Tuesday, April 24, 2007

All Has Not Been Quiet On The Western Front

Although it might seem like it from the lack of postings.

I was hoping to write sooner, once we had every scrap of equipment up and running, but that's proved not to be the case - must be one of life's universal constants. So we've laid down the guide melodics for six of our eight recorded songs and have run out of tracks until we manage to offload and configure playback from our pc. That's the hold-up. So this week has been set aside for infrastructure and configuration issues, after the resolution of which we should be flying along again.

I did manage to find the time to pop along to Bar Cubana on Friday, as a consolation for not being able to attend Dan's 21st Birthday party, after being held up due to the family business. Having not seen so many friends in several months, it was nice to be reacquainted either on the dance floor with the ladies, or on the sidelines with the gents. Dancing in such a confined space is no small challenge, but it was great just to get out from the hermitesque existence of a DIY recording musician. It was the perfect excuse to keep it simple and basic, and much more enjoyable for it.

Keeping the dance structure as open as possible leaves lots of room for rhythmic embellishments. Over the years, there's been less and less call for the use of turns to generate variety. Perhaps this is what it means to dance as a musician.

More later,

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Good Friday 2007

was the day I realised that I could sing. I know how immodest that sounds, so maybe I should explain.

I've been singing in the band for three years now, and all this while I've only heard myself recorded a couple of times: once was at a recording studio barely a year since I'd taken over from our previous lead, Olga; the other was when I was laying down the guide vocals for our current recordings. It's pretty fair to say that neither of them were representative conditions, the former because my voice and vocal style were still developing, and the latter was done ad hoc simply to get the job done quickly.

The rest was at gigs, where everything is transient: you sing or play a note, and then the moment's gone. Also, we were lucky in that the salsa audiences we had played for were extremely friendly and possibly a forgiving bunch... so I was never quite sure.

Good Friday was the chosen day when Dan recorded lead vocals for eight of the ten songs we've laid down so far for our first cd. I expected a marathon day, and got one, although we were both extremely pleased that we managed final takes of all eight. For the record, I sang into a Neumann TLM103 connected to a Focusrite Liquid Channel. 'Surprised' isn't the right word, neither is 'pleased'. Satisified and happy maybe; that the vocal coaching, effort and practice had all paid off. Our project is a ProTools and midi-free zone and we're determined to keep it that way.

The Neumann is an honest mic, as Dan likes to put it, and it seems to me to reveal my every strength and shortcoming: rich tonal colours as well as the most embarrasing burbles, squeaks and honks (at the most inopportune moments). Rest assured that the vocals were redone from scratch until an artefact-free take of the right mood was sung.

I've never heard my voice like that before. Ever. And that's the strongest ever testament to the quality of Dan's engineering.

This project as a learning process is of immeasureable value; feedback is immediate and uncompromising. So I'm a little sad to be stepping away from the vocal mic, or at least to have begun the process of stepping away. I forsee my commitments in business to take me away from the band increasingly, so it was only fair that I do so. But at least I can still expect to sing lead for the remaining two songs of the suite when they're recorded. Hopefully in a few months' time.

Until I can resume a firm commitment to the band, I'll just have to be satisfied with the role of guest tresero.

Actually now that I put it that way, it doesn't sound too bad does it?

Loo Yeo