A site dedicated to the music and musing of Carl Strempler

Month: December 2010

Lift Up Your Hands

Another Resonate 2010 tune…pumping them out fast and furious now! I figured that I’d like to get one more out before the end of the year but I couldn’t make a huge amount of noise so I decided to record everything with my isolation cabinet, the AxeTrak. This unit has microphone similar to a Shure 57 inside it. You can set the axis to angle the mic for that classic full sound or point it directly at the speaker for a biting sound. I angled it for these tracks.

This tune is one by Leonard Ferguson. Here is the original track recorded in July.

Lift Up Your Hands – Original Rough Tracks

Upon review, this seemed too slow. I asked my buddy JJ for a big favour, speed this up with Melodyne Studio software to 92 BPM. He sped it up to 89, 90, 91, and 92 to give me choices. What a pal! At 92 the vocals sounded strange so I select 90 BPM. Here is the revised track.

at 90 BPM

That was better. I added a new drum groove onto the track.

with Drums

First thing I keyed on was that chunking verse part so I laid down this part double tracked panned hard left and right.


It seemed to me like I needed some way to get into the tune. I created this slide sound capped by a muted figure on one side and harmonics on the other to bridge into the chunking part.

Intro Slide

That didn’t seem to be enough so I came up with an Intro Riff prior the slide.

Intro Riff

Having this cool riff just at the beginning didn’t make a lot of sense so I split the song and after the chorus inserted another riff which is a variation on the intro to take it into the verse. I added a similar motif for the ending. This left me with the choruses. The riff drew so much attention, I tried several things but decided on using the Swart sound just turned up to get some grind and I tracked several tracks with that with different pickup positions…oh yeah, turns out all I used was the Tele into the Swart with either a Diamond Boost-EQ, Zvex Fuzz Factory, or Keeley Fuzz Head in front of it…or just straight up. That strange breaking up sound you hear at the end is the Fuzz Factory. I was still missing something in the choruses so I added a line that eluded to the riff and played variations on that throughout the choruses. I dropped the acoustic all together and went for a much more aggressive rock sound for this tune. Oh yeah…what about the bass? I figured why not just put the bass through the Swart and into the isolation cabinet to get some distortion and grind. Overall, it’s a bit of a departure from the original but hopefully you will like it.

Lift Up Your Hands

My Keeper

Another installment of Resonate 2010! Sometimes when you record a rough track you think the tempo and feel are right but as you add layers you find that its just not right. Its like a foundation that isn’t quite straight. On this tune I was fortunate enough to have Elyse MacLean, the writer, singer, and piano player for the tune living nearby so we were able to re-record the rough tracks. Here is the original.

My Keeper – Original Rough Tracks

When Elyse was in to replace the background vocals for Nothing In This World she recorded a new version of the rough tracks.

My Keeper – New Rough Tracks

Now this is a lot more in time. The 6/8 feel for this tune has a wonderful lilt to it. I added drums and drums. I applied a bit of the dreaded AutoTune and added a some big reverb.

My Keeper – Added Bass and Drums

Now I added several layers of acoustic guitar. I add them into the mix slowly over the tune to build the tune. This is where capos can really help. I played 4 tracks of acoustic in the first position and then capo-ed at the 5th fret and played 2 tracks in this position panning them wide left and right. The capo I use is the G7th Capo pictured above. This capo only applies enough pressure to hold down the strings and never puts the guitar out of tune (unless the intonation is bad on the guitar). Spot the Irish Bouzouki in the mix?

My Keeper – Added Acoustics

In this final version I added the slide guitar. Generally I record these parts with the delay in the track but this time I wanted a swirling stereo effect on the guitar which is easiest to get in the software. This requires you think about what the effect will do while you play…imagine the effects are there when you play the dry part. It was still missing something. The human mind is interesting, its always searching for that random element, little parts that are truly human. I pulled out the Telecaster and set the amp for a clean sound and the guitar to us both pickups and played some tinkly, chimey parts and a few harmonics sparsely and with as little forethought as possible to create interest. At some points it sounds almost like percussion. In my opinion, the overall the ethereal effect was achieved.

My Keeper

Nothing In This World

Here is another tune from our intrepid Resonate 2010 songwriters. This one is by Chris Isaacs. Chris was the most ambitious of the group. His rough track includes not only his acoustic guitar and voice but also a finger picked acoustic played by Josh Dunkley and backup vocals by Elyse MacLean. Take a listen to what was recorded that morning back in July.

Nothing In This World – Rough Tracks

My first task was to find a rhythm track that would work with the song. I spent way too much time trying to find something that worked. I created my own MIDI drum track that I tossed. I finally settled on this simple cross stick pattern with a tambourine coming in to build the feel. Funny how the simplest things work best. Any drummers out there may find this choice kind of dull but…it works.

Once the drums were in I noticed some issues with the rhythm of some of the parts. I cut up the guitars, lined them up with the rhythm, replaced some with electrics. I chose to take all percussion right out in parts to create contrast and avoid highlighting some of the timing issues. I added the bass track. I layered a lot of guitars and built it toward the end where there are 8 guitar tracks. Most of the tracks are done with the trusty Telecaster. It is interesting how many different tones you can get out of a Telecaster, a non-master volume amp set to different volumes and the judicious use of an overdrive pedal (the Fulltone OCD did it again).

Upon further review it was apparent that Elyse sang the wrong lyric on the outro of the song. It should have been “Nothing in this world so beautiful” not “Nothing in this world is beautiful”…so Elyse came back in the studio to fix that this weekend.

Nothing In This World

Never Make Your Move Too Soon – King’s Head Dec 2, 2010

Here are the first fruits of our December 2nd, 2010, HP/Former HP/+Friends Seasonal Get Together. Bill Kirkpatrick (a.k.a. Bald Billy) and I joined the band for the first set… Greg Boettcher on drums and Adam Halstrom on bass to play two B.B. King numbers. This was recorded using a Zoom Recorder placed on the top of the bar believe it or not! Kind of funny that the song is “Never Make Your Move Too Soon” but I blow the ending a bit by playing the end “Too Soon”. Enjoy…

Never Make Your Move Too Soon

Whom Have I? – Add Bass and Guitar

Ah, adding the guitars, for me that’s where the fun begins. First I cleaned up the acoustic a little bit by cutting an pasting to address the timing issues in the final section. EQ’ed the acoustic. Then I added the bass part with my trusty Stingray bass played direct. First guitar track I put on there was the PRS equipped with P90’s (these P90’s were replacement Jason Lollar which I find have a much sweeter tone than the stock PRS P90 pickups). The signal chain was the PRS directly into the Swart Atomic Space Tone with the tube biased tremolo on, mic’ed with a Shure 57. That’s it. Amazing how a good guitar into a good amp can sound.

Next I thought about the rhythm guitar parts and decided to keep it pretty sparse until the final section and just build to that. The song is actually played on an acoustic capoed at the first fret and is in F#. I played the Tele into the Swart strumming in the first position on one side and then capoed way up the neck at the 5th fret and played the chords open there on the other side of the mix. The effect of the sparkling Tele bridge pickup in this stereo way is quite magical. However, this left the mix kind of bright so I added in a heavily distorted guitar sound using the Tele into an Fulltone OCD and then into the Swart and put that low in the mix to fill in some low mids. Check out the final product.

Whom Have I – Add Bass and Guitars

Whom Have I? – Rough Tracks

I better pick the chicken from my teeth and get back to work on these Resonate tracks before its time for Resonate 2011. Next up…Josh Dunkley’s Whom Am I. Here is the rough track we recorded back in July.

Whom Have I – Rough Track

First things first, lets get a drum track on here so we can see if the timing of the acoustic and vocals are in meter. I tried a bunch of anthemic grooves but settled on the subtle textures of Steve Gadd via DrumCore. Take a listen to see what you think. Can you hear where the acoustic guitar and vocals stray from the beat?

Whom Have I – Add Drums

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