… and I am very pleased.
I have detailed some of the experiences I’ve had while recording (and in some cases attempting to record) my latest album project balance. While I have refined my setup and technical skills for recording, I actually took on the challenge to return to a previously recorded duo version of an original piece and track a new guitar part to replace the original one.
My composition How Many Times Will We Say Goodbye? was featured in demos for a duo in which I performed with vocalist JayKatz . We had decided to work together several weeks beforehand and needed recorded music to demonstrate the music we were creating together. She and her husband had assembled a recording studio in their home (essentially a personal studio, suited for one or two people, maximum), and she was anxious to get some experience producing product.
We recorded all of the tracks live, without overdubs. We went through a few tunes, staying at one or two takes each. Very simple approach, one track for her voice, one for the guitar. I then took the raw files and pulled them into my studio setup. My studio is physically wherever I set it up in my house.
We were both pleased with five of the tunes and I proceeded to mix and master the tracks. No overdubs — the take either worked or it didn’t. I did notice in several spots there was some extraneous noise, barely audible on most speakers I previewed on, but these were demos, not to be released for sale. (We did agree that for a release we’d do a completely different session.) I minimized the offending noise for the most part and produced a very professional master.
Recently, I have been submitting the song for repertoire consideration to a number of female vocalists — I considered the track to be fine sonically. However, I had minor issues with my playing and I had included a guitar solo on the original, of course, as it represented our duo. However, I considered the fact that it was the song that should be the focus of a submission, the lyrics, the melody, etc. and not the capability of the guitarist. I decided to edit the solo out and present only the structured part of the tune. When I returned to the track I immediately heard a scratchy presence that, though very subtle, drove me crazy. I pulled up the original takes and attempted to filter the track — no luck. I ended up with a massive impact on the track itself. So the next option: re-record the guitar track from scratch.
Easier said than done…. When two individuals perform as a duo and really connect there are natural tendencies to speed up and slow down. This isn’t a bad thing and it is part of the special magic that makes for fantastic performances and recordings. Here I was, attempting to go back and recreate the guitar part that fit together so beautifully, realizing that we were, indeed, altering tempo subtly in several spots.After two less-than-successful tries I decided to sit down with Jay’s solo vocal track and listen to and internalize the way things stretched or shrank, tempo-wise, and where the accents and musical interactions actually took place. I also wanted to use an acoustic guitar this time.
Third time was the charm! I focused entirely on her voice, her breathing, her phrasing, and got it right. To top it off, I used an AKG D8000M dynamic mic to record the guitar – I was picking up some sort of radio interference with the condenser mics. What a wide-open sound!
I did a bit of EQing and, of course, mixed and balanced things. I liked it. And here it is: