Archive for Recording

Cover Tune

Posted in Cover Tunes with tags , , , , , on November 27, 2016 by The Buddha Rats

Warts & all…

#Beatles #ADayInTheLife #music #covertunes

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New Song

Posted in MP3's, Music with tags , , , , on December 18, 2015 by The Buddha Rats

Happy Holidays!

Recording At Home: A Little R&R.

Posted in Commentary, How To's, Making Music with tags , , , on December 7, 2014 by The Buddha Rats

Writing and recording at home is challenging. Resources are scarce.  My room is all but untreated (unless you count the odd painting on the wall, a kingsize bed in the room, no echo chamber, no mixing board, no vocal or drum room and no access to real tape other than Scotchtape). I just read an article in which someone thought that his Mom’s cooking rivaled or surpassed anything he’s had in a “proper” restaurant. Oh yea, peasant cooking… rustic cooking at it’s best is a real pleasure. Same thing with Rustic Recording.

Here are tips for getting the most out of your recordings. You won’t win a Grammy, but isn’t Coldplay nominated this year?… You see my point?

1) Use mic distance to your advantage.

Recordings aren’t just stereo or mono.  Create depth using multiple mics as well as by using reverb and EQ to great effect. The brighter the sound, the more up front it appears. Using lo-pass and hi-pass filters as your “go-to” tool will keep things sounding natural and make sounds that compete for space easier to manage and fix.

2) Go DI for bass.

Bass signals plugged in direct to your daw will end up lifeless, but you can “fix it in the mix”. I always go DI and end up duping the original track 2x. Now that I’ve got 3 bass tracks:

  • Leave the DI track as is.
  • Route track 2 through an ampsim.
  • Route track 3 through a fuzz or distortion box.

Blend these tracks to create a tasty bass track.

3) Perfect your performance before you hit record.

If you can’t play it all the way through without that red light on, you’re not ready to have a go at it. Seriously- learn your material. Make sure you can sing it and play it.

4) Buy the best instruments you can afford and use them.

And this doesn’t mean that you have to subscribe to the myth that your guitar needs to be a 1959 Les Paul in order to be considered “best”. I like Elliott Smith and was pleased to learn that the entire Roman Candle album was recorded using a cheap Domino parlor guitar.  Best= what works best for the material. New instruments might not work as well as something old or beat up even (have you seen the hole in Willie Nelson’s Martin?).

5) Drum machines suck.

They’re repetitive and lack soul. Pepper any drum machine track with real tambourines, claps, woodblocks, etc. anything that sounds real- even shaking a key ring full of keys will go a long way to impart that touch that only a real human can. Or better yet, just find a real drummer.

6) Don’t marathon mix.

Take breaks every hour. Let your ears rest for 15-20 minutes. It will make a big difference. Ear fatigue, especially when listening to high volume rock tracks, is a death sentence for quality.

7) Audition your mixes before and after.

There are people who can actually mix well using headphones. Just be sure to A/B them on car stereo, home stereo, etc.

8) Elevate you demos with proper mastering.

Home recordings can sound cheap because they often aren’t mastered properly. Even Ozone (when used sparingly) can yield great results.

9) Mistakes= Happy Accidents. Keep Them.

You are making music for real live flesh and blood people to hear. Your music should sound like it was made by one. Mistakes happen. Nothing is perfect. Remember that.

10) Always, always experiment.

Do something you haven’t tried. It might make your song better.

Lo-Fi Sound In Brown Vol.1

Posted in Music with tags , , , on September 29, 2013 by The Buddha Rats

I keep meaning to put out more than 3 tunes at a clip, but life keeps getting in the way. Demos of two of these were already posted, but these versions are fleshed out with added bells and whistles, and sound more complete.

Enjoy.

Written, and recorded by The Buddha Rats. Copyright 2011, 2013 Drew Gold. World Rights Reserved. Use without permission is theft and leads to physical & financial pain, so make sure you ask first.

The Buddha Rats ® is the property of Andrew Gold. Reg. USPTO.

I’m Listening To You, Are You Listening To Me?

Posted in Music with tags , , , on November 17, 2012 by The Buddha Rats

It’s great to be back working on new stuff with my old friend and musical partner. My move to a new studio, with plenty of space to leave everything up and running is already working out well.

I’ve got lots of new tunes written, some of them demo’d and I’m happy to share the IP stuff on my Love Shout blog. Here’s one that I’ve been working on. It’s a little nonsense rocker. Something quick, with a good groove and some hazy guitars.

Some things don’t change: I played the basic tracks- drums, bass, guitar, vox and Big Daddy, thank God, is on lead git. We hope you like it.

I’m Listening To You, Are You Listening To Me?

Written, and recorded by The Buddha Rats. Copyright 2012 Drew Gold. World Rights Reserved. Use without permission is theft and leads to physical & financial pain, so make sure you ask first.

The Buddha Rats ® is the property of Andrew Gold. Reg. USPTO.

The Making of John Lennon’s “Hold On”

Posted in Commentary with tags , on December 8, 2011 by The Buddha Rats

The Making of John Lennon’s “Hold On”
Inside the Plastic Ono Band sessions
by Patrick Cadogan

If one were to take “Revolution” and subtract the political subject matter, one would be left with the basis for “Hold On,” John Lennon’s song of positive projection into the future. When John was in Rishikesh, India in 1968, pondering the Vietnam War and talk of revolution in the United States, he had a feeling that things would work out for the better: “I still had this ‘God will save us’ feeling about it,” he said. “‘It’s going to be alright.’ But even now I’m saying, ‘Hold on, John, it’s going to be alright.’ Otherwise, I won’t hold on.”

While recording the song at EMI Studios during the Plastic Ono Band sessions (September 26 to October 9, 1970), John opted again for a straightforward rock trio lineup, featuring himself on lead guitar and vocals, Klaus Voormann on bass, and Ringo Starr on drums. Phil Spector, Yoko Ono, and EMI engineer Phil MacDonald sat in the control room.

Take 1

“I don’t even know if I’m in tune,” John says of his guitar as the session starts. “Not with the piano, that doesn’t matter, really.” Ringo reminds him that being in concert pitch would allow him to other overdubs later. “Oh yeah,” John says, “I might want to put electric piano on.”

John, Klaus, and Ringo jam on a semi-serious take, where John adds lyrical variations (“You’re gonna make it fly”). When they reach the bridge, John lets it slip into an instrumental and does not sing as Ringo experiments with drumming styles and John comments into the mic, “I’m not going to fade out again, am I?” and sings, “Hold on! Hold on! Hold on, darling.”

Take 2

Phil MacDonald calls take 2. Ringo wonders about the ending of the song. “No, we’ll go out fast,” says John, “‘cause it’s like a word of encouragement.” The two of them laugh.

“We’d like to change the mood somewhat,” John says, a variation on one of his favorite expressions while recording.

Ringo is reminded of a country album, and John initially thinks he is talking about Pete Seeger. Ringo reveals he is talking about Michael Nesmith, former band member of the Monkees. “Nesmith!” John laughs. Ringo then relays the ending of side 1 Nesmith’s Magnetic South LP, which contained the message: “Well, we’re gonna take a short intermission, my friend. We’ll be back right after you turn the record over.”

The group settles into a relaxed take. Ringo adds extra tom fills in the middle sections and uses a faster drumbeat until John comes back in with “Hold on, world.” They are unsure how to end the song, so at this point John is planning to fade it out. He stops the performance: “Okay, That’ll do. We don’t want to get berserk.”

Take 3

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” John says. “Oh yeah, am I doing it all through it? I don’t know, you know.” John sings only part of the lyrics of this short start-and-stop take. John briefly runs through the bridge (“When you’re by yourself…”) and when he ends it, he explains to Ringo: “Yeah. That one is where you do your sizzle or whatever they call it,” referring to Ringo’s ride cymbal effect.

Take 4

Another take as the group tries to work out the instrumentation, and John provides a guide vocal. Where the LP version ends abruptly, at this point they continue playing. “Let’s try and end it,” John remarks. “Sorry, I meant to try ending it.”

Take 5

A slower take, with some guitar mistakes by John as they enter the last verse. Ringo still is not using the ride cymbal for the bridges, but the song ends for the first time after John’s final “so hold on.” “Let’s hear it,” John says, asking for a playback.

Take 6

Klaus asks John to count the song in. “Count it in? Ninety-nine,” John responds to Klaus’ request. John then jokes, in mock disgust, about being told what to do by Klaus: “You’re talking to folk blues from the north of Liverpool, you know!…I mean, who does he think he is? Fuckin’ Manfred Mouse?” he says, referring to Klaus’ former band Manfred Mann, a group in which he had also played bass. John starts another take with his guitar intro. Throughout he sings more quietly as the group is not yet to deliver a master take. After the take finishes, they jam a bit as John offers a solo of sorts. “Something suddenly went incredibly strange,” he says.

Take 7

The tape turns on, but Phil Spector is not ready, so the tape cuts out. When it is turned back on, John jokes with the control room: “Yes…sick of listening the fuckin’…got better things to do than fuckin’ listen to it all. Alright. ‘Hold On, Jock,’ take fat.” The group delivers another take with a short introduction. John tries more guitar fills in between the verses and leaves out certain words as they fill another rehearsal take. John wonders if they should go to the control room to listen to their work so far: “Okay. Should we come and hear it? You alright Klaus?”

Take 8

John stops singing early on and thinks about perhaps recording it instrumentally first and overdubbing vocals later: “Sorry. If I can do it without singing, it would be better.” He plays some more on the guitar. “Just a bit out of tune I think,” he explains.

Take 9

John tries leading the band through an instrumental version, singing only a little. John hits some wrong notes on the guitar, but Ringo has now figured out the drumming pattern to use on the song, which includes hitting his stick on the edge of the snare drum.

Take 10

An unremarkable take as John tries to nail down an instrumental version, adding some guide vocal to keep track.

Take 11

A false start, which John apologizes for.

Take 12

Another instrumental attempt that results in a decent complete take. “How was that all?” asks John.

Take 13

The band jams on “Look At Me” briefly, with John singing some alternate lyrics (“What do you see?”). The band stops as John wants to continue with “Hold On.”

“That’s another day,” John says of recording “Look At Me.”

“There’s a great chord in that,” John says as he briefly plays some of the chords of “Look At Me.”

The band attempts another take of “Hold On,” but John loses his place without the vocal. “Oh yeah, sorry, I thought I wasn’t there,” he says. “I was in Rock Ferry.”

Take 14

They quickly start again, but John messes up: “Oh, I fucked it. Thought I’d make benefit of that.” He also is unable to hear properly in his headphones: “I can’t hear anything in the ears.” “You’re in the cans,” Ringo remarks.

“The guitar isn’t,” John replies. “Is it?”

Ringo replies in the affirmative.

“It’s very strange though,” John says. “Did I turn off? Oh, I did,” he says as he realizes the problem.

Take 15

Another brief take stops as John does not like the sound.

Take 16

An instrumental take. In focusing on the guitar, John is able to turn in a better take.

Take 17

John holds back on some of the guitar tremolo effect on this complete take.

Take 18

The tape cuts in partway through as John begins singing again during the takes. John instructs the group and control room: “Ringo and Klaus play. Can you turn the voice down a bit, it’s overpowering all the rest of it.” After some adjustments, he is satisfied with the levels. “Do you think we’re going too slow, Yoko?” he asks. “Is it? Okay. Ask Mal if he’s got a joint.”

Take 19

“Can we start now?” John asks as he starts and stops another take. “What? I thought I heard something,” he says.

Take 2_?

An up-tempo led by a galloping guitar riff, with John giving a different vocal performance to fit the style. This take was later released on Lennon Anthology.

Take 29

The group launches into a completely different and bouncy arrangement. Ringo is unable to decide what style of drums to play and switches between several before the take breaks down.

Take 30

“It’s getting a bit cramped around the wrist, Mother,” John says to Yoko in the control room. “What? Oh, I’m just complaining.” John begins the tremolo guitar intro as on the LP, but Ringo comes in early. “Oh now, come on,” John says. “You keep jumping in.”

“Is that where I come in?” Ringo asks.

“No, you’re doing one ahead of time. It’s ‘cause I’m going…” John demonstrates the guitar slide down before Ringo’s intro.

John tries the intro again and stops. “Oh I see,” he says, “what’s happening?”

“I’m losing it now, that’s what happening,” Ringo jokes.

“Oh, was he?” John says to someone in the control room. “He must be because I’ve always been thinking to come in there you see. Okay, let’s do it like that.”

Take 31

The take begins fine, but John is not singing. “What was that?” he says. They continue playing the song instrumentally all the way through to the conclusion. John starts the intro again and Ringo again comes in early. “Was that a funny one?” John asks. “What? How was that last one?”

Take 32

The master take, with John singing the main vocal live while playing the lead electric guitar. John laughs after the first verse and says “Cookie!” in the voice of the Sesame Street character Cookie Monster (Ringo refers to John’s fondness for this character in his song “Early 1970”). In doing the second vocal overdub, John double-tracks himself and adds a second “cookie” interjection.

* * *

John created a rough remix of the song later that night to take home and listen to in order to decide what additional work on it there was to be done. In keeping with his relaxed attitude towards recording during this period, he decided to keep the rough remix as the final remix. The only problem was that it had been put on tape at a speed of 7 Ѕ inches per second instead of 15, resulting in more tape hiss on the final recording. “I found out it’s better that, with ‘Instant Karma’ and other things, you remix it right away that night,” John explained two months later. “I’d known that before, but never followed through.” With the recording complete, John placed the song to sit in the number two spot on his Plastic Ono Band LP.

When to add compression?

Posted in Recording Basics with tags , , on May 14, 2011 by The Buddha Rats

It’s often abused (I’ve done it myself), but compression is an important part of the link to getting a nice sound.

Add compression (and EQ) at mixing. Each track you’ve recorded might get a little to help shape, gel and tame the sound. I even like to add more compression as “glue” and consistency on the master bus.

Remember that certain genres get more compression than others:  You don’t mix a Beatles track like a Bobby Timmons track.

Try and resist the urge to make everything LOUD. You can get a nice full mix without pushing every track up to that 0db line. Your master track should be at 0db, but pull the other track faders back to around -6 or -9 and give yourself some headroom. You won’t get ear fatigue as fast, and you’ll make more accurate mixing choices. Besides, you can make a sound seem louder just by making it brighter with some eq. Take some high’s away, and it sinks back into the mix… Remember that the end result of the effects you add on your master bus is not the same thing as sending your track to be properly mastered! You will be very hard pressed to get your tracks the same volume as something that is offered up for commercial consumption.

In the end, it’s all about trial and error- you’ll figure out what works best for your music.

Good luck.