested:
a) recitative - reworked the idea of volume for this chunk and delivery of lyrics, like 'how to sing without sounding like singing".
b) treatment of tone and dynamics of the chorus
c) giving different dynamics and mood for the repeated higher notes in the song
d) changing breathing places for certain parts of chorus and making lyrical line longer without breathe place "...and I'm down on my knees I know you are smiling down on me."

might try to break the sentence proper into:

When the water runs dry and I'm down on my knees /
but I know you are smiling down on me saying' /
things will be all right /
when you start to sing /

e) giving the word 'sigh' its rightful tone of sigh :)

...lots to think about, to experiment, lots of questions, lots to be coached...and many songs to work through.  The panicky feeling will be replaced with excitement when I start to (well, I have started) work through these old and new songs.

We hung out at the studio cafe after the session, over coffees, tea, vegetarian mini pie, scones and cookies.  Alex specially mentioned the butter when he was serving the scones...true, the taste and texture of this salted butter named 'La Belle d'Andaine' (I asked to be shown the butter packaging) was pretty awesome.  I look forward to another session at the studio...and cafe.

Callista took lots of photos for me at the studio :)

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Sunday, July 06, 2014

Workout diary: Session #21, July 4th

I spent the weekend dragging my sore body all over town.  Sargent up my game on Friday with weights level I've never been before, though it was tough during the class...I didn't see the impact coming, till right after class at my steering wheels...woooaah, my arms just 'died' and the following day the `fun' begins.  He replied my whatsapp message "Aiyayai, you rest up ya...yup, today memang nak push you to the new limit..."

Yup, it was the day it looked like the bar was gonna crash on me in the crazy clean and jerk!

a) warm up @ 5 min

b) Clean & Jerk @ 4 sets @ 15kg

c) Arnold press @ 16 lbs + lateral raise @ 12 lbs + reverse fly @ 8 lbs x 10 reps x 4 sets

d) squats @ 30 lbs @ 15 reps x 4 sets (killer...mofo) 

e) calf raise @ 30 reps x 4 sets

g) dead lift (heaviest ever for me) @ 25kg x 4 sets @ 15 reps

CAYA LAH!  woooooot...hooked on pain, this little mad bitch in me...

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Workout diary: Session #20, July 1st

Had a nice portion of breakfast an hour before the session, of eggs, bread and butter.  But at the start of the walking lunges I got dizzy and had to sit out the last 2 sets :( Sargent had to rescue me by getting me sugary drinks from the vending think that was the start of Ramadan and I had wanted to not drink for an hour during the workout.

a) warm-up @ jogging @ 7mins

b) pulldown @ 5 sets @ 15 reps @ 18kg

c) push-ups @ 5 sets @ 15 reps

d) lunges @ 2 sets @ 15 lbs

e) jumping squats @ 2 sets @ 15 reps

"died" during the walking lunges and jumping squats, so Sargent Naim had to switch exercise to planks...

f) side plank @ 3 sets of 15 reps

g) side sit-up @ 3 sets of 20 reps

h) sit-ups @ 3 sets of 20 reps

i) jogging @ 5 mins

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Workout diaryy: Session #19, June 25th

Focus: upper body training 

a) warm up @ jogging @ 6min

b) pulldown 
- front pulldown @ 15 reps x 3 sets - weights: 14kg (1 set), 18kg (2 sets)
- back pulldown @ 15 reps x 3 sets - weights: 14kg (1st & 2nd set), 18kg (3rd set)

c) Rowing @ 4 sets @ 15 reps @ 18 lbs

d) reverse fly @ 4 sets @ 15 reps @ 8 lbs

e) Arnold press @ 4 sets @ 15 reps @ 16 lbs 

f) front raise @ 3 sets @ 15 reps @ 16 lbs

g) bicep curl @ 3 sets @ 15 reps @ 18 lbs 

h) sit-ups - side 
- 10 reps @ left & right @ 4 sets
- normal sit-up @ 10 reps @ 4 sets

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Workout diary: Session #18, June 20th

a) Warm up @ 5min jog on treadmill

b) Clean & Jerk @ 5 sets:
  1-3rd set @ 12 reps @ 14 lbs
  4th & 5th set @ 10 reps @ 20 lbs

c) Push ups @ 3 sets of 30 reps - variations: diamond, normal, wide

d) Walking lunges with bicep curls - 3 sets of 20 steps @ 16 lbs

e) Sit-ups @ 4 sets of 15 reps

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