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Monday, December 24, 2007

Seasons Greetings!

Sound and Recording
B. Thomas Cooper

Season's Greetings!

Christmas Tree

The holiday candles are burning, my friends. Christmas is only days away. Many presents have yet to be purchased, let alone, wrapped and distributed. Thank the good lord above (thanks be to Allah, etc.) I can always count on Santa to bear the brunt of the load.

Yes, the holiday season is again upon us. Rest assured good old Saint Nick knows who’s been naughty and who’s been nice, no matter what George W. Bush or Dick Cheney may say to the contrary. I recommend two lumps a piece. Of coal that is, but then I assume you knew where I was going with this.

Ah, but I digress.

We acquired our Christmas tree in the usual manner, and from the usual suspects, whom we have ascertained use the proceeds to fund a covert children’s hospital in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood. Mum is the word.

The parking lot was dimly lit. Actually, it was not lit at all. It was dark! We peered through the shadows, shaking branches curiously and horse-trading in our best broken Spanish. We settled on a fine tree. The gentle mannered attendant then secured the tree to the roof of our truck with about forty feet of heavy rope I assume was strong enough secure an angry bison to our rooftop. No extra charge.

As we pulled away from the unpaved parking area adjoining the unlit tree lot, we were greeted by the most unusual sign. 'NO REFUNDS OR RETURNS' the sign portended. They must be on to us, we mused, as we drove away, singing carols in our best broken Spanish.

More later,
Eggnog and fudge await.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Exploring Pre-Production (Things to do in Preparation for a Recording Studio Session)

Sound and Recording
B. Thomas Cooper

As we have touched on in previous articles, properly preparing for a studio recording session is unlike preparing for a live gig. Each present a unique set of variables, both which we desire to attain at least some degree of understanding, and perhaps eventually even mastery.

A band should be well rehearsed before entering the studio. Know your material well. Work on getting your lyrics down straight and your parts as tight as possible. Take some time to define the melodies and any harmonies. Be sure the drummer and bass player are playing in the pocket.

As a staff producer for the world famous Power Station Studios, I quickly gained a reputation for pushing the song, rather than the players. Divorce yourself from your ego and play for the song. This is what the great one’s do best, and they do it instinctively.

I strongly suggest recording rehearsal whenever possible. I also suggest you get in the habit of playing along to a click track, or metronome sooner rather than later. Being in my late forties, I’ve heard every stupid excuse imaginable for not playing to a click track. My advise? Get over it!

There are other considerations. How familiar are the musicians with playing with headphones? Different music requires radically different headphone mixes. This alone can determine whether the session is a success or a failure, and is far too often overlooked.

On occasion, young bands would show up at the studio with a record deal, but no drumsticks or guitar strings. Needless to say, these bands had not been doing any serious pre-production. Show up prepared. If your drummer needs new drum heads, by all means, buy them. Procure extra strings, and rehearse. It is not a crime to relax before a session, but don’t over party. The studio is your chance to shine, through your recordings, rather than in spite of them.




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