keeping it simple

In between getting my back yard ready to seed a little lawn, preparing to reorganise and decorate my office/studio, feeding the tribe, with all the hunting and gathering that entails, and a little dusting(!), I am making some fresh recordings of songs of mine. For expediency’s sake, but also because I like the sound of the results, I am keeping it as simple as possible.

A new session will begin with me singing and playing guitar, mandolin, or occasionally piano. I’m through with all that building up tracks and then trying to sing along to the result. Always sounds sterile to me. This way, I get excited like I do at a gig. I may do a few takes till I come up with a performance I like. There will almost definitely be one or two not quite perfect moments. Like real life.

This done, I may add some backing vocals, bass, basic hand drum, and maybe one other instrument. Rough mixing as I go along, when all the recording is done, I’ll take a break. I have precious little in the way of plug-ins and effects, so when I come back to mix, I concentrate on cleaning up tracks and making each one sound as natural as possible. When everything is at the level I want, I run a mix and make an mp3 of it to listen on various systems available(kitchen, car, walkman, etc). Based on this I may go back and tweak a bit. And I’m done!

The relative technical excellence of recordings in this digital age makes for a very wide spectrum. Better, more natural performances is what I am going for. I have a hard disk recorder, a Pro Tools MBox and a Mac, a couple of OK condenser mikes, and a small number of decent instruments. I consider myself very lucky to have what I have.

I also have a fair amount of songs I’ve never recorded, and a bunch more I’d like to make fresh versions of. So the best chance I have of making some rapid progress in this endeavour is….keeping it simple!

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