First verse. Well, the sample starts towards the end of the first chorus and, as you can hear, Jon added a Fender Rhodes on the right side (((yes, he has a real Rhodes in his studio))), playing the same hook I played on the guitar on the left side. This was the only piece where I didn’t play the verse melody/solo with the trio. On all of the other pieces I made up the verses during those four days of trio recording. You can hear the part I played while recording the trio on the right side, it’s a simple rhythm part.
Later I added a simple strum on the left and then I thought about what the verse melody should be. A guitar-solo? What is a guitar solo? A melody, a scale, an improvisation, a showcase for the guitar-player’s ability – either his dexterity or his understanding of complex harmony? What is a melody? In my mind I kept returning to the vibe of the song, which I interpret as R&B-ish. In fact the piece really came together when Jon suggested to Michael that he play like Al Green’s drummer, hitting the tom together with the snare for the chorus. Michael also removed the damper from his snare, which created a more traditional sound.
Side-story: a producer friend remarked, after listening to a couple of the new tracks, that the snare could be tighter – meaning brighter, more direct, a result of close-miking. I answered that we did not use a snare microphone at all, just a couple of overheads and the kick mike. They answered that I wasn’t kidding when I said that this album would have a more traditional style and that they were surprised how great it sounded. This is how drumkits used to be miked. In fact the legendary Bonham supposedly drew a circle around his drumkit and would not let any engineer place a microphone inside that circle. In the Nineties, bands like Metallica or Guns & Roses would spend two to four weeks just working out where to place the drumkit in the studio and how to mike up every single drum in the kit. Then it would take further weeks to balance and mix those tracks – sometimes 16 and more tracks just for the drums. Wait, I just found this:
A Guide to Effective Drum Mixing – Part 1 | Audiotuts+
I think Metallica’s black album was made with around 30 microphones just for the drums.
I guess their drumkit sounds ten times better… :-)
End of side-story.
I decided to try to play my guitar as if I was singing the verse, trying to emulate the slow and sexy singing of Al Green or the great Marvin Gaye. Towards the end of the verse a few guitaristic figures sneaked in, but by and large I think I succeeded.
As the second chorus starts you can hear Robby, adding his djembe to the song. He played on 3 pieces altogether (((twice djembe and once tambourine))).
I think it is funny when I hear, from critics or fans, that I can really play – just because one night I was in a certain mood and played faster or more complex. The superior samurai doesn’t have big, extravagant movements (((unless that is called for – there is a time for everything))). If he has to draw his sword it means that he has already failed somewhat, failed in getting his point across.
Or, music is not a competitive sport. But you know that about me already.
Anyway, I played the second verse just as slow as the first one and I love the vibe it creates.
More hours in the studio, mixing. Afterwards I listened to the whole album, all eleven songs, on three different headphones, and then fell asleep happy, because I only made three notes for changes. Almost done. In fact, the artwork was sent off (((meaning uploladed))) to the designer yesterday, who will put my ideas into the DigiPak template, and will create a PDF for HDTracks and the square cover for iTunes and other download stores.
The album will be available in three formats: CD, mp3 and HD FLAC. The 24/88.2 FLAC files will be available for download from HDTracks, and I am still considering a hard-copy we can sell on tour. I have turned away from doing a USB Flash-memory stick and am considering a very simple 2-CD package that would contain the FLAC files. These would, of course, be data-CDs, not audio, and could not be played in a regular audio CD player. The CDs would simply function as data-carrier, since one would need a computer to play the files, and also as backup in case something happens to the computer. In any case, I don’t think that there are a lot of people with the gear or even the desire to listen to high definition audio, which means we would probably only order a small run of 100-200 HD packages. We need to print a HUGE warning on the CD itself, because otherwise people will claim we ruined their stereo, after they stick the CD into their audio player and crank the volume because they don’t understand what HD FLAC means…
I would be one of those that would buy an HD package.
Don’t you think that the demographics of people that would buy an HD package would be the type of person that wouldn’t attempt to play a FLAC CD in their CD player?
Perhaps I am too optimistic? Naïve?
I guess I would buy one as well, give it a try, although the CD and mp3 work best for me and my technical equipment so far.
(I still love it when the music comes with some package artwork.)
Ha! Steve, just a couple of examples – but I could fill pages: a fan got upset after watching me perform with the band for an hour and a half, because he was waiting for Ottmar Liebert and was sick of the opening act. When asked who he thought was on the stage he replied, Luna Negra. Another person claimed their CD “The Scent of Light” was defective because it was not as loud (((read compressed))) as the other CDs they owned. I’ll stop there, but I got go on and on… did I answer your question? A person ordering an HD FLAC data CD from the web is one thing, and a person buying some merch after a concert, possibly inebriated, possibly in a rush, is quite another. I can totally imagine a person sticking the HD FLAC data CD into their car stereo and cranking it for the drive home. They turn to smile at their date, just as the car starts to reverberate with the awful sound of digital data… Hell, we might get sued for the car’s damaged loudspeakers and the passengers damaged eardrums!!
I am also working on another option, a nice folding card with the album cover printed on it. It would contains a small card with a prepaid code which allows the person to download the music from HDTracks.com.
Oh wow. I am naïve.
Well, as Roseanne Roseannadanna would say, “OH … WELL, NEVERMIND.”
For your and everyone’s amusement I could collect stories from my little band of traveling musicians and support staff and publish the most outlandish ones in this Journal. Sounds entertaining, yes?
An entertaining idea.
Yeah! VERY entertaining!
Loving all this vibe of happiness that is springing from the pages of Ottmar Friends and yes, Al Green, Marvin Gaye, and awe yes do not forget Barry White. :) Enjoying all this fun and fantastic music. Appreciate it all bunches!
“I can totally imagine a person sticking the HD FLAC data CD into their car stereo and cranking it for the drive home. They turn to smile at their date, just as the car starts to reverberate with the awful sound of digital data…”
Why is it that I can see Ben Stiller or Steve Carell in a movie with this EXACT scenario?
He looks over at her … give her the eye, raises an eyebrow as he loads the disc into the player, and pulls on to the interstate and the digital bezerker noise invades the serenity of the moment … LOL! … Aaahh, that’s too funny.
Best to make the warning label the actual cover itself and forgo any illusions of cover art.
.. Yes Ben Stiller and Robert DeNiro Comedy Meet the Parents and then the interrogation begins.
‘In the Nineties, bands like Metallica or Guns & Roses would spend two to four weeks just working out where to place the drumkit in the studio and how to mike up every single drum in the kit.’
This type of approach takes all the fun/spontaneity and joy out of recording. More power to you Ottmar and your vintage approach! I’m glad you mentioned J. Bonham – perfect example. He had (perhaps) the best drum/snare sound ever.
Would love to hear some more funny stories.
“The superior samurai doesn’t have big, extravagant movements (((unless that is called for – there is a time for everything))).”
Most definitely. Practice and skill can make anything appear simple to the unskilled eye/ear. I liked your comparison.
Famous scene from Kurosawa’s Sanjuro with Akira Mifune:
Hmmm, Band Diaries, kind of like Bicycle Diaries. Interesting.
More funny please..!! THX!! ;)
I agree about your comment stating that ‘music is not a competitive sport’ how many times do we hear blistering fast guitar solos that are virtually empty without a message. It’s almost like eating a fruit that’s too ripe and not ready to be picked yet, every note should be sweet and ready to be played leaving your senses charmed with joy and contentment…just like your melodies Ottmar!
Kaz – the fruit man! ;)