Monday, 4 April 2011

The New Recording Studio

I remember when I was about fourteen, our mother had this grand idea of recording some of our music to send as gifts to people. We were only fledgling musicians back then, Charlie, only five or so, playing one handed tunes I taught her to earn my pocket money, while I, on the other end of the scale, was experimenting for the first time with pop songs. Ivy and Taylor were somewhere in the middle.

The piano we had our lessons on (we hadn't branched out to other instruments, beyond tinkering with guitars, back then) was given to us by an elderly relative. She wore out the damper pedal holding it down continuously as she played so the neighbours wouldn't hear, but it had a lovely mellow sound and played beautifully. As a very belated thank you, the idea was to record each of us playing something and send them to her.

After our recording studio experience, it makes me laugh to think of those early days, when Taylor mashed her way through a simple arrangement of the Cancan and Charlie played a song that probably only had three notes in it. But the funniest thing wasn't our skills, or lack thereof, it was how we recorded.

Bear in mind this was our first foray into music recording. We had no idea what we were doing and no one to help us. It was before the real internet explosion (we had dial-up, we weren't going to watch a hundred youtube instruction videos - it would have taken months) and our parents weren't exactly au fait with the technology. I can't remember if this was before or after we bought the fourtrack deck (we either bought it for this initial recording session or because of it) but I do remember balancing a golden karaoke microphone in a fruit bowl at the base of the piano in an attempt to capture the best sound.

Despite our incompetence, we did get the tape recorded and sent off (though elderly relative's tape player was broken, and so, in an ironic turn, she couldn't listen to it anyway) and the experiment prompted a desire to do more recording.

At some point, we got some equipment. The four track was purchased, the piano was retired to live performance only, replaced by an electronic grand - a source of much amusement due to it's 'choir' setting (which I mostly used for playing the Lord of the Rings Soundtrack) - which I use to this day.

Over the next few years we recorded a christmas album with the whole family contributing and even taped a few originals. But that was part of the problem... Tapes are, well, tapes.

With the addition of a drummer to the mix, we couldn't record very well anymore, anyway. Our energies were turned towards live performance, which, over the course of two or three family occasions, brought the band together as a proper band, rather than four musicians who happened to play at the same time.

Then we were bought the recording studio experience, and now everyone is fired up about recording again.

In the intervening years between our first recording experiences and now, our mother remarried to a guy who's a complete techno geek. He's tone deaf, but he likes being the roadie. He's also a bit of an ebay/internet bargain addict. His latest purchase was this:

And this:

Yes, that is an electronic eight track deck. No more rubbish tapes, it goes straight to digital. And proper drum microphones for recording the drums.

Taylor and I did a bit of recording as a test. We sucked - it was the first time we'd played properly together for a week or two and I forgot the tune/notes/my own name but the quality of recording was amazing. We've come a long way since the days of putting the microphone in a fruit bowl.

Now we just need to write some songs to record...

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