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From a floating dream the songs make a shape around me – Linda Hogan

November 24, 2015

Yesterday i did a solo recording session. No matter how well you play, it is always challenging: an external sound can ruin a take, and every ingle note seems exposed. My aesthetic is to capture the live feeling as much as possible, so I record complete takes and fix things as needed. It helps to have repeats in the music: if you get something wrong the first time but correct the second you can cut and paste. The sense of the whole piece is maintained when the performer feels the beginning, middle and ending unfolding in real time. That same sense will draw in the listener, the performer is like a transmission device.

One of the reasons classical musicians like to record with natural reverb is because you feel better about the sound you make. You play better, or at least have an easier time playing. [It is peculiar that some critics don’t approve of the natural reverb of a church.]

Haliburtob Sculpture Forest (107)For this project I am recording with Soren Truhlar, a former student who has been working in the sound and recording business for about 20 years. His space has some very good microphones – AKG 414s – which are necessary to capture the nuances of a guitar’s sound. It is however a room mostly used for bands, so there is very little natural reverb. Soren rolled up the carpet to reveal a wood floor, which added a small amount of warmth to my guitar’s sound. In a non-reverberant room your guitar sounds weak and every squeak and nail click can be debilitating. Yesterday was a bit like that, a nail issue made one finger sound weird. With at least a hundred hours of preparation on each piece, some passages ran out of control.

I kept to my strategy, doing the hardest piece first and only doing three takes of it. There were slip-ups that I went over immediately to correct but it all got recorded and it should be okay. The second piece was a little easier and we were able to do a preliminary edit on that one before time was up.

To create a sense of space we used four microphones, two close to the guitar and two about 6 feet away. This is the same set up we used on our previous date and by turning up the volume on the “room mikes” we get a warmer sound. This is “done in post” as they say – after the actual recording and editing. In so doing there is less artificial reverb added: the sound of the mikes combine to create a small delay which passes as slight reverb.

One day, when Nasrudin was at school his teacher was given tray of baklava when, the headmaster called him put of class. Before leaving, the teacher said, “Whatever you do, don’t touch the sweets, they are poisoned – just one bite is enough to kill a grown man.”

As soon as the door closed, the children inhaled the sweets, licking up even the crumbs with wet fingers. In this excitement, they also broke the teacher’s beautiful pen. When the teacher returned he shouted, “Who. Did. This?”

“Please forgive me master, ” answered Nasrudin. “I wanted to write with your pen and broke it. In despair, I decided to die and ate all the sweets to kill myself. I am waiting for the angel of death to come and take me.”

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