Archive for the ‘recording’ Category
Spring seems to be making a brief appearance today but I thought I should update everyone on the latest studio happenings.
Last Tuesday, we spent a wonderful day with Joe Jones and his sons. Joe is a Mexican citizen and construction worker who has a musical family. His brother
Melvin is an accomplished songwriter and so is Joe. This was Joe’s first trip into the studio and he did a smash job of his original song “I Hate That I Love You.” It’s a humorous lyric with a very sweet side to it.
Next up this Thursday the 18th is the Mirror Coats, an Iowa City band that includes my former student Scott Myer. Scott is now a grad student at the U of I (where the heck did those 4 years go?). The Mirror Coats are performing 2 to 3 times per month and they need a demo CD. Scott has a great voice and has developed his guitar skills considerably in the last 4 years. He was here Friday to check out our amps and the space. I’m looking forward to hearing their material.
The Tick… Tick…BOOM! project is on temporary hold because of the spring play this week. I hope to start knocking off some more songs when they recover from Strike Night.
I just put Todd Hammen’s page up last night and I hope to get another page up today. I have 3 sessions that need to be added to the “Artists” column. Those would be Mike Berg, An Underground Affair, and of course, Joe Jones.
I am happily looking forward to getting the Amen Choir back in for another session. It might be a couple of weeks before that project ramps up due to members who are in school outside the area. Their first session was a blast, it was inspiring, and I love their music and the group.
On a somewhat related but completely different topic, my sister Carol who lives in the Houston area bought VIP tickets to see Yes. Yes was a cutting edge band from the early-mid 70s and I was a big, BIG fan of their music. I saw them play on their “Close to the Edge” tour at the Met Sports Center in Minneapolis in 1974. The concert was AWESOME. The sound was perfect; it was like hearing the album but better. Carol enjoyed this concert immensely as she was sitting a few feet from Steve Howe, whose style can best be described as uniquely perfect for the band. Two of the original band members have apparently retired, those being Rick Wakeman (keyboardist and early adopter of the Mini-Moog), and Jon Anderson (vocalist extraordinaire). However, the replacements seem to be on par with the originals. I always thought that Jon Anderson’s voice would be very hard to replace, but they have found someone who is a ringer for him. (I wonder how many auditions they sat through for that?) I am putting a picture up of Carol because she is a huge Yes fan and also she’s recorded a Guided Imagery CD here.
That’s it for today… happy spring. To my friends in Minnesota, don’t put those shovels away quite yet.
Remember to look us up if you are a solo artist or a rapper or rock band or classical chamber group or a 24 piece choir. Euphonic Studio can handle your project!
March was a busy month for us, and it looks as if the upcoming work will keep us busy for some time to come.
First, a recap. In March, we had a nice session with Mike Berg, from Dubuque. He recorded a pair of songs that will be used at his daughter’s wedding this spring. I gave a studio tour to Tre Critelli, from Des Moines, who is planning to do a CD of his own works in the near future. I got a commitment from the Amen Choir to do their 12 song CD project here, and their first session was March 23. That day’s work yielded a scratch track that will be used as the framework for overdubs in future sessions.
My pet project, namely getting a nice studio recording of the student-directed musical Tick Tick BOOM! is underway! The backing tracks have been done for months; in fact they have been used for festivals where the troupe performed their show. But now we’re getting the singers into the studio, thanks to Brandon Douglas, who is organizing things on the student’s end. Now it’s a race against time. Which will come first… the successful completion of the recordings or graduation? We’ll see.
The Amen Choir will be taking a big chunk of studio time for the next 2 months, but we still have time for other projects. Scott Myer, former Mt. Vernon resident, Euphonic guitar student, and now grad student at the U of I, will bring his band in for a 9 song demo CD with the first session booked for April 18th. I’m looking forward to Scott’s project. He is a gifted singer, and has one recording on the euphonic.us website that needs to be brought over here.
The teaching studio is running at capacity. My plan for the summer is to keep the same teaching schedule that I have now. Most of my students are adults now so it makes sense to leave things as they are.
That’s it for now; more updates as they become available.
here’s a quick update. We had a very interesting spoken word recording of an interview with Dr. Kenneth Rempher, who was interviewed via phone regarding his expertise in health care systems policy. I TRULY enjoyed that one!
As much as I enjoyed that session, I have to say that the live recording and video shoot of Cathy Risse, Lisbon piano teacher, was an extraordinary opportunity. She delivered virtuoso performances of 3 master works. Because the concert went over an hour, we ran out of videotape and she came into the studio to record the last movement of the Ravel sonata. I have been busy editing video (I used 3 cameras for the shoot) even while we take a last minute stand against the Mount Vernon City Council on this road project.
Our teaching studio is full, now, so that’s keeping us busy.
I have been recovering from knee surgery but I can still book dates. We have upcoming dates from Mike Berg and a strong chance to record a 20 piece African group that does Christian music in the style of east Africa.
I hope to get recordings by a couple of previous music sessions up on the website soon. With everything else going on, and the surgery, sleep seems to be turning into an option.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.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?
They’re not the same as my wonderful set of Premier drums I had in my Minneapolis studio, but in many respects these are better for all concerned.
I suppose the first thing to say is how happy I am to have drums back in my studio again after all of these years. I have really missed playing drums and this set will really expedite recording of ensembles with drums.
I have gotten some really great acoustic drum recordings in this space and some not so great. I think it had a lot to do with the way the kits were tuned, the size of the drums, and how the drummer played. The biggest problem has been separation, and it is worsened by drums with a lot of ring to them or loud players. At least I haven’t had to fight a room problem like I had in MPLS. My apartment studio provided hard floors, walls, and high, hard ceilings for the drum kit which was a lot of fun to try to control. Those drums would have been killer in this room. But I digress.
The pads I have are Alesis DM5 pads and the set came with a set of 3 Surge cymbals, including a dual-zone ride. The snare is also dual-zone. I have added a 2nd crash cymbal which is dual-zone with a choke as the second zone. Future enhancements will be a 3rd crash (splash) which can of course be programmed to play any sound in the synthesizers. I am also considering a bank of 4 small pads that can be used to trigger anything from cowbells to roto-toms.
The drum synthesizers we have available are the DM5 as mentioned and a Yamaha RM-50. The DM5s are handy for handling the triggering with 12 trigger I/O channels. It’s also a very easy head to program. The Yamaha RM-50 is a brilliant drum synthesizer and I looked for an affordable one on eBay for some time before I finally snatched one up based on its reputation. It has 64 preset and 64 user drum kits, does pitched voice instruments (like chimes and vibraphones) and has 1000 voices to choose from. Needless to say I am enjoying playing this synth!
The two drum synthesizers have integrated without much trouble. I had a bit of a puzzle sorting out what note was actually playing in the Yamaha from triggers 9-12. Hint: for some reason the Yamaha transposes the note number down an octave.
Acquisition of this kit will save our drum-playing customers time and money. We can record both an audio sound of the kit you like plus a MIDI sound of what you’re playing. With the MIDI recorded, we have all kinds of flexibility to edit your part, change to soft or hard drum kits, even change tempos or quantize the part after the fact if you 64th notes were off a tad that day. And the best part is that you don’t have to bring in anything but your sticks! You can sit down, find the kit that you like to hear, adjust the drums and cymbals, and you are off and running! No running 8 mics over to the drums and waiting for the tech guy (me) to set them up.
These drums are available for your use at no extra charge, just like the rest of the electronic gear here at Euphonic. This is just another of dozens of value-added service we can provide.
It has indeed been busy around here since the last time I had a moment to update the website. I haven’t lost track of the list of web projects I have on my plate, it’s just been so busy here with recording projects that I haven’t had time to do so.
So let’s start by updating you with what’s been happening. I have been continuing to work on recording the book for “Tick Tick Boom”. This was the student-directed fall musical at Mount Vernon High School; I played bass in the pit band. The cast is performing a portion of the show in the second week of November at a thespian festival. I don’t have the specifics of where it is but I think it might be Des Moines.
David R. Weiss has accepted the master of the work “Tune of a Welcoming God” that was recorded here by Sara and Jim Klosterboer. They did a beautiful job and I have permission to use some of the songs on this website so I will put them up as soon as I get a few minutes to create a page.
Lisa Tracy has been here twice since the last update. I am very far behind in getting her songs onto her page here. She has two new ones now, as well as a whole ‘nuther group of songs that haven’t been put up yet.
Derrick Patterson returned to Euphonic yesterday and recorded his second original tune called “Not in my Wildest Dreams.” Derrick brought his wife Kelly to the studio as a surprise to her and she provided him inspiration to sing, asking her to sit where he could see her. Sweet.
Derrick and Lisa all share something in common. They all told me that this was the best studio they had ever recorded in, citing the relaxed atmosphere as their favorite thing about recording here. They also have noted the excellence in equipment and final product quality. Coming from talent of their caliber, this is a very high compliment and I hope you will give us a try if you are getting ready to record yourself.
Speaking of equipment, upgrades never seem to cease here. The first one I’m going to list is getting into the esoteric side of things. As you know, Euphonic has striven to make this studio the best combination of analog and digital equipment that we
can afford (meaning that YOU can afford, too). In July I bought a late 1970s Otari mastering deck to use for our mix target. This deck has been a wonderful addition. However, I have detected a barely-noticeable tape hiss with the deck when mixing with program of very low level, such as you might get when you let the last chord of a piano or guitar fade out at the end of a song. So, after researching this problem I reached the conclusion that I needed to add a Dolby processor to the deck. Dolby is everywhere these days, but in the day that this tape recorder was built, it was brand new. The Dolby system I bought is a 363, equipped with two Cat 300 cards, built in 1986. I have it hooked up and am waiting to test it; I haven’t received the manual as yet so I don’t know how to calibrate it properly. Stay tuned.
The other equipment acquisition is an Alesis DM5 Pro drum kit. This is really a controller that will work with my DM5 rack unit to create a complete electronic drum set. In my Minneapolis studio I had a beautiful set of Premier drums which I dearly loved. I am looking forward to getting my drum chops back and also having this as a valuable tool for my own recordings. I will also make the kit available to bands if their drummers use control rather than brute force to play their instrument.
So that’s it for now. Look for new pages for David R. Weiss and Derrick Patterson and please check out their music. You will enjoy it, and the recordings reflect the artisan quality of their performances and our studio craftsmanship. Also, Lisa Tracy’s music will be updated. Promise!
I would be remiss if I forgot to mention… Lisa Tracy has her own Facebook Page and Lisa and Mike send out “The song of the week”. Lisa’s music is inspirational and uplifting, and all you have to do to get on their mailing list to receive the song of the week is ask to be included.
I forgot to mention that the recording session for the Catherine McCauley Center got re-scheduled for November 1. Brianna and Lyndsey will be here to play the Mason & Hamlin and sing, respectively. The Catherine McCauley Center promotes the well-being and dignity of individuals in need by providing basic education for adults and a transitional housing program for women.
October seems to have rolled in with some cold as I write this. After this summer I will take it!
Things remain busy here with students on Monday and Wednesday and recording projects going constantly. I have sent off the pre-master to David R. Weiss and I am currently awaiting his approval. While I’m waiting, I have taken on a recording project of my own, namely to record the entire book of “Tick Tick Boom” and get the cast in to do the vocals. The last 5 or so songs will be used as backing tracks for a live performance of the partial show at the Thespian festival in November. Tick Tick Boom is the Mount Vernon High School student-directed musical that I became a part of in September. I played bass in the pit orchestra and furnished a bunch of equipment from the studio for their use. It was a great show, wonderful cast, and it deserves recording. Of course I will put the music up as the finished products become available. There is some talk of putting the show on again in January. That would be fine with me.
In other news, we have updated our recording software to Sonar X2, and I am enjoying the new features and workflow of the software as I work on “Tick”. Sonar offers extremely powerful recording and editing functions and the improved interface and features are another bonus you get when you record here at Euphonic Studio.
As a side project, I was becoming annoyed by having to look under the table whenever I wanted to use one of my many synths and sampler, so I have taken them out of their road cases and installed them in a short angled rack. This allows me easy access to the mixer and all the synthesizer and sampler controls. The disk drives for the sampler live in a tray installed at the bottom of the rack.
Lisa Tracy’s hand is back to playing condition and she will be in the studio again Friday, October 12th. I have a tentative date scheduled for Tuesday that week for the Catherine McCauley Center.
Area musician Derek Patterson paid a visit to Euphonic Studio on Tuesday, September 18 to record an original song that will be made into a video. The song, “Girl by the Fire” will be available on Derek’s own page shortly.
Derek says that this project started out as a Facebook conversation and ended up turning into an actual commercial project. Accompanying Derek were producer Kelly Gravel of Darkest Before Dawn Productions (Lisbon) and Dave Carpenter of DC Photography. Also involved in the project is Jonathan Guerrero of Lucent Media Group, the videographer.
I have been playing along with adding a couple of additional instrumental tracks to go with the guitar and vocal tracks. Of course I will run these by Derek before I put anything up on the website.
I should add that Derek was great to record with, he came in well-prepared and we got down to business in short order and he left with CDs in his hand. I had just reassembled my recording rack from the musical “Tick Tick Boom” and a small technical problem popped up during the session which kept me from mixing through the board. That’s all straightened out now so when the final production video is ready I’ll be happy to provide Kelly with a new mix.
Things have indeed been moving along here in the studio. We had the week of Labor Day off which has given me time I needed to get caught up on things. I am nearly done with David R. Weiss’ project, I just need to finish a couple more songs and create a pre-master for his CD.
Another project that has me preoccupied at the moment is that I am playing bass in the pit orchestra for the Fall production at Mount Vernon High School of the musical “Tick Tick Boom”. This musical was written by Jonathan Larson, the composer of the wildly popular “Rent”. It is the work that precedes “Rent” that never got famous. Too bad; the music is great, and as usual the MVHS theater department has cast this with superb cast so the musical numbers are great! Also playing in the pit orchestra are Damon Cole, keyboards(former Director of the Johnson School of Fine Arts and director of over 30 musicals himself), Rick Schweibert(guitar), of Copper Moon, Large Midgets, and other bands, and Dennis Rodemann on drums.
Those who know me know that bass is not my main instrument, but I liked the bass parts better than the guitar parts so I decided to do bass. I’m using my ultra-rare Yamaha RBX800AF, a 1986 model fretless that keeps me on my toes for intonation. This particular instrument is so much fun to play that I shouldn’t be getting paid. Oh wait.. we’re not getting paid.
So that’s the news from Euphonic. Mixing and bass playing. And missing our granddaughter, Kate, who is at Luther College. She will be home next weekend! Hooray!
I will be recording the rehearsals starting Monday and also each show. These are not for commercial distribution, of course, just for the department’s use. And one of the tunes might end up on this site, perhaps, maybe…
(With a nod to Saturday Night Live)
Things keep chuggin’ here. I’ve been spending a lot of time on David R. Weiss’ final mixes, with action interspersed enough so I have to re-collect my thoughts when I get back into it. We got sidetracked a bit by our granddaughter Kate’s 19th birthday, which motivated me to finish a video she did here plus remix an old song and then throw up a page. You can see it HERE. She’s in her last teenage years; it’s been wonderful having her live here since Jan 2011, and we’ll miss her as she goes off to Luther College in about 10 days.
Lisa Tracy will be here on Friday to record again, although this week she’s leaving the guitar at home and will play something on our Mason & Hamlin piano. I know she’ll enjoy the piano, which is one of the many competitive advantages we offer. This piano is a professional grand and it completely smokes any electronic piano… and having studied and played piano for 55 years I believe I can speak to that.
Lisa’s first instrument was piano and I’ve already seen what she can do on her Clavinova via video so I will make sure she has a well-prepared piano for this session. I like the sound I got for the Chase Garrett recordings so I’m going to set up the same mics (pair of Rode NT1as in X-Y plus an AT boundary mic underneath). I will be using a smashingly better preamp, though. Back then I used a pair of Art TubePACs for preamps going into a DirectPro 24/96 Aardvark. Today we still have the TubePacs but we also have a Focusrite ISA428 so guess who gets the call?
I just did a minor repair on that Focusrite that all owners of that model need to be aware about because it’s a slight under-design problem that can be repaired at home. It involves a slight miscalculation on the part of Focusrite on the current from the mains transformer to the power supply. I took pictures of the repair problem and procedure to fix it and will be putting up a page here as time permits (famous last words). If you lose your front panel LEDs on a Focusrite ISA428 before I get the page up, drop me an email.
Among other visitors to the studio this week and weekend, we had Sean Moore, and going forward we have composer Mary Smith and composer/guitarist Nate Finkley tomorrow, Lisa and violin student Herman Noronha Friday. I plan to work the nursing home circuit playing violin and/or banjo. Also, via email, we had an emergency project request from Angie Cannon which has been delivered and works well.
So who’s coming over Saturday?
UPDATE: Since the Focusrite ISA428 has become such an integral part of our sound, I decided to buy another one for backup. I couldn’t have that piece go down right before or during a recording session. We could limp by, but not at the high level that I have set for our quality.