The Process: an overview

So at the moment I have 2 condenser mics (powered mics with a higher output and more sensitive response) and a passive mic (doesn’t need power – standard live vocal mic).

What I generally do is:  record a guitar riff or song to a click track (metronome) in my bedroom then, take it over to my mum’s house and record the drums to the guitar track in her spare bedroom (when she’s out of course!). More details about recording specifics later. I pretty much play drums over the track over and over again and usually, across 4 or 5 takes there is enough to put them together to make ones decent track. Obviously as I get better on the drums I’m getting close to using one complete continuous track.

Now if you’re a purist you might say that putting together different tracks is a bit disingenuous, which is certainly what I used to think. But I think now that with recording music – whatever works! I love playing live and, playing live you only have one chance to get it right, but I don’t see any point trying to mimic that, because it is what it is but a studio experience is just that so why not take advantage of the benefits?

Having said that, in my last band, Irregular John, our last and best recording was in a rehearsal context, a purely live recording with vocals overdubs (laid on afterward): this format creates its own problems.

Well anyway – so then I take the guitar and drum track back home and stick some bass on and vocals (bass is a guitar that is tuned down with a digital pitch-shifter ‘post-hoc’). It’s much better to have the bass on when the drums are recorded – makes a big difference to the feel and often I re-record elements until I’m happy to release it to the world! Most of the time I am composing as I record and vice versa – using the recording to compose and going back and forth to record isn’t ideal and I personally this it saps some immediacy from the multi-instrumental stuff I record. I always think that the simple acoustic stuff just seems to capture some of the vibe a bit easier.

So this is a brief overview of a long process and I’ll come back to some issues when I feel the need.

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