August 1, 2010

Promise FAIL!

OK, so this week it looks like I’ve failed to record anything worth uploading for you guys to hear… But I haven’t been being (that) lazy, really! After my success last week with my remix of Matt Steven’s “Big Sky”, I thought I’d tackle another remix that’s been hanging around for a while…

I can’t yet say who it’s for, but it’s a female singer with an incredible voice, a lovely person and an amazing artist. A few months ago she gave me some stems to see if anything came to mind when I listened to them but, to be honest, nothing did. It’s an emotion-laden piano ballad with a tour-de-force vocal performance and between you and me, I was worried about killing it! The very last thing I wanted to do was stick a four-to-the-floor beat beneath it and call it a “club tune”!

So, the stems languished in my “To Do” folder until early last week, when I pulled them out and listened to them again and some ideas began to form…

I sat for an hour or so just playing the piano along with the stems – partly to get the harmonies and structure down, and partly because it was a really lovely song to play – and then I create a project in Reaper and imported the vocals and the piano guide track.

Structure-wise, I wasn’t going to change much – lop off the introduction, take a vocal build from before the middle-8 and move it to the end of the track, and lop off the outro. I quickly edited the vocal track and then looked at what effects needed to be applied to the vox, if any.

I really wanted to respect the vocals, but the stems were totally dry so I needed to do something to them. Rather than use reverb, I started with an echo preset from a Lexicon 480L, and a ducked delay to add some atmosphere, and a little EQ to add some warmth.

Then I started to record a backing track – a highly effected electric piano, a bass guitar (Native Instruments Scarbee MM-bass worked nicely, after an aborted attempt with a couple of the basses in Spectrasonics’ Trilian), some percussion from various sources…

But on listening back to everything, I started to get the uneasy feeling that the harmonies were wrong, and that while they worked, they weren’t true to the original piano and were changing the context of some of the melodies. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was happening though, so I ended up going through the piano melody bar by bar and working out all the fingerings and inversions and making a chart!

And, well, that kind of brings us up-to-date. I’m currently in the process of rerecording the backing tracks with the correct harmonisation and thinking further about mixing and effects.

So it’s all taken longer than I’d hoped and thus leaves me with a FAIL! on my promise to record and upload something every week. I feel ashamed!

I’ve had a few other ideas that I’ve been playing with – including a really nice idea in G Mixy that I really want to develop – but nothing’s been recorded. So, mea culpa! I’ll do better next week, really I will!

August 1, 2010

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