Weird Science


In the interest of pioneering, I tried a new technique recently that at first confirmed why it hadn’t been attempted before – or at least not for a long time. It sounded terrible. But, since I had nothing else to do, I persevered and I’m glad I did. Usually, if my snare drum doesn’t have enough ‘snap’ or my guitar doesn’t have enough body, I change instruments, microphones, you name it. However, this isn’t always possible and we have to make do with what we have. But, does that mean you have to settle for a thin guitar sound or a sad snare? I don’t think so.
First of all, I thought about the sound that was missing from my snare drum. It had body, punch, plenty of snare wire, but no snap. So, I set up some microphones and started to experiment by recording things that had this ‘snap’ fundamentally. I won’t bore you/embarrass myself by telling you about everything I recorded to try to get this sound, but the final take was recorded by slapping a plastic ruler onto the leather seat of the drum throne. A little light EQ and this was blended in with the snare drum. Needless to say, I was pretty impressed with myself.

The next thing to fix was the electric guitar sound. This was supposed to be a heavy, distorted guitar, but it sounded a little thin and raspy. Unfortunately, the solution was not quite as exciting as with the snare drum, but it worked a charm. Using Studio One Pro, I transformed the guitar track into MIDI (using the built-in Melodyne feature) and dragged in onto a new instrument track. Next, I loaded up the built-in synth and started running through the saw wave patches with the part selected in loop mode. Soon I found a smooth saw wave patch with plenty of body and punch, so I blended this in with my guitar track. The fader on the instrument track wasn’t raised very high before the guitar put on some weight and with a tiny amount of the synth track blended in, I had a really good, heavy, produced guitar track. This operation can be performed with any audio to MIDI converter software (with varying degrees of success) or simply by playing the notes in on a MIDI keyboard.

I’m sure that most of you know about the readily available Virtual Drummer programs and sample replacement programs, as well as guitar plug-ins and so forth, and you’re probably questioning my obstreperousness, but I’m growing tired of the simple digital-age solutions to problems that most likely took days to fix in the 70’s and I wanted to have a little fun. Is that a crime? If so, I’ll be going away for 15-20.

Have fun recording weird things.

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