Album Challenge: Post 9

Routines are good, Mm-k?  A few years ago I went on a small tour of California. I was reading The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp. She makes an argument for creatives cultivating habits. While habits tend to be the opposite of creativity I think she makes an excellent point. You never know when inspiration will strike. You hope with guitar in hand, a recorder handy, or while in the studio. It doesn’t guarantee you’ll produce something good. But in my opinion it greatly increases the odds. Plenty of bands do this without knowing it. They have practices and go on tour.

I’m putting a routine in place. A routine way to set up a mic. Routine instruments. Setting up some templates for my daw.

Set and forget your preamp = blasphemy. For the mic I’m still happy with my sm7. The only thing I fault is it’s self noise and it’s preamp demands. If you have a quite source there will be some noise. I leave the preamp gain all the way up (using my cleanest pres) and forget it. Yeah, I set and forget the pre. Habit. I record at 24 bits for extra headroom. To date I haven’t clipped. If anything I’m low.

My new acoustic guitar mic placement. I want to give a shout out to my pal Ken who suggested this a while back. At the time I was comparing methods of recording acoustic guitar. I didn’t try this one. Ken suggested I point the mic down the neck at the sound hole. I took this with the camera lens just above the mic.

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You vary the bass by tilting the guitar like so. In practice I tilt my playing and leave the mic alone.

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Another thing I do is back the guitar off the mic until I hear the proximity effect drop off. It’s pretty dramatic listening on headsets. That puts the sounds hole at about 2′. This is with the sm7. Check out your own mic as proximity affect can vary.

That’s how I miced the guitar for this song.

The danger of adding too much. With a soft intimate song there is always a danger of over orchestrating.

My first attempts at adding drums didn’t do it for me. But then I realized there was an accent pattern on hi-hats that worked. It’s a pattern I’ve been seeing a lot in my work. 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2. Eight 1/8th notes. Accent on the 1. What works about this I don’t know. But I tend to like 3s. 3/4 timing, triplets. There’s an interesting intersection of 4/4 timing and groups of 3.

The kick has 2 distinct parts. The syncopated chorus part and the “on the beat” verse part. For a change of gear the drums drop completely out in parts.

The strumming guitar is one of those “miss it when it’s gone” things. It doesn’t jump out at you. But when you take it out the feel of the song changes.

Just like the hi-hat pattern the solo piano was something I was humming. I get a lot of ideas from beat boxing (poorly) and humming/thinking melodies. Maybe because voice was my first instrument. I’m just not good enough on piano to bang out a melody the way I want to.

The field recordings were taken from the video I shot a few years ago. That’s an actual applause from Gavin Newsom speaking. I think he was saying, “Some day I hope Chris Porro puts this in an awesome song”.

That’s a stopping point for this song. Next up finishing Put Some Tea on for Your Puppy.

 

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