The joys of editing

Today we started by fixing some problems in yesterday’s work.

One was a timing issue, in “Gesù Bambino,” which I fixed by just re-recording one section.

The other was something weird about going from the intro of “Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus / Planxty Irwin” into the tune. We ended up deciding that it was mostly because the intro is in two octaves, but when the melody begins it was just in the upper octave. Adding another track with the melody in the lower octave sounded better.

Then, after I recorded the remaining dulcimer and psaltery parts, I decided the last section would be better if I added one more dulcimer line and had the psaltery come in later. Having NoteWorthy Composer notation software helps me plan out arrangements pretty well, so that usually only minor alterations, if any, are needed.

Next, we recorded psaltery and recorder parts for “Gesù Bambino.” Matt thought the psaltery parts for both tunes went better this time, but I still found them difficult to play smoothly, especially certain notes like the low F#. I saw someone play with two bows last weekend, and it was very smooth — maybe I should try that sometime. The recorder parts were a little easier.

Then I actually did try “Three Ships Medley,” and got a nice melody skeleton to play with. At the time I thought the new transition ideas worked well; we’ll see if I still think so when I’ve had more time to listen to it and experiment with it. Most likely it will have additional dulcimer and guitar parts, maybe some other things, too.

After that, we started working on “Christ Child Lullaby.” I wanted play it as low on the recorder as possible, which put it in Bb Mixolydian. That’s three flats, same key signature as Eb Major, but centered around Bb instead of Eb; the Mixolydian mode has a sort of wildness to it that I love.

I really like the way the tune sounds in this low key, but it’s a real challenge for my recorder and dulcimer skills. It’s hard for me to play certain notes well on the recorder, especially the lowest F and the Ab. And the dulcimer parts are difficult because I have to reach across the instrument for various Ebs and Abs — it’s hard to do that accurately and expressively and rhythmically.

So far, we’ve only managed to get a good take of the solo recorder intro. We must have done over a dozen takes (twenty?) of the next dulcimer part, but each one had at least one mistake in it, and the part is too quiet for good seamless editing.

So we stopped there. Burned the end-of-session CD, put the “He Shall Feed His Flock” files on a CD to send to Henry, settled the bill, and homeward went.

Now, about the joys of editing. I just thought this was sort of amazing and fun. First of all, consider just one psaltery section on “Long-Expected.” This section has eleven different pieces edited together from seven different takes. Isn’t that cool? And the rest of the piece is, oh, four or five dulcimer sections, two psaltery sections, and two guitar sections, each with various amounts of editing from various numbers of takes. Then, just the melody of “Three Ships” has fifteen pieces edited together from four different takes. Wow. The amazing thing is that, more often than not, Matt can make these edits absolutely seamless. When it doesn’t work, we just do some more takes.

Final thoughts. Today just felt better. Being able to start right away without dealing with tuning was refreshing. And knowing that husband Mark would be home in the evening, after being at a research conference all week, also helped. And I now have five pieces finished, and four in progress. That’s about half done!