Notes from the Shore

Work, marriage, kids and music


As mentioned in my last post, I knew I would be temporarily sidetracked from my ongoing projects. I needed to put together an emergency track for a funeral. It’s a song we’ve played with the band at church several times, but don’t have a useful recording. The gentleman who sings it (Jack) has been on me for several years to produce a backing track for him. The request of this song at an upcoming funeral (end stage cancer) made it happen.

Last Wednesday night, after the music portion of the service, the band stayed behind (rather than going to the classes) and recorded a scratch track. Jack sang along into our ears in the monitor, but not on the recording in case it was usable. The intention was to take the recording into my studio, add Jack’s vocals and maybe some other instruments.

Unfortunately, the track wasn’t usable. Too many errors and bungled notes. We hadn’t played the song in at least a year, so that’s not a huge surprise. I took the track home, anyway, and loaded into Power Tracks. Power Tracks tip: if you are using a Soundblaster card, it cannot adequately import a 44.1 kHz audio file. It will sound all right, but anything you try to record along side it will play back out of sync. To make it work, first set the program to 48kHz in the audio properties dialog, and then set it back to 44.1 kHz after you import the recording. (You have to set it back to create any sort of output from PTPA).

Once I got all that taken care of, I recorded over all the instruments. The drums were the hardest – I’m not a drummer. I ended up playing along with Steve one instrument at a time. Fist kick drum, then side stick, then snare, etc., ending up with the tom fills.

A week later Jack came to my studio (basement, that is), to lay down the vocals. He did three takes, but his voice was rough so we weren’t going to get any more or better. This was my first experience comping a vocal, and it was interesting. Most of the time, I would listen to three takes of a phrase and not be able to decide which was the best – they were all just fine. Then, there would be times when I wish I had just one more take.

Reverb was another learning experience. I wanted to play with convolution reverb, and settled on SIR, which has a freeware version with several controls (as opposed to Freeverb, et. al. which only have a volume slider). The results are good, and the track was done in time for the funeral. And, I recorded a version without the vocals for Jack to use as a backing track.

Total production time: about 10 hours.

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