Friday, June 06, 2008

Recording Woes

I'm currently recording the second demo CD of Heavy Nylon, and the song list goes like this:

01] Classical Gas - Mason Williams (A minor)
02] Desert Song - Eric Johnson (A minor)
03] Ode to Joy - L. van Beethoven (C major)
04] Spanish Fly - Eddie Van Halen (E minor)
05] Fighter Pilots - George Pepper (E modal)
06] A Day at the Beach - Joe Satriani (G major)
07] Scherzo - George Pepper (B minor)
08] Prelude No. 23 - George Pepper (D minor)
09] Eu So Quero Um Xodo - Dominguinhos (D major)
10] Prelude No. 7 - George Pepper (F-sharp minor)
11] Heavy Nylon - George Pepper (A major)
12] Yankee Doodle Dixie - Chet Atkins (A major)
13] Tears in the Rain - Joe Satriani (A minor)
14] Stairway to Heaven - Jimmy Page (A minor)

As you can see, the keys are arranged so that they progress around the circle of thirds from A minor to A major, though I do switch mode genders a few times, and of course, I return to A minor for the final two pieces. There are two pieces I have yet to learn for the final version: My Jethro Tull-ized version of the Bach Bourree, which I put into the key of D minor (With a Drop-D tuning), and Mood for a Day by Steve Howe, which is an F-sharp flamenco deal. So, it's looking like the final version will be like this:

01] Classical Gas - Mason Williams (A minor)
02] Desert Song - Eric Johnson (A minor)
03] Ode to Joy - L. van Beethoven (C major)
04] Spanish Fly - Eddie Van Halen (E minor)
05] Fighter Pilots - George Pepper (E modal)
06] A Day at the Beach - Joe Satriani (G major)
07] Scherzo - George Pepper (B minor)
08] Prelude No. 23 - George Pepper (D minor)
09] Bourree - Jethro Tull (D minor)
10] Eu So Quero Um Xodo - Dominguinhos (D major)
11] Prelude No. 7 - George Pepper (F-sharp minor)
12] Mood for a Day - Steve Howe (F-sharp flamenco)
13] Heavy Nylon - George Pepper (A major)
14] Yankee Doodle Dixie - Chet Atkins (A major)
15] Tears in the Rain - Joe Satriani (A minor)
16] Stairway to Heaven - Jimmy Page (A minor)

I'm liking how this is coming along, so I thought I'd share some of my recording travails.

I hate recording. Absolutely detest it. Mostly, because I'm no good at it. When I'm recording a piece, I can never relax and get into it. The feeling is similar to stage fright, only different. I'm so wrapped up in capturing a perfect performance that I invariably play worse than I do live. Just about every student I've ever had has remarked, at some time or another, about how much better I am live than recorded. I hate when that happens.

Well, I used to have the same problem playing live and I got over it, so why not with recording? I finally figured out that it's because I haven't done it enough to have developed a systematic routine, so I've now developed one. For the first demo of Heavy Nylon I recorded each piece three times, and took the best take. That's the way I've always done it. Problem was, I'd get bogged down on a single piece, sometimes for days. Not good.

So, what I do now is I record each piece three times, or rather I make three attempts to capture a take, and if at the end of three attempts I haven't captured one, I move onto the next piece. This works much better for me, as I just don't fall into frustration and despair so much anymore.

Having two different guitars helps too. The first thing I did was I captured a take of every piece on my Godin Grand Concert SA - the guitar I'm most familiar with - and that took two days. Not bad. Once I did that, I spent a day practicing my entire repertoire. Then, I started the process with my new RMC-equipped Parker Nylon Fly, which is where I'm at now.

By the time I will have made it through the process three times with each guitar, I'll have six takes to choose from, so getting a descent one shouldn't be a problem. Not only that, but I'm hopeful that I will have become totally desensitized to the recording process by then, so perhaps there will even be a magical take or two. I've never ever captured a magical take of anything in all of the years I've been doing this, though on a good night of performing I'll play several. I positively cannot stand to listen to my recordings because of this, but some people actually love them, so perhaps my perspective is warped (Ya think?).

For the third and final demo of Heavy Nylon I'll have a third guitar, as I'll have an RMC system put in my Godin/Reynolds fretted Glissentar eleven-string before that time. I finally figured out that the string courses will work with the RMC if I put the pairs on either side of the saddles that hold the single strings normally. Not ideal - custom dual-saddle transducers would be best - but it will finally make the thing usable for me. The problem with the Carlos is that the output is so low and the sound so different that I'd have to perform with a completely separate sound system for it. Not gonna happen, because I'm my own roadie. LOL!

So, for the final demo and the final CD I'll be choosing the best of nine takes, and perhaps I'll be as comfortable recording by then as I am performing now. I was considering choosing which instrument would be the best for each piece, but why? I'm just going to let the chips fall where they may.

Anyway, I'm making some progress here, so I feel good about that, but don't expect something like Pat Metheny's One Quiet Night out of me just yet.



I don't usually go for the glam-babe types, but she's particularly interesting.

2 Comments:

Blogger Minicapt said...

Yes, but what about "Chopsticks"? Theme and variations?

Cheers

1:20 AM  
Blogger Hucbald said...

Someday, when my technique is up to it, I hope to include that on a virtuoso guitar CD. Obviously, it will be my masterpiece. ;^)

5:03 AM  

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