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Bill Roper's Journal
Scratching 
18th-Sep-2011 05:35 pm
daisy_knotwise took Katie and Julie out shopping so that I could do some re-recording of tracks from the Grim Roper that desperately needed the fix up. I managed to record all four scratch tracks and (I think) two usable guitar tracks.

Two guitar tracks to go. The vocals should be relatively easy. :)

But everyone's home now, so that's a project for another day.
Comments 
19th-Sep-2011 12:37 pm (UTC)
If you don't mind my asking, how do you handle the recording-order of the overdubs? By "scratch track" I assume you mean a track recorded purely as a guide for timing other tracks, which won't be kept in the final mix--is that what you're doing? What do you record for the scratch track?

When I tried (years ago now) to record fingerpicked guitar over fingerpicked guitar I found I couldn't tell which guitar was the recorded one and which was the one I was playing, with the result that I couldn't match timing, because I couldn't tell if I was behind or ahead of the recording at any given moment. Do you have that problem, and if so, what do you do about it?

My solution at the time was to record the guitar track alone, with no guide, then record myself singing to the guitar, but this was pretty challenging (mostly to remember where I was in the lyrics at any given time, and how many measures I had between chorus and verse, etc.)

I am presently trying something different: laying down a metronome track, singing a scratch vocal to the metronome track, and playing mandolin to the scratch vocal/metronome, then tossing the scratch track and singing to the metronome/mandolin, but I'm not sure I'm going to like that either--I'm worried about the metronome making the whole thing sound mechanical even after it's taken out.

So I'm interested in how other people/groups are getting around these problems, and I hope you don't mind telling a bit more about how you do it.
20th-Sep-2011 08:49 pm (UTC)
No problem. :) (I just had to get work to settle down long enough to have time to explain.)

In my case, I usually lay down a single track of my vocal and guitar to use for timing. The guitar is really to make sure that the vocal stays on tempo and pitch. Then I lay down a guitar track in sync with the vocal -- if it's in perfect sync with the original guitar part, that's a bonus, but I'm really most concerned with the vocal.

Now, I should have a guitar track that is in time (and pitch) with how I intended to sing the vocal, so I should be able to sing a vocal line against it. This usually works.
21st-Sep-2011 12:08 pm (UTC)
Hmm. I tried this once, long ago (I think for the first Echo's Children CD) and when I couldn't make it work after a couple of tries I gave up. But perhaps I should try it again, concentrating more on the vocal this time.

Another option would be to sing the vocal a capella, perhaps with a count-in--after all the guitar won't go out of tune in sympathy with the vocal (the way another vocal might), and if I'm just going to throw the vocal away afterwards the pitch doesn't matter, just the timing.

I'll try a couple of things in practice-recording today. Thanks for the suggestion.
21st-Sep-2011 02:53 pm (UTC)
Happy to be able to help!

By the way, you always want to have a count in. Without one, life can become hell.

The other interesting question is whether there's any instrumental intro in front of the vocal. If there is, you would need to count in for the start of the intro, count for the missing intro (if doing the vocal alone as your scratch track), and then launch into singing. That's why I usually do vocal and instrument together as the scratch track.
21st-Sep-2011 03:03 pm (UTC)
Oh, right--got you about the count-in. It's just I've been using a metronome for this project so I have let the metronome handle it. Then it's just a matter of counting the clicks correctly for the various entrances. (Which I have failed to do a couple of times, but Reaper is pretty good about letting me scootch things over but that requires a pause in the recording, and doing that kind of work on a laptop on the floor is a bit of a pain in the neck. Literally, after a while.)

But if I want to try this without the metronome (and I do, because I want to evaluate whether using the metronome is detracting from the performance) then I better accomodate that timing somehow, either by playing the intro or by counting through it.

I do notice that I do a better job on both the vocals and the instrumental when I don't try to do them together. Go figure, I guess.
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