Wednesday, June 09, 2004

The devil's in the drummer, er, uhm, I mean the details

Current events

Last night's practice was nothing special. It was short as our drummer has to get up at 4:30 am for her "day" job. 4:30 in freaking the morning, what kind of musician gets up that early!? Go to bed then, sure, but get up? Actually, this is not the only evidence that E's not your typical musician and certainly not your typical drummer.

She's considerate, prompt, easygoing and the best musician of the bunch of us. Until I met her I assumed that in order to master the 4 limb co-ordination needed to drum you had to sell your soul to the devil. How else to explain the havoc caused by drummers? This isn't just bad joke fodder. The last full-time band I was in went through 4 drummers before settling for one that talented enough for us to put up with his, er, eccentricities.

Anyway, we did some recording so now I have some mixing to do. My job has been made easier by our new "instant veto" policy. Any band member can stop the recording at any time if they feel they've screwed it up too badly. It really reduces the number of takes I have to go through.

relevant backstory *geek alert*

We've been recording live off the floor to two SM-57's set up in the ORTF stereo pattern with a DI for the bass. This means that we all play together, no overdubbing.

This has it's advantages, the band really sounds like a band, at our level multitrack overdubbed recordings can sound quite lifeless. It's a real skill to be able to keep the energy level up when each instrument is recorded separately. This method is also very quick.

The disadvantage is everyone has to get it right at the same time. Hence the instant veto, no point in wasting time playing the song to the end if you've messed up the first bridge.

It also takes careful placement of the mics and amplifiers. This means that your amp might not be where it's easy for you to hear it. Moving an amp or mic even just a few centimeters can also have a profound affect on the overall sound. It has to do with comb filtering and other really technical stuff that I only half understand. It's a tricky process and well, the devil's in the details.

No comments: