four track recording is hard work
Saturday, January 29 2000
To make amends for that missed opportunity to go out on the town last night, Kim and I went to Ortega's, the funky folksy Mexican place down near the corner of Newport and Cable in downtown Ocean Beach. We sat in the booth that faces the front door like the table of a cover-charge collector. Kim was grieving about her dying paternal grandmother off in Michigan, but I wasn't being helpful, unable to drive thoughts of workplace injustice from my mind.
For much of the day, especially after Kim went off to work, I toiled at the task of recording music on my four track. I found it a surprisingly time-consuming task. First I'd record a track of rhythm guitar, then I'd go to lay down a track of vocals without really remembering how the guitar line had gone. So I'd screw up the timing and have to go back several times and eventually write out compositional notes to follow as I sang. On the plus side, my voice sounded much better in my recording than I'd expected, especially when I recorded two tracks of vocals singing in chorus. The key to good four track recording is, I'm finding, the following:
- Keep the tempo even.
- Completely learn all the timing nuances of the song. Even though I can hear the music and respond to it in real time, if I forget how many non-chorus parts come before the next slice of chorus, I end up sounding kind of stupid.
- Keep the instrumental parts sparse (with just two layers, sparse guitar tracks can sound incredibly complex).
- Make multiple attempts at tracks, especially if you've neglected point #2.
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