Posted - 27/02/2012 : 09:06:25
| Recording solo can be a challenge because you have to play the first tracks to a song that is not yet there! I hope this might be of help or interest to anyone else who does home or solo recordings.
I am working on a new song which started as a quiet acoustic song with just voice and ukulele, but I felt it would be better with a bit of punch and rhythm, so I tried all sorts of rhythms and eventually settled on a Calypso/New Orleans type drum pattern. I tried playing the drums to a keyboard's drum machine and autochord accompaniment setting, but it sounded too lifeless and wooden.
Eventually I recorded a live track from a CD of West African music onto Track 1 of my project, this is a nice recording of a fairly big band, very lively and great to play along to.
It had a few "stops" which I did not want so I edited them out to get 4 minutes of non-stop music; it speeds up gradually the whole way through, but the feel is good.
I then finally figured out how to set up busses on my new interface to let me use 6 mics on my mini kit; I had tried with just 2 mics, but the toms, cowbell and cymbals were getting lost so I really had to go for close micing.
I then recorded the basic drum rhythm on Track 2 for the whole length of the CD track, listening to the lively CD music on headphones to get the right musical feel and concentrating on getting it as accurate as possible. This drum track is NOT the final one, which will need to stop at the breaks in the song and do some fills in the bridge bars. Fills can be overdubbed, but I really wanted to get a live feel.
I then muted the CD track (whose key and phrasing clashes badly with my song!) and recorded a guide ukulele/vocal track on Track 3. This would let me hear the shape and structure of the song when recording the final drum track.
I then bussed the guide uke/vocal track to Left headphone, and guide drum track to Right headphone, and recorded the real drum track with all the stops, starts and fills on tracks 4-9. What I did has a few flaws, but it has the life and sparkle which I really wanted for this song, and which is so hard to achieve when working solo and building a song one track at a time.
Next I bussed the final drum track to Left headphone, and the guide vocal & uke track to Right headphone and recorded the final uke track onto track 10, listening to the final drums, and the guide uke/vox to "signpost" the song's structure as I did.
Later I decided the uke track sounded a little thin beside the lively drums, so I recorded a 2nd identical uke track to sound like two ukists playing together, I first tried copying the uke track and time-shifting it slightly to get a "Double Tracking" affect, but it did not sound lively enough.
Now that I have the rhythm, chords and song structure down it will be relatively easy to add bass, vocal and any other tracks to complete the song, but I am keeping the original CD, guide drum, and guide uke/vox tracks muted but for reference just in case of any problems.
I am a carp singer, but cannot persuade anyone else to get involved, so my new trick there is to record a vocal line, pitch correct it with Melodyne Editor, then sing a final vocal track along to the auto-tuned track to give me a good guide, but that will have to wait until my nose has unblocked!
Marcus de Mowbray