I said I would share some recording knowledge with you. If you donít want to be disappointed donít read on.
First off there are no trade secrets, no trade tricks, and no super computer. If you are still not disappointed and want to stick with it all well and good.
Sticking with it is probably the best expression to use because itís all about take, after take, after take till you get it right.
Iíve learned two basic things over the years of recording. One, donít get red light syndrome. In other words when the record light comes on donít panic. Youíve practised your take so just relax and play it naturally like you know you always do. Second, be satisfied with your take knowing that it is the best you can do at the time and donít look back in anger. There is nothing worse than letting someone hear your work but before you play it to them you start making excuses about the one bit in the middle that I didnít quite nail. Get the take right and then be satisfied.
Just to give you a bit of history of my recording experience. The first time I dabbled with recoding was in about 1962 on a Grundig stereo reel to reel, the one with the little bar shaped green light in the middle for monitoring the signal. I used to mess about just recording myself singing with an Eko Ranger acoustic guitar. Then I met a pal who also had a Grundig reel to reel. We recorded ourselves singing and playing John Henry, and other songs. Then put the condenser mike from the one tape player on the floor next to the speaker and then played again adding harmonies, and other bits of lead guitar and used the second recorder to tape the live playing and the play back of the other machine. My first experience of multi-tracking and I still have the recordings (now saved on digital media) to prove it. You can imagine how many times we did it to get a balance. Then of course there was no punch in facility either so it was all one take stuff. Boy did we make some mistakes. You can imagine the air was blue after making a mistake almost at the end of the song and having to do it all over again. But it was great fun and I learned allot. From then on I was bitten by the recording bug. I also used it as a tool to improve my playing ability.
Recording equipment and techniques improved in leaps and bounds particularly in the mid 70ís to early 80ís. At that time there were all sorts of programmable drum machine emerging as well. This too opened up new possibilities. We were only used to preset drum patterns for strict tempo like the waltz, quickstep, samba, cha-cha-cha etc. etc.. So if you wanted a drum track on your recording you had to pick the nearest beat to it. Can you imagine trying to play Route 66 to a quickstep? So when you could programme a drum machine to a decent 4/4 Ė 16 to the bar it was heaven!
Then came the Tansai 2 channel stereo cassette player with a built in drum machine and bass line and the facility to overdub one track. You will notice I said 2 channel? So you recorded one take and then pressed the dub button and it played back the monitor track while you recorded again on the other track. This was bliss! I have a recording of me and Jez Woodroffe of Black Sabbath fame doing The Beatles Ė Dizzy Miss Lizzy and Yesterday with a string arrangement played on a Moog Synth both done on that machine.
Then came the Tascam Portastudio 4 track 144, 244, 246, I had them all, and still possess the 246 to this day, thatís still my baby. These machines were really the start of my really good recordings and where the story really starts for you guys to relate to.
At first with the 246 I used a culmination of programmable drum machines and live snare drum (only because I could do the snare fills better than programming) to achieve a good basic rhythm track.
Using the first track of the 246 I put on it, lets say Route 66 for example, a ghost track vocal and guitar usually played to either a click track or the previously programmed drums. Track 2 & 3 would be the bass line and rhythm guitar. Then if the drum track was not on at that stage it would be recorded onto track one, no luxury of stereo drums then Iím afraid. So now we have 3 tracks completed. We then do a mix of the 3 tracks and bounce them onto track 4. Once happy with that mix we now have 3 tracks spare again because the whole rhythm section is on track 4. Obviously the danger now was that whatever was put recorded on tracks 1, 2, and 3 would over record anything on there. So you had to be sure you were happy with the rhythm mix as there was no going back. So now we can continue to build up the tracks using the bounce method. You then record on 2 & 3 and bounce 1, 2 & 3 onto 4 and so on. This way you can get 10 good tracks without much noticeable loss. I got really clever as well by doing a live take while I bounced tracks. So you could bounce drums and bass and at the same time mix the rhythm guitar into it as well. Relating to people who still have 4 tracks even if itís digital itís a good short cut to use.
As far as todayís hard disk multi-track recording is concerned all that is irrelevant as we have a multitude of tracks at our disposal and bouncing is a thing of the past. Never the less the techniques used at the time stood me in good stead for the present. All those hours of getting the sound right first before recording because you only had one chance to get it right were worth the effort.
So with the luxury of the multi-track PC/Mac hard disk recording combined with software like Cubase, Cakewalk and the all the other multitudes of tools to use we come to how I do it now.
The truth is exactly the same, with my ears!!
I have uploaded a picture to ďshow us your equipmentĒ of my screen with an arrangement of Rollover Beethoven playing. The is also the mix down mp3 file of Rollover Beethoven uploaded to ďLets Hear YouĒ. Combined with this file I will endeavour to cover the recording process in greater detail.
I will post the recording techniques tomorrow as I need to list the tracks individually and their relevant settings to start the explanation.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this so far. Iíve never done this before so I want to get it right for everybody who will read it.