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So I just got back from Willie Nelson's place.....

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(@dustdevil)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 99
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I just spent 3 days at Willie Nelson's place near Austin last week. I went with a friend, Ron, who is recording a "Western concept" album at his recording studio. Willie has his own western town called Luck, Texas which was the set built for the "Red-Headed Stranger" movie. Check out his current video for "You Don't Think I'm Funny Anymore" found here.... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Enzv861Shk (Imagine that without all the banners and no people. That's what it looks like.) Although Willie wasn't there, I did get to meet one of his daughters and assorted relatives and friends who stopped by. It was a very casual atmosphere and they are all VERY nice and gracious people who made me feel welcome. The producer/sound guy, whatever they call them, was VERY sharp. He had a degree in Music and English, and played several instruments. This was not a guy doing this for beer money on the weekends. But anyway, since this is the "unauthorized" biographical version, I really don't want to get too detailed about things. :wink: It's not my place to disturb their privacy.

What I really wanted to do was to give some of you who might be as clueless as I was about how a record is made some insight into the process. Some of you probably already know what I'm about to say, but these were the things that stuck out to me as a total neophyte...

1. When I walked in, I expected a windowless sound proof room with acoustic panels everywhere. What I found was a small office with a window, an old door and a vintage 1910 pianette on the side wall. There was assorted stuff on the walls and shelves, and a computer with a wide screen monitor in the corner. Much less sound equipment than I thought. It looked like a normal room except for the few acoustic panels covered in burlap wedged in certain spots. I suppose microphones are so "uni-directional" these days and editing software is so good, ambient noises are less of a problem.

2. There are apparently 12 different ways to sing the word "wind". Only one of those is appropiate at any given time.

3. When you hear a song on the radio, generally what you are hearing is not one "song", but 6-12 different "songs" cut and pasted together. They sing 6 or 7 (or more, depending on the difficulty of the song) takes and then go through them line-by-line, or in some spots word-by-word, and paste the best parts together to make a vocal track. The software allows you to blend everything together.

4. If you are off just slightly on pitch or timing it is possible, within reason to fix it with editing software (although it's usually easier just to do another take)

5. A saw player will cost you 100 bucks plus gas. In case you are wondering, Stanley "Traditional" (post-war).

6. There are two ways to encounter a feral hog: The good way is with a rifle in your hand and a hunting permit in your back pocket. The bad way is with your pants down behind a tree relieving yourself out back.

7. Rich people have junk rooms, too. It's just that their junk is much more interesting than ours...

In short, the cost of good sound equipment to produce your own record is reasonable (not Wal-Mart reasonable, but reasonable) and an ordinary room with minor modifications will do. Gone are the days of big recording studios and giant mixing boards. Computers and editing software really streamline the process. However, just because you own a band saw, doesn't make you a carpenter. You still need the expertise to do a studio quality job. Also, a common misconception is that if you sing a song pitchy, off-key, and with bad timing, pasting together 12 takes will make you sound like Julio Iglesias. What you really get is 12 takes of pitchy, off-key singing with bad timing. You have to have SOMETHING to start with unless you are looking for that heavily distorted, electronic "Britney Spears" sound. It then becomes a matter of phrasing and inflection.

From what I saw, I think the days of writing one monster hit song and retiring on the royalties are gone. Since the equipment is so accessable, smaller studios can MORE than compete with bigger ones and getting a quality record out there is easier. So although the "pie" will be the same size, I envision it cut into many more smaller pieces instead of large chunks as in the past. I guess that's great if you are trying to break into the business, bad, if you are already on top....

John A.

They say only a pawnshop guitar can play the blues. An eBay one does it better. A guitar's bound to feel unloved if her owner plasters pictures of her over the internet for all to see and then sells her off to the highest anonymous bidder.


   
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(@ricochet)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 7833
 

Interesting observations. Especially about the hogs. :lol:

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


   
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(@gnease)
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Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5038
 

Yeah, good posting. Thanks.

-=tension & release=-


   
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(@joefish)
Trusted Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 75
 

Interesting post.

I see more and more professional studios setup themselves up like this. A simple room with a few really good mics, ProTools, and a knowledgeble engineer to run it. Unless your recording an orchestra for a soundtrack, this is all you really need. Low overhead, low maintenance, smaller footprint.

What I have found out about my own setup mirrors what you have observed. I have a very noisey CPU and a couple of inexpensive mics and I am sharing space in an upstairs room with with all my wife's scrapbooking stuff. When I recorded my first "hit single" :P , I set up some elaberate soundproofing system with PVC pipes and sleeping bags to make an isolation booth. This last time I recorded, I just turned my condenser mic away from the noisey computer and recorded using the rooms fairly decent accoustics. I can't tell the difference between the two songs sound wise. I know if I have my mic set really hot and there is total silence on the track I am recording, you can hear ambient noise (traffic outside, jets, CPU, hard drive noise, AC, echos in the room), however, a simple limiting filter can take care of that.

Your right dustdevil, because the equipment is so inexpensive and accessible to the common musician, smaller independant studio can compete with the larger ones. I think this is oneo of the reasons why we are seeing so many of the older established studios closing thier doors and making room for loft apartments. You do need a really good concept of recording though to make a good sounding record, but the equipment is there to just about anyone who has a nack for music. I have heard some novice and amature recordings that rival the big guys.

The thing that will set studios apart and compete - IMHO - will be the bodies they imploy to record and run the equipment (Roger Nicoles, Ken Scott), and/or location of the studos ( http://allairestudios.com/studios.html , http://www.abbeyroad.com/ . I'm happy with my little setup and with a little time and effort, I think I can turn out some good sounding tracks - minus the pigs of course.

==================
Pat
joefish
SilverBox

"Music so wishes to be heard that it sometimes calls on unlikely characters to give it voice".
Robert Fripp


   
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(@jwmartin)
Noble Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 1435
 

I haven't recorded many vocals, mainly because I can't carry a tune in a bucket, but I've been practicing a bit and recording my practices. I was having a lot of trouble w/ the mic picking up all the popping Ps and Ss along w/ my breathing and other noises. I figured out an alternative to one of those screens, it's cheap, portable and everyone has one around their house: a sock. Just put the mic in the sock and there you go. You do have to keep the sock still else you pick up all the noise of the cloth on the mic. A clean sock is recommended. :?

Bass player for Undercover


   
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(@joefish)
Trusted Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 75
 

Yeah, those popfilters don't have to be much. If you look at the ones on the old Neumans they used in the 60's, all it was was a metal screen that barely covered the mic mesh. All you need is something to disapate the air. I actually made my own pop-filter out of one of those needlepoint fames and stretched pair of black nylons. Works pretty good. As far as the breath noises, you mic might be to "hot." I find I need to be consciencely aware of my breathing when recording. I also have probs with other mouth noises - everytime I open my mouth before I sing a verse, you could hear it on the recording. Ok....ewww! So I started practicing controlling those noises in addition to staying on key, staying in tune, not being pitchey, not being nasaly, projecting, getting the right lyrics, playing the right chord...ahhhhh!!

Maybe I'll just takeup needlepoint.

==================
Pat
joefish
SilverBox

"Music so wishes to be heard that it sometimes calls on unlikely characters to give it voice".
Robert Fripp


   
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(@moonrider)
Noble Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 1305
 

Although Willie wasn't there, I did get to meet one of his daughters and assorted relatives and friends who stopped by. It was a very casual atmosphere and they are all VERY nice and gracious people who made me feel welcome.

Was it this daughter?
http://www.break.com/index/willie-nelsons-daughter-kicks-guy-off-stage2.html

If so, good thing she liked ya. :)

Playing guitar and never playing for others is like studying medicine and never working in a clinic.

Moondawgs on Reverbnation


   
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(@dustdevil)
Estimable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 99
Topic starter  

Although Willie wasn't there, I did get to meet one of his daughters and assorted relatives and friends who stopped by. It was a very casual atmosphere and they are all VERY nice and gracious people who made me feel welcome.

Was it this daughter?
http://www.break.com/index/willie-nelsons-daughter-kicks-guy-off-stage2.html

If so, good thing she liked ya. :)

No, this was Willie's daughter, Susie. She is about 40-50. Looks just like him in the face. You can tell right away she's a Nelson.

On the plus side, she didn't kick me though.....

John A.

They say only a pawnshop guitar can play the blues. An eBay one does it better. A guitar's bound to feel unloved if her owner plasters pictures of her over the internet for all to see and then sells her off to the highest anonymous bidder.


   
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