Apr 8

Before I get into today’s post first a couple of housekeeping items:

I’d like to thank Tony Butterworth for his kind words (as always the diplomat) and the plug about this blog on Home Made Hit Show (www.homemadehitshow.com). If you haven’t visited the site, you need to. It’s very informative, usually entertaining, but always fun.

Second, I’ve heard that some of you have been having trouble reading the posts because of the Google Ads appearing in front of the posts. All you have to do is click on them and they go away. (just kidding, of course). It’s a little adjusting I need to do in the code to make it stay on the left. Apparently it’s got something to do with which version of IE you’re using ,or it could be the screen resolution, I’m not exactly sure but I’ll get it fixed quickly. Right, that’s enough of that, on to the post.

When I started writing my tools were pen and paper. My only way to do home recording was on a cassette recorder and there was no way to overdub. Well, not easily anyway. Eventually I got hooked up with someone who could record the band on a half inch 8 track reel to reel. (I remember those tapes costing $50 each back then.)

I was lucky though that not only did someone have the finances to get one of those multi track recorders, but a mixing board as well. You see before that, all I had to work with was an acoustic guitar, or a Univox imitation Les Paul with crappy wiring and an amp that popped like Orville Redenbacher’s finest.

So lucky for me all I had to do was write and play. I didn’t understand how to set everything up, much less how to properly mike the amps and mix the songs. I used to say “I don’t know from wires, I just play guitar”. I’m not saying that I was too proud to learn, I just couldn’t get the hang of it.

In a future post I’ll tell you all about how the guys built a drum room that could be assembled in 15 minutes, was wired for lights, had windows and a door and was air cooled by a 9 inch computer fan. It was state of the art. Well, the state of the art for us anyway. :-)

So over the years things have advanced a bit. Now, home recordings are made through DAW’s or Digital Audio Workstations for those unfamiliar, and through digital interfaces that take organic instruments like my acoustic guitar and allow me to connect to mixing software via my PC.

The problem for me is, I still “don’t know from wires” but I’m picking it up like someone who got sucked through a time door and landed in the future where a language of words had become a series of numbers, grunts and squeaks and I had to learn to assimilate fast or I’d starve to death.

I’m like freaking Rip Van Halen over here. :-)

So with a wealth of resources now at my fingertips I find myself learning new tricks. I’m actually surprised at how far I’ve come, but it’s a far cry from where my peers are. So I lean on them for advice constantly.

My pen and paper are still there, but these days are mostly replaced by Window’s Notepad. As far as equipment goes, I’m working with the following:

an Ibanez AEL10LEBK which is Newspeak for a sweet Acoustic Electric Guitar (Left Handed specifically)

a Black Fender Squire which I’ve had for a number of years. It’s not a high end guitar by any stretch of the truth, but it’s a workhorse.

I connect to my PC via a USB Audio Capture unit called an Edirol UA-4FX

I record directly into some free mixing software called the Kristal Audio Engine, from www.kreatives.org.

For drums, I use a program called Beatcraft that I downloaded from www.acoustica.com.

Ok, so now I’ve got some toys. I can’t wait till I’m proficient with them. For the time being I’m glad to be learning something new because I’ve always felt that when you stop learning, you’re dream is over. It also got my creative juices flowing again. I also can “see the music” with a wider scope than before.

Now, you might be thinking, “Just what does all this have to do with songwriting? Is he merely namedropping products to increase his Google ranking?”

Well, DUH! but that’s not entirely it. I think it’s good to show people just where I am to give a proper perspective into my life. It’s part of my “Adventure”. I also can’t remember watching an adventure that didn’t have some form of commercial ;-)

Ok, joking aside, I needed to establish a base from which I create. I will elaborate, though, on just how I use these tools in later posts.

For a quick and quite thorough tutorial on the Kristal Audio Engine (geez it sounds like a band that opened up for REO Speedwagon) you’ve got to see Mike Wich‘s Kristal Tutorial here:


For those that don’t know, Mike Wich and I go back to those pen and paper days. Actually it was his friend that bought the 8 track tape machine that we recorded with back then. Here’s a link to some of the stuff we put together in those days. Of course we’ve updated the instrumentation and completely re-recorded the songs: http://www.soundclick.com/eljam (a word of warning though, it’s very Eighties)

Presently, Mike and I are in the process of writing a concept album called “Obsessions”. Well, I don’t know if we’ll call it that but it’s a working title for now. As we develop the songs I’ll share the progress with you here.

Bow wow, all.