Monday, March 20, 2006

Sweating the Small Stuff

Saturday, I worked an administrative day at Stone Gardens. It was a relatively short day for an administrative day. Only 11 hours. Sunday, I worked at Temple in the morning and then worked on some detail stuff at home in the afternoon regarding the recording which I’ll share with you shortly. I’m going to post some of the things I was working on in lieu of writing about them for lack of time. I think it might be interesting anyway. At least to you die hard Metaphor blog fans. Both of you.

I’m not sure I’ve blogged all I can or will about our studio time, but we’re into the editing and mixing phase now. As I’ve stated so often in past posts, it’s all about the details. The other day I was thinking about these stress management workshops that I do with the residents at Stone Gardens. I’ve taught them the phrase “Don’t sweat the small stuff,” and it struck me that recording is all about the small stuff. It’s all small stuff. In the last three or four days, I’ve spoken to a couple of duplication companies about things like bar codes, Universal Product Code, the Uniform Code Council, top spine, glass masters, and graphic design features and costs; I’ve spoken to a friend and respected musician about different duplication companies and the difference he’s heard from master to finished product – compression, tonal shift, etc.; David and I have gone back and forth about song order – a little thought about (by the consumer), but very important aspect of the overall product. (Soon will come the discussion about how many seconds, or fractions of seconds, to put between each song. It’s a little different between each song. It depends on song order and how one song ends and the next one begins…)

On March 12th , our last day in the studio, we came home with the rough mix of all the songs in their potential order (which will likely change). We’ve been listening to them and taking notes. At the studio, they are working on the editing, a process I can’t even go into here. Talk about minutia. They will get the tracks clean and close to a mix that could be final, then David and I will go back into the studio to tweak and render the final mix. What I’ll post here are our combined first round of notes to help the engineers get the songs to a point where David and I can work on the next phase. This will give you some idea about nature of detail in this process. Remember, these are the big notes, the general ones, the ones that are NOT so specific.


Font = David
Font = Noah

Some basic notes, starting from where everything was on the pre-preliminary mix of Sunday, March 12 (and not addressing reverb and any other effects – these are mostly about structure, not sound):

In general: Noah’s guitar should be up a little from where it is.


Sang wrong lyric in vs. 3. “May our journey…” should be “May their journey…”

The word “bless” in the second vs., right where the strings come in at about 1:27, is it OK? It has no discernable pitch to me.

Edge of the Ocean

Strings, on the first chorus only, should come in 2 ½ measures (or 6 beats) later. Strings could come down a little all the way through.

Piano, should come in on the 2nd verse, but out for 1st half of 3rd verse.

Every Step a Prayer

David’s single-string guitar part, that comes in on the 2nd verse (?), should be up a little.

Does my buzzing guitar bother anybody else?

Love the delay and the placement of the vocals.


My favorite track on the record so far.

Listen to the cello at the end of the third vs. just after the word “fabric” at about 2:55. There is a note that sounds funky to me. The intonation is not right or something.


This is my other favorite track on the record.

At the end of the second vs., after the word “dance” there is an audible breath, like “haahhh.” Is it something to take out, or leave in as one of those things that you don’t really notice but becomes part of the landscape of the song in a subliminal kind of way?

Let It Burn

Lead guitar needs to be trimmed a bit – out in spots; maybe out for whole bridge, etc.
Horns should come down a little throughout. Can they be made to sound brighter and/or harder-edged? And in the last measure of the song, can we use the horn part from earlier in the song, where the figure descends, rather than ascends (in other words, the top line now goes: Bb-A-Bb, but should go: Bb-A-G)?

Also, another alternative for the horns on the guitar break: right now for the first time through, it’s the horn part from the second verse, and for the second time through, it’s the part from the third verse. Another possibility is: on the first time though, no horns; second time through, the part from the second verse.

Also, didn’t Ed record an organ part? Is it there at all? Do we need it? I don’t think we’ll use any of the organ solo on the break.


I’m not sure what to do with this one. I don’t quite like it yet. It’s not sounding “folky” or “PPM” enough for me.

First, try taking the drum out of the intro completely. Let it come in on the 1st vs. It’s nice and light there. I don’t know about the choruses. Do we need it at all on the track?

I don’t know if I like the sax at all. I might like it not as a solo instrument, just under words. Is there another instrument that can take the break, or do we need the break at all? I don’t know if it’s a strong enough song to sustain itself for that long. It made the cut originally because it’s a new, easy to sing, somewhat catchy Chanukah song. It needs to be more accessible to the general song leader/music teacher community.


Intro: Should we bring the drum kit in one measure earlier? Lengthen the whole percussion intro?

Lead vocal needs to be up in the mix.

Love the fade on the outro.

Reason To Believe

Possibly trim out some of the lead guitar throughout.

David’s piano part on the intro and between verses, and outro could come up a little, just so it has a little bit more presence amid everything else that’s going on.

This is my other favorite track.

Maybe we should lengthen the intro, double it, with just my guitar, David’s piano, bass and percussion 1st time through, add elec. Guit., organ 2nd time through. The piano could start lower in the mix the 1st time and build.

My backing vocal on the bridge can be up a little.

Silent Son

Noah’s guitar should be a little higher than 2nd guitar. First accordion part (chords) should come in later, in between 1st and 2nd verses, and should be a little lower throughout. Second accordion part should be lower as well.

Take Me Back

My humming at the beginning could be lower in the mix or even out completely or partially.

Background vocals may be able to come up throughout, especially on the
a capella verse.

Is the outro too “busy” with both of those takes together? We might be able to trim a little out of each of them and use them together. Or that might be hard since they sang around one mic.

Does it bother anybody that I don’t pronounce the “K” in the word back in that last verse?

She Knows God

Bring mandolin in on bridge.

Is the first verse (a capella) strong enough, in tune enough?

Please fix my guitar hesitation at around 0:40.

The piano might be able to stay out longer, too. It can come in right before the bridge after “she knows God” at the end of the 2nd vs. when he plays those 3 ascending chords that mimic the mandolin. The mandolin can come in on the 2nd half of the bridge or in the 3rd vs.

Carry That Rock

We’ll get to this when we get to it.

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