Monday, January 09, 2006

First Session

We had our first session on Monday, January 9th. It was really more of a production meeting. We sort of killed two birds with one stone.

I needed to make a recording of all the possible songs that will go on to the record, just me with my guitar. These are called scratch tracks, or reference tracks, so that everyone involved in this phase of the project can get familiar with the material and begin to formulate ideas - about musical arrangements, instrumentation, lyric changes, song order, and anything, any detail, that might make a difference in the overall quality and perfection of the final product (and everything does).

I was also anxious just to get into the studio and spend some time there. I wanted to get a feel for the room (where we'll be recording). I wanted to feel like I had really gotten started on the project. I wanted to get to know the engineer (who, in this case, is also the owner/operator of the studio) and wanted him to hear the songs.

So instead of singing into an old cassette recorder, I booked three hours in the studio to accomplish this first step. David came and played bass and guitar also, and the recording we got was pretty high quality, mistakes and all. Making a viable, saleable recording is all about perfection. But at this point, perfection ain't gonna happen. This is the first step toward the honing of a product as close to perfection as we can manage. No one will really ever hear this recording after we get going full steam in March. No one needs to.

The main people involved in a recording project, almost any recording project, at this stage are the producer(s), the artist(s), and the engineer(s). (If you don't know what these people do, click here for a glossary of recording terms.) Depending on, among other things, the size and scope of the project these three roles could all be filled by the same person or several people. In other words, one gifted individual (such as the Artist Who Was Formerly Known as Prince but is now called Prince again I think) could conceivably play all of the instruments, sing all of the vocal tracks, produce the record and engineer (Prince probably had an engineer). Or they could all be different people. In this case, the artist is me. I am also the co-producer with David at the helm. David is also one of the musicians. The engineer is Michael Seifert.

I've arranged to take two weeks off from work (my real job at Stone Gardens) during which we'll be in the studio pretty much every day for many hours a day. We should get the bulk of the recording done at that time. We'll start by putting down click tracks (see glossary) and then we'll do a set of reference tracks with guitar and vocals. Then we'll start laying down and layering most of the instrumental tracks, usually starting with percussion and bass. At some point closer to the end of the process we'll put down the keeper vocals. Backing vocals, overdubs and tweaks come next. Then we begin mixing. I don't know how much we'll get done in two weeks, but it should be a good chunk.

Recording is really a very tedious process. I much prefer performing. But recording is all about perfection and second (and third and fourth and fifth and sixth…) chances, neither of which occur in performance (for me). All I really want to do is share my music.

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