Studio Project. Task 1
So I have to create a track using the studio facilities at Anglia Ruskin University. My initial idea is to record some live dubstep. Hopefully I can get my brother to do drums/percussion (www.myspace.com/smutbot), one of my housemates (a London School of Music accredited guitar teacher) has already expressed interest in getting involved. I’ve yet to get in touch with another of my friends (one of the best bass players around!) to come on board with this one, and one of my work colleagues (Singer in BIG TEN ska cover band) will hopefully be up for doing the vocals. I personally would like to add in the synth elements to this track. I have spoken to a trumpet player too, who is very enthusiastic about it too! All in all, if I can get these guys together we can produce something really good. I still have to book some time in the studio to familiarize myself with the hardware and software we’ll be using, but once I’ve done this things should start to progress quickly. I want to keep the composition relatively simple, whilst creating a very interesting feeling to the track. I had thought about trying to produce a live version of one of my previous pieces, but am still unsure about this. However, if I do go down this path, I hope to use the same musicians.
12th October 2010
So after a few of weeks I’m starting to drift from the idea of recording an original piece and also I would like to approach some of my fellow students as musicians. I’m now thinking it would be easier (as this is my first ever studio recording project) to record a cover. The song that keeps jumping into my head is ‘Smokestack Lightning’ by Howlin’ Wolf. I’d need to find a drummer, a guitarist, a pianist, a bass player, someone is handy with a harmonica and a vocalist (although I am toying with the idea of doing this myself). By doing a cover I can concentrate on the recording techniques that I’ll be using rather then spending a lot of time writing a piece from scratch . I hope to book the studio this week to get in and practice the stereo miking techniques we have learnt and hopefully by the end of the week I’ll have some musicians on board.
21st October 2010
I’ve definitely decided to do a cover of ‘Smokestack Lightning’, Andy Buclaw has said he will play the guitar, Andy Hosker will be the drummer (and says he knows someone who’d be great for the vocals.). I’ve approached Sammy Vere for the piano and am waiting for a reply. So I just need the vocalist (I might attempt this myself), a bass player and a harmonica player (The only one I know of is …….. my dad, so hopefully I’ll be allowed to get him in the studio).
I’m booked into the studio tomorrow from 11 – 13.30 and hope to get the guitar and drum track started. For the guitar I want to use the MS Stereo technique, so that I can adjust the stereo width post-recording to gain the sound I’m after. For the drums I’d like to base the microphone setup on the technique learnt from Gareth Stuart (see ‘Suggested Drum Mic Placement’), but also to experiment with the mic placement to see what different sorts of sound can be achieved.
Photos and a write up of the studio session to follow tomorrow.
22nd October 2010
So I got into the studio today, unfortunately I didn’t have any musicians with me so I simply practiced setting up each of the stereo miking techniques. No problems there! I have spoken with Sammy Vere who is happy to play piano for the piece and also spoke with Andy Hosker, who has recommended a vocalist for the track. I’m going to email him now and I’m booked into the studio on Tuesday, this time I’ll actually let my musicians know so we can start recording.
26th October 2010
Today (my second studio session) was much better, this time I actually had musicians. Andy Hosker was there on the drums along with Andy Buclaw on guitar.
I used two AKG 414′s for an MS setup for the guitar and for the drums I used a Sennheiser E602 for the kick drum, a Calrec for the high-hat (I would have used an AKG 414, but both of these were being used for the MS setup), two Neumann TLM 103′s for the overheads and two DPA 4091′s for the snare. I used a 3.5mm to double 6.35mm jack lead to route my Ipod as a ‘line in’ to the preamp, so I could play the original track through the headphones in the loud room and the chill room as a guide for ‘The Andys’, for this I setup a seperate stereo mix so that I could adjust the levels for the musicians. The recording went well and I was pretty happy with the sound, but because this was the first time either of ‘The Andys’ had played the track we were treating it as a practice, rather than a final recording. Also, due to lack of enough mic stands, the two DPAs for the snare were both fitted to a stereo bar on one stand, which left me unable to place the microphones exactly where I wanted them to be, hopefully when we get in to do a proper recording I’ll be able to find another mic stand to more easily position these mic’s. Towards the end of the session Andy Hosker told me that there was a double bass in the recital hall, which I am going to look into using for this track, as one was used on the original too. I’m booked into the studio again on Tuesday next week, so hopefully we can get lay down the final recordings of drum and guitar, hopefully adding a double bass in as well.
2nd November 2010
So a long day in the studio today, and much progress has been made. As Andy and Andy are both working hard on a lot of peoples projects I thought I’d lighten their load a little. My drummer today was my brother and my guitarist was Laurence Harvey, one of my housemates. My session was split into two halves, one in Hel037 (larger studio) and the other in Hel036 (smaller studio space). On arriving at Hel037 the previous group of students had moved the drum kit into the chill room, which I decided was a good idea as there is more space. I experimented with different mic placements, starting with the setup shown to us in class, but with an added MD421 aimed at the tom. From here I decided, because the high-hat wasn’t actually being used, that I would take the AKG414 that was miking the high-hat and use it as a central overhead in figure-8 setting. I found this allowed for the Nuemann over the snare and high-hat could be moved and take place directly to the left (from drummers view) of the kit. I was happy with the overall sound so this was the setup I used, to recap:
2 Nuemann Overheads – Left and Right of kit, both about 5ft up and equidistant from the snare.
1 AKG414 Overhead – Set to figure-8 .Centered between Nuemanns and sitting above the middle of the kick drum, about 1ft over the height of the tom.
2 DPA’s – Snare, over and under, underside phase reversed.
1 MD421 – Aimed directly at the tom.
1 Sennheisser E602 – As close to the kick drum skin as possible.
Unfortunately I didn’t have a camera so no photos are available.
After recording the drum track we decided that as we still had time we’d attempt to record the double bass too. I used an MS setup aimed directly at the strings. As this was the first time my brother had played a double bass I was pretty impressed, although due to time restrictions this track felt a bit rushed and we’ll get in the studio with more time and re-record this.
Once i’d moved across to 036 (and hassled Richard Taylor a few too many times for help!) Laurence and I recorded the lead guitar track, using the Behringer bass amp (there were no guitar amps available) I set up another MS mic arrangement in front of the amp and played the backing track via headphones to Laurence. This came out rather well and the Behringer amp provided a pleasing warmth to Laurence’s Gibson Les Paul guitar. I hoped to try and give the vocals a go myself, but by this time I was feeling rather worn out and in need of some hot food, something soft to lay on and then some sleep. More studio time is booked out for Friday, so I’m hoping I can try the vocals then.
9th November 2010
I was booked into the studio today, but as I had no musicians I decided to start preparing for my second task (see ‘Studio Project – Task 2′ from ‘Studio Project’ drop down menu). I did however to some editing of my first track so far. Using two seperate takes from my recording session with Laurence I double tracked the guitar part and really like the sound. I’m booked into the studio again on Tuesday next week when Sammy Vere has agreed to play the piano part for my first track, I’m hoping to use the grand piano in the teaching room adjacent to the studio, but am unsure of the microphone placement. Time for a little bit of internet research or maybe just experiment with placements till I get the sound I’m after. More new to come following Tuesdays session.
16th November 2010
Short but productive studio session today, with Sammy Vere providing a piano track using the piano in Hel37. We used two Nuemann microphones, one aimed at the bass strings, one aimed at the treble strings. I am really impressed with Sammy, we quickly got a great sounding recording, in only 3 takes! (Compare this to 26 takes to get the drums right!). The piece is really starting to come together now, only a re-recording of the bass, add vocals and a small harmonica part and then this track is complete.
26th November 2010
Another great session in the studio today. After attempting the vocal section myself, using a single Nuemann mic with pop filter, I decided that I simply do not have the vocal capability to pull it off. My brother was in the studio with me so we recorded him singing on the track and this sounded much better. If we were allowed I would have added a small amount of reverb to the track to give a sense of space, as I found the dry vocals didn’t fit too well, however I decided to double track the vocals, which gave a much more pleasant sound. On listening back to the bass track I decided not to re-record it, it is a rather minimal bass line, but it fits nicely in the mix. This just leaves a harmonica part to add and then a some final mixing to ensure the track is mixed to exactly -0.2dB then this is finished. Once this has been done I’ll write an evaluation of the finished track. ore studio time next week so hopefully this can be finished then.
10th December 2010
Final recordings done, harmonica part recorded and double tracked, female vocals recorded and double tracked. The female vocals have been sung for me by my good friend Lacie Criscoe. Her american accent and great singing voice fit in the track very well. I recorded the vocals using a single Nuemann and a pop filter. My dad came into the studio to record the harmonica for the track, he brought his own mic to use aswell. We used his LD Systems D1010 Memphis dynamic retro microphone to record the harmonica part and also I used an MS setup to get a stereo recording. All in all the session went very well and all parts are now recorded. Just need to finish the mix now and this track is finished.
11th December 2010
So now i have finished the final mix of the track and am very happy with the outcome. At the start of this module I was rather nervous about working in the studio as this is not something i have done before, but as the semseter has progressed i have found myself being more and more eager to get into the studio, thoroughly enjoying each session that i have had. This track in particular has been one of my favourite Blues tracks for a long time and I was excited at the prospect of recording my own version of it. In my opinion the microphone setups that I chose to use have produced a clear sounding recording for each track. I did have an issue when recording using Hel033 in that i was unable to turn of the ventilation, which produced a hum on the track, this is notated in the Pro Tools mix view. Also at the same session I was unable to gain access to a guitar amp, so I decided to try using a bass amp for the guitar part which produced a rather pleasant warmth to this recording.