Session Notes: Confessions of a Tweak-a-holic

It’s hard to believe it has been two weeks since the recording session. Where does the time go? Last week I received some rough edits and mixes from Chris, the engineer, and created some rough reference stereo mixes to listen to. There is a lot of great stuff, let me tell ya!

My approach to this recording was to make it as live as possible and just keep the record button on–no stopping to do fixes. Given that you can produce music now in much the same fashion you produce movies, it is not necessary to get a single take perfect, because you can edit in material from another take or even from the same take.

Traditionally, the band would record a few takes, quickly decide which one they liked best, and then the lads would go out for a smoke while the bass player fixed a few spots. That’s just an example, of course. It’s not always the bass player, and the lads are not required to pick up smoking just so they can go out for a smoke while bass players fix their mistakes.

Because we just kept going and didn’t fix stuff, this gave us freedom to jam, try different ideas, and keep it loose. We did 12 songs in 11 hours of tracking, not including food breaks. Some of these songs had a set form, (i.e. verse, chorus, verse, chorus, chorus, etc.) and some of them were much more loose wherein I used hand signals to direct the gentlemen.

So I came home from the session with all of the stuff copied on to a hard drive and now I am reviewing the takes in my home studio, evaluating which takes I like best, identifying good and bad performances, figuring out where to replace bad parts with good ones.

Since I used to do session work back in the days of 24-track recording onto 2-inch analog tape, where we had to fix things on the spot, I am still astounded at the wonders of current recording technology. There are so many things you can do with your raw material after the fact. This is the main difference in music production from before the advent of digital hard-disk based recording. There is a lot more post-production work to be done. And therein lies the biggest pitfall.

I have the ability to tweak things to death. Being a perfectionist/control-freak I have to overcome the temptation to do too much editing, tweaking, replacing of parts, etc. There is a certain amount that has to be done, of course. But, I could easily get mired in the process, always wanting to do just one more edit. This reminds me of the story of Tears For Fears when it took them four years to produce their Seeds of Love album because of over-the-top perfectionism. (Incidentally, Calum Rees, the drummer on this project, told me he worked on the Seeds of Love album as a tape operator at the tender age of 17!)

So, I am officially telling on myself, before God and cyberspace: I am a tweak-a-holic and I am going to set limits.

Today, I am evaluating drum performances and deciding which takes of each song are the best. I will get this done today. There, you heard it here.

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1 Comment

Filed under Music Career, Vol. 2 Project

One response to “Session Notes: Confessions of a Tweak-a-holic

  1. I find, after I’ve done my major fixes, I like to let the track run in it’s entirety over speakers, at a fairly low level. Basically running in the background while I concerned myself with other menial things such as tidying up the studio.

    It’s amazing the little things that your ear will pick up on that you miss when focused on the music. And if my ear picks up some little problem then, I know it needs fixed, or it will FOREVER haunt me.

    Be blessed my brother, and I’ll pray for our Lord’s anointing on your current musical endeavor.

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