So that’s what that does…
Saturday’s session was a lot of fun. We cut good takes of two tunes and the process is together. The rig has been cleverly dubbed the “tree board”. I draw the line at a three tier keyboard stand and in no way could seriously play a keytar. Even though I would try against all credible advice not to.
We’ve been talking about the recording approach and it got me thinking about trying to record a song performance instead of building a song track by track. Both processes have their advantages and drawbacks. Recording these compositions makes me appreciate the level of musicianship of those who laid down some of the greatest music ever with multiple people all playing at once. Resolving the conflict between striving for perfection and keeping it loose so it swings is fascinating. Trying to find that space within the space is the pursuit for the elusive balance of intellect and emotion. The groove within the groove is working in your personal touch whether it be a technique or a figure signature into the rhythm and melody of the composition.
Gathering thoughts about this project has uncovered some insights into the process. The desire to deliver is helping to raise the bar. It’s more than wanting to play well or not wanting to record a seven minute song again because you bail on the last figure of the track. The grin gets bigger when the groove is the figure.
We got in the studio last night to work over the arrangements for two numbers and got two very different results. We got a really good take of one tune. The other arrangement is ready to go we just have to get it on disc and last night wasn’t the night. Some pieces take a long time to find their identity. We actually stumbled upon a new idea while trying to cut the arrangement we already had. Not to mention the two other parts that popped out of thin air earlier in the week during practice for the session last night. It’s hard to know when a piece has enough pieces and is its own body of work with a really good story to tell. Apparently this composition is still in the editorial process and wants an extension on the deadline.
Modified the rig by adding a three tier stand to consolidate the double single stand split. When I picked up the MM6 for bass sounds it didn’t occur to me then to get one. So I set it up and still have some adjustments to make to get comfortable but am looking forward to the benefit of only having to move my eyes instead of both my eyes and my head while playing. I’m trying to wrap my brain around the fact that the stand can confine and simplify at the same time.
So ready for take 2!
We went into the studio yesterday with some new melody figures for three tunes. One song is completed and ready to cut. The other two either need some polish or additional melody figures for sections. The drafting process to refine songs down to their main ideas from open unconscious jammage, then adding the transitions and dynamics continued to reveal the nuances and subtleties of each composition. It’s awesome to watch an spontaneous idea become more distinct and defined to become a composition with pockets for expanding on the main ideas in itself.
We’re going to focus on two songs at a time per session for two sessions a week. One session will be to smooth over any wrinkles in the recording arrangements. The other session will be to get final takes on each arrangement. Repeat until all ten songs are on disc.
A new friend made a comment about meditative state repetitive practice. I never heard it put that way. Reading that immediately got me thinking about my own practice routine for the recording process and this game of “ORGAN” I’m incorporating. It’s “HORSE” or “SKATE” backwards, where you get letters for playing the line right, you don’t stop playing the line until you spell the word, and if you flub anywhere you start over with no letters. I’m psyched for next week. The only question is which two songs are we going to start with? Mmmmm…..
After getting demo recordings on the full first batch of songs and taking some time to listen to the tracks all is becoming clearer. The emphasis on transitions is yielding results and is improving the quality of the compositions. Since last Saturday three tunes out of the batch have been on my mind and were the focus of daily practice. We came in and worked on one particular song that has all of its components but needs scrutiny on how the pieces fit together for the recording arrangement. The new ideas for the RH lines in the B section work really well with the spacing and groove of the LH line and drums. We caught two takes of the track on disc reflecting the changes we made to a pair of transitions and the main idea of the B section. Charting the RH lines in preparation for the next session so we can finish the tweaks then work on capturing quality takes of the current arrangements.
We cut demos on the last five tracks in this batch. Out of the five tracks cut two still have some parts that want to say something but are still trying to pull the idea together. It feels like the arrangements are starting to take on defined structures that leave room within them to stretch out and some main idea discovery will happen on its own as the disc continues to spin. Looking forward to going over the tunes to find the lines before the next session.
Meter response from Studio One during initial playback was weird. While recording four tracks at the same time all the meters showed activity. During playback only two of the meters were active but all four sound sources were audible. It was one of the weird “I’m not really sure what is going on but it works” moment. Meter activity returned to normal when I was listening back to tracks at home for the video.
The first recording session of the new year yielded good demos of four songs. There was a special moment for me that we caught on tape when a new possibility emerged to redefine one of the compositions in my mind. There is a subtle shift in tonality underneath the static melody note collection the divides this specific composition into two distinct movements. The 2nd movement grew in a new an unexpected direction that was really exciting. I’m really looking forward to exploring that in the future.
Overall it felt to me that the songs in this batch have all of their lines well established and the focus has shifted to nailing the transitions and performance of the distinct passages. The 4 input Audiobox VSL delivered flawlessly and integrated with Studio One seamlessly. We’re getting good sound and laying out the tracks.