In-Depth #6 – Final Post!

In the past few weeks, I’ve completed my second recording, and I’m beginning my third. At this rate, I’m seriously considering cutting my original plan of four recordings down to three recordings. My first recording was more challenging and time-consuming than I expected, so I lost a lot of time during that phase.

Aside from this, my project is going very well. I just completed my second recording, which I recorded alone due to time constraints. The biggest challenge with this recording was the repetitive nature of the song and making sure that there’s variation among the verses. I made sure to use software to create myriad percussive effects and variation, as well as variation throughout the bassline. I’m happy with the way it turned out, and I’m excited to continue my project.

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This recording is mostly made up of software instruments (green tracks) with a few fundamental audio recordings (blue tracks).

I’m in the process of setting up a recording date for my next recording. At this busy time of year, it’s difficult to find time to record with another person. Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking a lot about new elements I could be including in this next piece. Since this could possibly be my last recording, I’m really hoping to learn a lot of new skills with it.

Chapter 9: At one of my recent meetings, we discussed how to create variation throughout a recording. As I mentioned, I struggled with changing percussive patterns etc in my last recording. When I finished my “rough draft” of this recording, it sounded very similar throughout the song. We discussed which elements I could modify (percussion, bass, etc) in order to create more variation. I ended up adding more percussion (vibraphone, tambourine) as well as some new bass patterns.

At another meeting, we discussed the act of balancing between the artist’s wishes and my wishes. Since, in a way, I am also producing these recordings, it’s vital that I learn how to respect the artist’s vision as well as my own.

Chapter 10: Since music production tends to be quite artistic, my mentor and I have discussed many alternate ways I could achieve a certain sound. We’ve also discussed how there are many different effects I could use to change the quality/ sound of the vocals.

I’m excited about the direction my project is heading, and I’m looking forward to creating my presentation. I’m planning to create a short video of excerpts from each of my songs with audio as well as a video of the tracks on the screen. With each excerpt, I’ll include a short 1-2 sentence explanation on the song and how I created it.

I’m looking forward to completing my first TALONS In-Depth project! I’m really happy about the progress I’ve made so far, and I’m excited to complete my recordings.

In-Depth #5

These past few weeks, I’ve polished my first recording and am currently working on my second. I encountered a problem with damaged equipment which slowed me down, but I worked through it. I’m overall pretty happy with my first recording, and I’m really looking forward to the next one.

At my mentor meeting this week, we mostly worked on blending harmonies into the main vocals, since that was the biggest flaw in the song. We worked with not only EQ but other effects such as chorus and reverb. I, unfortunately, couldn’t record the meeting, but I’ll describe a part of the meeting fitting each hat.

Black hat: During our meeting, we discussed the way that I had decided to pan the bass slightly to the left. My mentor explained that it’s most common to leave the bass centered, but it may be difficult to balance the other instrumentals if I do so. I eventually decided to keep the bass centered.

Red hat: Since we were struggling to blend the harmonies into the vocals well, I felt that it may be best to turn them down a bit so they were more background vocals than prominent harmonies.

Yellow hat: While discussing ways to blend the harmonies into the vocals, my mentor was talking about several different techniques I could use to blend the sound as well as pros and cons for each.

Green hat: After deciding that one method wasn’t helping to blend the harmonies, my mentor and I discussed a myriad of options until achieving the goal.

Blue hat: Before discussing stereo imaging techniques, my mentor said that it would be beneficial to put an emphasis on stereo imaging before discussing ways to make it more prominent.

The white hat was not very present in our meeting since most of our discussions are based on creative thinking and feeling.

I got a lot done these past few days, and I’m looking forward to the future!!

In-Depth #4

Over the past 2 weeks, I’ve accomplished quite a bit for my project. I finished recording the first song, and I’m currently working on the editing. This puts me a bit behind schedule, but I’m confident that I’ll be able to catch up quickly.

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At my mentor meeting, our main topic of discussion was enhancing vocal/instrumental audio tracks through EQ and reverb. I’ve always struggled with making the vocals sound good, and these new techniques have proved themselves to be beneficial.

#4: In the past, I’ve usually used improper amounts of reverb: too much, or not at all. However, after talking with my mentor, I agreed that “without reverb, a recording can sound dead [since] every room has a bit of reverb naturally”. While discussing reverb, I asked for clarification regarding the amount of reverb appropriate in this style of recording. I eventually found a healthy medium to use.

We also discussed EQ (equalizer) during our meeting. EQ essentially modifies the sound waves of recordings in order to make the audio sound darker, brighter, sharper, etc. This tool is especially helpful when it comes to blending harmonies and making vocals sound less distant. One thing I struggled with while using this feature was finding a good amount to use, as too much editing can cause static or feedback.

#5: A reoccurring theme during our meetings has been finding a “mood” for a recording and sticking to it. Reverb and EQ can both be adjusted based on the mood you want to portray in your recording. At this meeting, we discussed how recordings are sometimes designed in a way that gives the impression of live music being performed in front of you. Of course, it’s challenging to depict this effectively, but I feel that this concept can help me in the future.

#6: Although I had previously considered it in passing, I’d never put much thought into the sharpness of the vocals. This can make all the difference in the mood of your recording. A sharper sound can make the vocalist sound nearer to you as if you’re in the same room, where a more muted sound could make it sound as if the vocalist is performing in the next room. Editing the EQ can affect the sharpness of the sound, thus influencing the overall mood of the recording heavily.

Right now, I’m just finishing up my first recording and preparing to record the second one. I look forward to my next post!

In-Depth #3

These past two weeks, I’ve moved out of my research phase and onto my creation phase; I’ve started creating the first of my 4 final products. My classmate, Jewel, volunteered to record a song with Ukulele and vocals. In order to enhance the product beyond the sounds initially recorded, I plan to add extra chords and percussion after the other parts are recorded.

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Recording the instrumental part of the song.

As of right now, we’ve only recorded the instrumental part of the song, but we are in the process of setting up another recording date.

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The recorded backtrack

The biggest struggle I faced while recording this was getting the timing right. I’ve discovered that it’s more difficult to stay on time with a ukulele than it is with a piano. Since I was looping a large portion of the chords, I found that it had to be played and trimmed perfectly the first time to avoid causing bigger problems later in the song.

During my meeting with my mentor, we mainly discussed ways to fix timing with MIDI instrument tracks (piano in my case). I learned that quantification is a feature that can line up notes exactly to the beat. We also discussed that this feature should be used with haste since it can sometimes make music sound “overly robotic”, which can add or take away from the general mood conveyed in the song.

Although quantification doesn’t work with the ukulele I’ve recorded, it will work for the piano chords that I plan to add to the song later. I’ve realized that it may have been a good idea to record the piano first and quantify it to match the beat perfectly before recording the ukulele on top; this may have been able to help a lot of the timing issues that I faced.

Currently, I’m planning a date for a second recording session, as well as planning ahead to future songs that I can record after this one is completed. Once the vocals of this first song are recorded, I’m going to work on improving and enhancing the quality of the sounds recorded, and also add chords and percussion. I look forward to completing my first song and being able to learn from my mistakes during the second one.

In-Depth #2

I’ve spent these past weeks getting acquainted with my software and brainstorming techniques to use in my first recording. So far, my biggest accomplishment has been discovering several new features such as the automatic drummer as well as various ways to utilize MIDI equipment; my ZIP project was a great way to further explore these tools. Although my ability to effectively apply these features is still limited, I look forward to improving soon.

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My ZIP artifact

Although we haven’t had the chance to meet yet, I look forward to working with my mentor later this week. In the meanwhile, I’ve been brainstorming topics and big, essential questions to discuss. Currently, I feel that my biggest struggle is recording vocals smoothly and with ease. I’m aware that I lack any sort of training, and I’m looking forward to learning how to use this software to its full potential.

Currently, I’m searching for people willing to record songs, and I have 2 people who have definitely agreed to participate. I feel that this is a good start, especially since, I haven’t put too much effort into finding musicians. I’m preparing to record my first song by organizing my equipment and brainstorming, but I’m still a bit unsure on what my next step is.

By the next time I post, I hope to be in the process of editing my first song. So far, I am working on track and I look forward to updating you next.

In-Depth #1: Introduction

For my In-Depth project this year, I’ve decided to study music production, which is a skill I’ve always wanted to improve on. As someone passionate about music, I find recording and editing very interesting. In the past, I’ve enjoyed recording songs in my free time, but my final products have never truly met the standard I hoped for. Through this project, I hope to be able to increase the quality of my recordings, as well as the enjoyment I experience while creating them.

I’ve dedicated the first part of my timeline to research in order to master my program and learn how to utilize the equipment I have. Next, I’ve divided the next few months into segments of recording and editing. I plan to ask musically talented friends and peers to record songs with me. By the end of this project, I hope to have completed 4 recordings.

I’m really looking forward to finishing this project and improving my skills; I’m excited to use these skills beyond the May deadline. I’ve always wanted to learn how to record “properly”, and I feel that this is the opportunity to do so.

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One of the recordings I’ve completed in my free time with the program GarageBand.