So many experiences are composed of related stories and within each story a number of players or artists. The telling or remembering of some stories becomes difficult before the first words are shared. What stories do you include? Which ones do you leave for another time, even though the knowing will make this tale more complete? Which characters will be the focus today when so many were needed to play their part.
Too many things to share. If that were the biggest problem we would all become happy and prosperous. Often, your spouse is also your soul-mate. Sometimes your boss is your friend. Do we present the boss or the friend when the story is told?
I do not advertise or promote my recording studio. Every project has been from word of mouth or referrals/introductions that happen when good people want to introduce you to other good people. Here is a quick summary of a recent project I was fortunate to be involved with. Through my wife, my studio and talents were offered to record and back-up a song written by Bill Kreutzjans of the band Smokin Zeus to comfort someone after the primary – election process had finally ended. He will play acoustic guitar and sing his song, but wanted a fuller sound and maybe some harmonies.
Before he came over to record I got ready. I listened to a recording of the song and took out the copy of the lyrics. First; I checked the tempo of the song. Then I “mapped out” as I call it, a detailed arrangement of the song. Not just how many verses, bridges, and choruses but also how counting full measures, partial measures, key or tempo changes, and getting an idea of the dynamics that evolve as the song plays out. I pull up my computer and recording software (I use Sonar, but there are many others). I created a basic drum pattern to use as a fancy metronome. Bill laid down his tracks listening to the drum tracks and as most artists do in a studio, he fine-tuned his sound and melody. Very quickly we had a great foundation recorded.
This was one of those dream songs where everything dropped into place. We all had ideas of what we wanted to add. The equipment worked well and everything went smoothly as the song kept building. I played each section of the song back (sometimes over and over) and used a MIDI keyboard to “record” the bass guitar parts. Then I used the MIDI keyboard to again trigger sounds from the computer software and plug-ins, but this time I picked a natural string sound to fill around the acoustic guitar.
Good enough progress for a few hours stolen in the day, so we save and back-up files and plan to meet soon to finish. Send rough mix mp3 so all can listen to tracks we have so far.
In the days before we meet to finalize and mix the tracks, I clean up the drums and add accents to help the song build. The drum sounds are also provided by the software and I can trigger the individual sounds or use pre-recorded and/or user-created loops. These ingredients can be blended, added together and shoved in the oven until you get a great loaf of bread. I add the vocal harmonies based on previous discussions. Now I spend some time with the mastering tools I have and process tracks using E.Q., compression, (where needed. I am not big on heavy compression) volume leveling, etc., and then fun stuff like reverb and stereo placement to make each part noticeable and clear. Send rough mix mp3 so all can listen to tracks.
At this point I am playing the song over and over because I like it. I think it sounds cool and we meet to mix and master. I always try to get an idea how the author/performer wants the components or project to sound like. It is a difficult language, but if I get a feel for what they want – or an example of things like it – I can usually find the ‘tone’ of the mix they are familiar with. We pick preferences as we go and the mix continues to bake. We blend track levels with effects and record the master mix to a stereo track ( ….. this topic will be a series of articles in the future ).
For all of you; “No Worries” © Bill Kreutzjans 10/2016