Instead of writing a proper post, I sang a song for today’s blog update. I should probably have written a proper post.
“Baba Yetu” is one of my all-time favorite songs. Its background is frankly a bit strange: composed by Christopher Tin for a video game, it went on to win a Grammy Award—the first ever video game composition to score at the Grammys. Its lyrics are the Lord’s Prayer in Swahili.
To recap: “Baba Yetu” was composed for a video game, won a Grammy, and features as its lyrics an ancient Christian prayer in flipping Swahili. Yes, this song is a bit of a weird one. I love it so much.
I enjoy singing, but I’m not great at it. As my long-suffering younger brother can confirm, I sing while doing household chores. I was in my high school choir back in the day, but that’s the extent of my singing experience.
I have a decent voice and can force a vibrato. (For my non-musical readers: A vibrato is when the pitch of a note wavers slightly… or in my case, when my voice wobbles.) However, tragically, I don’t have a good ear for music. I struggle to sing harmonies, and occasionally fail even to hit the correct notes or stay in the right key.
For this cover of “Baba Yetu,” I sang over one of Christopher Tin’s original tracks karaoke-style, adding bits here and there. I mixed my recordings in
a witch’s cauldron an audio editing program called Audacity. I think my cover turned out all right, but I should mention that for every decent part of my performance, there were at least half a dozen takes that totally sucked. In audio mixing, as in writing, editing is magic.
I had really wanted to record a cover of “Baba Yetu” since singing it at an open mic night at my church. My performance kinda sucked. (I was really nervous.) I wanted to sing it again, to get it right, so I wound up recording it at home when I should probably have been blogging or sleeping.
At one point, shortly before I was ready to finalize the audio, Audacity couldn’t find the necessary files. I thought I had lost hours of work, but I was able to find the files again, thank God. Baba yetu, our Father, indeed.
“Baba Yetu” has become a popular song selection for choirs worldwide, including Procantus, the Uruguayan choir for which my dad sings. After I passed my favorite arrangement of the song on to my dad, he passed it on to his choir director, and the choir began practicing the song shortly thereafter.
(Oh my gosh, guys, I looked up the name of the choir to make sure I was spelling it right, and the very first search result on Google for “procantus montevideo” is a YouTube video of my dad singing “Baba Yetu” with the choir. The Internet can be a bizarrely small place. I would describe my aged parent as “the balding gentleman with the glasses,” but that describes nearly half the choir, so I’ll point him out as the gentleman on the left in the back row around the video’s seven-second mark.)
While finishing up “Baba Yetu,” I tried recording one or two Christmas, um, “carols,” but the recordings weren’t worth keeping. I don’t plan to record any more songs in the foreseeable future, but “Baba Yetu” was fun.
Do you know what’s even better than “Baba Yetu”? Saving lives with clean water! Please take a moment to check out Operation Yuletide! We’re raising money to help people this Christmas. There are even rewards and stuff! The fundraiser is lonely, guys. Check it out here!
(Quick technical note: you should probably share your recording as an .mp3 or .ogg; this will reduce its file size by ~90%)
I saved the song as a WAV file under the impression it provided the best audio quality, not considering the file size. Is a large file size problematic?
It could be an issue if someone had a not-particularly-good internet connection.
I would suggest sharing two versions of the file: one in .mp3 or .ogg format, for people trying to save bandwidth or disc space, and one in .flac format, which will have ~40% the file size of a .wav, with no loss in quality (.flac and .wav are both lossless formats).
Noted for future. Thanks!
What a cool song! Nice job. I’ve never even heard of that before. How did you learn the lyrics in another language?!
I learned the lyrics to “Baba Yetu” by SHEER FORCE OF WILL. Let me tell you, words like “tunavyowasamehe” and “waliotukosea” don’t exactly roll off the tongue! 😛