Recording of “Happy Song”

For the final project of this unit of study I was tasked with creating stock music to fit a theme. I chose to do a plain old “happy” song. As I am already familiar with indie style music and I have a friend who is an indie guitarist I figured lets do a crappy little indie song.

On the day of the recording I found out that ProTools is a little bit of a picky fucker and had decided to take the day off. So after the 3 hours it took to re-install the program we finally started making some progress. Now I am utter bollocks at writing music, but fortunately my performer Dylan is not, so I left the general song making up to him. So we set up in my home studio (bedroom) and began to get cracking. After only a few examples of “happy” songs Dylan had showed me we were set to record. I placed my Audio Technica 2020 in the prescribed location according to my session plan and found the result to be pleasing so decided to leave it there. Dylan nailed the recording on his second take. Following this we needed to record some melody overdubs of the guitar so Dylan set about creating those. After only a few examples we were again ready to record. I found the 2020 to be lacklustre in its position for the overdubs and so tried a few different angles to no avail. I decided to switch to my 12 GAUGE Green microphone and place it further down the neck towards the sound hole. This had the desired effect. Again, Dylan only needed 2 takes.

AT2020

I was in charge of the percussion. Being an indie song there was a definite need for some shaker and some clapping, its not indie otherwise. I had decided to use the 2020 for all of the percussion as it was my only large diaphragm condenser but soon changed it up. For the claps I had multiple takes, some of which were the 2020 but others I used a 12 GAUGE Green for a close mic and a 12 GAUGE Red as a room mic as it is omni-directional. I found the results decent for a home recording. The shaker (container of pepper) was recorded close mic’d with the 2020.

As for the actual drums I tried a multitude of different sounds. I tried muffling with a tea towel, using tape, toilet paper taped to the top and bottom heads etc. In the end the toilet paper taped onto the edge of the snare resting on the top head had the desired effect. There were many snare recordings used in the final product and I believe some were recorded with the 2020 but most were in the end recorded with the 12 GAUGE Green.

For the “kick” drum I was shafted into using my old Tama Swingstar 16” Floor Tom as I live with housemates and my kick is currently out of commision . I found it to be a difficult challenge in making this tom sound like a drum almost twice its size. I tried tuning the tom the lowest it would go but the old heads made it difficult as they would not hold the tuning well and it sounded like hitting the lid of a big chinese takeaway container. Eventually I found a tuning that sounded decent enough to be recorded (I think the toilet paper trick was used again to stop the overtones) and went about it using the 2020 pointed at the side of the drum near the top head. It worked out ok. Given more time I could have set it up like a kick drum and if I had a kick pedal it may have worked out better.

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All in all I found the exercise to be rather refreshing. This was the first time actually recording anything of worth at home and it was rather fun. Having the very small collection of microphones hindered the possibilities of the sound that I could have created but also forced me into more creative uses of the microphones that I currently own. I found that I should always keep a backup of ProTools somewhere to avoid the lengthy downtime that will occur when it inevitably decides to take a holiday when there is work to be done.

The second song that I created for my final project was meant to be an eerie or haunted sort of song. Dylan helped with this as well and we collaboratively came up with the final product. We mostly used presets that we finagled with the get the desired sound. I found the experience to be quite different to working alone. His musical knowledge helped immensely and I would not have gotten the same level of product had he not done his part. As Dylan does not know how to use the software I gave him a quick rundown on how Massive and FM8 operate and he showed me some basic chords that would be useful for creating a unnerving dissonant sound. I found there is a definite give and take with group work that should not be abused. I would definitely look forward to this kind of group effort again.

Link to my Session Plan

Link to UnMastered Happy Song

Link to UnMastered Eerie Song

Covers LO’s 15, 19

Cheers,

Alex

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