432# Elective: Recording - Day 1

While everyone has started their electives locally or overseas, yesterday only I started my elective "officially".

Like previously mentioned, I'll be recording a song in a studio as for my elective. But unfortunately I had to send my guitar for intonation and I only got back my guitar on the previous Monday.

So before I got my own guitar, I practiced the song using the SX Stratocaster borrowed from David. And once I got back my guitar, only I started to practice the song seriously.

After 5 days of practicing, I was in the studio already. And I pulled William Koong with me for company.

I'm doing the recording in a studio a SS18, owned by a guitarist in a band called Aural Joint who works as a sound engineer. A very nice guy indeed introduced by William Choo to me. I feel comfortable doing the recording there.

Yesterday, I began to record the song - "Intermezzo Liberte" by a Swedish melodic death metal band called Arch Enemy. It's a guitar solo, which I think was easy, but in fact it was not!

Like what this engineer said, "You sure you want to record this song ah?"

Almost none of the metal bands play their guitar in Standard E tuning (E, A, D, G, B, E - low to high). As far as I know, the only band that plays in Standard E was the Norwegian symphonic black metal band named Dimmu Borgir.

The rest of them usually play in;
Standard C (C, F, A#, D#, G, C), or
Drop D (D, A, D, G, B, E), or
Drop B, C # tuning (B, F#, B, E, G#, C#), or
Drop A#, C tuning (A#, F, A#, D#, G, C) and a lots more...

I just spent a fortune to do intonation for my guitar so I have to stick it to Standard E tuning. But too bad the song that I'm going to record is in Standard C.

I converted the main solo to be played in Standard E, which was not an issue. But it could be a problem for the acoustic guitar, rhythm guitar and the bass.

Bass guitar recording

Fortunately there was a 5 string bass in the studio in Standard B tuning (B, E, A, D, G), the tuning which I used for the previous performance so playing the song which is in Standard C shouldn't be a problem since B is lower than C...

But the thing was that, I had to convert the bass tab into 5 strings Standard B tuning from the original 4 strings Standard C tuning.

And it turned out to be like this;

I borrowed William Koong's notebook to write. So it was a very, very last minute work. It was like, I tuned the bass, convert the bass tab, then record straight ahead.

The bass used was a Yamaha. Totally different from the Ibanez SR305 which I used, which was way smaller, lighter, narrower and easier to play.

But anyway the bass part for this song was a piece of cake as compared to the main guitar solo so we managed to get it done about an hour.

Acoustic guitar recording

Alright, I have to admit that I suck in acoustic guitar. In fact, I can't call myself someone who can play the guitar because I don't even know how to play chords.

This song consists of 16 bars of acoustic guitar before the solo gets high. It's rather repetitive, so it should be easy to play.

Again, the Standard C tuning problem kicks in. I converted it to Standard E and practiced it at home. But the thing is that playing in such a way made "let ring" to be impossible because I would be playing at the same string, which made it sounds like a staccato.

Acoustic guitar has no problem in lower the tuning to Standard C because of its fixed bridge simplicity. Therefore I used the studio's acoustic guitar and got it tuned down to Standard C.

Again, a very last minute work where I have to play it in the original way, at the middle part of the fretboard so that I was able to "let ring". I'm not an acoustic guitar player so it was really difficult for me to hold a chord properly.

I didn't even dare to move or breathe loudly because the two condenser microphones were so near to me. These microphones are highly sensitive, and they picked up the sound of the acoustic guitar perfectly, as heard by me through the earphones.

Lacking of acoustic guitar skills (or entire guitar skills to be exact) did not allow me to record it straight at one go. Hence we had to record it bar-by-bar, which kind of showed how sucked I am in fact in guitars.

After recording it for an hour, it was not perfect still. The studio engineer didn't even sure whether he will include it for the finalization but I hope he would because it's still our hard work.

Rhythm guitar recording

The rhythm guitar kicks in after the acoustic guitar stops. For what I know it's played note by note but the engineer wanted me to play in power chords.

Again, for the third time, there comes tuning problem. But fortunately there was a SX Les Paul guitar in the studio with fixed bridge. But it can't be lowered to Standard C, since the strings will be too loose then. Therefore it was tuned into Drop C, D tuning (C, A, D, F, A, D).

This means that I have to convert the power chords into this tuning, which turned out to be like this;

Another very last minute work.

Since the last string is dropped therefore I had to change the way I hold the power chords according to its roots. It was not easy for me due to this sudden change in playing style so we had to repeat the recording for a few times.

After that we record it for a second time, which is called as the "double tracking", as to make the song sounds better and heavier.

This time it was really tiring and boring and William already fainted and hugging my guitar and fell into sleep.

That's why there was not any photo of me when I was recording the rhythm guitar.

I feel so sorry for William because the whole thing of this recording is not only time consuming, and it would be boring to if the person is not directly involved in the recording.

So this is how it turned out to be in the computer. The top row is the original track, second row is the recorded bass guitar, third and fourth are the double tracked rhythm guitar. I have no idea where the acoustic guitar part has gone while this photo was taken.

After we done recording these 3 parts, I wanted to try to move on to the main solo. But I was pointed out that I have not master the main solo perfectly yet.

It sounds simple to me but the main solo is very difficult in fact. My bends are not full, my vibrato are not constant, my pull offs are not strong enough, my slides' timing are slow... and the most important part is that, I haven't even master the fastest part of the main solo.

Demisemiquaver guitar solo in 90 bpm, that's like... 720bpm??

Settled the bass, acoustic and rhythm. Still got the main solo, second solo and drums to go, which are way, way, way harder. I'll be back to the studio again next Saturday, means I have 5 more days left.

I wonder could I master the main solo in 5 days time, because I have been practiced for the pass 2 weeks and it turned out to be 40% only of the original song.

However, since I kind of know what my problems are already therefore I should be able to play as close as possible to the original song already, I hope...

Feel very, very stressed up now... This supposed to be fun, but a stressor to me already.

PS: Thanks to William for your time, for keeping me accompanied, and the photo taking. I owe you one man.


Chan said...

i can't...read bass notes =o my alto all in treble haha.

Mike said...

you got alto sax? i can only read treble notes. bass, my mind have to auto convert, very difficult la. that's why have to rewrite it in tab form, from Standard C 4 strings to Standard B 5 strings...

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