|I have completed the first multi-track recording of an original composition in 15 years. I got goose bumps when I listened to my final mix. I have wanted to do this for years but with the demands of family life, I didn't think I would have time to start recording again, as I did in the early 90s. Recording four tracks at a time, bouncing down to a stereo cassette recorder and then back to the four-track with two open tracks over and over until the song was complete is a very grueling way of recording.
As with most things computerized, the process of multi-track recording has been simplified immensely by placing it on a computer. Creating tracks with a simple software called Audacity takes just a few clicks. When I recorded on the Tascam four-track recorder, the highest number of tracks I ever went through was eight. On this new song I have 22 tracks.
The nice thing about the ease of use with multi-track recording software is you don't have to try and cram multiple parts into the same track. I would regularly have the lead guitar playing the riff and the guitar solo on the same track. This made playing very susceptible to screw up that caused re-recording and parts erased. Now, you just record all the lead guitar parts on separate tracks. One track can consist of a few seconds of sound and that's it. It's an incredible relief and lets the creative juices really flow.
Before I let the new song loose on the unsuspecting public, a little info. I started writing the song last week during Thanksgiving vacation. It was just a three chord progression on my acoustic guitar. I decided to start recording it with a Guitar Hero USB microphone, a stand and the guitar. I installed Audacity and away I went. At this point, the only vocals were a rough melody that repeated Eeyah a few times. The snippet was only about a minute long because I was interrupted while recording by my daughter, another hazard to resuming the recording career.
After the proof of concept, I searched out a drum loop. I found one at a website with free loops and set it up in Audacity to repeat 32 measures. I then recorded six and 12 string acoustic guitars with the Guitar Hero USB mic. I patched the bass directly into the PC, as well as the several electric guitar tracks with my Les Paul kit guitar plugged into my 10 watt Marshall amp. With that, the instrumental backing track was complete-ish.
Over the past week, I'd listened to it on and off trying to come up with a melody. I listened to it while walking at lunch and in my car on the drive home. Last night, I hit upon a melody for the verse and chorus. As luck would have it I can up with a few words for the chorus, as well. I quickly wrote them down in a word processor, another luxery I didn't have in the 90s. I then began to put together verse lyrics that fit the chorus lyrics. The only tough part was coming up with a theme. It was much easier while I was an angst-filled twenty-something.
When I had typed up lyrics that fit the theme of the song and the syllables iof the melody, I got out the Guitar Hero mic again and recorded a lead and harmony vocal. I popped plenty of P's and for the first time a B. With that, I and decided that this recording would be a rough mix, to be improved upon today. I ran to Guitar Center in the morning to see what was available for Wind Screens. They had many with a simple $20 model from On-Stage Stands winning out. It worked as advertised.
What caught my eye next was a little treasure called ICICLE. It is a Microphone to USB converter that allows you to take an existing stage microphone and connect it to your PC through a USB port. This allowed me to use my old, trusty mic that I recorded all my music with in the 90s, spending a lot less money than if I picked up a USB mic that would only be of use with a computer.
And that brings us to the song itself. It is called Open Up. I double tracked the verse vocals and went with a three part harmony in the chorus to give it a bigger sound. After the vocals were recorded, I re-recorded the bass through my bass amp to give it a bit more presence and punch. I then over dubbed a few more guitar.
Overall, I'm very happy with the outcome. It is a lot less work to layer a lot more music. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed writing and recording it. Now I just hope it doesn't take another 15 years for a follow up.