Recording Diary – String Theory Sessions – page 3

Tuesday, April 26, 2005 – Colorado Sound is a very popular studio and they get booked up well in advance. It has now been a month since our last session, so we have spent the time working on the parts that will be recorded next. We took the rough mixes from the previous sessions and dumped them onto our digital recorder at home. Then we recorded solos to hear how they will work with the rhythm tracks. This also helps us be more prepared when we go in for a session so we can get our parts recorded in as few takes as possible. You don’t want to be learning your part while you’re paying for studio time!

 How does Steve keep track of all these buttons and dials?  Christian has been working on opening the file for “Jungle Spirits” in order to do his overdubs. We anticipated that there could potentially be some problems getting the file to open since we were going from a Mac to a PC, and we were right. It took a couple of weeks to figure out how to get it to work, and Steve ended up having to burn another disc, but it finally came together and Christian was able to open the file and record his overdubs. Next, we have to hope we can re-load it at Colorado Sound.

Noon – We began today working on “Jungle Spirits”. Josie wanted to re-record the violin for the first half of the song. After getting the take we liked we went back and listened to it. Studio microphones are very sensitive. They will pick up the sound of a bow being placed on a violin string, or a pick on a guitar string, in preparation of playing a note. These sounds are usually soft enough that the human ear hardly registers them, and most of the time our performances are clean enough that they aren’t picked up by the mic, but we listen closely for them. Steve is incredible at hearing noises like these, even while listening to all the tracks at once he’ll stop playback because he hears an anomoly. The neat thing about ProTools is that you can see the waveforms of everything that is recorded on the computer screen. If there is something you don’t like you can see where it is and remove it.

 While listening to Josie’s new take Steve heard some breathing on the violin track. Normally breathing sounds will be covered up by the sound of the instrument, but if there is a rest in the music and you breathe in hard enough, it gets recorded. There is a section in “Jungle Spirits” where the entire band has a rest just about every bar during which the violin and guitar play together. Josie was taking a deep breath right before playing her line in each break. There are twenty-four of these breaks. We had to erase each breath sound one by one; easy enough to do, though a bit time consuming. Josie may have to learn to play wearing a painter’s mask next time!  

Tom was next. First he recorded his part on the breaks (with no breath sounds!) and then it was on to his solo. He doesn’t get to take many solos when we perform live. His playing style, which involves holding down the groove and the harmony, as well as his use of alternate tunings, doesn’t allow him to play a guitar solo live very often. Being in the recording studio gives him a chance to spread his wings a little. We like to recreate what we do in the studio at our live performances as much as possible, but at the same time we want to take advantage of the ability to do some things in the studio that we don’t get to do live. It would be easy to go crazy and add too much, however, so we have to be careful. After recording the guitar solo, Tom added a harmony to the violin melody at the end of the song. He spent a lot of time at home writing a guitar part that he was happy with. This involved recording several ideas on our home recording studio after transferring the material we already recorded.

  Christian had stopped by the studio earlier in the day with the CD of his overdubs. After recording the guitar parts we loaded it and crossed our fingers that it would open. Much to our delight it did and we were able to upload his parts. He added several tracks that we can choose from; we can bring instruments in and out of the mix, or move them around to different sections of the song if we like. The last part of the day was spent saving three more songs to disc to give to Christian to work on.We spent six hours on Jungle Spirits. As Steve likes to say, it’s better to spend several hours on a song and be really happy with the final result than to worry about how much time it’s taking. We felt under the gun for our other CD projects, and we’re making sure that we don’t feel rushed with this one.

We’ll be back in two days for another session.

Photos by Tom Carleno and Josie Quick

 

Comments are closed.