Tag Archives: Music recording

The Music of a Landscape….The Prairie

On my 4th album “Heading West” I wanted to interpret some of the North American landscapes that I had seen and felt in the music that I composed.  But more than that I wanted some of the history of those landscapes to be heard in the music, and particularly in the instrumentation that I used.

This tune is about the prairies.  I obviously wanted to depict wide open spaces, but I also wanted the warmth and intimacy of the piano and double bass to convey some of the folk traditions of times past.  It’s not always a comfortable experience to interpret places that you are not completely familiar with, there’s a real danger of creating a cliche, as I have heard many times when the British culture or landscape is interpreted musically by others.

Anyway I hope that you like this one and can see where I’m coming from 🙂

Recording Music Can Be a Tricky Business

Studio recording drums bw

So I’ve come up with an idea for a new music composition, I’ve worked out the structure, what happens where, how it should be put together, what instruments I’ll be needing for each part, rehearsed each instrument piece over and over, and then comes the tricky part – how to record it….

Studio recording mics bwEach instrument is different, some more difficult to record than others.  The drums are quite problematic because they need specialist microphones, and the studio space needs to be right acoustically.

Studio recording bwSo arranging which bits of kit need to go where can often be a case of trial and error.  And if, like me, you are completely self taught in the art of sound recording, things can take a little longer than they might otherwise, but at least I have total control over the outcome.

Photo 160Then you have to perform the composition in each of its constituent parts.  Depending on how well I’ve planned it, and also on how well I am playing on any given day, this process can either go very smoothly or, as is sometimes the case, there can be a lot of takes.  The track I’ve just recorded had 2 guitar parts, a bass, keyboards and drums, so obviously it was a much more complex project than if it had been just solo guitar.

Studio recording monitorAnd this is where all of that sound is recorded, stored, sonically manipulated and mixed.  This process can take anywhere from a few hours to weeks or, and this has happened, years.  Sometimes it just doesn’t work and you have to walk away from it because you can’t figure out why.  But when it clicks, and all of the pieces come together and the mix is just right, it all becomes worthwhile and a new song is born 🙂

In the studio with IanThis is me discussing the finer points of sound recording and mixing with my friend Ian.

Rehearsal 2And this is me doing what I enjoy best, playing and recording a new melody on my guitar…..

I’ve really enjoyed teaching myself how to do everything, from learning how to play the instruments, to learning how to compose music, to learning how to become a producer and sound engineer.  I guess if you’re really interested and enthusiastic about something you will learn how to do it, and you won’t really notice the thousands of hours spent doing it.  And you keep learning.  On this project I improved my skills in recording cymbals and drums, and I turned an idea in my head into something real that I think sounds pretty good.