Category Archives: Songwriting & Recording

Adventures With Acoustic Guitar EQ

Before I came across ‘Recording Acoustic Guitar (My Foolproof Method)‘ – a short video by Graham Cochrane (Recording Revolution) – my acoustic guitar recordings would require huge amount of effort and time making EQ adjustments simply trying to achieve a half decent sound. Basically I was working with boxy boomy mud recordings every time. And no matter how much I improved with EQ I was never really satisfied.  … read more

Vocal Performance

This is the way I attempt to capture my vocal performance

Technical Arrangements

  • Rode NT2A microphone with pop shield (pop shield is essential)
  • Position 6 inches to 12 inches from the pop shield
  • Closed back headphones, all backing music panned 100% left, vocal monitoring  panned 100% right (I find I can best hear myself by doing this)
  • Mix/loudness in headphones determined to encourage singing volume/attitude appropriate to style of music (if your vocal monitoring is relatively mixed too loud, then you will tend to compensate by singing more softly … and vice versa)

Attitude

  • Make sure mind remains fully focused throughout take

How do you approach recording vocals? … read more

Deciding Song Structure

I mostly enjoy writing songs on the basis of arrangement/sequence of  the following elements.

  • Verses
  • Chorus
  • Instrumental

A typical song structure might be

  • Intro
  • Verse 1
  • Verse 2
  • Chorus
  • Verse 3
  • Chorus
  • Instrumental (perhaps over chorus chord sequence)
  • Verse 4

A typical arrangement for the above structure might be

  • Intro – just acoustic guitar and organ, panned right and left around 50%
  • Verse 1 – vocal begins
  • Verse 2 – bass guitar and minimal drums (perhaps just hihats and bass drum at this point) begin
  • Chorus – introduce snare to drum part
  • Verse 3 – change snare to side stick
  • Chorus – return to snare, thicken snare sound with claps,  add cymbals, introduce electric guitar
  • Instrumental – bring in lead guitar to play melodic solo – perhaps a simple interpretation of the chorus vocal melody
  • Verse 4 – strip back everything

Normally before I record anything I would have the whole song mapped out in terms of structure and how it builds. … read more

Playing and Recording Acoustic Guitar

I find this works for me

  • I thank Graham Cochrane / Recording Revolution (pictured above) for his tips ‘Recording Acoustic Guitar (My Foolproof Method)‘ … position microphone directly in front of sound hole, but angled toward the 12th fret, which works like a dream for me.  Before I adopted this approach I would spend a huge amount of time with eq adjustments simply trying to get a half decent sound from my take – in this connection see my article Adventures With Acoustic Guitar EQ here.
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Writing Lyrics

This works for me …

Dos

  • Know what I want to say about the subject matter I choose to explore in my song before I start writing my lyric
  • If it helps, make a list of key points I want to (or might want to) make
  • Make sure I develop my subject in a coherent way
  • Let poetry come in a natural way
  • Allow  time for the lyric to mature
  • Revisit my lyric-in-progress regularly – with fresh perspective – listen to my gut as I edit and refine

Don’ts

  • Don’t let attachment to perceived clever rhyming or wordplay get in the way of saying what I want to say.
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