Euphonic Studio ™

Recording studio and music instruction adventures since 1979

Two Years of Recording With Lisa Tracy

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For some time now, I have been thinking about how to write this blog piece, which is really a combination of a thank you, a tribute, a brief description of a journey, and let’s not forget, a whole big lot of great times and great music. Today I thought I’d give it a go.

Our friends and clients, Lisa and Mike Tracy

Our friends and clients, Lisa and Mike Tracy

When Lisa called for the first appointment I was impressed by the calm and matter-of-fact way that she described her recording project on the phone. She knew what she wanted, and I could tell that she knew because of previous experience in recording studios. Her project goal was simple; it was to find and record all the “lost” material that she’s written over 30 some years and to do it as simply as possible. Sort of like MTV’s “Unplugged” series.  I was looking forward to the chance to record someone with her experience, and maybe a bit nervous, too.

Lisa and Mike (her husband) came over for their first session.  They were warm and delightful people of about the same vintage we are, so we had a lot of commonalities in family, music, and growing up during the same era. This has contributed to an ongoing growth in our friendship. Our conversations are always interesting and memory-dislodging. Typically Mike or I will think of some off-the-wall song and then try to remember the band. Or we share stories of the road, talk about old friends, family, pets, or whatever. Lisa and Mike feel like our family when they come over and it always seems a bit brighter on days they visit.

Lisa reviewing lyrics while she warms up for another take

Lisa reviewing lyrics while she warms up for another take. This was in the room ambiance stage of my recording style; you can see a pair of PZM mics mounted on Plexiglass directly in line with the music stand.

Oh, I haven’t gotten to the recording part yet. Lisa happened to start working here when I was near the beginning of my analog-to-digital transition. Two years back the best mics I had were a pair of R0de NT1-a. My A/D-D/A converters were DirectPro 24/96 Aardvarks. I had 4 of them to do 16 tracks at a time but had never had to record more than 8. I was running Sonar 5 Studio on a Dell P4.

If you’re a gear geek you now have a snapshot of how things were here in December 2010 when Lisa began recording. We started out recording the voice and guitar simultaneously. I used a pair of Sony back-electret mics on the guitar and an NT1-a on her voice. When I listen to those recordings on today’s equipment, I can hear two things. First, the quality of the recordings has improved by a couple of orders of magnitude, which you might expect from 2 complete digital upgrades and a passel of new mics and software. The second thing, and definitely the most important thing, is that the performance and the music comes through regardless of the equipment.

This is a topic of a whole different blog post; in music, is it the media or the message? I can support my side of the argument with monophonic LP records going back to the middle of the last century that contain important and timeless performances. Oops, I said the “p” word. Performance.

Lisa Tracy warming up for a recording take

Lisa Tracy warming up for a recording take

For musical works of art, the performance is the message, not the media. Lisa’s music fits into the categories of musical works of art, and also musical works of spirituality. So the medium is definitely not the message here; the message transcends the mere recording and she would probably say it transcends the performance of it as well. She’s just the messenger. Lisa’s message is Good News. We always say we could stand to hear a little good news, hmmm? If you listen to Lisa’s music it’s all about Good News.

The earliest recording I could dig up from my hodge-podge of files backed up from recording hard drives of computers gone by the wayside is from December 3, 2010. It’s a song called “Don’t Jump in the Cage”, and I believe that this was the first one she did here because I remember the jazzy feel of it. I couldn’t find a mix of it, so I did a fresh one. It was recorded with 2 mics; the R0de for vocal, the Sony on the guitar.

Don’t Jump in the Cage

[audio:http://www.euphonicstudio.us/Media/mp3/LT/Dont-Jump-In-The-Cage.mp3]

Lisa began her musical journey as a child starting with piano lessons.  I’m not clear where she learned to play the guitar; I think she just watched other people and learned that way.  I can say that she is is a very solid musician.  If we do multiple takes on a song, it’s amazing to me how consistent her tempos are.  The takes always end within one or two seconds of each other.  Her voice is clear and strong.  She records her songs with conviction and grace.

Her songwriting is mostly spiritual in nature but once in a while she’ll throw one out there that’s not.  The one that comes to mind immediately is “Just Like You”, which I was honored to play bass on.  So far that’s the only one of her songs that has a second instrument overdub, although we’ve talked about it on a couple of songs.

The Tracys say that they are nearing the end of their backlog of material, so we may not be seeing them as often as we have.  We are very thankful for their friendship and business over the last 2 years and especially the way that the atmosphere gets a bit more joyful when they come into our home.  Lori and I look forward to future recordings with Lisa as she becomes inspired.

So what have we accomplished in 2 years?  Almost 40 (39, I think)  songs, by my count, expertly crafted and performed.  Lisa’s music has driven my decisions to improve and upgrade Euphonic Studio to the state where it is today.   She has created an impressive body of work here, and on 2 CDs recorded elsewhere.  One of them, Emmaus, is as well-recorded as music I’ve heard from LA or New York studios.

One last thing I should mention.  Mike sends out a “song of the week” each Wednesday to anyone on that mailing list.  So Lisa is sharing all of her music for free, and encourages people to use it (with accreditation, please), in their own services or for personal inspiration.  If you would like to be added to that mailing list, please contact Mike at mt80099@aol.com.

You can also find many of Lisa’s songs on her page on this website.  It’s my goal to get them all up, and remix the older ones through our analog system that is at the end of the full circle we have traveled.  Sigh.  Life is a journey, is it not?

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Written by Mr. Bill

December 30th, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Posted in recording

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