Buffie’s 24 hour song adventure

I have been meaning to write about this for days now.

Buffie is in a play. She’s doing a cover of a song, but she didn’t want to do some karaoke version of it. So she wanted some local musicians around here to perform it, and then she could use a recording of the performance in the play.

By the time we got all the musicians to agree on a day, it was the day before the track was due. So no pressure.

We headed over to Eddie’s studio to track the drums. Adam was good enough to agree to play. Anything for Buffie. I think she traded a massage (she’s certified). We did a simple four-mic setup, 2 earthworks as the overheads, condenser for the snare and dynamic for the kick.

We were so pressed for time we only did one take. Jesus I’m starting to hate doing that. It is so easy to be in the moment and just be like, whatever, I’ll fix it later, but I am really starting to learn that I’ll fix it later means twice as long. No recording engineer should ever say I’ll fix it later.

Rule of thumb: Fix it now– 10 minutes. Fix it later– one hour.

Goddamn that Toft is fine. Fine, fine, fine. I really wanted to play with the onboard equalizers but we didn’t really have time. I need to work on that board like about three more times before I can really sit down and command it, but it was a good first workout. And Eddie helped out a lot.

We got the drums tracked. They’ve got protools set up there so it was a good chance for me to get more familiar with the protools software. I love Ableton Live, but facts are facts and most people use that goddamn protools. I don’t hate it anymore, though, because I discovered that awesome feature where you can have a whole bunch of different takes in one track. But there is just no ctrl-click functionality to protools! Ableton Live is all about the control-click. My plan is to learn enough protools to track comfortably (and I can already stumble through it), but I won’t mix with it. I’m too attached to Ableton.

I exported the wav files, my flash drive died, but thank god I had my external hard drive with me.

Rule of thumb: Bring a backup device if you’re going to have to take tracks with you.

Oh my god it was the worst equipment failure day EVER. We got back to my house to track the bass and guitar, and my MOTU just quit. Like it was on strike. Totally inexplicable. Totally panic time.

I dragged it to 3 egg for Jason to look at.

As soon as he plugged it in, it worked again.

ARRRRGGGH!!! I hate that so much! If I knew what the problem was, it wouldn’t be so bad, but it really makes me think it’s personal.

Alana Amram told me she thinks equipment is affected by women’s hormonal cycles. I hope to heaven this is not true, but I’m not willing to rule it out.

We went back to my house to finish the recording. Telfer put down the bassline, but no guitarist ever showed up. And we had asked two!

So I just did a keyboard line instead to fill it out.

This made me so happy. When I first committed to music production, I started playing and practicing piano again. I’ve always performed with the guitar, but I took piano lessons for years when I was young. The piano/keyboard, I think, is the producer’s instrument. It can do bass or treble parts. These days, it can replicate so many different sounds. And when you’re producing a song, you damn well better be able to substitute in for a missing performer, or add a missing part. At a certain point, you can’t call anyone anymore.

So after two equipment failures and a missing musician, we still hit our 24 hour deadline.

In addition, I learned a LOT about warping. I’ve been able to warp before, but this was the first time I really felt confident doing it. It’s all about setting the 1.1.1 mark.

Here’s our 24 hour song!!!


PS The keyboard is a little too low in the final mix, because I was being extra cautious about bringing up the instrument that I played myself. This is a good lesson for me.


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