Thursday, October 21, 2010

SpinTunes 2, Round 2, Process Notes 4

Wed, 20 Oct 2010 19:20 -0400 (EST)

Done so far this evening: tracked rhythm guitar for chorus and verse. Reasonably happy with the results.

Up for tonight: MIDI tweaking for 3rd verse melody; record 3rd verse vox tracks; re-record 2nd verse vox tracks; see what I can do with the bridge lyrics.

"Tweaking" is the single biggest time consumer, probably even more so than vocal tracking. It involves everything from touching up edits of audio files, trying to keep everything synchronized on the beat, adjusting mix levels, or just cleaning up train wrecks.

New EQ on vocoder output smooths some things out.

Made a quick and dirty video showing some of the work in progress. It is still in the queue on Vimeo. Couldn't get it to upload to YouTube, for some reason -- iMovie claims it uploaded it, but doesn't give me an URL, just a link to my user page, and it never shows up in my list of uploaded movies.

Wed, 21 Oct 2010 02:46 -0400 (EST)


After getting the kids to bed and into the studio about 10 p.m., I started tweaking guitar parts. I determined what key the song is in (Bb) and made some adjustments to the chords I'm using (dom 7 instead of m7 in one place), tweaked guitar effects and levels, and worked on getting the rhythm guitar part to synchronize more tightly with everything else. The result was impressive -- it sounds much better! I'm playing the Fernandes Telecaster copy from, I think, the mid '80s. I love this guitar -- got it cheap at the local Guitar Center. I don't usually like Telecasters, even expensive custom shop ones, but this one is more comfortable to play and sounds great; it intonates really well. It's been hacked up a bit (has some better-quality tuners). I'm considering replacing the bridge with a Babicz "full contact" bridge (it is supposed to be a drop-in replacement including the location of the screw holes).

I gave up on sending the doubled vocals that I recorded for the vocoder out panned left and right and decided to focus on more of a performance-like vocal that will be centered, so it's less likely to sound either off in terms of alignment or tuning. My vocal is still far from perfect but it sounds better. I used an Izotope Alloy preset with some tweaking that seems to work better on my voice as well.

Recorded verse 3 and chorus 3 vocals... guitar backing to the bridge (which may be temporary)... tweaked melody for verse 3... tweaked vocoder fades...

For length reasons I cut out some bits of the dialog and the whole song now is about 4 minutes even. That requires moving a lot of pieces. I'm getting better with Logic but there are still a lot of shotcuts and features I could no doubt make better use of.

I have a draft that I could live with. It needs to be mastered a little louder, but if I wasn't able to do anything else I could live with submitting this one as my SpinTunes entry.

Here's my to do list:

- Gain all track mix levels up by one or two dB?

- Gain everything up by a few dB into the mastering plug-in, play with limiter settings

- Try not dithering when I export a WAV? (Supposedly this makes the generated MP3 file sound better)

- Guitar synth solo to replace the solo I have now after the bridge?

- More guitar synth, maybe in the bridge section?

- Tweak drums further

- Try tweaking volume automation more tightly to track vocal level?

- Bass synth part for breaks/under bridge? Some backing synth pads?

- Look at the final bounce in Soundtrack Pro to verify that it's hitting the compressor/limiter at the levels that I want.

So close! Yet I'd still feel like I failed if I didn't put my absolute best effort into it.

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