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January 20, 2010


I need to move into the new century... somewhat late, granted.

So, I've been trying to put together some demos/backing tracks for songs that I want my new band to learn... for arrangements I want the band to learn. So far it's been a really laborious, time-consuming task.

The problem is that I'm using a screw-driver to hammer in a nail, as it were. My only real experience of putting tracks together has been by painstakingly mixing together clips onto a single stereo track, piece by piece, using a wave-editor. Granted, I figured out early on that I could take a mono copy of a drum track and put it over on the left or right channel then use that as a template for the rest of the instruments, one by one, in separate files. The mix-down would then be very hit-or-miss as far as the levels were concerned as each track needed to be merged one after the other.

On Sunday night I set to re-recording the guitar parts for "Outside Woman Blues". I felt it went really well. Red's newly lowered action felt great and I was jamming. The Blackstar sounded crunchy yet funky... the E-"Hendrix" chords were stinging. Although I was tempted to just record the whole thing from start to finish in one go, instead I elected to record in sections, playing each snippet over and over, giving me a selection of decent cuts. I picked up that technique from U2... I should have known better, eh?

There I was with a wav file full of Creamy soup (a pun!). It was all pretty decent and finding useable clips was no problem at all. Then I started in on the slow process of stitching each bit together using headphones, drums in the left ear, guitar in the right. Mistake. I should have just used speakers! What sounded great in extreme stereo wasn't so great when mixed together properly. My synching was spot on in places, but lousy in others. As the guitar had been mixed to one track, there was nothing I could do but to throw my hands up in despair.

Hours wasted.

Imagine then, even if I'd got it right, our bass player is going to send me the deep end which I'd have to mix in there, too... then there's the guitar solo...

The bottom line is that I need to rethink the way I assemble songs. I need to start thinking about using a multitrack sequencer. Last night I found that I have a demo version of one, downloaded years ago but never used. I'll have a go with that and see what all this techno-wizardry is all about...


Furtheron said...

... funny I've just ranted about technology on my blog.

Your screwdriver / hammer analogy rang home - technology convergence!

I had an old h/w sequencer years back and that was tedioud but did the trick. This is one reason I've become a solo performer at least the cock ups are kept secret :-)

Kenski said...

Mostly I've just really recorded acoustic rhythm + lead together before, which isn't that bad.

Trying to get everything 'right' for a 5-6 piece band is a nightmare when you're technologically challenged!

I was reading up on this 'punching' stuff where I could actually record a whole track to a click then 'fix' errors by selectively re-recording. Sounds great (if it works!)

There seem to be lite versions of some of the more famous sequencers which I might dabble in when I get the chance. Cubase LE, anyone?

agatzebluz said...

If you want a nice DAW try Reaper

It's shareware but you can still use it fully when the expiration period is over.
Using multi track tol is MUCH better.

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Kenski said...

I'm liking the look of Reaper! The basic sequencer I tried last night was much easier than the manual edit I'd been doing. However, basic stuff like panning wasn't supported!

I'll definitely check out Reaper...