Monthly Archives: April 2015

Recording Violin: Richard Silvester

I recorded Richard Silvester early in the morning on the 17th April. I had never recorded I violinist before so I was looking forward to the experience. I began by arriving early and setting up the Neumann U87 in the live room. The Neumann works brilliantly at high frequencies so it should perform admirably during the session. However there was an issue straight away, all the fans were on and while it made the rooms more bearable it had a big impact on the signal being picked up by the microphones. I tried to alleviate the problem by pointing the mic directly away from the fan on a cardoid pattern. This cancelled out the effect of the fan to an extent but it still wasn’t ideal.

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I spoke to Craig to see if he could do anything about it but I was informed they didn’t control the fans and I’d have to speak to Estates about it. I phoned up estates and they said the fans had been requested to be turned on by a tutor so I spoke to the tech department again and they said they would sort it out as soon as possible. Unfortunately this wouldn’t be in time for the session so I had to push on regardless.

Richard arrived and I made sure he was comfortable and understood the process before I started getting levels. I also asked him to sign a musician waiver form, which he happily obliged to do.

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After this I asked if he would like to come through to the control room and practice with the songs in there so I could give him direct feedback. We would repeat this process for each song I had already sent him the songs but hadn’t heard what he had arranged. We started with Mason-Dixon Line and when Richard first started playing I actually found myself becoming quite emotional! I had put a lot of effort into this project and the song meant a lot to me, so to hear it played with a violin over the top was an amazing experience. However Richard was having some issues with tuning and stated that this might be an issue throughout, which did make me a little anxious but after a few adjustments we proceeded as we only had a small time frame. Richard got himself into a comfortable playing position and I put on the headphones and positioned the mic appropriately to where I thought the violin sounded best. This placement was also based on my research, where I found that:

‘The mic should be aimed at the sound board or top of the instrument, which in the case of a violin held normally means positioning the mic on a tall stand above the player directed down towards the violin’ (White, 2012)

This is shown in my microphone placement below.

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I felt that the violin sounded great throughout the recordings but unfortunately, tuning was a consistent issue. It will be difficult to save these recordings but I will try my best in the mixing stage. However I thoroughly enjoyed the session and I have learnt a lot from recording an instrument I have never approached before.

Here are some pictures from the session:

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Here is the sheet for this recording session:

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References:

White, P. (2012). The Producer’s Manual. London: Sample Magic.

Approaching A Backing Singer

I desperately wanted a female backing singer for my project as I felt the extra harmonies and range that a female vocalist could provide would really improve the sound of my tracks. I began by joining groups such as the Lincolnshire Musicians network and searching for vocalists. However I struggled to find a session singer that would record for me for a small amount of money, whilst maintaining a high standard. My budget had primarily been spent on paying session musicians travel so I looked more locally. I also asked the contacts that I had already made if they knew of any local singers looking for session work. My guitarist Robbie Caswell Jones was able to point me in the direction of Indreja Kustov who performs as a member of a professional ABBA tribute band! I was able to open up a dialogue with her and she seemed interested in the prospect of recording in a studio as she had some experience herself at college. We arranged a date (Tuesday 5th May), this was very close to my deadline but she could not make any other dates and I felt that she would add a lot to my project so I went with my gut instinct and accepted.

Contacting a Designer

In my role of Artist and Repertoire, I wanted to create a package in which to show off my work and entice people to listen to it. This would obviously be undertaken in the form of a cd so I needed to find someone to design my case for me. Therefore I contacted local designer Emillie Ferris on 11th April as I had seen some of her work previously and was extremely impressed. Emillie is an expert at cross stitching and photoshop and I was keen to utilise her skills to improve my project. My initial idea was for her to design a cross stitch for the album artwork so I sent her some ideas in terms of feel, colour and images etc however she said it would be hard to cross stitch what I wanted but she could cross stitch my name and the title of the EP.

She sent me this as a provisional idea.

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I really liked the style, especially the font used for the title. However unfortunately the price she quoted was just out of my budget and it would have meant losing a session musician which I didn’t want to do, I therefore thought of ways to get around this factor. As she had stated it would be less expensive for her to work with photoshop I thought this was a good place to start.

I began researching similar artwork in the field and started looking for artists and illustrators who would be able to do a piece of work for me. This process is documented in the following post.

 

References:

Emillie Ferris. (2013). Wildlife Embroidery. Available: https://www.behance.net/gallery/15295641/Wildlife-Embroidery. Last accessed 11th April 2015.

Recording Acoustic Guitar: Mason-Dixon Line & Wind In Our Sails

Today I recorded the acoustic guitar for Mason-Dixon Line and Wind In Our Sails. I re-strung my acoustic guitar prior to the session with specific parlour fingerpicking strings to enhance the sound.

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I had edited Casey’s drums so that they were more in time and bounced this down as a wav to take with me to the session. I recorded in the live room to increase reflections from the strings which would provide more harmonic detail and I used an AKG c414 on the 12th fret of the guitar to enhance this factor. I double tracked the guitar for both songs and panned far left and right to produce a wide stereo image.

Unfortunately I didn’t have any time to take pictures of the session but it was a great success and I was really happy with the final versions I had recorded.

Here is the session sheet:

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Meeting with my Brass Player

I met Jake Greenan in the studio and we discussed my goals for the project and how we would approach the recording process. This was agreed on facebook after my meeting with the whole of the orchestral society.

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I showed him my songs and the parts that I wanted him to play and he said that it was definitely achievable. I was completely honest with him and stated that I had never recorded saxophone before but had done my research on it. Jake was happy with this and explained the best way to send him the notation was over facebook. I sent him rough demos of the songs (while apologising for the terrible sounding midi horns!) with levels adjusted so he could hear his parts through the mix. I showed him the notation that I had made with the help of logics score editor and he said it looked fine so I sent that along with the songs.