A few months back I produced a series of tutorials on the ins and outs of the “Control Room” feature of Cubase. For those of you unfamiliar with what I’m talking about, Cubase is a powerful music production software package, and it’s what I use in my studio to create my music. Cubase has a somewhat unique feature that is absent from other software of its kind called the “Control Room”. The feature can be confusing, and its possible uses aren’t well explained in the manual or on the web for that matter. I therefore created an 18 video series of tutorials that go over its use and operation step-by-step. Originally, I put this material together for a presentation I did for the Cubase Users Group in Phoenix, Arizona, which was well received. Subsequently, I attempted to pitch the idea to MacProVideo.com to include in their tutorials on Cubase. They met with me, but ultimately weren’t interested. Totally cool, I was just stoked to get the meeting. Anyway, I decided to make the entire series available for free on youtube for those who might find it useful.
Here is a link to my youtube channel where you will find the videos:
And here is a link the page I set up for it, which has all the videos linked separately.
If even one person finds this useful, I’ll consider the time I spent making it well spent. I remommend watching full screen, and setting the quality to Auto or 1080p HD if your connection can handle it.
I’m currently in the process of hacking away at the 10 or so hours of footage I have on the making of Excelsior. It’s slow going, but I hope to distill it down to no more than 3-4 hours and then I’ll post a set of making-of videos on youtube. I’m currently looking for texts to use in my next choral composition, and I’m considering which chrismtas song I want to arrange and record for my 2013 Christmas CD. And of course, pre-production on the video for Danny Boy is currently on going.
That’s all the SLDMusic news there is to print at this point. More in the near future.
I’ve been feeling like this quite a bit lately. First, let’s not kid ourselves. We humans didn’t INVENT the major chord. That comes from something bigger than us. Whether it’s a result of higher celestial being, simply a function of the random mathmatics of the universe, or somewhere in between is up to each individual to decide, but we didn’t invent it. We didn’t create out of thin air the fact that moving from a dominant chord to a tonic chord is pleasing to our ears. Or that true beauty comes in contrasts–dissonance versus harmony, light versus dark, negative space versus positive space, or in the case of lighting design, blues versus ambers. All these things are simply a function of human nature.
That’s not to say that there haven’t been lots of notable humans in history who, of course, brought some of these things to light through incredible works of art that survive to this day. Still… the creative process, irrespective of what results from it and how “original” it is, is no less rewarding for the creator. This is all a round-about way of telling you what a beautiful and humbling process the creation of my own arrangement of the classic song “O Danny Boy” was.
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants is the best way to describe it. People much more skillful and creative than me created the melody and lyrics. People far more talented have created countless arrangments of this song in the past. And ultimately, the transition from a C11 chord to an F Major resolution is not something I invented, but merely an unbeliveably beautiful tool of universal happenstance I can use to finish my own version of this gorgeous song.
Today I offer you my second podcast–which details some of the production techniques I used to record my version of “O Danny Boy”. Although the release of the full song will need to wait until I finish the video, this podcast will give you several preview snippets, an exploration of the four different endings I created for the song, and an opportunity for you to vote for your favorite one to determine which ending will make the final cut. Along with that I offer some samples of previous recordings I’ve done as examples of my talking points. Check it out if you like, and send me an email via the contact link above to let me know what you think. Here is the link on Soundcloud. You can also download it and listen to it on your ipod / mp3 player at your liesure. For best sound, though, may I recommend you grab a good set of earphones / speakers?
Am I a Tom Jones fan? No, but how can you not respect a guy who’s got the balls to throw his underwear into a screaming crowd of women night after night? You know… I’m 41 years old. I’m told by my older tennis friends that I’m still a youngster in the grand scheme of things, and sure, I’m not gonna argue with that. Still, I wonder at this point how much personal change is possible at my age. I’ve made remarkable progress over the the last 5 or 6 years, just in the self-worth sense alone, but I still REALLY admire those who have the gift of the gab – this easy-going ability to engage with people they don’t know and charm them. My wife has it. Many of my friends have it. Me though, I don’t know. It’s one of those things that I wish were different about me. I mean, I have no desire to throw my underwear into a crowd of scraming fans, but I’d sure like to be able to engage with people more easily. There are lots of people I admire in that regard. At the end of the day, though, I suppose I have a special kind of fearlessness. Many of my friends who are so adept at social interaction would never even dream of taking the risk of getting a pilot’s license, or running their own business, or even standing in front of a crowd of a couple thousand people and singing a song. Yet, for the life of me I can’t figure out why anyone would be remotely interested in talking to me. Go figure.
Anyhoo, I’m way off the track. So what’s new with me anyway? Well, I have no new songs to share (well I do, but it’s a cover version of “This is the Thing” by Fink, and I don’t have the rights to share it, so … oh well.) I do have some things I CAN share on the horizon though.
1.) “O Danny Boy”: My latest choral endeavor will be my own original arrangement of “O Danny Boy”. I know… you’re probably thinking, “Does the world REALLY need another arrangement of “O Danny Boy?” The answer, of course, is no… no it doesn’t. But I’m doing it anyway, so there. I was born to sing this song. I’ve sung it countless times in front of probably thousands of people all told. I wanted to wait until I attained a reasonable competence at this recording thing before I attempted to do my own version of it, and here we are. I don’t know when it will be done, but it’s coming along in what little free time I have available to work on it.
2.) The Making of “Excelsior” : As promised, this is still in the queue. It will be a little while yet, but I do want to share the process of creating this song from arrangement to the final master.
3.) Collaboration with Mr Bill : You who are reading this blog TODAY will likely not know who Mr. Bill is. For those interested, he’s an electronic musician who lives in Australia. He creates his own brand of glitchy-electronica. My favorite work of his was as one half of the tandem called “Electrocado”. Their second album, The Hass Effect is AWESOME–one of my favorite electronic albums. Anyhoo, I’ve arranged and recorded some choral-esque vocals to contribute to a track Mr. Bill is creating for use in his live sets. It’s very exciting to work with such a unique talent. More on that as it develops.
I’ve got more stuff in the hopper, but nothing concrete enough to talk about yet. Mostly I’ve just been incredibly busy at work, and while I’m not complaining….. it seriously cuts into my music making time.
As my beautiful, and unbelievably charming, wife would say, “Later, peeps!”
Okay, despite some personal strife, and work being a pain in my butt the last few weeks, I’ve still managed to get some music making in. This one started several months ago, when I entered a contest at KVRaudio.com to create a 30 second song. The 30 second song I came up with was a very quick dity with lyrics adapted from a poem called Excelsior by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Excelsior, for those that don’t know means “ever higher” or “ever upward”–something along those lines.
My 30 second song was nothing special, but it was enough to win me third place in the contest, so that was kinda neat. More than that though, I really wanted to do more with the song. I ended up writing a short choral piece using my original idea as a basis shortly after the contest was over. I then let it sit for a while, too busy with other things to sit down and record it. Fast forward like… eight or nine months, and I finally decide I’m ready to do it.
So not only do I take my original SATB (Soprano, Alto, Tenor Bass) arrangement and do a new arrangement for TTBB (Tenor, Tenor, Bass Bass), I also decide I’m going to be a bit more ambitious this time in several respects. The first is that I wanted to document the making of this song. And document it I did–with several hours of screencast and video footage of my process of arranging, recording and finalizing the piece.
The second thing I did was more than double the number of voices that I’ve recorded for similar choir-like songs in the past. “Dirait On”, “Sleep LIttle Baby” and “O Magnum Mysterium” were limited to only eight voices–two of each part. “Excelsior” on the other hand utilizes TWENTY voices. This complicates matters tremendously, but I won’t bore you with the details here. You can see more about that if you want to watch the “making of” vidoes that should be ready in a couple of weeks.
The short of it is that I was going for a more full sound, and I believe I succeeded. I also did it in record time. From start to finish, I had the song arranged for TTBB, recorded and finished in 7 days. It would have been shorter if I didn’t need to rest my voice and make some changes to the end of the song after the initial attempt wasn’t good enough. My New Years Resolution seems to be panning out so far (see my previous blog post).
Finally, I also created a short “video” of the song–giving a little behind the scenes look at the song’s recording, as well as a moody “cloudy” ending that hopefully encourages you to stop watching the song, and start really listening to it.
Without further adieu, you can SEE the song on my youtube account here:
And you can just listen to it by pressing play here:
Thanks for listening! Until next time.
Greetings all, and I hope you had a nice holiday. I’m not going to bury the lead, so here it is: It’s called “Magic Hour”. For me it conjures up the thought of magic hour–that time just before dusk, when your mind wanders to what is, what could be, and what might have been…
I’ve never been one for making promises you don’t keep, and since New Years resolutions seem to tbe the epitomy of that, I’ve never really embraced the concept. Still, timing is everything, and I recently discovered a great bit of wisdom from an electronic music producer named ill.gates. Not only does he make some pretty interesting and unique music, he also does tutorial workshops around the world. Now the thing about music tutorials is that as the “consumer” you have to play an active part in what YOU get out of them. There are only so many tutorials on how to use a compressor you can watch before you can’t help but get the concepts. Still, I can’t help but seek out more. Why is that? Well, it’s because I’m always always hoping those compression tutorials might give me a nugget of information on workflow, or creativity or those other elusive concepts that will help me understand what I REALLY want to know, which is “How can I create better music?”
Now I’m intelligent enough to know that after a certain point, a tutorial on using a tool of music production isn’t really going to help me make better music. Only practice, and a diverse, multilayered approach to music education can do that. And I’m on that path–no matter if it takes 30 years (and it will). Don’t get me wrong, there is still a LOT to learn about the tools of music production, but making better music is something that most music tutorial creators are not necessarily qualified to teach–even if they happen to make great music themselves.
This brings me to ill.gates’ ill.methodology course–which can be found here: The Ill.Methodology. He’s made the first video in the series free to watch, and believe me, it’s worth watching. It’s inspriational, and it touches on those nuggets of philosophy and human nature that others are too intimidated by or unaware of to talk about. Regardless of what kind of music you want to make, what he says in this course makes enormous sense, and it’s inspired me to make my own New Year’s resolution.
Yesterday I sat down in my studio, I worked for about 5 hours, and I came up with the song that become Magic Hour from nothing to completion. Granted, it’s not a complicated song. It’s not a very long song either, but I did it, and it’s done. My resolution is to not be so precious with my music–to get in the habit of finishing songs and staying excited, rather than trying to muscle any one song to say everything I want to say at once. Over the course of time, my music will get better. My techniques will get better, and most importantly, I’ll have more fun and excitement in my creation process. That’s what _I_ got out of this particular tutorial.
I have a couple of updates since the last time. I have two new songs that will flesh out the Christmas 2012 CD I’ll be giving to family and friends this year.
The first one is called “Home Sweet Home” and this is a “before” version. By “before” I mean, that “Home Sweet Home” will be re-recorded in the near future, with REAL musicians and a professional producer, so it will be drastcially different than what you hear here. This is simply my proto-type, if you will. My hope is that real musicians (and a better producer) will breathe some more life into it than just me messing around on a MIDI keyboard. Still, here it is for now. It is quite harmonically complex for the music-theory minded, moving from the D Phrygian mode (with a raised third) through to B flat major for solo-ists section, then to G minor for the third verse, then back to D Phrygian with a raised third, ending in D minor with a major lift at the very last chord. Some of the chords are almost jazz-like in their complexity, and I’m very pleased with how it turned out.
Additionally, I’ve got a second piece I’m releasing that has been well over a year in the making. I might do a making-of podcast, or video on this one. I’m not sure yet, but it originally started as my attempt to create a dubstep track. I quickly found that I’m not cut out to create dubstep–or at least the Skrillex inspired “dubstep” that is currently making the rounds–which seems to be all about who can make the sawtooth-ier lead, and wobb-lier bass line. I just end up finding it too mind-numbingly boring after a while. So I abandoned my attempt but took some of those initial experiments and morphed them into what you hear below. It took a LONG time to really figure out, not only what I wanted to do with it lyrics and “story” wise” but also how to execute some of the tricks I wanted to incorporate (the sound effects, the talking space ship, and the accompanying build-ups and breakdowns). The final polish is the hardest part, and it took another 2 months of patient work and decision making to finalize the track. I declare it done now, and whether anyone else likes it or not… _I_ like it. And I tell ya, when you like your own music it takes a lot of the sting of rejection away. That’s why I don’t release anything until it’s “done”. I don’t like regrets. As always, this is the best I can do right now. I may be able to do better tomorrow, but for now, I’ve left it all on the table. Take it or leave it.
Anyhoo! Thanks for listening. Thanks for reading, and Merry Christmas! I’ve got many things (alot of them happier!) in the hopper for next year, so maybe I’ll see you then.
While I’m still deciding what exactly to do with “Sleep Little Baby” (I may have it remastered before I make it widely available), I’m near completion of another faux-choral piece composed by Morten Lauridsen. It’s a Christmas song called “O Magnum Mysterium” –from the Latin text. It sounds pretty good if I do say so myself, and should be available maybe by the beginning of December. We shall see. I’m on the verge of releasing a bunch of other odds and ends to soundcloud as well–just need to you know… finish them. In the meantime, here’s a short preview of “O Magnum Mysterium”:
I’ve released a quick 30 minute podcast about the creation of my track “Sleep Little Baby” on soundcloud. It goes by quick so give it a listen if you’re interested.
THE ENGINEER’S STORY
I often read both amateur and self-proclaimed pro “producers” alike lamenting the task of having to work with vocalists. “They’re a pain in the ass,” I read. “Frickin’ Prima Donnas!” they say. “Good ones are hard to find,” I also hear. As the recording engineer and producer for a new track by Scott Sizemore called “Sleep Little Baby” all I can say is how right those guys are! The guy I worked with was a nightmare! He had a decent voice… when he was on pitch. He had okay intonation, when my teeth weren’t grinding like nails on a chalkboard because of his nasally vowels. He had great vibrato, but practically had to be cattle prodded into singing a laser-straight note when it was needed. And his range was entirely insufficient to the task.
I’ve long since learned that good recording in the first place is better than studio corrections afterward, but there were times when this joker just didn’t get it. My hand was forced to warp some audio so that entrances synced, and correct a few pitches of notes that were WAY below Mr. “I’m a Tenor One!”’s range. I had to force him into take after take after TAKE AFTER TAKE in order to get usable recordings, and even then I had to comp much of the performance from the best of what I got.
I did what I could. I used the best mic I have—a Sure SM27 condenser for the vocals. I ensured that the A/C in the house was off, the door was closed to prevent any cats from entering the studio, and that all the TVs and the speakers in the office next to the studio were off as well. I forced him to warm up his voice properly before recording. And ensured he had plenty of water in the studio to avoid the saliva clicks and pops that appear as a dehydrated mouth opens and closes in front of the microphone.
Despite all my preparations it was a brutal process. The vocalist was also the composer, so we’d go into the studio, record some scratch vocals, and then he’d see what I saw all along—some harmony wasn’t working or his arrangement was “un-singable” (whatever!) so he’d go back to the drawing board and edit the score. We’d try it again, and he’d edit again. He’d get sick, and we couldn’t record. He’d strain his voice by over-singing (claiming he couldn’t “hear himself” in the headphones or some such nonsense), and we couldn’t record. He’d have work, play tennis, spend time with his wife, go on trips to sing somewhere else (he claimed it was Carnegie Hall but I’m dubious). Excuse after excuse, and again, we couldn’t record. This went on for months. Finally, after he nailed down the final arrangement, and eventually managing to shake a damn sinus infection after he returned from his trip, I denied him access to chocolate and forced him into the studio for a final push to get this beast recorded once and for all. It took a week of studio time, but I finally wringed a usable compliment of vocals out of his throat.
From there it was all mixing, but at least that part I could control. With good vocals, mixing is easier. A little compression here, some EQ there, along with level adjustments, and before I knew it I had a decent mix to show some people I trust and get some opinions. The final track is now in Oren’s hands, to be mastered. I think, despite it all, we might just have ourselves a decent track when it’s all said and done. I’ll tell you what, though, the stories are true–vocalists ARE a pain in the butt!
THE VOCALIST’S STORY
I had composed a nice little choral piece. Eight versions of myself singing harmonies to piano accompaniment—simple right? No big whop! Not to an engineer. Oh, no. To him it was apparently a “very big whop.” Something about the need for “pristine recording to avoid a buildup of the noise floor,” and “careful attention to mic technique in order to deal with the extremely wide dynamic range of the song,” and also complaining about the “horrible breathiness in your voice when you go below about a C”. Blah blah blah. It was like listening to the office IT guy complain about the pitfalls of security monitoring and networking protocols. BOOORING! I just wanted to sing my song.
Anyhoo, I needed to try to sing what I had in order to really understand the problems with my arrangements. So we did spend a lot of studio time doing that. I would sing a quick version, and then realize some problems and try and fix them. I’d go back in, sing a little more, and fix a little more. No big whop. Engineer’s are slave drivers, though, I’m tellin’ ya. That’s all I have to say. I mean this guy, was ridin’ my ass from day one. “Why are you recording without a completed arrangement?” “Make sure you warm up before we start recording.” “Where is your water?” “What kind of “ah” vowel is that anyway? Are you singing classical choral or Merle Haggard twangy?!” “Drink some water.” “Seriously? More reverb. Dude, it’s frickin’ maxed out at the send. I’ll pre-fader it and give you NUCLEAR reverb in the cans if you want, but seriously–you’re just making it worse at this point.” “You’re off pitch, AGAIN! Sing it over!”
I can’t even tell you how many times I heard that last one. “You’re off pitch, AGAIN! God… you SUCK!” Uhg! I swear, no matter what I did it wasn’t good enough. it’s HARD to sing with headphones on. It’s just not the same. What am I s’posed to do!?
Despite all my preparations it was a brutal process. My voice got strained. I got sick a few times and couldn’t record. I like spending time with my wife more than the engineer, so sometimes I just said, “To Hell with you—I’m going to the movies!” I had a trip to New York to sing in Carnegie Hall I had to get ready for, so that ate into studio time. Plus it was just a lot of work doing take after take after TAKE AFTER TAKE! And it was HOT in there! I mean, seriously, had he ever heard of a little thing called air conditioning? Geez! He finally locked me in the studio for a week without chocolate and forced me to finish it out. Those quiet parts at the end were a BITCH to sing. I mean, I’d like to see HIM try and hold a laser-straight pitch at high G at pianissimo for like… thirty seconds and see if he can do it!
Eh… Whatever. It’s done now. I’m eating chocolate again as we speak. He muttered something about “sync issues” and “compressing the vocals” and then disappeared into his studio for another few days. Apparently he sent it to some guy named Oren to get it “mastered” (whatever that means), and we’ll have a final track done soon. At this point, I’m just glad I don’t have to work with that dude anymore.
Meanwhile, here’s the final recording:
I don’t know. I think it sounds pretty good, if I do say so myself… I think the engineer would disagree though. And of course, the problems he points out are mostly my fault. There’s just no pleasing that guy. ::groan::
My grandmother died last Tuesday. And I was able to play her the full song (not quite complete but close enough) before she passed. I’m dedicating this piece to her. She was my second mother, and I will miss her terribly. Even my engineer shed a few tears over her passing. Maybe he’s not such a monster afterall…
(A Note About the Vocal Audio Samples Below: With the exception of the “FINAL MIX”, I attempted to make all the vocal examples sound similar (in panning, reverb, and level), and they ONLY include 4 of the 8 voice parts I eventually recorded). The “FINAL MIX” is an excerpt from the finished track as it will be released.)
Ok. So after months of work I finally had a piano track! Now came the easy part, right?
Let’s review the steps:
1.) Buy the Music.
2.) Learn how to play piano.
3.) Learn how to play “Dirait-On”
4.) Record the piano part.
5.) Learn how to pronounce the French words.
6.) Learn all the singing parts.
7.) Record eight versions of me singing all the parts.
8.) Do post production work to correct any syncing issues, tuning problems, noise removal, etc.
9.) Mix the song.
10.) Master the song.
In this installment we’re going to focus on:
Steps 5 Thru 10 : Recording the Vocals
STEP 5 (Learn the French Lyrics): Nah.. ths is boring. I’m sure I mangled the words anyway. Let’s move on, shall we?
STEP 6 (learn the parts): Since “studio time” in my own house is free, I did this as I went. :) I sung with the music in front of me, and for the first few days of recording, I found myself trying to sing along with 5-minutes-ago-Scott and realizing the moron didn’t even know the words! I battled with myself in this way many times over the course of recording–to the point that it became comical. Not only did 12-minutes-ago-Scott screw up the rhythm in the 2nd verse, 2-weeks-ago-Scott recorded a piano section that was flat out wrong! That f***ing BASTARD! Why 1-week-ago Scott didn’t figure that out I had NO idea. ::groan:: Would have saved us ALL a boatload of time and aggravation. Anyhoo…
STEP 7 (Record eight versions of me singing all the parts): This was the real challenge of this whole thing. And as embarrassed as I am to provide you with some early examples of my attempt to record the vocals for this piece, I will do it anyway. I started with what I had–a dynamic, cardioid Sennheiser e835 microphone running into an M-Audio Profire 610 audio interface used as a mic pre-amp only, and then into my Yamaha Motif XF8 workstation keyboard, which functioned as my ACTUAL audio interface. This initial set up (specifically the mic) made things EXTREMELY difficult, and I’ll explain why after I grit my teeth and provide this… less than stellar example of my 1st attempt.
Now, aside from being badly out of tune and having TERRIBLE vowel singing, there were other major problems with this that aren’t as easy to identify in this particular section. The REASON it sounds so… forced and out of tune is that I had decided to try recording the vocals from a decent distance away from the microphone. This was an attempt to avoid getting too many mouth noises (saliva pops and clicks from opening and closing my mouth, etc.). It was also an attempt to minimize proximity effect from the mic (the extra bass you get when the sound source is placed close to a cardioid microphone). For some reason I thought it wouldn’t be very “choral” to have too much bass (I realized that fear was a bit misguided later). Finally, I thought a little more room sound (in addition to the inevitable reverb I would add later) would MAYbe help with gelling the eight vocal parts together. This decision turned out to be problematic in many ways, the most insidious of which is that because my mic wasn’t very sensitive, I found myself having to sing too loud and in a… less than relaxed way. This created tuning and expressiveness problems because my forcing the volume a bit was making it harder for me to stay on the pitch.
I exacerbated the problem by overcompensating and cranking the pre-amp gain up as much as I could. This resulted in a LOT of noise. I was in fact, just setting myself up to fail by adding solutions that ended up creating more problems. All of this would have made little difference if I was doing a single vocal for a pop song with a drum track and lots of instruments, but my plan was to include EIGHT different vocal tracks in the final mix, and at some points the piece would go to pianissimo accapella with no accompaniment at all. That hiss multiplied by eight combined with me singing super-soflty would be a total disaster. And it was after I recorded the whole song like this, including the final, brutally hard, accapella section at the end, that I started to seriously worry about the successful outcome of this project.
Eventually, after a bit of research, I decided my mic was simply not the right tool for this particular job. I went out and invested in a new Sure SM27 condenser mic. It was much more purpose-built for what I was attempting, and as such, it was MUCH more sensitive, which allowed me to turn down the gain on my pre-amps and eliminate practically all extraneous noise. I hoped that, along with singing a bit closer to the mic, would be enough to fix most of my initial problems. Here was the result:
Better right? Not great, but better. The signal to noise ratio went WAY up, and that alone was worth the investment, but it also just captured the vocal differently: a warmer, fuller sound that had more breadth and texture, and somehow just made the vocals mix together better. I was much more optimisitc about the outcome of the project.
I still had much more work to do, however. It was time to really get down to the nitty gritty about how I wanted to perform this piece. What were the dynamics? What notes did I want to emphasize. How freely, or rigidly did I want to sing it? More rigid (striaght line notes with no vibrato) meant more potential for perfect tuning, and a “controlled” sound. Whereas a more free interpretation would mean less than perfect tuning, but more room for dynamic and emotional expression. My first instinct was to go the more controlled route–only because choral music that is not sung in tune tends to drive me bonkers.
Given my decision, I worked for another week or two on the vocals, and here was the result:
Alright! Now we’re cookin’ with some gas!
STEP 8 (Post-Production Clean Up): I worked long and hard on this version. I did a lot clean up work on these tracks. That included a LOT of micro-edits to get rid of those annoying mouth noises. I also did some audio warping in order to get the parts synched up a little better. Finally, I did a little pitch correction because I don’t care who you are, hardly anyone sings a vocal part perfectly. And since this is a studio recording rather than a live performance, perfection (balanced with expression) is the name of the game.
I was so pleased with this version that I started to think, “Hey, this might be worth a $.99 download to SOMEone… maybe?” And with that in mind, I thought I better take it to a professional to go the rest of the way. It was Friday, and I was set to go to the studio on Monday. It was then that I listened to the whole thing one last time and thought, “You know… I think I messed up.”
STEP 8A (THROWING IT ALL AWAY AND STARTING OVER): I know, this wasn’t one of the original steps, but sometimes… you just can’t plan these things. Remember that decision I made about well-tuned “perfection” versus expressiveness and dynamics? I called that into question at the 11th hour, along with having a problem with the out of control “ee” in my “Dee”rait On vowel choice. I decided to spend the weekend recording an entirely new set of vocal tracks with a little looser feel–a lot more dynamics, and a little less “EE” and just see how I felt about it.
It took all weekend to not only record the vocals but do the post-production work I needed to get it studio ready, but the end result was a much more emotional performance. Although I ended up taking both sets of vocal tracks to the studio, in the end I decided to go with the latest and more expressive ones I’d recorded over that final two days.
STEPS 9 AND 10 (Mixing and Mastering): This was done with Jim Pavett at Allusion Studios in Tucson, Arizona. That was fascinating process unto itself, but I won’t bore you with the details. It took about 3 hours, and Jim gave me the best compliment I could have been given–which was that my vocal recordings were so well done that he had no suggestions about how to make them better other than to stay well hydrated and keep apple juice handy while recording. He said that would help cut down on the saliva clicks and pops I was plagued with throughout the process.
THE END RESULT: So the irony is that, in the end, it took only 4 days to go from piano track to fully mixed and mastered, eight part harmony. But it took 5 months to educate and prepare myself to create those final tracks. Here is the same excerpt you’ve heard before, but now with the piano, in the final mix of the song as it will be released on December 14th, 2011:
Look for it on iTunes starting December 14th. I hope you’ll check it out. Thank you VERY much for reading about the process I went through to create it. Next time I’ll explore some of my adventures trying to learn how to create electronic music, which is an altogether different challenge.