New Year, New Challenge

I know we are already at Ground Hog Day, but it has been an exciting start to a new year in the studio. Sometimes it seems it takes a bit of momentum to get the creative ball rolling, but it is definitely moving forward. Karen and I have a mutual goal of writing 1 minute of music a day. It can come in 1, 3, 7-minute blocks, depending on life. We will post our minutes here at times.
Also, in exciting news, I completed a goal of updating/rebuilding a microphone. I am so pleased with its results. I added a Telefunken tube and an akg c12 diaphragm to my NTK. I love my NTK, and at times have recorded various “mic shoot outs” with it and it always wins. But, I had read so many great reviews of this combo that I had to give it a try. I finally had a spare moment so I took it apart and made the changes. I have a recording I did of Kristina at Christmas time. I had her rerecord the same line with the new changes. WOW. I will post those files here tomorrow as a continuation of this post. Until that time, ciao!

Starting from scratch

Yesterday was the a typical day in the studio. Assignment: Make an arrangement. Okay, easily said… So I listen. I play. I analyze. I imagine. It is an exciting position to be in. To be able to have so many possibilities within a given framework. So I played my first thoughts. Then, sheet music from the composer. Okay, I’m only slightly off their perception of the song. Time to redirect. I tap out a tempo to match the free played demo. I love my tools to be able to do this. I mark verses, choruses, bridges. (So, I’m not sure this piece has a bridge… we’ll work on that in the arrangement). I create a drum click that gets me in the rhythm of things… I actually went subtle hip hop. Doesn’t make any sense, but it grooves. My daughter came into the room and said, “What is that?” very enthusiastically. Good sign. She said save that drum beat, I want to write a song to it. So, I’ll keep the drum beat for now. It’s all about matching tools to creativity. Who would have ever put a rainstick with a hip hop beat? Fits perfect for now.
So, today…build on yesterday’s work. Eliminate distractions. Search for that music that lies just beyond the reach of the ears. It’s there, just have to reach for it.
On the opposite of the work load, transcribing cello music. Whole different mindset. What did the writer mean when they put 3.5 beats in a 2/4 measure? I try to imagine where they are coming from. Ah, as I search, I realize they are imagining prebeat ornamentation. Unmetered in the measure. A few semicolon clicks (shortcut for turning standard notes into grace notes), a few beaming together with the (okay, I have to admit, 30 some years into this computer world and I still don’t know if / is a forward slash or a backslash… kind of funny. I learned once, but I can’t remember which is which. Is it moving forward or sliding backwards? I cannot keep it straight. So glad I don’t have to name it to use it!) beaming together with the / and I’m good to go. Counts even line up! Sent off to client for proofing… So much fun.

In the studio…

I love being in the studio.  I realize there is so much artists do not realize that is possible.  I thought I’d take a few moments and relate scenarios for you.

Today, was guitar vocal.  Choices…  Do you record guitar, then vocal?  Guitar and vocal simultaneously? So many possibilities.  Advantages to guitar vocal at the same time…The feel is right!  So often, the client thinks, they can record the guitar, then the vocal, only to find out the have omitted a chord or a ritardando, etc.  Then if there is a mistake, how do the get back into the flow of the piece?  So, record both at the same time.

Disadvantages…well, the voice ends up all over the guitar and the guitar kind of ends up on the vocal track.  Pitch correction is for the most part thrown out the window.  You can’t fix that flat note because it pulls the guitar with it.  Corrections are with new takes.  It is simple enough to link tracks together so that when you make a correction with a new take, you can pull all parts (guitar track and vocal track) together.  This works well.

Advantages to doing guitar and vocal at separate times…you can focus and make perfect the one then the other.  It’s amazing how many spare parts a simple song generates.  Yes, spare parts.  The chorus at least twice, the verse at least twice, the bridge, okay, only one of those…

Then, you can do multiple takes of the vocal (at least 2) and then choose the best pieces from both.  So you bombed the first chorus entrance, borrow it from take 2 or the second chorus in either take.  So many possibilities, but… the timing and feeling has to be right.

There is a third solution…

A guide version, with vocal and guitar.  Then, go back and play only guitar along with the guide version, then replace the vocal.  The best of both worlds.

You would think that this would take more time, but in reality, if you have to keep going back and figuring out what went wrong on the initial passes, it ends up being just as fast and efficient.

So today’s session went down like this, (and it was a great session…)

Guitar first, play back, something wrong, retry with guitar/vocal at the same time.  2 takes.  2nd take a keeper.  Beautiful.  Feeling.

Added harmony



(For techies… I did a Mid side variation with the voice being the mid, the guitar being the side.  I have had enough problems with phase cancellation of voice/guitar mics in this scenario to try to avoid two great mics in the center…)