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Lessons From My Band’s Single #2) Do More Homework

February 3, 2014
Tracking in an old office with a huge bookshelf. Mobile recording at its finest.

Tracking in an old office with a huge bookshelf. Mobile recording at its finest.

Okay, you know how last post I told you that it’s super important to do your homework? Yeah, well here’s what happens when you’re a doofus and don’t do your homework. Who could possible be so lazy? Well, this time around it was me. *hides in shame*

First Time For Everything

For the song, we wanted a violin so we asked my boy Luke to lay down some string parts. He’s a good player and that’s all fine and dandy, but we didn’t have a clue what we were doing. Because as an engineer, I didn’t do my homework. As a producer, I didn’t give Luke any homework to do (so the blame is on me).

Know Your Instrument

No one wrote a violin part for this song. We didn’t know what we wanted the violin to do. We just thought it’d be cool to have a violin for some odd reason. So I met with Luke and step up a mic, as if I expected magic to happen on its own.

For some stupid reason, I just sat back, hit record and told Luke to just go for it. In one fatal swoop, I completely went against everything I know, which is hard work and preparation. Maybe sometimes you can lucky this type of “#yolo” approach to music, but as we all know, people that say “#yolo” are less than smart.

Know Your Recordings Techniques

Because I normally work with rock/pop stuff, I had never recorded violin before. Did I think it would be a good idea to research it before I tried? Apparently not, because not only did we not have a good violin part set in stone, but we also had a bad recording. Violins create their own natural verb, so it’s good to record them in a big space with some distance between the mic and the instrument. I didn’t know this, so I recorded super-close. All we got was the scratchy-ness of the bow and an overall unnatural sound. Wow. Failure.

The Solution

So the day after recording the violin, I listened back and thought “We have to redo this. This ain’t gonna cut it, son.”

So I researched violin recording.

I composed a violin part for the song.

I did my homework.

I got back with Luke and we pwned it the second time around. We knew what part to play and I knew how to get a good sound. The violin sounds awesome now and the part is sweet. We even overdubbed several takes to create a “string quartet” feel. Couldn’t be happier.

So the moral of the story is (again): Do your homework. Cause things stink if you don’t. Sure, you can try it without homework, but don’t be surprised if you waste time and have to do it all again.

At the end of the series of posts, I’ll attach the finished LHB song. You’ll be able to “hear” what I’m talking about.

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