My new song: ‘Sparrow Sings’

An article about Andrew Healey's new song, Sparrow Sings.

I have an early morning ritual — actually, it’s more like a bad habit. What is it? Well, I take about an hour to drag myself out of bed after my alarm goes off. You’re probably wondering why I’m revealing this dark secret. Because it inspired a song, that’s why.

Sparrow Sings is about the thoughts that swim around my head while I’m contemplating facing the day. Thoughts like how quickly time flies, particularly as I get older, and what a strange world it is that I’ve found myself in.

Like most of the songs on my upcoming album, Sparrow Sings is musically simple, comprising about four chords. When I was younger and eager to showcase my ‘expertise,’ many of my compositions were needlessly complicated. Over time, though, I’ve learned (I’m a slow learner) that listeners generally don’t care about technical minutiae. It flies over their heads. What matters is how a song makes them feel. Heck, why are The Beatles still loved so much 50 plus years since they broke up? Neither of them went to music school.

When it comes to lyrics, I write as an observer these days. I rarely delve into politics or ethics, though. Who am I to preach? Instead, a bit like a journalist, I try to document the things that affect me in my world, as small as it may be.

Recently, I played Sparrow Sings to a friend, and he reckons that sparrows chirp, not sing. I don’t know. Whatever sound it is that sparrows make, it’s music to my ears that promises the hope of a new day better than the last. And, anyway, ‘sparrow sings’ sounds a lot better than ‘sparrow chirps,’ don’t you think?

Pro Tools First

As I write, I haven’t yet had any of my songs professionally mixed and mastered. I’ve found that since embarking on this project, technical issues have slowed me down. And, I shouldn’t be surprised because there is a lot to know, and I haven’t recorded new material for a long time.

I started off using the DAW Pro Tools First. It didn’t take me long to figure out how to record songs to a reasonable standard. However, I soon realised that there is no way to backup sessions to an external drive and then send them to a third party, like an engineer for mixing. Pro Tools First came free with my audio interface, so I guess I got what I paid for.

If you are considering using Pro Tools First, here is some advice: It is only good for recording demos. If you want to collaborate with others and make radio-quality recordings, forget it. Also, customer service at Avid (the company that supplies Pro Tools) is rubbish — I found it impossible to make contact with them.

I upgraded

To solve my problems, I upgraded to standard Pro Tools, which I guess was Avid’s ‘wicked’ plan all along. So, now I can save and share sessions, plus I now have up to 22 tracks, instead of 16. And, don’t get me wrong; I don’t mind paying for a DAW that meets my requirements, it’s just that Avid’s lack of customer service has left me kind of hating them. That can’t be good for their business.

My first single

I’ve decided that Sparrow Sings will be the first single from my album. I didn’t choose it because of its commercial potential or catchiness. No, I chose to release Sparrow Sings first because of its simple arrangement of just vocals, guitars and percussion. I think it’ll be good to use to see how well I work with the engineer who will mix and master the song.

Sparrow Sings

Moving forward

I have written 11 songs for my new album, and I have an old, unreleased song that I might also include. So, I have no shortage of material. As already mentioned, the biggest challenge of this project for me is the technology. Now that I have upgraded to standard Pro Tools, I am confident that I can pick up the pace and get this album completed by my target date of April 2021.

Wish me luck.

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Andrew Healey

Editor

Andrew is an Auckland-based writer and musician.

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