Tuesday, February 23, 2010

recording diary - one

this recording diary thing is surely only of interest to a few people that like to be bored reading the ins and outs of the creative process. i don't expect many to read all of this so i'll get right to the details:

threatening clouds by traveling light

4min24sec; 192kbps mp3; 6.1mb

recorded 02 november 2002

mixed 23 february 2010

as i detailed in a earlier post, i've had a long history of home recordings. as i've renewed my interest and execution of laying down my musical thoughts i found some older recordings that i made when i switched from the four-track to DAW recordings (digital audio workstation, that's the fancy term for recording on the computer). the recordings i found are from 2002 and 2003 and the first one i looked at is presented to you here today. let's discuss...

this is an original composition recorded on a saturday in november of 2002. i called the song "built to rip-off" presumably because i felt influenced by a wonderful band called built to spill but listening to the tracks don't at all give me a bts vibe so the song no longer goes by that name. i decided to called it "threatening clouds" as a tip of the hat to my friends from the past. back in the early 90's we had a newsletter that we published on a VERY small scale called notes from the deep end... in it were short stories and poetry and drawings and music reviews...everything that captivated our young creative minds. before we settled on deep end... as the newsletter's title we hit around some other names. one that we really liked even after we decided on deep end... was threatening clouds. we decided to use the name as a title for our writing collective, it was just too good of a name to throw out. someday i will dig up those old newsletters and post them here. it's not that they were at all good, it's just another marker in my history...proof that i was here and identifying with my Creator by being creative.

so when i loaded the session into my recording software of choice (cool edit pro 2) i listened to the mix i had been working on in 2002. i thought, "okay, nothing special here" and then noticed that i had recorded twelve tracks of music for this one song. i started playing with the mix and found a depth that i had surely intended but, for whatever reason, had not achieved. the tracks and remix are as follows:

two tracks dedicated to percussion...the first a simple beat on a djembe drum, the second a shaker and snap beat meant to accent the djembe. overall, i'm pleased but there are some pretty rough spots were i just lose the beat completely. i guess my 28 year-old self didn't feel the need to match the tracks better since i seem to get it back together after the times i lose it. as my friends in nh used to say, "close enough for rock and roll." i guess that's why i've always been amazed when i have played with eric and antonie and marcus and the other fine drummers i've had the privilege to play with...they can actually keep a beat. i can't. as i remixed the tracks i tweaked the eq so they sounded a little more full and added a slight reverb, sending each of the two tracks slightly to the right and left to further add depth to the recording.

two tracks of acoustic rhythm guitar...i recorded the tracks as such: one track is the line input of my acoustic the other is from a microphone. i recorded both tracks at the same time, sending one input to the left side and the other to the right. in my remix i increased the volume and presence of the tracks, adding some eq to brighten the corners and make the acoustic rhythm more pronounced.

one track of bass guitar...i simply added some eq and increased the volume from the original mix.

two tracks of electric rhythm guitar...i recorded each track individually and sent one to the hard right side while the other is slightly on the left. i did this to give the recording more fullness and depth. when remixing, i actually lowered the volume on these so as to de-emphasize the fuzzy electric and try to increase the richness of the acoustic.

two tracks of electric lead guitar...i don't often play electric guitar and even rarely try to solo but this song has a hook to it that just sticks. i dig it. each of the leads are panned slightly to either side. i guess it should be said here that i am amazed with early rock and roll recordings from the beatles, buddy holly, elvis...everything was recording in mono so they didn't have the luxury of making a recording sound full by panning to the stereo left or right. now it is essential that mixes are defined and refined by utilizing the stereo spectrum. the days are now here when right and left have become passé due the advent of surround sound. bands like the flaming lips have spent the last several years remixing their older records to a 5.1 sound and record labels have found a new way to market and sell dated recordings. i guess all things must change.

for those of you keeping track at home, that's only nine tracks when i said earlier that i had recorded twelve tracks of instrumentation. i really didn't feel the need to include the extra three in the new mix. two of the three were percussion tracks which i'm sure you can understand why i got rid of those.

in all, this recording is very exciting to me because it isn't the normal folk song thing i do. it's pretty well a rock instrumental which suits me just fine. i wrote in my history of home recordings that my friends and i always had goofy names for our songwriting/recording projects. my initial moniker was north dakota which later became justified sunshine. i've felt that now is a good time to start a new chapter with a new name so this project is under the banner "traveling light."

i do hope you enjoy.

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