notes from the shore

Adventures in Home Recording

Kidz Praise

At my church, the kids under 5th grade have their own service (under 3 in the nursery). I’m the music coordinator for the rugrats, and what we do is project the lyrics of praise songs on a screen with crazy backgrounds, and play kids versions of those songs (in good keys for pre-voice change voices to sing, usually shorter arrangements). Then the kid’s praise leader stands up in front and leads the singing and motions for each song. I work up a good sweat every time. Continue reading


February 17, 2009 Posted by | Production Diary | , , , , | 2 Comments

Summer Tales

I enjoy helping people record their music, especially when they have no other route. Family friends Nicole and Kayley White fall into that category. Nicole is a young writer, poet, and songwriter. She has written more songs than she can count, including one for my daughter to sing at a competition. Continue reading

January 24, 2009 Posted by | Production Diary | , , , , | 7 Comments

Song Production from Begining to End

There are quite a few steps that make up taking a song from initial concept to completed production, ready for public consumption. Since I don’t have any real progress on my own music to report, I thought I would entertain myself outlining those steps for potential recording songwriters. Continue reading

June 12, 2008 Posted by | Production Diary | , , , | 1 Comment

Interlude: Majestic

In an earlier post I described the concept for my new CD. As a quick recap, it will be made up of creative instrumental arrangements of traditional hymns with interspersed interludes. Most of the interludes are not beyond the concept stage, although one is now FINISHED. It has been posted on my Soundclick site, and you are welcome to take a listen. Continue reading

February 10, 2008 Posted by | Hymn CD Project, Production Diary | , , | 1 Comment

Back on Track – Mixdown

Having successfully completed the emergency mix, I’ve been able to get back to moving forward on Praise to the Lord the Almighty. As of this writing, I’m almost complete, but let me catch up on what came before.As of my last writing in this topic, I was layering GPO string sounds to create a fuller section. The first bug to come was in placing the resultant audio tracks into my DAW. For starters, they didn’t line up. That wasn’t a huge problem, and solved per my post on Making Music. Once I had everything into Power Tracks and lined up, then it got interesting. Continue reading

October 18, 2007 Posted by | Piano Concerto | , | Leave a comment


When the recording was complete, we had 14 different drum hits and one sound effect, each with 10-15 samples of increasing volume, each with 3-4 takes. That’s a lot of samples. The first step in mixing these samples down was to come up with a consistent mix and set of effects. We recorded a series of drum patterns to help with this.

So I sat down at my computer, set the sequence to loop the first eight-bar pattern, and began tweaking and playing. First I listened to each of the mikes seperately. That was very interesting. The overhead mike was very ambient with a lot of highs and definition, but no lows and little sustain. The side mike picked up a lot of hand-slap, what I can only describe as a “papery” sound – not sure if that’s helpfull. The bell mike, of course, was rich and full, but without definition.

All as expected, and all ready for mixing.

I asked for some advice in mixing from the folks at kvraudio forums. If you take a look, you will see that I got little help beyond “dry,” so that’s where I started. The best dry mix I came up with was the bass as 0 dB, the side at -5 dB and overhead at -10 dB. This maximized the tone and minimized the papery swooshy sound that I didn’t like. I also ran the main fader at about 100 (out of 127) to keep the peaks from clipping.

I played with several EQ and compression settings, and ended up with the Kjaerhus Classic Compression on the overhead and side mic. The overhead is set for a threshold of -16 dB and compression of 2.5:1. The side mic is set for a threshold of -8 dB and compression of 4:1.  I tried adding minimal compression to the entire mix, but that killed the bass for some reason. Most likely I don’t know how to use the compressor.

I only left EQ in two places – first on the bass channel rolling off the highs a bit. Then I applied EQ to the entire mix, using subtle changes until I had dialed it in. To help, I started with a flat setting and essentially soloed each slider by taking it all the way up to see what happened.

As I was listening to the overhead soloed, I realized that it would be the perfect place to added a little space and ambiance. I have numerous reverb plug-ins to play with, but the two I use the most right now are the CDReverb that came with Power Tracks, and the Kjaerhus Classic Reverb, which is rapidly becoming my favorite. I used the supplied preset “016 Percussion”, unable to improve on it.

I polled the users at both PG Music Forums and kvraudio forums and in both places, the response was overwhelmingly for providing the dry version. I’ll do that and provide the wet version if the dry one doesn’t take forever to create.

Samples of the rhythms with and without the reverb can be listened to here:

4/4 Rhythm – No Reverb
4/4 Rhythm – Reverb
6/8 Rhythm – No Reverb
6/8 Rhythm – Reverb

Next, Slice and Dice.

March 25, 2007 Posted by | Djembe, Soundfont Editing | , , , | Leave a comment