Editing…like spellcheck or something?

Editing…like spellcheck or something?

recording parts: done
editing: working on it…
equalizing (EQ): nope
mixing: nope
mastering: not even close
artwork: I think Sarah’s doing something…haven’t seen it though.

So we finally got all the parts recorded…no mean feat let me tell you. Now we’re beginning the process of editing, which I was not aware you even needed to do on a recording to be honest.

So what’s there to edit? Oh, just about everything…The main bulk of editing was done for instruments. I’ll go through them one-by-one and tell you what sorts of things we did.

Andy really is a great drummer, but even the best can’t hit every beat right on the nose every time. There are literally tens of thousands of drum hits on this album. A few are bound to be a little off, so what we had to do was listen really closely. If we heard a section where the drums seemed off beat we then had to determine which drum, which microphone picked it up, whether it was early or late and by how much. It’s surprisingly difficult to tell whether a drum hit is late or early after a few hours of this activity. When we find the culprit we use the magic of the digital studio to cut it out and move it back or forward. A simple task with something short and loud, like a bass drum hit, but almost impossible with cymbal crashes. So we had to, at several points, take a cymbal crash from another part of the song and paste it in. Some people do this for every little thing and it ends up sounding like a drum machine…the weird truth is you actually want to preserve some minor mistakes so it sounds like a real person behind the kit.

With rhythm guitar there’s not much to be done if it’s off-beat. I had to re-record several guitar tracks for this reason. The issue is that if the guitar is playing the whole way through, without breaks, the whole track needs to be redone for any mistake there might be. Why not just play along with the track and record over just the bit you messed up on? A good question…because studio mics are funny things. The same guitar with the same mics in the same room will sound different on different days due to where I’m sitting, how I’m sitting, where the mics are pointed, temperature, humidity, length of time the mics have been on, etc. It boils down to the fact that if I were to “punch in” with an acoustic guitar, you’d notice and it would sound weird.

Again…if i sang out of tune, off rhythm, mumbled the words or jingled my keys in my pocket it’s an automatic do-over. Sometimes there were places where I liked the way I sang the 2nd chorus better than the first, so we copied the 2nd chorus and pasted it in place in the 1st. Some might turn their noses up at this, point a shaking finger and me and think “cheater!” The reality is that this is standard practice for every song you hear on the radio. They only record the chorus once and paste it in all the other places, why? Because they want it to all sound the same so you get used to hearing it and it gets stuck in your head…consistency is good marketing, ask McDonald’s about it if you don’t believe me. People often ask me “Isn’t it weird to hear yourself harmonizing with yourself?” Yeah, it is. I get self-conscious about it sometimes, but I’ve learned to get over it by just objectifying the sounds as being from “a” voice, not “my” voice.

Scott, you did a good job. We didn’t really do much with your tracks. We’re going to try and run parts of the tracks where Scott used the fretless bass through an auto-tuner to correct a few, very minor pitch problems. If we didn’t I doubt anyone would even notice, so if this idea doesn’t work I’m not going to worry about it.

Auxiliary parts (accordion, mandolin, bozouki, bohdran):
So this is a really interesting way of doing things. Peg and Pat only had the day to record and we had a lot of material to get through. The final result was less clear and we were going for more of a spontaneous, improvisational feel and so we had them record 3 versions of each song on each instrument. Then we came back a different day and listened to all they had recorded, cutting out any parts that were off-beat or had a missed note or something. The parts we had left were cut and pasted to cobble together a working part. We usually copied this part for each chorus and left the improvisational material for solos and fills. We were able to use this technique to give each song a unique shape and texture…the bonus for the players is that they didn’t have to sit though all the decision making and play their parts over and over and over.

So editing is kind of a big deal. There’s a lot of work to be done and apparently everyone does it. It’s a very humbling experience because you’re forced to point out and correct every mistake you’ve made. Even if you’re a great player, this kind of nit-picking is enough to pop anyone’s bubble. You realize how often you mess up, and what you tend to do wrong (too fast, too slow, poor annunciation, etc.) However, once I got past that it was really a fun time because now the songs are starting to transform into a semblance of a finished creation. Exciting stuff…I can’t wait to see what comes next.