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banana brains
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production advice

Post by banana brains » Thu Feb 20, 2014 12:01 pm

I recently recorded my Dad playing acoustic guitar and singing. He is awesome, but a bit reluctant so I just threw up a couple of mics and let it rip. One take of all 6 or 7 songs. I was afraid if I started "engineering" he would bail out.

Anyway the recordings are fantastic (obviously biased), not because of the recording technique or anything, but because he is so good.

His guitar playing is mediocre and not always in time, but he is an excellent singer and creates a great emotion when he is doing his thing.

This is what I'm considering, I want to take it somewhere to have it "mixed" and mastered as it is without adding anything to it. But I also want to create a version of a few of the songs with some production added.

Has anyone ever tried this? What did you add? I did some backing vocals which sound cool, I did some electric guitar, which was cool.

Just curious how you all approach something like this. I think I know the answer is going to be "it depends" on what you play and the style of music, but wondering if you all had some experience trying this and whether it ultimately worked or not.

Thanks!

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Nick Sevilla
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Post by Nick Sevilla » Thu Feb 20, 2014 3:48 pm

It can work, as long as you follow his timing, and tune to his singing / guitar.

If I were you though, I would leave them as is.

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Gregg Juke
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Post by Gregg Juke » Thu Feb 20, 2014 4:55 pm

I added a full string arrangement and some spacey keyboard stuff to a piano-and- vocal-only two-track about a year ago. She wanted "something" and thankfully she had really decent time (not metronomic, but well within reason). Generally, I'd never try anything like that, but I did, and it worked out ok. I liked it, as did my friends (but she hated it-- always get either carte blanche final say, OR _very_ explicit directions).

Anyway, that sort of thing is possible, but usually so difficult as to discourage most of us, due to timing issues and the difficulty of getting a decent mix when the instrument and vocals come "per-mixed."

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Post by losthighway » Thu Feb 20, 2014 5:34 pm

Yeah, to add on to what others have said. If his rhythm is weird, than adding rhythm based stuff might not work. But big whole notes, sonic stuff, pad stuff, strings, sparse keys, or sparse electric guitar with reverb might bring a 3rd dimension to what's already there. Basically, if his stuff could benefit from a moody treatment, overdubbing could be easy, but if "sonic layers" are blocking some fun old-time music it might be harder to add things.

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Post by vvv » Thu Feb 20, 2014 5:57 pm

Just did this with my band.

To a guitar and vocal, we added A/E bass and another acoustic, and finally percussion consisting of a toy tom-as-hand-drum, and tambo.

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Post by Gregg Juke » Thu Feb 20, 2014 7:57 pm

Let it not go without saying that tuning is extremely important as well. Hopefully, you took care of that before tracking your dad. Otherwise, that could provide for "a lot of fun..."

GJ
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Post by chris harris » Fri Feb 21, 2014 7:04 am

In the 33 1/3 book about Neutral Milk Hotel's "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea", it says that the version of "Oh Comely" that made the album, was a take when Jeff Mangum was simply testing mic levels. Thankfully, tape was rolling. 9 minutes later, they had captured a truly magical take. If you crank the volume, you can even hear someone scream "HOLY SHIT!" from the control room as the last chord trails off. It's a remarkable song. They didn't add much to it. But, some thoughtfully placed background vocals and horn overdubs turned this simple, beautiful performance into an epic, indie rock masterpiece.

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Post by Snarl 12/8 » Fri Feb 21, 2014 9:59 am

I would say that if you're hearing parts in your head that aren't actually there, record that, but don't give it the full rock band treatment just for the hell of it. As someone pointed out, it might not even be appreciated as much as you think.

Also, I'd print the best damn mixes of just the guitar and vox that you can and play that for him first and then say something like, "just for the hell of it, I tried this... what do you think." And don't be married to any of it.

Treat your dad like the client, he's kindof acting like one.
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banana brains
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Post by banana brains » Fri Feb 21, 2014 4:24 pm

Thanks everybody. I appreciate all your ideas. I'm definitely going to do a good mix of just the way it went down. Then screw with a couple of them to add some different atmosphere.

Def not going to do the whole band thing on this stuff.

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Post by drumsound » Sun Feb 23, 2014 12:34 pm

Just always think of the song and what its saying to you musically.

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Post by floid » Wed Feb 26, 2014 3:30 am

maybe you could find the right way to say, 'this is a great FIRST take, but i think we could do better if we worked on it a little.' thinking more as a facilitator than engineer, type thing.
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