Recording Course

thesongwriting.schoolI haven’t really written anything about this yet, but I’ve just completed the final week 8 of the Songwriting School’s Recording Course. Now, I already have a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) in Apple’s Logic Pro, and I have a few key pieces of recording gear to go with this, but in light of previous feedback from Matthew and other music producers, there were real gaps in my knowledge and this needed addressing. Matthew thus recommended the course that he runs on the Songwriting School website.

Now I have to say, that the first three weeks of the course were very familiar to me, simply because they covered the basics: how to set up your studio for recording;  speakers and microphones; and recording MIDI in particular. Anyway, I dutifully went through these weeks, and where there were testing questions, I answered them confidently…. and got a couple wrong, I admit. This is the disadvantage of being self-taught. So by the end of this I feel it filled in the gaps nicely. The real eye-opening part of the course for me was the guitar recording part, and this really got me thinking again about the way I’ve been recording my guitars up until now. The great advantage of having an acoustic guitar with transducing pick-ups is it’s immediacy in being able to just plug it in and record away; the disadvantage of this is the quality of sound it produces is limited to the quality of the pick-up, and this can never match the quality of a good high-end condenser microphone, placed correctly to get the whole spectrum of sound of the guitar, not just the electronic signal from the pick-up.

Week 7 was really the key part of the project: the practical. It was my chance to show what I’d learned and put my new skills and knowledge into practice. I decided it was worth doing a new piece, as there was no point in going over old ground and making it too easy for myself; these needed to be real problems and not things I’d faced before. This posed me a new set of challenges for every instrument I recorded. In the end I picked new song Waiting on the World to try and give it some of the new guitar recording techniques I’d been studying.

Here’s Matthew’s comments:

Final Project:

Craig, this is an outstanding effort and you should be very proud of what you have achieved.

You have a lovely use of stereo in the guitar recording and the guitars are full sounding and shows that your mic placement was well thought out and successful. There are no phase issues that I can hear.  The drums come in musically and the use of cymbal is well placed.  It is difficult to hear the drums generally and you may wish to consider whether the kick drum sound would benefit from layering, or some more compression to make it ‘kick’ better.  You have followed the instructions of setting up the virtual instruments well.

The recording is clean and your fades are perfect.

The use of compression and reverb is appropriate for the musical style. Perhaps not for this track but generally speaking don’t be afraid to experiment with effects – sometimes you can do something crazy and get a really excellent effect from it and the more you use your plugins the more you will gain confidence at knowing exactly how to get the sound you have in your head each time.

Your backing vocals really lift the track at the right point and nicely compliment the main vocal.

This is the best final project I have had the pleasure of marking.  Because I know how you have recorded in the past, I can hear that you have really taken on board everything from this course and put it into practise in a way that has vastly improved your recording skill.  I thoroughly look forward to your work on the mixing course.

Anyway – I’m really encouraged by the feedback. It’s given me a real positive look forward to the mixing course coming next. Again, I think some of the knowledge will already be there, but again I’m feeling confident that the gaps in my knowledge and some of my inherited ‘bad habits’ will hopefully be addressed.