MIDI Lesson (9/11/17)

Objectives: -Revise and develop mixing techniques using current project

This lesson rather than go down to the studio whilst the other guys started recording guitars. Being in a studio wouldn’t have benefited me at all, as i know how to set up and record guitar and the guys didn’t need me to be there, as there is three of them who know what to do. I probably would have ended up just sitting in the studio. Therefore, my plan was to stay in the MIDI room and work on mixing, as it is one of my weakest skills. I decided to work on mixing drums first, as i am a drummer and i had never really worked on mixing drums properly. For me i feel like it is better to get the best recording you can rather than a ‘that will do’ attitude and rely heavily on mixing to get a great sound. The track i was practising my mixing on was a recording that me and a couple of friends had recorded during the summer. I had recorded the drums for it and it wasn’t the worst recording, but looking back i’m definitely not satisfied with it, but it is a good track to practise my mixing on.

As the drums have so many different parts with different sounds, although you want to mix it as one instrument.The way i approached it was working on each different part first, starting with the bass drum. In this lesson i learnt how to use a test oscilator, which when used properly can really give you a great sound.

First you send the selected channel to a bus. On that bus add a test oscilator and noise gate, side chain the noise gate to the selected bus. This then makes the oscialtor play every time  the kick drum hits , otherwise it would just be a continuous noise. Then on the test oscilator, set the frequency to how you want, for me i set it to 50, this is the main part of learning how to use a test oscilator. Then you can play around with the attack, release and hold on the noise gate.

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Recording lesson (3/11/17)

 Objectives:  – Revise and Develop recording skill/techniques

– Add to the sound to Picture track

In the lesson we recorded bass in the studio 3 using a D112, an SM57 and a D.I box. We spent a lot of time setting up and trying to get a good sound, there seemed to be a lot of technical difficulties for some reason. We spent the majority of the lesson chasing a good solid bass recording. We tried different microphones and placing them in different places, as this we part of the lesson objective; to revise and develop recording techniques. One of the microphones we had tried was an Audio-technica kick/tom mic, we tried placing it in different places on the amp, but it just wasn’t giving us a great sound.

We did about two takes but due to time we left it at that, meaning in the end we didn’t get the greatest recording but it wasn’t the worst. However, we still had guitars to worry about putting in the track and decided that when mixed the bass will sound better. Even though this is a bad way of recording music, it had to be done due to time restrictions.

Recording Lesson (13/10/17)

Session Objectives:

1.Remember to scrutinise -Mic Choices -Mic Placements -Pre-amp choices -Pre-amp Settings

2. Evaluate Project Progress; -What you still need to do? – When will you achieve this by? 

3. Arrange & Develop backing track

This lesson went really well. Our plan was to record some Percussion instruments to add to certain parts of the track. We used a conga, tambourine and a two little shakers.We recorded them in two different takes. Joel recorded the tambourine, whilst i recorded the shakers at the same time. Then we did another take for the conga. At first, we were going to use an SM57 for under the conga. However, we set up a Rode NT2A condenser microphone, which picked up the sound quite well and thought we would just stick with that. We tried having the conga’s right in front of the microphone, however, the sound was causing the levels to peak in logic and didn’t sound to great either. After a trying different set ups, with moving the microphone or the conga. We put the microphone at the right corner of the booth and then the conga at the opposite end. Even though they weren’t near each other, we got a clear sound and it wasn’t peaking on logic. After we finished recording percussion, Joel and me were in the booth making sound effects. At first, it was a joke and we were only having fun, however, it added really well to the track and went with the visuals at certain parts. When you listen to the track, you can hear takes of me screaming, Joel making airplane sounds and just whatever random noises we could think of. Even though this sounds like a joke, with added effects such as delay and reverb and  when mixed properly with the track, it sounds really good.

MIDI Lesson: First Two Weeks ( 21st and 28th September)

We spent the first lesson deciding on what videos to would be good to use. We wasted quite a bit of time on this, as initially we were all just showing each other videos that we feel would be ‘cool’ to use, not even thinking what we would do musically with it. Then With Ben suggesting that we think about what type of music we would want to play and then think of a video that could work well with that. They all suggested SKA and even though i don’t listen to SKA, i have no problem playing it and would enjoy it at the same time. Then Jacob also suggested funk, which i completely loved the idea. As my drumming tends to naturally be quite funk influenced. Therefore, we agreed on the type of music. Then Joel had the idea of using a scene from the TV show ‘Rick And Morty’. The idea was great and we could all see it working. However, we had to see if we had the teachers permission. As their was some doubts on whether it was appropriate enough for the audience we will be performing to. Luckily, they were okay with the video and we are allowed to use it.

 

Second Week (28/9/17)

Objectives: Get a simple DI bass recording for the sound to picture song. – Run through the song and figure out possible different drum parts, to be able to record next lesson.

This lesson Jacob recorded the demo parts such as guitar and bass. For me it was about figuring out what i could play and figuring out the structure. I wanted to play along with the track but the studio with the drums was already being used. So i booked it out for after the lesson and waited. I then spent about 45 minutes in the studio.  I spent twenty minutes listening to the song and writing down ideas:

Intial ideas (may not make sense, however, it helped me remember different parts/ideas).

I ran the logic track and then went in the drum booth with the sheet. Listening to it through the headphones, i played along and tried different variations of beats and fills. I only ran through the track about three times, as i didn’t feel the need to run through it more times. I already knew what i was gonna play and was confident to record it the next day.

Overall, this lesson was really useful. As i got to run through the track without any distractions and play along. Therefore i had met the objective set at the beginning of the lesson

Recording: First Week (29/9/17)

Session Objectives:    Consider backing tracks  –Develop A/V (Audio visual) project with recording focus  -revise recording techniques 

Even though this wasn’t officially the first Recording sessions back. It was the first one for me and the first one where we had actually used the studios. Either way, this was such a productive lesson.  Our aim was to just use the whole lesson to record drums for the sound to picture song. Whilst Jacob re-recorded a bass demo using the D.I. box, i set up the drums for me to record on. Joel got all the microphones, stands and cables. It was quite a simple set up. I used a D112 for the bass drum as well as having an SM57 inside the Bass drum . I feel like having the SM57 adds to the sound of the bass drum, whereas just having the AKG D112 gives you quite a flat sound (depending on what type of drum you’re using). For the overheads, i used two C430’s, and had them quite spread out to get a good stereo sound. I had two D40’s for the Only two toms i was using, and then two SM57’s, one for the snare and then i wanted to mic the hi hat.

Even though usually people don’t use a microphone for the hi hat as they feel like the sound is picked up by the overheads anyway and it tends to bleed. However, as the type of drummer i am. I feel like it is important as it captures certain accents that gets lost with just using the overheads, then when it comes to mix it, you can’t just increase the Hi hat volume, the whole sound gets turned up. Therefore, even if when you use a microphone for the hi hat and it makes it too loud, you can just cut the track out. We run the Bass drum mic’s through the top TL Audio Ivory-series Compressor, The overheads through the Focusrite pre-amp, we decided to experiment with the focusrite, as it gives you quite a sharp sounding recording. Then the snare and toms just through the bottom TL Audio pre-amp.

I didn’t get to learn massive amounts of how to to get a great sound from all of these and how to setup the  patch bay, as i was in the booth playing for Jacob to set up the levels. Initially, Joel was in there, as i wanted to be outside the booth to learn setting up. However, again it depends on the type of drummer you are recording and i went in the booth instead of Joel. I am quite a hard hitter; therefore, if we had setup levels for how Joel plays drums, we may get a great sound with compressors and what not. but when i would go in to record, the levels on logic would most likely peak as he was hitting the drums differently. However, our aim is to not waste time and just get it down and there will be plenty over times that i will be able to learn and improve my skills on the producing side of things.

The recording session went great. As i had already ran through the track once before the day prior, i already had an idea on the structure and what i would be playing on the song. To help me out i also added in simple midi drums a bar before the song would change. This was so i knew when the song was about to change to the next section, i did this because the song has different styles of music. Such as; ska, funk etc,etc. Therefore, i have to change my style of playing several times in the song. This helped me massively during recording.

Recording drums would not actually take as long as they would in the first year. We went through the song once before getting the final take. The drum was all in one take, rather than recording the different parts separately. We got a good sound that fits well with the track and once all the other instruments are recorded, it will work really well with the video.

 

Performance Lesson: MY First Week (2/10/17)

Technically, this is the third lesson back, but i missed the first two lessons as i was ill. However, i was still up to date with all the work and knew what was going on. This lesson was quite straight forward for me. As it was mainly for Joel to figure out guitar and vocal parts with the rest of the group. Even though i could sit around and help figure out parts, from working with them before. I feel like they do a great enough job adding their creativity to whatever project they’re working on, that I’d rather focus on learning my parts and trying to play it to the best possible.

Especially with this track, as it is sound to picture. Everyone can be trying to add all their ideas into the mix and the whole aim of the objective gets lost and the sound and picture don’t end up working together. But mainly because i already loved the way the song was heading and didn’t feel the need to add anything.

Anyway, the main part of the lesson was running through the song live with the video, in the performance hut. Toby played the track through logic, but just muted the drum recordings and bass. So all that was playing was the video and the metronome. Jacob played the bass, Joel was figuring out guitar parts and i was on the drums. We ran through the track times and i found it really useful, as it is quite a diverse structure and  even though i remember what the changes are, it is hard to remember when they are. Therefore, running through it live helped give me an idea.