…..Larry Coryell assures me as we discuss my ongoing challenge of self-producing my current recording project Balance. I essentially knew this, but it is re-assuring to hear it from someone of Larry’s stature. I have been fortunate to be able to run things past him over the years and push myself past sticking points with his encouragement.
I have detailed aspects of this experience on blog postings previously — to update those of you who have followed me in this endeavor, I have most of the recording completed. My greatest obstacle is trusting what I hear — since I do perform as a solo guitarist frequently and I do improvise quite a lot with almost every piece of music I play, songs tend to change and evolve every couple of weeks. I will go back to review a version of a tune from perhaps three months ago and it’s different from the way I played it the night before. I have, somewhat foolishly, gone through the process of recording a new version and, in several instances, deleting the previous one. Of course, in a week or so I end up repeating the same process. At one point I had five versions of a certain piece and each one had a portion I really liked. It took gargantuan control not to begin the dreaded copy / cut / paste of segments and verses and solos (which I immersed myself in too easily for my first two releases) and end up re-titling the release Frankenstein’s Guitar. Digital editing allows me to skirt along the edge of the deep, dark ravine of recording perfection and just jump in with both feet. In fact, after listening to my first CD release Larry inquired how many tracks were first or second takes — I proudly told him how I disassembled and reassembled tracks and mixes. He said “I think you should trust your early takes from now on.” For me, that’s easier said than done……
Larry’s comment that opens this posting was in reply to my explaining my strange habit of disliking a take completely if I listen to it immediately after I record it. When it sits on the hard drive for a week or (ideally) more before I listen to it, all the sonic blemishes, misfired notes, risque ideas that I thought were there are gone. I am aware of this fact, but I still want to check things out immediately, give it a once-over…. at the conclusion of my recent recording sessions I immediately power off the TASCAM recorders and disconnect and put them away, even before breaking down the hardware. I manage to keep away from the files for at least a week before I sit down and begin mixing. To be honest, I do still have takes that don’t make it and after a pass or two I decide if it’s good and worth the next steps. I no longer paste bits and pieces of solos and intros from one take to another, though I do edit false starts and the occasional dead end I play myself into.
It seems Balance is more than just a sound recording — it’s been a growing experience for me, not only in terms of my technical skill in recording, but in my personal understanding of the creative process. It’s worth the time it’s taking to complete.
I’ll have more soon.