|AMEBA - Summer 2002 Recording Project|
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06/02/2002 - After not practicing together since our late April performance, we were finally able to get together, minus Bob on bass. We discussed the idea of trying to make the best recording possible, given what we have, during the summer months amid the week long summertime trips and before Haley leaves for college in mid August.
Our plan allows us to use as many tricks as we want to / need to... multiple overdubs and retakes, pitch correction tools, MIDI and samples, etc... nothing you wouldn't be able to do going into a studio. The first step was to record the Roland V-Drums as MIDI data into Cakewalk's SONAR. Once the drums were done, we could record the other instruments one at a time as audio, and then the vocals one at a time after that. Sounds easy, but it'll be tough for me to get this done by mid August, given that we all have real jobs, that it's not really a serious priority for anyone, and that we are only doing this for "fun." Given others' schedules for next weekend and Father's Day the weekend after that, we probably won't be able to get together to start this, let alone practice, for at least 3 weeks.
06/20/2002 - Thought I'd go over to the church after dinner and test out the Roland V-Drums and make sure they work with SONAR in preparation for Sunday night's recording. No sooner did I get the old Compaq Laptop (Pentium 120 / 80MB RAM / 1.4GB HDD / Barely running Windows 2000 Professional) out of the closet to see if it would still boot up, when our garbage disposal springs a leak in the kitchen. This is irrelevant to the project other than that it foreshadows all the "fun" no doubt yet to come during this project. After dealing with this problem I was off to the next.
At church I hooked up the laptop to the Roland V-Drums, got some sticks and managed to not actually be able to play a beat due to lack of coordination. The sticks, believe it or not, really threw me - a lot different than tapping on the steering wheel, keyboard, or desk. Anyhow, I was able to hit each drum, cymbal, etc. at different velocities in order to capture a good sample of MIDI data for each... or so I thought.
06/21/2002 - Thought I'd go over to church again after dinner since the MIDI data I got last night was useless garbage. Tweaked a few settings in SONAR on the laptop and tried again. Still couldn't do a simple beat, but actually did capture the MIDI data properly. I spent the rest of the evening back in the "studio" learning about SONAR drum maps and building one to map the Roland V-Drums triggers into the Purrrfect Drums drum samples running inside of GigaStudio 160 that we were going to use for the actual audio recording. (The purpose of the drum map is to translate the bass drum, for example, on the Roland V-Drums over to the correct Purrrfect Drums drum sample, etc. Without it, you might luck out and get a bass drum, but more likely you'd get nothing or some other drum sound.)
06/22/2002 - More time spent building the drum map. Oh yeah, I actually managed to pick up a guitar today and practice for the first time in about a week. On top of all this, I've been in the middle of rebuilding & upgrading all 7 PCs here. (So far I've been through 9 motherboards in order to get 2 that were compatible with my hardware and software, and that were not DOA... but that's another story).
06/23/2002 - We finally get to practice together... but Haley can't make it. She got called in to work at the last minute. After prayer, we start in. The plan is to play through all 8 songs two times... Once in "GM Off" and once in "GM On" on the Roland V-Drums. Since we were only recording Tim's hits on the drums as MIDI, it didn't really matter how the rest of us sounded since we're not recording instruments or vocals until a later date. It's a good thing. We suffered from our usual issues... The inability to get in, and stay in tune; not enough practicing outside of "practice;" mental errors; no sound man; etc. However, with only one self inflicted computer glitch which gave us about a 20 minute break in the middle (Hey! I had to boot it 2 times!), we managed to get Tim's hits into SONAR. Packed up, home and to "sleep" by oh... 1am when all was said and done. I never actually got to sleep - too wound up. Love those Sunday night practices!
06/24/02 - Rolled out of bed at 5:45am. After managing to stay awake at work all day, finally got to get back to the studio and see what we got, if we got anything useful at all, and how well it works with the drum map. Fortunately, we got the "GM Off" setting on the Roland V-Drums. Unfortunately, the "GM On" setting didn't feed any data out (like Tim suggested as he toggled the setting back and forth for me the night before).
Playing Tim's hits back through SONAR using the Purrrfect Drums drum samples sounded much better than the Roland V-Drums drum samples. Almost every hit though was maxed out at the highest MIDI velocity (127). That gives it that lifeless and robotic quality since there are no dynamics to any of the sounds, regardless of whether you're listening to the Roland V-Drums live or using state of the art drum samples like the Purrrfect Drums. The reason for this is he's only triggering the loudest sample available for each trigger. Softer hits trigger different samples in the sample set, giving it a more lifelike sound. This is a characteristic of working with MIDI and samples though. It's not an acoustic drum set, so you can't play it like an acoustic drum set. Give Tim a real acoustic drum set, and like a good tube guitar amp, it sounds better the harder you play it.
Anyhow, after dividing up the 8 songs (no choice on which take to use, since we only got one take each) and saving them to separate SONAR files, the next step was to split out each type of drum / trigger (bass drum, snare drum, hihat open, hihat closed, etc.) to it's own track in SONAR. Cakewalk products have used a programming language called CAL (Cakewalk Application Language, I think) to allow you to do this and many other tasks. It turns out that my "Split Notes To Tracks" CAL program doesn't run under any version of SONAR, so I had to go dig out and install the old Cakewalk Pro Audio 9, which doesn't read the newer SONAR file format. This meant I had to convert back to an old style MIDI File Format 0 to get it into Cakewalk Pro Audio 9 (Remember the "fun?"). Fortunately, once there, I was able to split and combine triggers into tracks at will. Once that's accomplished, save it as a Cakewalk Pro Audio 9 file, which SONAR 2 can still read. Once back in SONAR, I'm able to reassign the drum map and all is well. (The purpose of all this is to get each sound onto its own individual track for recording and mixing purposes. Now I can control the levels [volume], panning [perceived location in the soundstage], effects [delay, reverb, eq], etc. of the bass drum, snare drum, hihat, each tom, etc. in the overall mix.)
In order to fix the maxed out hits and give the performance some "life," I scaled back the velocities about 10% and ran another CAL program (which did actually work in SONAR) on each separate drum, cymbal, etc, (where appropriate) to raise or lower the hit velocity by a scalable random value. This gives a lot of that live feel back. The hihat no longer sounds like it's being played by a one handed robot - it sounds like it's a human going left / right / left (or whatever pattern). Not as good as if Tim were actually able to play within the usable range of the Roland V-Drums, but better than the raw output the unit gave us based on his actual hits.
So now that all of that's figured out, I'm able to begin recording these individual drum sounds as audio into SAWStudio. This is done using SMPTE time code synchronization, so that the PC playing Tim's modified and split drum hits from SONAR, triggering the Purrrfect Drums drum samples inside of GigaStudio 160 running on the righthand PC will precisely follow the lefthand PC recording these drum sounds as audio into separate tracks into SAWStudio for mixdown later. This allows me to dump as many tracks as my audio interfaces (the lefthand [audio] PC running SAWStudio is using an M'Audio Delta 1010 for recording / monitoring, the righthand [MIDI] PC running SONAR, Purrrfect Drums, and GigaStudio 160 are outputting through a discontinued Echo Audio Darla24. Synch is maintained by a MIDIMan MIDISport 8x8/s, by the way, also on the righthand [MIDI) PC.] can handle. Using stereo drum tracks, that's a maximum of 4 different drums at a time (bass, snare, hihat, tom 1 the first pass, tom 2, tom 3, ride cymbal, crash cymbal, etc. the second pass, for example).
All is going well, except for a SMPTE timecode generation issue. The MIDISport 8x8/s is losing synch after each take is recorded. The problem appears to be in SAWStudio acting as the master out the Delta 1010, which is hard to believe given the unbelievably high quality of products that the author has delivered to me over the last 6 years. I will contact him and see if he can nail down a fix for the next update. In the meantime, while acting as the SMPTE master, I have to boot the lefthand (audio) PC after each track transfer. No big deal, but with 8 songs each with probably 8 - 10 drum tracks to transfer... that's a lot of reboots. Oh well, it's amazing that anything this complex and involved actually works anyway... and this problem will not affect us once we start recording the other instruments and the vocals.
So back to project specifics... which is probably why you're reading all this info (maybe you've learned something though). Tonight I managed to get all 10 drum tracks for I Have Come To Love You into SAWStudio. I've got the process down, as I've detailed here, so now it should be pretty smooth sailing for the rest of the drum phase. I figure if I average 2 songs transferred for every 3 evenings, I'll be done by the July 4th holiday... with the drums. Then we can start recording the other instruments and the vocals.
SONAR 2.0 Screen Shot - Tim's drum hits as MIDI data, split up and mapped to GigaStudio 160
06/25/02 - Spent most of the evening trying to put a new hard disk drive into Chris' new PC I built for her, so I only got to spend a few minutes on this project tonight... Moving into We Want To See Jesus Lifted High next.
06/26/02 - Transferred the drums for We Want To See Jesus Lifted High over into SAWStudio. I may ask Tim to redo this one with me. He did a very small ending on this take. The big ending done on the second take wasn't picked up because of the "GM On" thing.
Started to work on God, You're My God which only had about 5 or 6 drum tracks to it since there were only a couple of hits on tom 1, and none on any of the others. But I forgot that the bridge part ("I've seen Your power and Your glory...", etc.) needs to be slowed way down since for recording purposes, Tim kept the beat going with the hihat pedal. I've got to go into SONAR and insert those tempo changes. I could use a second opinion on that since I don't play or sing (ever) there. I want to set it properly before moving forward with this song. Once it's done and into SAWStudio, there's no changing it short of going back and dumping drums from SONAR again. I'd rather get it right the first time; at least before we start recording instruments and vocals on top of it.
06/27/02 - Sent out an email to the band members to see if anyone wanted to sit in on any of this. I'm not expecting too many takers given everyone already being committed to other things, but we'll see. I spent the rest of the evening working on the website, so no real progress on the project. Played guitar for about a 1/2 hour, too.
07/01/02 - As expected, no serious takers on the offer to get involved. 40% of the band is out of town now anyway. I'll just move on myself then. It was foolish to waste the time waiting.
While I was waiting though, I bought a Fender Twin amp. It should complement my Marshall JCM2000 TSL100 amp nicely. I also bought a multimeter and learned how to bias these tube amps without getting killed. Both were biased a bit on the cold side from the factory, but now they're set up properly.
Took a stab at setting the tempo change myself in SONAR for the bridge of God, You're My God and finished transferring the drums for that one tonight. Guess I got it close enough to correct by listening to other recordings.
Tomorrow, the remainder of the parts for Chris' PC should arrive so I'll be probably be working on that project for a couple of days. I'm off work Thursday - Sunday though. That should give me some time to catch up, if necessary.
07/04/02 - Finally finished getting Chris' PC all put together and backed up this afternoon, so now I can get back to this project. This evening I transferred the drum tracks for My Glorious and Hungry.
07/05/02 - After realizing that SONAR was not feeding GigaStudio 160 the MIDI data for the foot controller for the hihat due to user (me) error, I re-recorded the HiHat for the first 5 songs. I also adjusted the hits on the tom buildup right after the acapella choruses in We Want To See Jesus Lifted High to give it a bit more dynamics and impact.
This evening, I finished recording the drums for What A Friend I've Found. I remember Tim came in with the hihat a few measures early on this take to give JC a feel for the timing. I'll need to go back to the audio recording I made in SAWStudio on June 23rd to hear what actually happened. Once I've checked on that, I'll lay down some sort of mark so that JC will know when to come in when it's his time to be recorded over here.
07/06/02 - Added some clicks/sticks to What A Friend I've Found for cues for singers / bassist. Also finished drums for Set Me On Fire and I'm Not Ashamed. So that's probably it for the drums. We're ready to begin recording the instruments now. I'll probably lay down some rough guitar tracks over the next few days as a guide for whoever comes over first, and re-record the guitar parts again afterwards if necessary.
Later this evening I did get to do a quick guitar test on I Have Come To Love You. I recorded through the Marshall JCM2000 TSL100 on one channel and then went back and played more or less the same part through the new Fender Twin. The two mixed together gave it a very nice sound. Wish I could turn them both up a bit here, but I don't want to be too inconsiderate of my family. They already put up with enough.
07/07/02 - Managed to get 4 out of 5 of us together for a practice this evening. I definitely wanted to get MIDI tracks of the Roland V-Drums for We Want To See Jesus Lifted High and I'm Not Ashamed since the takes with the big endings were not captured into SONAR back on June 23rd. Fortunately, those two tracks came off well tonight. I think I will also take tonight's version of Set Me On Fire, God, You're My God, and maybe even I Have Come To Love You, and/or My Glorious. Just when I thought the drums were done. Oh well, not a bad problem to have. Back to work for another 2-4 days for these.
07/08/02 - It's "déjà vu all over again." Put in 4.5 hours tonight and got the drum tracks for I'm Not Ashamed, Set Me On Fire, and We Want To See Jesus Lifted High recorded into SAWStudio. If I can get God, You're My God, I Have Come To Love You, and My Glorious done tomorrow night, I'll be ready to put down my guitar tracks. I also corresponded with the author of SAWStudio today about the SMPTE synch problem causing me to reboot the lefthand PC after each set of drum tracks is recorded. No solution yet, but he gave me some ideas of things to try to further pinpoint the problem, which I've yet to try. Oh well, rebooting every 10 minutes or so is what gives me time to write this journal on the righthand PC.
07/09/02 - Recorded July 7th's version of God, You're My God into SAWStudio this evening. With all the hassle, discussion, and redo's, it sounds like the original version from June is better. I'll keep both for now.
I also listened to I Have Come To Love You and My Glorious, comparing June's version to July 7th's version... June's was at least as good as July's, so I'll stick with them. That means that the drums are done! (again!)
I've got to work from 2am to 6am on Thursday morning, so as anxious as I am to get going recording the guitar tracks now, I'll probably be concentrating on sleeping tomorrow evening. At least that's what I should be doing. We'll see how much sense I really have. I'll be off Thursday though, as a payback for the odd hours, and Friday's another vacation day, but with a lot of plans. So hopefully by the end of the coming weekend I'll be well into this phase of the project.
07/13/02 - Today was a perfect day to get started on the electric guitar parts. Chris was out all day, so I was able to turn up the amps to a decent level without feeling too self-conscience or bothersome. It was cool outside, so the room stayed fairly comfortable and the guitars stayed in tune even without the air conditioner running. The room temperature increased only by about 10 more degrees, but the window A/C unit is too noisy to use when using mics.
I recorded just the electric rhythm guitar parts today, since it took all day to do 7 of the 8 songs. I did no fewer than 4 takes per song; two with the Marshall JCM2000 TSL100 amp and two with the Fender Twin amp. I used two different mics per take and recorded them each into separate tracks in SAWStudio for a total of over 56 tracks - most of which will be tossed out because only the best of those will be used. My fingers were hurting a good bit from playing for about 5 hours straight, so the lead parts can be done some other day. I'll need to give what I've done today an objective listen sometime after today. Initially, with no mixing on the drums and/or electric rhythm guitar parts, it sounds good.
Here are some shots from today:
Marshall JCM2000 TSL100 Rig
Two takes with this setup. Two mics per take.
Fender Twin Rig
Two takes with this setup. Two mics per take.
The natives get wild when they hear the loud guitars.
Each band member participating in the project should plan on doing at least two takes per song per task when his/her turn comes up. (A task is what I'm calling playing bass, playing guitar, singing etc.). It'll seem rough, but it's easier than having to come back to do more if things don't work out. The alternative to that is to be dropped from the final versions of song(s) and/or to be replaced with someone else's part. It'll also pay off for us all if they're each practicing this material on their own, as they should be.
07/14/02 - Again, another good opportunity to record - Chris took the kids to the movies this afternoon. Unfortunately, it turned out to be quite a warm day. I had to take a shower when I finished up since it got up above 85 up here today and I and my guitars ended up soaked. I don't mind the heat, but computers certainly do. No problems yet. I recorded tons of takes for the lead parts for We Want To See Jesus Lifted High, My Glorious, and Hungry using different combinations of guitars and amps. That leaves Set Me On Fire and I'm Not Ashamed for another day, and What A Friend I've Found for another day after JC does his parts. He's up next to do his lead vocal parts and his acoustic guitar parts. I'll be ready for him after the rest of the leads are recorded in the next few days.
07/16/02 - Recorded several lead takes for Set Me On Fire this evening. The Fender Twin sounded so good this evening that I re-recorded some more rhythm guitar takes through it as well.
Found out today that JC's out of town for a while starting on Thursday... We either go on hold for a while or get Haley or Bob in next.
Did a very rough "mix" of I Have Come To Love You tonight too. Just drums and electric guitar. Calling it a mix is a stretch. The drums are bit out of balance, but why bother spending the time now since most of the parts aren't even recorded yet. This is posted here so that other band members can hear what they'll be singing / playing over when it's their turn to record their part(s). The real mixing comes at the end after all parts have been recorded.
07/18/02 - Posted first rough "mix" of We Want To See Jesus Lifted High below - Drums and electric guitars only.
Got confirmation that both JC and Bob are out of town through the end of next week (07/26/02). Tried to contact Haley this morning to see if she's around for doing her lead vocal parts at least, but I have yet to hear back from her.
07/19/02 - Posted first rough "mix" of God, You're My God below - Drums and electric guitars only. I also moved onto My Glorious this evening, but quickly realized that the electric guitars stunk. They need to be redone. Hungry wasn't sounding too good either as far as the electric guitars go. I guess I'll try to do some more recording tomorrow.
Got a response back from Haley. She's back in town until she leaves for college, but is working 48 - 60 hours a week at office supplies store where she works. I will try to talk to her on Sunday at church to see if she has this week's schedule so that we can pick a time to get started.
07/20/02 - Re-recorded the electric guitar parts in the morning for My Glorious and posted it below. I'm much happier with it now, although the short lead part could probably stand to be redone.
I also recorded several takes of the lead part for I'm Not Ashamed this morning as well since I had all the stuff set up and Chris was out getting a haircut. I wonder how many neighbors can hear me.
SAWStudio Screenshot. (A partial one anyway. I run dual monitors at 1600 x 1200.)
Here's what's going on after some guitar tracks have been recorded as
audio along with Tim's hits played through GigaStudio 160.
During the afternoon, I re-recorded more electric guitar takes for Set Me On Fire, so I've posted the rough mix below. The leads are a little bit out of tune it seems. The temperature changes in the studio make it difficult to keep the guitars in tune. I'll re-record those at the end if they still sound out of tune after everything else is recorded and mixed in.
During the evening, I posted the rough mix for Hungry below. I also ran through and weeded out many of the electric guitar takes done over the past week and deleted them. Of the ones that were left, I ran them through Sonic Foundry's Noise Reduction Plug-In and remixed all 7 of the songs currently under way back in SAWStudio. (Again, I think What A Friend I've Found must wait until JC does his vocal and acoustic guitar parts before anyone else can add their parts, so it's on hold for now.) They've all been posted below again this evening.
I created a practice CD for Haley of these 7 songs in their current state since she's only got a dialup Internet connection. I'll give it to her tomorrow morning in church, and maybe be able to schedule a couple of nights this week for recording her.
07/21/02 - Spoke with Haley this morning at church. She's available Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings this week for recording her parts, so she'll be over Wednesday night for starters and we'll see how far we get. I also gave her a CD of Tim's drums and my electric guitar parts to practice with prior to Wednesday.
07/22/02 - I should have done this sooner, but I found a really good deal on a Studio Projects C1 microphone and a FMR Audio Really Nice Compressor, so I ordered them today. Both of these units are amazing performers for their price. Unfortunately, they probably won't be here until after week's end, so I'll have Haley sing her background vocal parts through the Rode NT1 mic (or Rodent 1 as I like to call it) and delay her final lead takes until these arrive.
07/24/02 - Had Haley over this evening. After starting about an hour late we got through her backing vocal parts for I Have Come To Love You, We Want To See Jesus Lifted High, God, You're My God, and My Glorious. She did at least two takes for each song and will be back over again tomorrow night for more.
I will wait to record the final takes of her lead vocal parts for Hungry and Set Me On Fire until I can do so with the Studio Projects C1. I'm not sure when it will arrive, but hopefully it will be tomorrow although that's probably unlikely.
07/25/02 - Haley canceled tonight since her voice isn't doing well. The Studio Projects C1 mic did not arrive today anyway. We might be able to get back together on Saturday night.
07/27/02 - Posted drums for What A Friend I've Found this afternoon.
This evening I'm trying to coordinate this week's schedule between Haley and JC. I'm not sure about Haley's work schedule for this week, but JC is available Tuesday evening and Thursday evening. Hopefully Haley will call me tonight so we can finalize the plan for this week.
07/30/02 - Haley is busy in the evenings at least until the weekend. JC is no longer available tonight but is still good to go on Thursday night.
08/01/02 - Had JC over this evening as planned. We recorded 3+ takes of his lead vocal part and acoustic guitar part for What A Friend I've Found. Fortunately Tim's drum tracks recorded back on June 23rd for this song and my programmed click track done afterwards on top of that worked properly and synched up with JC's parts. Everything came together at the start of verse 3 as it should. Now that he's done his parts on this song, it can now continue to evolve with the others. Because of his key role in this song, we felt that it was the top priority for us tonight.
JC playing the acoustic part to What A Friend I've Found.
Acoustic guitar's done - doing some lead vocal takes.
...and the flip side.
We felt that the next priority should be to get his lead vocal part down for the rest of the songs rather than his acoustic part, so for the rest of the evening we got 2+ takes of his lead vocals for I Have Come To Love You, We Want To See Jesus Lifted High, God, You're My God, and My Glorious.
I chose not to use the new Really Nice Compressor however. There's no undoing too much compression if it's recorded that way with it directly in the signal path. Since it's new and I'm not that familiar with it yet, I didn't want to accidentally ruin our work tonight. I can always run these takes through it later, or just use the non-destructive software compression native to SAWStudio.
At around 11:45pm we called it a night. He probably will be able to be back for more next week some time.
I hope to post some updated sound files below over the coming weekend. I've yet to mix in Haley or JC in what's there right now. (I'm using the word "mix" loosely still.)
08/02/02 - Applied Sonic Foundry's Noise Reduction Plug-In to all the vocal takes done by Haley and JC to date. While doing that, it became clear just how sensitive the Studio Projects C1 mic is. Even the crickets outside the house got picked up quite clearly during JC's takes last night. I guess that's a good problem to have to some degree. Sonic Foundry's Noise Reduction Plug-In won't get rid of that type of noise; only the constant ambient room noise - PC fans, Central A/C, etc. Fortunately, the crickets will lose out to the guitars when all is said and done.
It is unfortunate, however, that it appears that the mic'd acoustic guitar takes for What A Friend I've Found done last night are too noisy to use on their own. The same takes done through the output jack on JC's guitar were nice and quite though, so I'll use those.
Once I finished with Sonic Foundry's Noise Reduction Plug-In, I went through JC's and Haley's vocal takes for I Have Come To Love You and selected the sections to use. In both of their cases, the majority of what's going to make it into the final version of this song was done during their second takes, so the idea of doing 2 takes per song seems to be paying off so far.
I also spent a good bit of time trying to define how to make JC's lead vocals sit in the mix. Since there's still no bass guitar, acoustic guitar, etc. it's all just preliminary experimentation anyway.
As a child of the '80's I struggle with wanting to make everything sound overproduced (you got a problem with that?), but I'm trying to make things sound a bit more modern (have you noticed how "modern" is flirting with the 70's sound somewhat now?). So the goal is to have everything be somewhat right there in your face as is most modern stuff.
Too soon to tell if it'll work, but I posted the still incomplete version of I Have Come To Love You as it stood when I went to bed. It does include JC's and Haley's vocals. I suspect JC's vocals are too bright in this mix, but tomorrow's fresh set of ears will reveal that. Still not much of a mix regardless of that though. Again, mostly experimenting with JC's voice.
08/06/02 - Got an email from JC stating that he's booked all week and will not be available until maybe next week. I'll contact Haley tomorrow to see when she's available this week. I haven't seen or heard from Bob in several weeks. Wonder how he's doing.
Spent the last few days rebuilding the hardware and software that this website runs on, so if you tried to get on to the site and couldn't, that's probably why. Yes I am a total geek as I've now installed Windows 2000 Advanced Server and set up Active Directory and a domain here. Fortunately, it was no big deal to set up. Now that that's in place and I've taught the kids how to do CTRL-ALT-DEL to log in, I can manage all the machines here much more efficiently with them logged in to the domain. Anyhow, I've been busy doing that and not working on music for the past few days.
08/07/02 - Called Haley late this evening. She will try to come over Friday night and Sunday afternoon if necessary. I'm to call her Friday to remind her.
08/09/02 - Called Haley to reminder her about tonight but had to leave a message. She called back this evening to say she was busy running, but that she would be here Sunday afternoon. She leaves for college after next week, so "That's that", as they say, for her songs if it doesn't happen before then.
After listening to the vocal treatment on JC's take of I Have Come To Love You from last week, I still like it. I will attempt to process the other songs he's done so far the same way and see how that goes. I'll also attempt to get What A Friend I've Found together for whoever's in here next. I'll post whatever I do below.
08/10/02 - Posted a new version of What A Friend I've Found with JC singing. The acoustic guitar's been included too, but I've not done anything to it. No attention's been paid to volume levels or anything... In other words, the real mixing won't be done until the other parts have been recorded. (The same old story.) I did, however, apply the same effects to JC's voice as on the current "mix" of I Have Come To Love You. It seems like it's working well with his voice, the room, and the mic... so far at least.
Tomorrow's booked solid, with Haley coming to record tomorrow afternoon (it's going to get extremely hot up here with no A/C in the middle of the afternoon,) and then the first AMEBA practice since July 7th. We're playing for Youth Sunday on Sunday, September 8th, so we'd better start practicing together again. It's about time. I've missed it a lot.
08/11/02 - Busy day. Had Haley over all afternoon and we finished all of her vocal parts, including her lead parts for Hungry and Set Me On Fire. It got unbearably hot up here, but the people and equipment survived. I was very impressed by her abilities. She's got a great voice. I hope that when she makes it big, she remembers us.
Haley warms up with Hungry.
Her voice sounds best when she's right up on the mic.
About the time Haley left, it was time for an AMEBA practice. Since this is her last week before going off to college, she'll no longer be practicing with us.
Tim wasn't feeling well and couldn't make it. But all was not lost. Bob showed us that his secret identity is actually...
Multipurpose Man can play bass, some drums, and even sing at the same time. Pretty impressive. The 3 of us worked out the set list we'll be doing for Youth Sunday on September 8th. After that we had just enough time to run through everything. Thanks to Multipurpose Man, we were able to pull it off.
08/12/02 - Had Bob over and recorded two takes of bass on 7 of the 8 songs. Not bad for 3.5 hours work - Impressive playing. I need to record the electric part on What A Friend I've Found first for the chemistry between the two instruments to have any hope of happening there, so we didn't do that one. I may get to do that this weekend.
Bob warms up to We Want To See Jesus Lifted High.
Bob warms up to the camera.
Tomorrow night I've got to mix Haley's two extra curricular songs that we worked on on Sunday since she'll be by one last time to get the CDs of those on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday this week before she leaves for college. If time permits I'll try to sort through some of her takes from Sunday and Bob's takes from tonight.
08/23/02 - I've been in California for several days, in and around San Francisco... Some work, some play. Either way, not much going on with this project while I'm gone.
Hey Chekov- I found the "nucular wessels."
They're across the bay, in Alameda.
09/01/02 - Finally able to start getting back into things. I posted a new version of I Have Come To Love You after tonight's practice. It's now only missing JC's acoustic guitar, Bob's background vocals, and a proper mix.
As tomorrow is Labor Day, I should be able to get through a few more of these. I'll post them when I do.
JC is scheduled to come over Thursday evening this week. We still need to record his acoustic guitar parts for all songs except What A Friend I've Found. We need lead vocals for I'm Not Ashamed and background vocals for Hungry and Set Me On Fire from him, too. We will probably not be able to knock that all out in one night, however.
09/03/02 - Got busy doing other things on Labor Day, but managed to weed through JC's lead vocal takes, Haley's background vocal takes, and Bob's bass guitar takes for We Want To See Jesus Lifted High this evening. Still need JC's acoustic guitar part and Bob's background vocals on this one. Then it'll be ready for a proper mix. An updated version of what we've got has been posted below.
09/05/02 - Had JC over this evening and finished all of the acoustic guitar takes for all songs. This leaves him with vocal tracks on Hungry, Set Me On Fire, and I'm Not Ashamed. Overall, we still need Bob's background vocals on all songs, his bass guitar and my electric guitar parts on What A Friend I've Found, and some group hand-claps on We Want To See Jesus Lifted High. I think we may be able to accomplish some of this Tuesday evening next week.
I think I will be re-recording my electric guitar parts for Set Me On Fire as well. After hearing them during JC's takes tonight, they just don't seem to be working. Once all this is done, however, it's mixdown time. If possible, I'd like to have everything recorded by September 16th, with mixing starting around September 25th. I guess that officially makes this a Summer/Fall project.
09/08/02 - After a stifled and disappointing performance at Youth Sunday amidst the subjective boundaries we had to work within, the unbearable mix, and the disclaimers and apologies for our music, I set up the rig to record the electric guitar takes for What A Friend I've Found back here. It was nice to escape from the box to which I was confined this past week. Also experimented with redoing my solo on My Glorious and a blind shot in the dark of a retake for I Have Come To Love You now that all of the other instruments have been recorded. I'm not sure that I'll use any of these takes, but they're there for experimentation.
Bob's out of town Tuesday, so the hand clap thing may just be JC, Tim, and me. That should be enough to sound ok. We can layer several takes if necessary.
09/10/02 - JC canceled, since for whatever reason, he thought we had scheduled for Thursday evening. He'll try to come then. I relayed the word to Tim. I'll check to see if Bob's back Thursday for the big hand clap thing and maybe get some of his other remaining parts then.
Tonight I'll spend going through my takes from the 8th and some of the other unedited songs as well.
09/12/02 - JC did lead vocal takes for I'm Not Ashamed and background vocal takes for Hungry and Set Me On Fire, so he's potentially done with all of his takes. His voice was a bit raspy tonight, so some of these songs may need to be redone; particularly his lead vocal takes on I'm Not Ashamed.
He and I also did the clap tracks for We Want To See Jesus Lifted High.
09/28/02 - I went on another trip to California; gone for about a week - so that put things on hold for this project for almost two weeks because of the prep and recovery from that.
Since the last entry, I have replaced the tubes in my Marshall JCM2000 TSL100. I heard some crackles and static during the last takes I did of What A Friend I've Found back on the 8th. The new tubes got rid of that problem, and the sound is much fuller than it was before, so some more electric guitar takes were in order for this afternoon.
09/30/02 - Weeded through that last electric guitar take for What A Friend I've Found. Sounds good. Tubes! A modern marvel. Didn't have time to post the latest "mix" of that one tonight, though.
10/01/02 - As the project enters its 5th month, I feel that it's safe to say we're finally entering the home stretch. All parts have been recorded except for Bob's background vocals for all songs and his bass guitar for What A Friend I've Found.
This evening I was finally able to spend some serious time back at it, weeding through all the takes that everyone's done. The final takes for I Have Come To Love You, We Want To See Jesus Lifted High, and God, You're My God have been selected and the rough "mixes" of those have therefore been posted below this evening.
I also posted the latest "mix" of What A Friend I've Found for Bob. He'll be doing the bass part on top of this version (with the electric guitar added.) The version posted this evening still does not have the final acoustic guitar take or Haley's background vocal take selected. Whatever takes are in this "mix" were chosen randomly. Bob's last attempt at his bass guitar part was also included in this "mix" as well. It sounds a lot better than with no bass at all.
10/06/02 - Recorded a new electric guitar solo for I'm Not Ashamed while everyone was out of the house this afternoon. I'm very pleased with it. It'll be included in the next "mix" posted within the next week or so (along with everyone else's parts recorded to date [not Bob's background vocals.])
10/07/02 - Posted the latest "mix" of My Glorious this evening after weeding through all the takes. Also started working on weeding through the takes for Hungry. There's some weird clash going on with Bob's bass and the tom on the down beat through much of the song. I'll experiment with different tom sounds over the next couple of days as I go through this one to see if a different combination will work any better.
10/08/02 - Weeded through everybody's takes for Hungry this evening and also changed out the tom on the down beat which was clashing with Bob's bass guitar. I posted the latest "mix" which now finally includes all recorded parts.
The changed tom sound was definitely better, but it still sounded a bit weird at times with the slightly out of tune bass on this track. I ran the bass through the Antares AutoTune plug-in, which I use on all vocal tracks, and it seems to have made it sound acceptable.
10/09/02 - Did some more quick takes of electric guitar leads for the little solos before the verses in We Want To See Jesus Lifted High. The previous solos done back in July in those two places had an annoying fingernail click from my pick hand (from years of trying to get a Knopfler sound) that I was really starting to get sick of in those distorted leads. Tonight I used the neck pickup on the Les Paul and a nice, fat, soft pick through the Marshall JCM2000 TSL100 in hopes of getting a more liquidy lead sound. There are some places near the end of the song where you can hear me doing it again, but I don't know that I can pull off those solos again, so I'll leave those alone at least for now.
Using the same setup, I did a few more takes of the solo for Hungry since the lead there was too "rocky" and high gain for the song. I backed the gain down a bit on the amp to get a sound that will hopefully work better with the song.
10/10/02 - Re-"mixed" Hungry with new lead sound from last night and also brought up JC's background vocal part since it was ridiculously low. It's posted below.
Re-"mixed" We Want To See Jesus Lifted High with the new lead sounds from last night. It's posted below, too.
10/11/02 - An evening full of handling a lot of little details - things that have been bugging me in these songs. Some things for a few days; some things for a few months. All songs listed have been re-"mixed" and posted again this evening.
I Have Come To Love You:
We Want To See Jesus Lifted High
What A Friend I've Found
There are still a lot of other little nitpicky things to do but some of these things have needed to be done for a while. Now on to finish weeding through Set Me On Fire and I'm Not Ashamed over the next few days.
10/14/02 - Finished weeding through takes for Set Me On Fire and I'm Not Ashamed over the past few days. The "mixes" of those two songs have been posted below this evening.
10/15/02 - Heard from Bob today; he should be available for recording his final parts on Thursday and/or Friday evenings this week.
I also updated the Songs For The Band To Learn page this evening with the new material we are to be learning. If you've got the password, enjoy.
10/16/02 - Created an AMEBA Newsgroup Group since we volleyed at least 6 emails amongst band members today. Got something to say to everybody? Post it here: Practice dates/times; Songs to learn for practice; Recording Project comments; Practice comments; Performances; Suggestions; Who was most out of tune at practice; etc...
10/17/02 - Had Bob over this evening as planned. He did his background vocal takes for I Have Come To Love You, We Want To See Jesus Lifted High, My Glorious, Hungry, Set Me On Fire, and I'm Not Ashamed. He should be back tomorrow evening to do the remainder of the songs, plus the bass guitar track for What A Friend I've Found. We're also considering having him redo the bass guitar part for Hungry since in some places it still sounds a bit off.
BTW, with the cooler weather that's now here, it was nice to be able to record with no A/C and still stay comfortable. There were no cricket noises outside either.
10/18/02 - Had Bob over again this evening. Recorded his background vocal parts for What A Friend I've Found, but skipped God, You're My God since he didn't want to be on that one. We also re-recorded his bass guitar parts on What A Friend I've Found and Hungry... so every one's done with all of their parts!
I also took some more mug shots of Bob since he doesn't like his white T-shirt look in the current band photo up above at this writing.
10/22/02 - Worked on I Have Come To Love You this evening: Weeded through Bob's background vocals; Had to edit Haley's a bit to make them synch up with his; Switched takes for JC at the end of the bridge to get rid of that big breath; Fixed missing snare drum on 4th measure of the song; Played with the mix a little bit - nothing serious, just some panning, compression and eq. Tonight's version is posted below.
10/23/02 - Since all parts for I Have Come To Love You are done and they are all good enough to use, I spent a couple of hours this evening actually mixing; more fiddling with eq, panning, and general relative levels along with effects on JC's voice to help make it stand out in the mix more. Also paid attention to how the drums sit in the mix for the first time tonight - tried to get the snare to drive a little more as well.
No attention, however, has yet been paid to adjusting levels throughout the song (automation). If the general relative levels are ok, then that will be the last and final step (for this song.) It's a fairly painstaking, meticulous process.
The mix from this evening is posted below.
10/24/02 - Almost ditto for last night on I Have Come To Love You. Tweaked a couple of more things, swapped some phrases with alternate takes, and started mixing. Paid particular attention to the vocals. Still need to tone the electric guitar down a bit on the verses at some point, but it's getting there! It's posted below.
10/26/02 - More time spent mixing I Have Come To Love You. I'm not sure that there's anything else that needs to be done to it, so this might be the final mix. It's posted below.
10/28/02 - Started working on God, You're My God: Fixed a missing snare hit on second verse; added some chorus to right channel electric guitar; repositioned brige; and applied same treatment (effects, eq, compression, etc.) on acoustic guitar, bass guitar, and vocals as I Have Come To Love You. This song is pretty simple, so another evening or two and it should be done. What was done tonight is posted below.
10/30/02 - Worked on mixing God, You're My God last night and tonight - Added the echo on JC's vocal at the end before verse 2, added some keyboards from the beginning of the bridge until the end of the song, and mixed levels in detail. I feel at this point the song may be done, but I'll give it some time to sink in. The current version is posted below.
11/02/02 - Added another layer of lead guitar to a couple of places of We Want To See Jesus Lifted High. The version with that has been posted below. I still want to try to re-record the hand claps. The current ones sound too "roomy" and I have an idea for building a temporary isolation "booth" using couch cushions (the kids gave me that idea,) which may or may not work.
Also took stabs at re-recording Bob's bass guitar parts for Hungry and What A Friend I've Found since they never really sounded right from his previous attempts here. When I get to mixing those two songs, I'll have to decide which takes to use.
11/03/02 - Posted "Release Candidates" for I Have Come To Love You and God, You're My God, after performing a small level change in each today.
Started mixing We Want To See Jesus Lifted High. Still need to try re-recording the hand claps, but I think everything else is just about in place. Today's mix is posted below.
11/04/02 - Fixed a couple of notes that JC missed at the end of I Have Come To Love You that Bob pointed out on Sunday. Thanks Bob. The latest mix is posted below.
I worked on the handclaps for We Want To See Jesus Lifted High using the "Couch Cushion Fort" (a makeshift isolation booth) that my kids built for me.
Yeah, I play guitar on these songs, too.
The mic, and most of me, are buried below all of those cushions and blankets to isolate it from the nasty room ambience and noise up here. I used a total of 7 takes, which was not easy, since I had to keep getting up and out of that thing without knocking it down to go work the computer... and then get back in to it before the part of the song with the hand claps came up. It really worked, though. It was much quieter in there surrounded by all that fluff.
After that was done, I continued mixing that song. The mix from this evening is posted below. Not done yet, but almost there for this one.
11/05/02 - Posted RC3 of I Have Come To Love You after another minor volume change.
Worked more on the mix of We Want To See Jesus Lifted High, so the first Release Candidate of that is posted.
Applied the CB radio effect to JC's voice right before the bridge like the original song and increased the overall volume of the song a little bit, so RC2 of God, You're My God is also posted below.
I'm going to leave these three alone for a while now, and move on to mixing My Glorious next. My goal is still to be finished with mixing by the weekend of November 23 & 24. (That's still the summer, right?) If anybody can provide me with original CD cover artwork, that would help wrap this up more quickly. I don't really want to have put all this effort into this music only to have the final CDs be nasty CDRs with no case insert and a handwritten label. Please email me anything you might come up with, otherwise I'll try to come up with something myself at the end of the project.
11/06/02 - Began working on mixing My Glorious. I didn't get too far in the couple of hours I worked on it, but the current "mix" from this evening is posted below.
11/07/02 - Continued working on the mix of My Glorious this evening. In addition to the normal process of adjusting levels, eqs, and pans etc. throughout the song, I added some heavy-duty bass enhancing effects to the bass guitar to double each note an octave lower than Bob actually played them, and a subtle pitch shifting effect to JC's voice. This seems to be giving the song a more modern feel. The mix from this evening is posted below. This one may be getting close.
11/12/02 - A couple more hours mixing My Glorious this evening and Release Candidate #1 is posted below.
11/13/02 - Moved on to working on Hungry this evening. Recorded a basic piano part and sorted through my bass guitar takes from November 2nd. Also worked on blending and balancing JC's and Bob's background vocal parts with Haley's lead vocal part. Since this is the first song I've mixed where JC is not doing lead vocals, I had to start from scratch in that I couldn't really build on the settings I had used for any of the previous four songs.
I'm also considering re-recording the electric rhythm guitar part(s) since they're sounding a bit thin to me. If I do, I will use the neck pickup of the Les Paul, which will give it a warmer, fuller sound than the bridge pickup did previously.
None of tonight's work is posted below since the song is still a mess. The version that's down there as of this writing is still about a month old (from 10/11).
11/19/02 - I've been continuing to work on Hungry and tonight the first version worthy of a Release Candidate status has been posted below.
11/20/02 - Today's set of fresh ears didn't like yesterday's mix of Hungry at all. I re-recorded the keyboard part of the song and paid some more attention to the details of the mix and performances after listening to the original version again. Release Candidate 2 has been posted this evening.
After that, I began mixing What A Friend I've Found. The first update to that one in over a month has been posted this evening.
11/26/02 - Re-recorded the snare part into SAWStudio after fixing two missed snare hits in SONAR for What A Friend I've Found. More work done on the mix too. The Release Candidate is posted this evening. On to Set Me On Fire next.
11/30/02 - Worked on the mix for Set Me On Fire this evening. The Release Candidate is posted below.
Going back to I Have Come To Love You, I applied the same effect to the bass guitar. It seems like it's working well. I also made a couple of minor adjustments to the background vocal levels, and to the length at which the song fades during the end. Release Candidate 4 is posted below.
12/08/02 - Well, I really liked the enhanced bass (using Waves MaxxBass) on the two songs from the other day, so I went through and applied it to all of the first seven songs below... New versions have been posted below for all of the seven songs currently in Release Candidate status. I also removed the compression on the drums on all songs to give them more over all dynamics, and this afternoon I re-recorded most of the lead guitar for Set Me On Fire.
Since it was confirmed for me today that AMEBA will no longer exist due to the unwillingness of our church's leadership to let us use the auditorium (where our Roland V-Drums, the mics, and the other sound equipment are) for our youth ministry in the coming new year, with no foreseeable practices or performances, and no reason to have any, I will be rapidly ending this project. Songs 1 through 7 are complete. No more edits will be made to them.
For I'm Not Ashamed, Tim will be coming over this week to try out doing a lead vocal track. That song will be mixed and posted below. The final CD will be mastered and duplicated for all band members. (If anyone would like to contribute cover art, I still have received nothing.) All unused takes will be pruned from all songs, and the used takes and mixes will be archived to DVD for long term storage as raw data for SAWStudio.
12/09/02 - Had Tim over this evening and recorded 3 vocal takes for I'm Not Ashamed. I will edit them and mix as much of the song as I can tomorrow evening. He'll be back on Wednesday evening to give it a listen and to do more takes if necessary.
12/10/02 - Spent a couple of hours working on edits for Bob's vocals and Tim's vocals for I'm Not Ashamed this evening, as well as an initial mix. What I've got so far is posted below. Still needs a lot more work though.
Tim will be coming by tomorrow evening again to give his takes a listen and possibly do some more. I think what he did last night is working fine though.
12/11/02 - Tim canceled tonight about an hour before arrival. I'll work on the mix some more then.
12/13/02 - Posted a new version of I'm Not Ashamed this evening. I'll give it a fresh listen tomorrow, make any final adjustments, and wrap up this project this weekend. Still need to work on some sort of cover... Anyone?... Anyone?... Beuhler?...
12/14/02 - Adjusted the mix of I'm Not Ashamed again and posted the results this afternoon. That may be it. I'll have to give it another listen tomorrow to make sure.
Left to my own, here's what the CD insert will look like (hopefully); fairly standard stuff - put it together this evening:
12/15/02 - Fixed an omission in the CD Back graphic for Bob. Also fixed a wavering note of Haley's that I had never noticed before in Hungry right before the last chorus by swapping it for part of another take; brought up Tim's vocals a bit in I'm Not Ashamed on a couple of the choruses. They're both posted below. (Guess Hungry wasn't completely finalized prior to this. Thought it was. Sorry about that.)
So that about wraps it up. This is my final entry here. Thanks for reading (and listening) along the way.
(Note that there are more live AMEBA recordings available through this web site's menus at the top.)
----- End Of Project Journal -----
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