Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Home Studio Work Week of June 26-28 2012

Another whole week on "Your Idiot Son."

This is the week for vocals. I've already forgotten what I did on Monday, but Tuesday was very productive. It was an unbelievable day for this typically miserable climate: temps in the lower 80's after a low in the 50's this morning. Sunny, nice breeze. RARE!

In the A.M. I double-tracked the lead vocal up until the chanting/droning ending. The winner was take 3 with a few punch ins and copy and paste from take 4. This took certainly a few hours to achieve. I bounced both tracks, deleted the tiny fragments and compacted audio.

A long break was required, so I went outside and chopped and edged an area, pushing back hardcore nature a bit, freeing up a lovely spot behind the shed with lots of shade. Ate lunch out there in a canvas fold up chair, reading PG Wodehouse.

Went back and devoted another several hours to the long, chanting ending of the song on two more tracks. As this bit is lower than my typical range, I sang the first track while grabbing the notes from a nearby keyboard. I then double-tracked that, and copied and pasted over some less than stellar bits. During this whole session I was able to feel the cool breeze from the window in the studio. How rare that is I can scarcely say.

After all this, my voice was getting reedy and tired sounding so it was time to stop. I did track the next part (bah, bah, bah, bah/bah) to see what it would sound like. Great! is the answer. I'll redo that and double-track it tomorrow and do a pass of the harmony for the same section. Then...I must tackle the middle, which is well out of my comfortable range, at least for illustration purposes for a different singer. The ending is the most Beatley thing ever. Really.

Paul: "I think it's coming from over there! Someone's nicked one of me endings."
John: "Yer daft, Paulie."
George: "e's dead right, John."
Ringo: "Blek. I think I swallowed a bug." 

I finally remembered what I did Monday: double-tracked electric guitar, a prominent riff and other brief bits. Did a track over the ending that sounded cool while I was doing it, but complete garbage on playback. Delete!I used the 70's Peavey amp and the venerable Gibson SG. No direct  box. Not going back. No sirree.

On Wednesday I successfully double-tracked more vocal parts, the secondary line for the ending and the obvious harmony for it. Also made a harmony stack at the end with C#min plus a b. A 90 percenter which needs some quick fading to promote equality.

Thursday I had less time to work, but copied and pasted some MIDI piano and re-recorded it as audio, which nicely doubles a key riff on the guitar and fills out very simply the beginnings of each verse. Good choice if I say so myself. This will likely lead to more recycling of the best bits where piano and guitar lay with each other best. Re-recorded (and double-tracked) a portion of the main vocal ("Once each gets a piece of him....") It's really hard to say that out loud distinctively. My solution was to sing "once" skip a beat and then pick up the rest of the line. That worked well, though it was tough today to get a good vocal sound. Much punch in/out work for this brief section.

Might have my kids do handclaps with me on Friday.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Scott Live on WVCW 20 June 2012

I had a great time on "Anarchy from the Archives" yesterday on WVCW. Host Dan Ream and I go way back. Here I am playing one of two songs from the show, most likely "When I Die You Can't Have My Organs' due to the Bm chord. I also played "Did It Happen at the 7-11" in tribute to departed friend, Joey Cheatham. Podcast coming soon. More pics over on Facebook.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Yani Martinelli's new "Early Bird" video

Using recently discovered footage she took as a kid when living in San Francisco for a year in the 90's, my super-talented musical partner for the past few years has debuted her latest music video. Beautiful stuff.

Home Studio Recording Log June 11-13 2012

A number of hours devoted over three days to recording my cheap vintage Fender Musicmaster, the poor cousin of Fender basses.

 I tried three different ways to record, unusual for me:

  1. through an amp, the 70's Peavey guitar amp (I don't have a bass amp) using an SM57. It was dangled down the front to the right side of the speaker cone. Result: okay, but nothing special. not very "bassy". Also, since the amp was in the room with the monitors, quite a lot of acoustic bleed over from the other tracks...duh. 
  2. using the same amp I increased the "bass" knob and swapped mics to another one from the Wayne Pooley collection, a dynamic Sennheiser 422U. Most online descriptions note its good low frequency sound, so....why not? This time the mic was pointed to the amp (not dangling on a cable) a bit off axis. No monitor bleed from the other tracks. Of the three, this is clearly the better sounding set of takes.

3. Last and definitely least, I went back to the Sans Amp direct box. Had a lot of trouble with levels for some reason. After tackling that patiently, the results sounded like, well, like a direct box.
Performances not stellar.

Two very cool things happened.

I discovered a mistake in one early take that is actually better than the intended note. I love when that happens. I meant to play G/F# over the chords Gmaj/a,c#,f# but played G/D instead. Of course D is the root of the second chord and sounds great. I also love that G/D is correct for the next set of chords (Gmaj/a,c#,f) as well. Copied and pasted that! Oh, yes.

Did some lite copying and pasting elsewhere in the selected bass track (take four; take two using the 422U). And, for the moment, "Your Idiot Son" has a functioning bass track. I can hear it will need more work, but it is competent.

I accomplished one more thing. The secondary acoustic guitar for the ending (capo on 5) started to sound out of the pocket to me. However, today I discovered that by shifting it forward in time by a mere .043 sec the problem disappeared.

Next up, electric guitar double-tracked in a few key spots. And, lots of vocals.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Check out "Bluebird" by Riviera

The musical madman behind fab pop duo Riviera, Roland Wolff, is all over my upcoming album, Smellicopter. Please enjoy this highlight of their album, Belletree Session.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Home Studio Recording Log June 4-8 2012

An entire week of music work consumed by the remake of "Your Idiot Son."

Four hours on Monday(and two on Tuesday) spent on a new MIDI drum track. The originial 1994 cassette recording featured a rhythmn preset, so I made up a new drum blueprint from scratch. 
This song is long and full of challenges, so considerable effort was involved. In this case, it was good to have laid down a dummy acoustic guitar track first (alongside click and melody). Having done that, I listened closely to where changes in guitar rhythmn and feel occur and worked with those in creating the drum track. This worked really well I think.

A lot of last week's guitar worked out with the drum track, but enough didn't that I  obviously needed to start over with my trusty mid-70's Yamaha. Much better performances, though I like the sound of last Friday's tracks better. Well...sound is easier to change than performance.

I made some edits to the new main acoustic guitar track (fewer than 10 I'd say in a five plus minute song...very good for me). Then, I used the idea from last week of putting a capo on five and playing the ending. This worked pretty well, though I had trouble deciding how to end with the other track, since the neck joins the body. The capo track (which now sounds a little out of pocket to me), piano, main acoustic guitar and drums really flesh out the end.

Listening to the '94 version again, I decided I had to add toms. I had only a floor tom and very flat sounding snare back in those days. In order to accurately hear which notes were being played on drums I had to get rid of all the bottom end and stand in the hallway and tap out the part on my hand. I think I got it. Then...using the "rock mono" kit on the Motif I recorded (ultimately) two seperate toms parts. In reality, these can be played by one drummer of course, but it sounded better to keep them as separate tracks.

On Friday morning I made sure of where the fancier bass part and harmony vocals begin and realized I needed to cut a few measures of the toms tracks. Much better. I recorded them as audio and began practicing the bass line, which I ran through Thursday afternoon.

Finally, on Friday I decided to use my late 70's vintage Peavey guitar amp to record my Fender bass. I don't have a bass amp and I'm tired of the direct box sound. I think I got a decent sound from the amp, but have to watch out for cabinet buzz, which I'm afraid will pick up. Will get back to bass recording Monday. Then....on to vocals.