Semi-conductor

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. I worked on four pieces. First, I wanted to finish “Christ Child Lullaby.” I did the dulcimer parts without too much trouble, thanks to practicing each of them ten times daily since my last attempt. Then I tried the recorder — but after maybe half a dozen takes on one recorder part, my fingers were stiff enough that I needed to do something else for a while.

So, second, I corrected an error in a harmony part in “Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus / Planxty Irwin,” then added guitar to the medley. I’m not very good at finger-picking stuff, so this part was difficult to learn and took a lot of takes to record.

Third, I added guitar to “Three Ships Medley.” This part was mostly strumming, so it wasn’t as difficult as the other. There’s one section played with a capo — Matt suggested I retune with the capo on, which I’d ignorantly never done before; it makes a big difference. I wonder if that says something about the intonation on my guitar…

Anyway, my back and left shoulder were really stiff after recording these two guitar parts, because I’m one of those “guitarists” that has to look at the left hand all the time. That’s when I decided to give up on those “Lullaby” recorder parts until next session; too stiff, and extra practice would probably help a lot, too.

The last thing I did that afternoon was a preparation for the evening session. We’d decided to record Craig’s guitar part first, so that Jerry, the fiddler, would have both dulcimer and guitar tracks to follow. But on one of the tunes, “Easter Thursday,” Craig needed to hear Jerry’s part, too. So I recorded a dulcimer version of Jerry’s part as a reference track.

Home to rest a little and make and eat an early dinner. And my in-laws arrived just in time for me to let them in and then head back to the studio for the trio’s evening session.

craig2 jerry2

The trio convened at 6 p.m. Jerry headed downstairs to warm up, and Matt got Craig set up to record. We started with “Hewlett / Silent Night,” which turned out to be more interesting than I thought it would be: I’d unintentionally slowed down in places, which made it difficult to keep tempo with my tracks. We figured out that recording section by section made it a lot easier. Once the guitar tracks were finished, Jerry recorded his parts.

Next we tackled Craig’s parts for “Easter Thursday”; Jerry joined me in the control room to watch and listen. This tune is difficult because it’s in an unusual meter — it’s a 3/2 hornpipe — and because there’s a syncopated section at the end of the B part. Having that reference track helped a little.

I ended up standing in the window sort of conducting — keeping track of the first beat of each measure, and indicating when to play during the syncopated part. Lots of fun… when we were off from each other we’d be shaking our heads and laughing silently, and when we got it right my index finger “batons” would become thumbs up. Meanwhile Jerry sits on the couch fascinated, as I am, by all the technology and the whole recording process.

Once we thought we had Craig’s part down, Jerry went out to do his part. But the middle section was problematic. I realized that my decision to have Craig play this section syncopated was not only making things difficult for Jerry, but also just didn’t sound good. So I wanted to have Craig redo that section.

Matt was unconvinced about being able to position him the same way so that the part would blend seamlessly with the previous parts — both of them suggested instead that we just copy the part from a previous section and recycle it for this section too. I’m not comfortable with that idea, so they agreed to try re-recording the section… fortunately, we did manage to get the positioning essentially the same. Whew.

Now it was Jerry’s turn again. He’d never recorded before, but he did his parts for the first tune in four takes, and just three takes for this one. Impressive!

After doing some editing and checking the other takes to make sure they didn’t all have the same mistakes in the same places, I offered everyone cucumbers (Craig actually accepted) and sent Craig and Jerry home. Matt burned the end-of-session CD for me, I wrote a check, and, at about 10 p.m., headed home myself.

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Published in: on August 26, 2004 at 11:41 pm  Comments Off on Semi-conductor  
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