Thursday, 29 March 2012

Studio Diary Three - The Arduous Task

Sorry it's been a while. I'll level with you, I've been out enjoying the sunshine. I hope you have too :)

Today I finished tracking for my re-release album. All that's left is a spot of guest vocals on one track and the microphones can go back in the box! Though I won't speak too soon. The only reason I hadn't finished sooner is because I had to go back and correct a juvenile mistake.

Without boring you with software related details, I set up 4 microphones to record my guitar, made 4 tracks for them on the computer, then told all of those tracks to record the signal from THE SAME MICROPHONE! So I ended up with 4 identical tracks of guitar sound that wasn't a true or even remotely palatable depiction of my guitar on it's own. I had to go back in and re-record the guitar parts for the two songs I did this on (yes, I made the same mistake twice!) and record the vocals on said tracks today before I could move on to the next stage of the process.

Then another technical hitch happened. My computer's disk drive refused to have any CDs anywhere near it. I mean literally. It was like trying to spoon-feed a full child. I even tried the 'here comes the aeroplane' trick. It wasn't having any of it! It's rejection meant I couldn't listen to any reference tracks easily, and also incurred a painstaking CD ripping and file transferring afternoon.

But after all that, these are the albums I have chosen to go through at first before I start the mixing process, just to get my ears used to the style of music I'm dealing with and maybe to pinch a few techniques from and tip a few hats to more established artists who do what I do. This won't be the last of them, but for now, see if you can name them all from their CD labels. Then let me know who you think is missing!

Anyway, that's enough for now. I'll hopefully be able to get down to mixing in the next few days, and update you accordingly.

See you soon.


Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Studio Diary Two - The Overwhelming Hand-Cramp

Today was my second big stint in the studio (I was in for about an hour yesterday and got another two guitar tracks down). I spent all afternoon finishing off the guitar parts before going back to the first song to start to add in extra sounds and instruments. These included some kick drum, snare and cymbals, though not all together, as that would make me a drummer! It also included some extra lead guitar, so I dusted off the old Epiphone Sheritan from its place decorating the bedroom wall and plugged it in.

When I moved on to ukulele was when the hand cramping started! I've chosen to add uke to a song that's in Bb, and so all the chords are either barre or have strings being covered by one finger. This requires extra squeezing and, coupled with my inability to overlook minor mistakes and fret buzzes, left me to abandon the instrument halfway through take 8 (ish). Oh well, I'll get back on it tomorrow!

One of the coolest things that happened today was finding the 'missing' sounds in some of the songs. That is, some of the songs felt like they were just going through the motions, like they didn't have that extra something to make them different or special. It could be something seemingly small like a shaker of me tapping my fingers on a snare drum or cymbal, but when I add it to the rest of the track it just adds something and seems to bring the whole thing together somehow. It's one of the most exciting parts of tracking in the studio.

I'll hopefully be back in tomorrow and with a good stint I might just finish most of the tracking. Depends how long the uke part takes to nail! I'm sure you'll hear all about it!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Studio Diary 1 - The Miraculous Radiator!

Today was the big day. Today I started recording the guitar parts for my upcoming 'back catalogue' album. This involved breaking down all my current recording setup, moving next door into Ed's music room and setting it back up again. This actually took longer than I thought it would, but once it was finished, it looked ace! in fact, I took a photo.

Once it was all set up and ready to go, I then changed my guitar strings and cleaned my guitar in preparation. Once that final part was finished, I started the meticulous process of recording guitar parts for my songs.

When I'm doing my own production, I'm a stickler for perfection. That is, my performance has to be perfect. A bum note, a buzzing string, picking the wrong string at the wrong time or an over-zealous strum can easily lead me to re-do a take. This was a problem today as it is really cold in there, and cold hand (and arm!) lead to more mistakes, especially with added dynamics, like strumming too hard to catching the wrong strings. However, I found the perfect solution, one that I used to use when I recorded in my loft, and had forgotten about...

My portable heater! Ironically that bad boy was with me for the original recording process for some of the songs that are going to be included on the new album! It's pretty old and can click and creak from time to time, but it helps to save more takes than it ruins!

So, aided by the heater, I managed to get guitar parts down for four songs today, two of which had two different parts, so six in total. I'll be working tomorrow in the middle of the day, so hopefully get some more recording done after that. I'll keep you posted :)